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Love is More than a Feeling, it is a Decision.

Every relationship has a cycle. In the beginning, you fall in love with your partner. You anticipate their calls, crave their touch, and adore their idiosyncrasies. Falling in love isn’t hard. In fact, it is a completely natural and spontaneous experience – that’s why it’s called ‘falling’ in love. People in love often say, “I was swept off my feet.” This implies it was something that happened to them.

Falling in love is a passive and spontaneous experience. But after a few months or years of being together, the euphoria of love fades. It’s a natural cycle of every relationship. Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens), and your spouse’s idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, begin to bother you. The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship. There will be a noticeable difference between the initial stage when you were ‘in love’ and a much duller or even agitated subsequent stage.

At this point, you and/or your partner might start asking, “am I with the right person?” As you reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when relationships breakdown. People blame their partners for their unhappiness and look outside for fulfilment. Extramarital fulfilment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most common turning point for the end of a relationship, but sometimes people turn to work, a hobby, friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances. But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your relationship, it lies within.

The key to succeeding in a relationship is not about finding the right person, it’s learning to maintain the love for the person you found. Of course, this doesn’t mean you could fall in love with anybody that comes along, but if someone possesses the qualities you desire in a partner, then there is an ability to maintain a healthy relationship – with a bit of work and a lot of patience.

It’s a common human misconception that ‘the grass is greener on the other side’. Yes, there is the probability that you could find happiness in a new relationship and temporarily you’d feel better. But chances are you would find yourself back in the same boat – feeling unsatisfied and underwhelmed by your relationship.

Sustaining love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. You have to work on it day in and day out. It takes time, effort, and energy. Most importantly, it demands wisdom. You have to know what to do to make it work and practice this daily.

Love is not a mystery. There are specific things you can do with or without your partner to make it work. Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships.

Here are some tips for sustaining a healthy relationship:

  • Communication is key – aim for at least 5 hours of quality conversation per week. This will strengthen your bond and make both of you feel understood and heard. When it comes to disagreements – do not take anything personally! Express yourself with humour, affection and non-violent communication. Do NOT show contempt, hostility, act defensively, make comparisons, resort to name calling or eye-rolling!

  • Make sure the good outweighs the bad – happy couples have 5 good interactions for every 1 bad moment.

  • Create meaningful experiences together – this gives you something to look back on and reflect on the good times you’ve shared.

  • Make time for yourself – not only is it important that you take some time out and continue to do what is meaningful to you, it will also give you more to talk about when you are together.

  • Laughter is medicine – add a touch of cheeky flirtation through humour. Revisit old memories that had you in stitches.

  • Intimacy is essential – what separates your relationship from a friendship is intimacy. The physical connection you share with your partner is therefore essential. The happiest couples make love 2-3 times a week but at least once a week will spark positive feelings and keep the flame burning.

  • Celebrate your partner – show enthusiasm, ask questions, relive their glory and show genuine excitement for them.

  • Do something nice for each other every day – this can be as little as a compliment, through to cooking a meal, giving a massage, bringing home flowers or something you know would mean a lot to them.

  • Focus on the good times – when you’re alone reflecting on your relationship, or talking about it when friends, focus on all the positive things you love about your partner and the special moments you’ve shared. Forget the rest.

  • A happy relationship is mostly about the friendship you share with your partner. Take an interest in their interests, friends and life before you came along. Continue to build on this together.

Love is a decision. Not just a feeling.

Remember that the universe determines who walks into your life. It is up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go!


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