Ideally, people get married with the expectation of growing old together or being together until “death due us part”. Love, while a powerful ingredient in the recipe for ecstasy, does not a relationship make.
Newlyweds and those in seasoned marriages share something in common. All good relationships require work (ongoing maintenance). Two ingredients for a long lasting relationship and Freud’s cornerstones of humanity:
There have been countless times that I have heard men and women say, “I love him” or “I love her”. But is the marriage working? Are you able to identify the ingredients of love in your marriage?
Intimacy does not only refer to physical closeness, but emotional connection too. Intimacy is important when working to stay tuned in to your partner’s needs (some that may be ever changing).
Passion is the strong feeling that manifest as a desire to be physically close to your partner. Again, this does not solely include sexual activity. This also includes hand holding, cuddling, kissing, and other forms of affection. I would, however, encourage couples to maintain a consistent sexual life. It is recommended that couples have sex at least once in a two week period. This is not a hard and fast rule. Life gets busy. People have physical limitations. Illness or absence might make this difficult. Just keep each other in mind.
Without fail, when couples come in to see me, communication is identified as a source of conflict in the relationship. Effective communication (one tool of sharing) is essential for intimacy. Consider developing effective communication a work always in progress. Learning to talk about feelings like anger, fear, intimacy, or jealousy can be challenging. It is especially challenging if love leaves the room. Too often in conflict, couples throw love out of the window. Meaning, they get mean or defensive. It is hard work to remain kind and open while battling it out, but it is a must, if love is to last. This means trying when you don’t feel like it and forgiving when you don’t believe you can.
Another source of conflict between new couples is that they are still in the process of getting to know each other. Even a couple that has been married for years has things to learn about one another. Remember, I said that we are forever changing. Therefore, no matter how long you have been with your spouse, never assume that you know what they are thinking, how they feel, or what they want. The only way to know something about your spouse is to ask the question and listen intently for the response. Don’t fill in the blanks with the events of the past. Things change. People change.
Asking your spouse to meet your needs may be difficult at times. However, it is also a constant in marriage. Hopefully you have chosen someone who is willing and able to gratify your wishes-someone who is willing to do the work. This does not mean that you will not be disappointed at times. The work involves accepting each other. This includes strengths and limitations. When you get hurt or disappointed, do the work to recover. This ongoing effort represents your commitment to each.
Love increases a relationships staying power in and outside of the bedroom. However, it must be accompanied by work for a marriage to last a lifetime.
Do the work and reap the benefits of your labor: a long happy life together.