Helping More

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How To Make Your Love Last
Common Sense Tips for All Ages

By: Ellen Berk, LCSW, BCD

We think of love as magical. It's wonderful to have moments of romance throughout a marriage. Communication skills combined with a caring commitment are the main ingredients that help love to last.

Tip 1: Ask for what you want, but don't demand it.

At times, you might feel like you are doing all the giving and receive little back from your spouse. Your spouse will be more responsive to your needs when you express your desires gently.

Often individuals have different needs for intimacy. Discuss the specifics of your needs. Don't expect your partner to be a mind reader. Respect emotional differences as a part of healthy intimacy rather than use differences as a point of contention. Celebrate differences. Be willing to give up the need to be right.

Women ask that their spouses listen more but not try to resolve her problem. Men silently desire approval and encouragement and moments when he can withdraw without his partner thinking that something is wrong with the relationship. Men need to be supported in their areas of competence and forgiven in a non punishing non withholding manner when he makes a mistake.

Tip 2: Include conflict as part of healthy intimacy, but don't argue just to argue.

Argue when you want to clarify your point of view or clear up a misunderstanding. If you've been married over a year, you know that learning how to disagree in an honest way can bring you closer to each other. Leave out hurtful comments. State your gripe and give your spouse time to respond without interruption.

Love each other unconditionally while reserving the right to set limits on each other's behaviors.
Stop destructive behaviors, like withholding affection or attacking a person's character. Being critical or condescending is draining to any relationship.

Never go to bed angry. Put the fires out before bedtime or agree to pick up an issue again at another time.

Tip 3: Develop relationships outside of the marriage so that you are not dependent on you spouse to meet all of your needs. Ask for support when you need it.

No one person can meet all of your needs all of the time. We do hurt and disappoint each other from time to time. This need not be a reason to end an otherwise good relationship.

Tip 4: Treat your spouse as an honored guest in your home.

Always be willing to up your level of love and thoughtfulness. Time may be sparse but time for loving interactions should be generous. A hug, a 10 minute head and foot massage, a comforting touch can go a long way on a bad day.

Love has its cycles. Some years you might be more focussed on your career, others on your family. Allow the relationship the flexibility it needs to grow over time.

Tip 5: Caring is committed love.

Love lasts when we keep our promises, to continue to work on our relationship, and keep our marital vows. We honor each other and our marriage by standing by one another even though we might disagree about how to handle some problems.

To find out more about your own communication style, Assess Your Communication Style.

Also check out the list of Recommended Reading.

Other Resources
About the Author
Contact Ellen

The Benefits of Sharpening Interpersonal Intelligence
Boundaries and the Dance of Intimacy
How To Make Your Love Last Common Sense Tips for All Ages

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