Most of us have seen couples whose relationships started great, filled with passion and energy. Unable to get enough of each other, they decide that the best thing they can do to contain their desire for each other is to get married.
But six months into the marriage, they figured out they can’t get along so they filed for a divorce.
We’ve seen this scenario play out both in marriage and in dating. In fact, researchers estimate that 41 percent of all first marriages end in divorce. And one of the major reasons for this is that most relationships don’t start on the right foot. We often assume that the same passion ― probably caused by hormones and floods of dopamine ― we started a relationship with is enough to carry us on, longing for each other for life.
In reality, passion and feelings can only get us so far. Sustaining desire in any relationship requires deliberate effort. That said, here are strong tips from experts, psychologists, and coaches, that can help you make your relationship last long-term.
1. Start with the right dynamic
Before you a relationship can last long, it has to start on the right foot. You can’t date someone who doesn’t care about you as much as you care about them and expect the relationship to last long.
In most cases, it’s easy to tell from the beginning if one person cares more than the other, but most people will rather ignore this either because they don’t want to admit it, or they hope that in the long run, things will be different. But in most cases, a relationship started in the wrong dynamic where one person cares more than the other will often lead to either breadcrumbing or negligence.
It’s okay if a relationship isn’t your priority right now. You may be putting your focus on school, building your career, your spiritual life, or self-improvement. But if you’re in a relationship and you’re prioritizing it, it’s not going to work. Both parties must equally put in the effort to create the right dynamic before a relationship can stand a chance of lasting long.
2. Enter the relationship with your cup full
As licensed therapist Haesue Jo explained in BetterHelp, in a monogamous relationship where there are two partners, they are both bringing a cup. But a lot of people in bad relationships enter it with an empty cup, expecting their partner to fill it. And according to Haesue, this can be dangerous because we end up placing a lot of expectations on our partners to fill these vessels that we should be filling ourselves with.
If you want to have a good relationship, enter with your cup full. This will allow you to have an outpour that will extend to others. In Haesue’s words,
“When your cup is full, you’re not needy. This will in turn will make you freely balance your relationship with the space needed to foster desire.”
Take ownership of who you are and how you live your life. Also, you are not responsible for someone else’s happiness or misery. Remember, it’s only when both parties are stable mentally and emotionally that they can have an enjoyable relationship together.
3. The importance of time apart
As much as quality time together is necessary to make a relationship last, suffocating each other with your presence can create the opposite effect. Time together must be balanced with some time apart. Why?
Besides the fact that time apart gives you both time to recharge and explore yourselves for personal growth, it’s also a great way for you to really better appreciate what you have. It makes you feel the “you don’t know what you have until you lose it” effect without having to lose anything first. Time apart makes you desire what you already have. Relationship therapist, Esther Perel put it best:
“When intimacy collapses into fusion, it is not a lack of closeness but too much closeness that impedes desire. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. Thus, separateness is a precondition for connection: this is the essential paradox of intimacy and sex.”
As Barbara Field also explained in Verywell Mind, “stepping away regularly prevents your time together from growing stale.” It is space that fuels desire. We know that neediness is one of the most repulsive things in any relationship. When you spend time apart once in a while, you demonstrate your independence to each other, and this will make you desire yourselves more.
4. The importance of night-time appreciations
Dr. John Gottman, one of the world’s leading marriage and relationship researchers at the University of Washington discovered that the ratio of positive to negative interactions in healthy marriages is 5 to 1. As explained on the Guttman Institute website,
“The difference between happy and unhappy couples is the balance between positive and negative interactions during conflict. There is a very specific ratio that makes love last. That “magic ratio” is 5 to 1. This means that for every negative interaction during conflict, a stable and happy marriage has five (or more) positive interactions.”
A positive interaction is anything from a compliment to a hug or a kiss. Or even just turning towards your partner and engaging when he or she makes a bid for attention, like when they ask you how they look in a dress.
A negative interaction, on the other hand, means a criticism, argument, complaint, etc. You get the idea.
Hence, a great that you can apply this research is to make sure that your day ends in positive interaction using nighttime appreciation. When you get in bed at the end of the day and you give each other kisses or make love, just before you go to sleep, share three things that you love about each other.
This is powerful for a few reasons. First of all, according to Matthew Boggs, bestselling author of Project Everlasting: Two Bachelors Discover the Secrets of America’s Greatest Marriages,
“Thinking of the things you love about your partner builds a sense of gratitude for your partner. And a sense of gratitude for having your partner in your life is a powerful way to feel the love and connection in your relationship.”
Secondly, when you voice the things you appreciate about your partner, as Matthew further pointed out, you build a better connection with your partner because, first of all, it makes them feel good, but more importantly, now they can be certain about the things you love about them, and they’ll do more of them.
5. Connect emotionally
One of the biggest problems in relationships is that couples get to know each other’s bodies long before they get to know each other emotionally. They get into physical intimacy and engage in ways that were traditionally reserved for married couples. And this only causes a false sense of connection. As psychologist and relationship coach, Dr. Antonion Borello put it,
“Couples become physically intimate very quickly. Sometimes within a few dates or a few weeks. But expecting that your relationship is going to last long because you’ve already been physically intimate is unrealistic.”
You should slow down and give yourself a timeline. Perhaps he or she needs a little more time to be sure. Give yourselves some time. Taking things slowly before becoming intimate will help you develop a deeper form of connection that will stand the test of time.
We all want to have relationships that last long. When we are in love with someone, it feels great, and the last thing we want is for that feeling to be swept away by time. But the hard truth? That’s exactly what happens in most cases. Why?
We leave too much to chance and hormones. We forget that creating anything worthwhile has to be deliberate. Remember that Murphy’s law that states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong? Well, it’s the same for marriages too. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong unless you deliberately work hard on building a relationship that can stand beyond just feelings. To recap, here are things to bear in mind to build a long-lasting relationship:
- Start with the right dynamic
- Enter the relationship with your cup full
- Spend some time apart. This gives space for desire to grow
- Give night-time appreciations
- Connect emotionally before becoming intimate