The trick is to build a more deeply-rooted love in the face of a host of obstacles. Here are 10 ways to keep love blooming over time:
1) Don’t expect perfection
Expecting perfection is one of the surest ways to doom a love relationship. When we’re caught in the throes of passionate, head-over-heels love, we tend to idealize our loved one. But when that love begins to transform itself into a more stable form, we can suddenly become aware of the many shortcomings in our partner that we had overlooked before.
2) Be flexible
The fine art of compromise is an important part of keeping love alive. People who mistake rigidity (and an insistence on always being right) for strength are usually not people who are well-loved.
3) Don’t substitute love for personal identity
The strongest, most durable relationships are usually those in which two individuals retain and foster their own individuality. Don’t try to engulf your lover; if you let your own identity become subsumed by your relationship, chances are the relationship will be diminished.
4) Pursue personal interests
The love you share with your partner may be a great source of strength, stability and support, but if you allow your personal life to fade away, you lose an important source of vitality and an opportunity to fulfill needs that may not be met in your love relationship.
5) Remember romance
When it comes to romance, it’s usually the little things that count most – calling to say “I Love You”, bringing flowers home unexpectedly, tucking a handwritten love letter in a partner’s suitcase before a business trip.
6) Be sensitive to your partner’s feelings
This is not an admonition for you to become a serious mind reader. Pay attention to what your lover is saying, either in words or in non-verbal communication. Don’t belittle your partner’s feelings just because they’re not the same ones you have or because you don’t understand them.
7) Don’t let anger undermine your interaction
Although it’s possible to prevent some misunderstandings from escalating into anger if you’re able to talk about your feelings openly in a non-accusatory manner, it isn’t always possible to keep anger out of your life. When it occurs, bring it out in the open and search for ways to diffuse it.
Learning to say “I’m sorry” is one of the simplest ways. You can also restore equilibrium to a situation in other ways, without having to give in to your partner unilaterally. When anger distorts the feelings of both of you, you can agree to table the issue until a time when you’re able to discuss it more rationally. (Letting a little time pass is one of the simplest ways of defusing anger.) Or you can turn to others – good friends, professional counselors – for help.
8) Be a considerate sex partner
Most people seem to think good sex is a matter of performance. Actually, good sex is more often a matter of being attuned to your partner’s feelings and preferences. Often, it is as much related to knowing exactly what to do.
Here are three examples of sensitivity to your partner’s sexual needs:
* If your partner is fighting a cold or has had a bad day at the office, this is not a good time to try out your sensual massage oil and the new technique you’ve just read about for improving your orgasmic potential.
* If you are really feeling sexually tense and your partner agrees to a “quickie” to help you out, don’t try to make it into a marathon lovemaking session. That your partner may not need sex in the same way as you at this time is not the sign of a problem.
* Be careful about saying no to sex too often; you run the risk of triggering a sense of rejection that is preventable if you simple make yourself available, even when sex is not top priority on your list for the day.
9) Don’t take your partner for granted
Complacency is one of the deadliest enemies of love. Not paying attention to your partner is certainly one way of taking him for granted, but other subtle forms also exist. Condescension is one of the most insidious attitudes that can undermine love. Neglect – as in forgetting to call your partner when you promised to or showing up an hour and a half late for a dinner date, or generally being unreliable – is also a sign that there is trouble in paradise.
10) Maintaining love doesn’t happen automatically
Many people are astounded to discover that love doesn’t sustain itself effortlessly. In order to make love work, you have to work at loving. This requires time and energy. Unless you give of yourself in love, you’re unlikely to get much in return.
Love – A Work in Progress
Although why we fall in love with each other is often a puzzle, what we can be sure of is that the first of passionate, romantic love don’t burn forever. Over time, passionate love usually evolves into a different, more stable and mature form of relating. This second stage of a love relationship is often called “compassionate” love – which, unfortunately, can sound about as rewarding as an old pair of shoes!
In truth, a new, more deeply-rooted love frequently emerges; one in which passion is replaced by mutuality, enhanced intimacy and a broader repertoire of problems, job issues and other issues - can slowly work to erode a couple's relationship, both sexual and otherwise, unless partners take care to prevent it.