Build a Love that Lasts

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Most of us have seen quite a few relationship failures and yet we long for lasting love. We all want to end up like that happy old couple sitting together on a park bench. We wonder what have they done right that we have gotten wrong. The thought that comes foremost to my mind is that they have invested in their marriage.

People take a leap of faith when they enter into matrimony, but to have an enduring marriage, they need to work on it. There’s no simple formula for lasting love.

Are you unconsciously sabotaging your marriage?

Psychologists who have been researching and analysing relationships for years have identified four key factors that can destroy a relationship.

Destructive criticism: Couples fight, that’s normal. They criticise each other, that’s normal too, and could even be healthy for understanding one another and correcting mistakes. But what matters is how you interpret your partner’s mistakes and how you criticise. If you choose to imply to your partner that there is something basically wrong with him or her because of their action, then that strikes at their very core being. (“Why did you do it like that? Are you an idiot? Don’t you have any common sense?”) Such repeated criticisms suggest a lack of respect for the partner and can only bring an end to the relationship.

Being defensive: Are you in the habit of giving defensive answers? Your spouse asks you about something and you immediately feel that he or she is finding fault and you end up sounding defensive. Constantly feeling on the edge when questioned is a red flag that you should sort out.

Scorn: Feeling contempt for one’s spouse or being at the receiving end of derision is a sure sign of your marriage going downhill. Making sarcastic comments, mocking, eye-rolling, and similar scornful behaviour can make a person feel wretched and useless.

Cutting off communication: Lack of response or cutting off communication could happen as a final reply to the above three, namely, criticism, defensiveness, or scorn. Certain people, however, immediately choose to clam up. Whatever be the reason, to stop conversing is not the answer to the problems in your married life.

How to ensure that your relationship lasts a lifetime?

Treat your partner with respect: As a start, keep the above four key factors in mind and when interacting, treat your spouse with respect and courtesy. We romanticise saying there’s no ego when it comes to true love. But the truth is, a healthy ego is essential for self respect. Needless to say, constant criticism and scorn affect the ego of a person and he or she would eventually cease loving. So, let your criticisms be positive.

Be realistic: Every relationship has its ups and downs, and knowing this, one tends to ignore the warning signs. While not curbing your partner’s freedom (or yours), be realistic about the factors that can pull your relationship apart – like, alcohol, drugs, gambling or debt, to name a few – and try to set boundaries.

Build an emotionally healthy relationship: Too much nagging, too many petty fights, too much drama, all of these can prove to be an emotional drain. Be wise about your fights. Is something worth fighting about? Will it have a long term consequence? If not, let it go. Don’t react with prejudice. Try to make allowances for your partner. Wait until you hear what he or she has to say before reacting. Maintain a healthy dialogue and understand that to win, sometimes you have to lose too.

Nurture your emotional connection: Hugs, kisses, pet names, snuggles, and all those sweet nothings that were so much a part of your courtship, don’t let them go! Nurture those. Remember, it’s the small things that make a difference. Surprising your spouse by making breakfast or dinner (or appreciating a meal they cooked), doing the dishes, taking out the rubbish, complimenting their looks, appreciating their new hairstyle, all go a long way. Spend time together, express your love, and continue to strengthen your bond.

Ask for help: How is it that when we are sick, we visit the doctor, but when it comes to personal relationships, we hesitate to seek help? When you see your relationship spiralling downwards, don’t be ashamed to seek help. You could turn to your family or friends for guidance, or if necessary, go to a relationship counsellor.

Couples Counselling at the Centre

The following are practitioners at the Centre who have experience with couples and relationship counselling:

To get an appointment or to make enquiries, please call (03) 9820-5577.

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“It’s all about love” – Photo credit: Flickr user Candida.Performa

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