How To Foster Long-Term Connection In Love Relationships
With everything going on in the world today, it’s never been more important to have people to turn to whom we love, trust, and can rely on. And nowhere is that more clear than in our romantic relationships. For many people, that eventually takes the form of marriage, but all long-term, committed romantic relationships can bring forth the same benefits: companionship, security, attachment, and more. On the other hand, they can also suffer from the same problems, leading to pain and heartache if they aren’t given consistent effort and attention.
So how can we keep our romantic relationships not just alive, but thriving? Our counselors share several tips here.
Realize That Ups And Downs Are Normal
Easily the most dramatic part of a love story is the falling in love part: two star-crossed lovers realize they have chemistry, overcome obstacles, share their hopes, dreams, and fears with each other, and do everything they can to be there for the other no matter what. After a romantic courtship, they make a long-term commitment to each other.
And that’s where the Disney movie or the rom-com usually ends.
Falling in love, while not necessarily easy, is exciting. It’s dramatic. And it can be really really fun. Sometimes it can feel like an awkward middle school dance, and sometimes it can feel like Hollywood perfection. We see both as a normal part of falling in love, in part because we see portrayals of them in popular media. But it’s not often that we see portrayals of long-lasting, continuing relationships that are true to the real-life issues that couples face. While normal life is relatable, if you tried to film it, it would usually make for one boring movie.
In addition, after the rush of falling in love, settling into the more steady, comforting warmth of long-term companionate love can leave couples wondering what’s going on, and if it bodes ill for their future. After all, if you’re used to the raging inferno of a bonfire, coming inside to the warmth of a cozy fireplace is a pretty significant change. But that’s exactly what happens to a lot of newly committed couples: they go from bonfire to cozy hearth, not immediately realizing that both are good and normal.
Over the course of years and even decades together, romantic relationships will fluctuate. You’ll have periods of stress and periods of ease and comfort. You’ll face trials together that will test you to the breaking point. You’ll both change (hopefully for the better!) Having times where you feel more connected to each other and times where things are a little strained are normal.
During the strained times, try to have the attitude that these are growing pains, and as you work through them together (and potentially with professional guidance), you’ll be able to gain a deeper understanding of and appreciation for each other as you help each other face and overcome challenges.
Schedule A Weekly Time For A Check-In
Call it what you want – a check-in, a team huddle, a “State Of The Union” – all romantic relationships will benefit from a weekly check-in. It’s easy to get busy managing children, careers, personal interests, family, friendships, and all the many other demands life puts upon us, and it’s incredibly important to know how the other person is doing. Start by reviewing the last week. Talk about your personal triumphs and struggles, your progress on any goals you might have (from weight loss to improving a relationship with a child to launching a new business), and just generally where you’re at emotionally and mentally. Make this a safe place where you can both be vulnerable, and where you can also encourage each other’s successes.
Share with each other meaningful and realistic goals. These can be personal, family-related, professional, etc. Then, make goals together towards strengthening your relationships. One or two is usually plenty, and they can range from planning a simple date night to sharing the housework more equitably. And don’t forget to write them down! Stick them in a place where you will both see them fairly regularly, such as the bathroom mirror or the fridge.
Pay Attention To The Other Person’s Needs And Wants
On paper, this one sounds like a no-brainer, but once again, it’s easy to get caught up in the crush of the daily grind and forget to pay attention to your partner. Make an active effort to see that their wants and needs – both expressed and unspoken – are as taken care of as possible. Again, a great way to do this is to check in weekly and to be open and vulnerable with your partner as well. That way, you’ll both have opportunities to see to each others’ needs and desires throughout the week.
What has helped you keep the romance alive in your relationship? Drop a comment below! If you have questions or need assistance, please feel free to reach out to us at (307) 631-5574.