The Challenge of Sustaining a Love Relationship

From ancient times to the modern era people have known that belonging to a group enhanced their chances of survival and thus bonded with others to form “communities” of shared resources, talents and skills. Those who belonged to a clan survived better and longer than those who sought to do so on their own. Though the modern era has enabled us to develop smaller social units, the emotional, cultural, social and interpersonal connections with one’s nuclear family may have become even more interdependent than ever before and thus preserving a healthy marital union has become harder and more challenging than ever.

To create an “Original Family”, pairs had to select well, meet and commit to each other and create a safe family for themselves and their young. At the same time, they became exposed to at least two environments (work and home), as well as adjusting to parenting their youngsters. Is there any wonder that more young couples today are overstretched, overstressed and often overwhelmed by life’s demands than their predecessors were? Can their exhaustion render them less effective as lovers and parents?

One’s self-preservation instincts may propel each mate to exert great energy on practical needs that interfere with his/her prior romantic enchantment. When pairs wisely choose to seek help in restoring their love and passion to their initial levels, they often ponder whether they can restore their original, mutual enchantment.

Many couples surmise that their initial mutual love and excitement about each other has been unsustainable for the long haul. They may nurse their own wounds as they distance themselves from their beloved. A common regression to self-preoccupation occurs as individuals may say, “I can’t worry about him/her, I have to take care of myself.” This state of “recoiling” is natural for wounded bodies or souls but is not effective in restoring their love and recharging their enthusiasm for one another.

In “for better – THE SCIENCE OF A GOOD MARRIAGE” Tara Parker Pope states, “How do you react to the big and small achievements of the person you love? Do you offer a grunt? A smile of support?” She summarizes, “It’s not enough that your partner knows that you take pride in his/her accomplishments. You have to show it. Making a fuss over the small, good things that happen every day can boost the health of your marriage.” She also advises, “Even when you make a mistake, tell yourself that you’re going to do at least five positive things for your spouse to make up for it, and do them.”

Other researchers similarly advise pairs to be attentive, understanding and supportive in every interaction.

Be a supportive mate:

  • Remind yourself that you are your spouse’s best friend.
  • Offer enthusiasm for your mate’s success and praise him/her for the effort, competence or intent even during failures.
  • Tell him/her what you would have loved hearing had the situation been reversed.
  • Validate his/her essence, competence and lovability. Praising your mate enriches you both.

Related Articles

About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

(0) Readers Comments

Leave a Reply