What does it take to make love last? Love is often thought of as a feeling but mature love requires intentionality and ownership. Mature love goes beyond the feelings to a decision that leads to connection and intimacy. We treat those we love with respect and communicate with kindness and caring. When we love someone, we're able to forgive them, accept our own wrongdoing, apologize, and make an effort to do things differently. Love requires commitment and responsibility to the relationship even through difficult and trying times. Lasting love requires consistent affection, positive affirmation, and unconditional acceptance. Dealing directly and constructively with conflict can deepen the love in a relationship and build trust. Of course, the truth is, we don't always communicate well, deal effectively with conflict or forgive consistently. How do we get through the inevitable challenging times in our relationship and emerge stronger?
Marriage is like a marathon, the journey is sometimes painful and challenging, but incredibly rewarding when you work through the pain and reach the finish line. Along the way we need encouragement, hope, and confidence that we can achieve the goal. The training for a marathon requires a significant time commitment as does your marriage. If your marriage is at the bottom of your list of priorities then the marriage will have a difficult time flourishing. Developing specific goals for your relationship is also important (as it is when training for a race). Couples can benefit from writing out their yearly goals in January, both for their relationship and as individuals. Plan time in your year to go on a trip together or find an activity that you can share in. Make your marriage a high priority or it will eventually wither away and die. Plants need to be watered, fertilized, and receive plenty of sunshine to grow. Likewise, relationships need time to deepen and grow.
Do you find the passion in your marriage waning? This is natural but not inevitable. Getting back the passion requires making your marriage a priority and reestablishing the friendship you once enjoyed through conversation and shared activities. In some cases, letting go of hurt and anger through forgiveness and building trust is necessary to deepen the connection. If you have drifted away from each other because of recurring conflict, take the time to learn how to work through your issues and let go of the past. Sometimes consulting a counselor, a mentor couple or a relationship book is needed to get past this step. Make a game plan on how to increase connection in your marriage by having more fun and by noticing the good in each other. Simply helping each other and being attentive to one another can also make a big difference. Lastly, believe that the decision to love each other is more rewarding than any material gratification. Relationship success through loving and being loved leads to a significant life.