How to Keep Love Alive in Long-Term Relationships
“Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself.”
- Dr. Gary Chapman
The honeymoon phase is said to last about two years. During this time, the romantic love that is deeply rooted in our psychological makeup is evident in our everyday interactions with our partner. It is during this euphoric state that we become obsessed with the other person. This ecstasy-filled stage in the relationship leads us to believe that we, as a couple, are invincible, and that our love will last forever.
Eventually, however, we descend from this fantasy land. Our eyes open, and we begin to see the imperfections, the annoying mannerisms, and our partner’s capacity to hurt us. We begin a new stage of the relationship where a look can hurt and where words can crush. What emerges from this honeymoon phase is a love that requires effort, care, discipline, patience and compromise.
Dr. Chapman, author of the book The 5 Love Languages, offers a strategy to help keep love alive once the honeymoon stage is long gone. The love languages that make up this strategy include: quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Essentially, he states that if our partner ‘speaks’ our primary love language on a regular basis (i.e.: provides words of affirmation), then our love tank will remain full, and our capacity to deal with everyday struggles within our relationship will improve.
It is very possible that one partner’s primary love language is different than the other partner’s primary love language. As a response to this, Dr. Chapman maintains that love is intentional and can be seen as an attitude (i.e.: I am with you and chooseto make you happy). Consequently, he suggests that a choice we have in our relationship is to adopt our partner’s primary love language, and to incorporate it in our daily interactions with them.
Aside from helping us better deal with everyday struggles, having our significant other speak our primary language can also lead us to feel more secured, accepted and desired. It is a clear message that the other person is looking out for our best interest and is committed to our well-being.