We are hardly shocked when we hear about long term relationships breaking up. Whether celebrities or neighbors down the block, divorce has become way too common.
At the start of a relationship, there is intense emotion. If you scan the brain of someone in this early passionate stage of love you will find that the brain looks similar to someone who is on drugs. It’s almost as if there is an addiction; there are chemicals produced in the brain pushing the couple together.
This feeling of passionate love continues for one to three years and then fades away. Is there a way to harness the passion and keep our relationship strong?
A recent Wall Street Journal article featured new research that gives us the key to keeping desire alive.
“Be nice to each other.”
It sounds so simple. Just be nice!
What does ‘being nice’ really mean?
Psychologists explain that couples who are responsive to each other’s needs on a steady basis can help keep the passion burning.
Here are three things they’ve found people do that reflect this positive attitude:
- Try to understand what your partner is really saying.
- Validate your partner’s goals and attitudes. Know what is important to them.
- Show love by being warm and affectionate both in actions and words.
The lead researcher of this study explains: “Responsiveness creates a deep feeling that someone really knows and understands you. It makes you feel very unique and special.”
Relationships require understanding and thoughtfulness. When we feel as if our partner is supportive, the bond between couples is strengthened. In fact, the study showed desire grew between both men and women who felt that they were responded to; and women even more than men were affected. When there is a sense of emotional intimacy the entire atmosphere of the relationship is transformed. Bottom line: treat your partner with tenderness and they will respond to your warmth in kind.
Two Types of Intimacy
It is possible to get too familiar with one another as years pass and lose the ‘mystery’ that keeps passion alive. The researchers concluded when a partner begins to display ‘impersonal intimacy’, there is a negative effect on the relationship. Examples given are shaving in front of your partner or leaving the bathroom door open. A carelessness enters the equation that wears away desire.
‘Emotional Intimacy’ is the gateway to giving your long-term relationship a much needed boost. The more thoughtful we grow, the greater the glue that keeps us together. Though years go by, we feel as if we are being listened to and appreciated. Our voices are heard, dreams understood, pain perceived.
We can show that we are being responsive – being nice – by working on the following tips that were recommended in the article:
Start now. Don’t wait for things to slide and then wonder how you are going to repair or revive. It’s much easier to protect your relationship with preventive care than finding decay and searching for avenues of reconstruction.
Know how to listen. When we hear our partner speaking about a problem, too often we rush to give advice or a judgement call. We easily interrupt. We talk over our partner. We are distracted with our phones. We think about how we will respond and stop paying full attention.
Try instead to simply listen and be supportive.
Learn how to pay attention to details. Deeds that demonstrate our support display concrete actions that show our love. Think about your partner’s needs. Is she going through a hard time with juggling childcare and work? What can you do to alieve the pressure? Can you help with a carpool or tell your wife to sleep in Sunday morning? Is your husband needing some extra time to wind down when he returns from work? Does he crave a quiet dinner together with just the two of you? How can you show him that you ‘get it’?
Talk together. Communication shouldn’t stop as we age. Conversing together shouldn’t be a memory from early years of marriage. Relationships require constant care. Too many of us are lost in technology. We’ve stopped paying attention to the ones we love. Share your loves, your hopes, your visions. Spend time with each other and do activities that you enjoy.
Some couples get into arguments because they are busy calculating who is doing more and if responsibilities are being handled equally. Sometimes there is a feeling of ‘if I can’t get sleep why should you have a restful night?’ ‘If I can’t get to the gym, why is it fair that you go?’
If we could remove this feeling of resentment and realize that we are both on the same team, our love would grow incredibly stronger. Yes, of course we should help each other out and try to share the burdens and responsibilities of married life. But at the same time we must shed this constant looking over our shoulders, making sure that everything is handled exactly and evenly. Let it go. Resentment only leads to bitterness, causing malice and animosity.
Be happy for your spouse. Seek out ways to show daily kindness. Listen well. Bring a sense of responsiveness into your home.