February 13, 2012

Can Love and Romance Last ? Yes, But It Takes Work !

Can Love Last ?  You Bet - but You Have to Work at It ! 

Love is what makes that world go round and Valentine's day is the perfect time to talk about love and romance.  A persistent question that seems to worry many folks, however,  is, "Can Love Last ?"   This anxiety is not surprising given all of the stories about affairs and divorce we hear in the news.  Even worse is the common misconception that, even if you don't have an affair or divorce, the intense feelings of love and passion, with time, will just wither away.  

Today, I'm here to say BALONEY!  The idea that passionate love can't last is a myth.   Love and romance do not have to fade in marriage.  However, they don't just thrive automatically. Love needs care and nurturing.   This morning we'll talk about what causes the spark to go out of your relationship and what you can do to not only get it back but also to help it grow into a lasting flame.

The Truth about Why We Lose Love and Passion

Everyone knows that the initial rush of first attraction fades with time.  What most folks don't understand is that the initial infatuation is not love at all but a chemically induced state (We will talk about phenylethylamine, nature's way of getting us together,  another time).

Real love which lasts and keeps us together is not chemically induced. Real love is the experience of a deep appreciation, acceptance and trust for a person which develops over time and is like a powerful river which flow endlessly unless ... something gets in its way and dams it up.  Problems with physical and emotional health, neglect and resentment are the most common obstacles which can diminish or even totally block the feelings love and passion for your partner.

Health  

Physical illness, emotional problems like depression, being stressed out, and fatigue are major problems for romance. If you're tired or don't feel well, you are not going to feel frisky.  

Overbooking and Poor Scheduling result in marital neglect. 

For many couples, especially those with young children, it appears that there simply isn't enough time or energy in the day or week to get everything done and still have time for canoodling.

Unresolved Conflicts  cause problems in the bedroom.

When disagreements or arguments are not successfully resolved, feelings of resentment can be generated . These emotions can block erotic feelings and desire.                                                                           Avoiding problems only makes them worse and the growing emotional toll will sap the excitement and replace it with anger. 

Tips for Rekindling and Maintaining Love and Passion 

Although initial attraction is automatic, a lasting love takes effort.  When lives get too busy and romance is pushed to the back of the stove, passion suffers. Luckily there is good news: kindness and care can renew old feelings and bring love and passion back to health. Here are some important things to remember:

   1.  Be pro-active with self-care. Get regular check-ups. Don't ignore problematic symptoms, whether they are physical or emotional . The loss of interest in sex is a symptom which can indicate either physical or emotional problems.  Many folks become discouraged because they believe nothing can be done to help when, in fact, most issues are easy to treat and romantic feelings can return.  Likewise, managing stress, exercising, and practicing good sleep hygiene is crucial to maintaining the high levels of energy which are needed for our busy lives and a vigorous sex life. 

   2.  Make Love and Romance a High Priority. This means thinking ahead and scheduling special times together. Young parents can have time for love but they won't "just happen".  Finding time for romance requires  planning ahead and protecting these "dates".  Treating your marriage as high priority also means knowing your own limitations and learning how to set limits and say no. Families place many demands on our time and only those who can place romance near or at the top of their list will find that there is time for sex. 

   3. Learn to Communicate and Negotiate.  Deal with and stop avoiding those nagging problems.  Keeping passion hot requires that couples know how to argue and communicate effectively and constructively.  These skills give couples confidence and allow couples to resolve conflicts and prevent anger and resentment from building.  Knowing you can talk with your partner about difficult issues successfully and without arguments means you are less likely to avoid problems in the relationship.

If love and passion have been on the wane or even missing in your relationship, and you may have even felt like giving up, remember: it is never too late.  Indeed, one of the greatest joys of being a therapist is to hear how couples have rediscovered their love and excitement for one another.   

Rekindling old feelings is not an accident however.  You have to want it and make the effort.  When  partners are healthy and rested, and  when the relationship is valued  and nurtured and when the air has been cleared and resentments are gone, the feelings of love and consideration will return and the river of passion will flow again.  If you practice these tips, you'll find that the rewards will not only last a lifetime but that your relationship will grow in intimacy as well as in passion.  

The Rev. Michael Heath prepared these remarks for Bridge Street  2 14 2012

 

 

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