How to keep that love alive

C and I will have been married 25 years in March and together for 29 come the summer.  Sometimes it can be difficult to feel the love.  It’s always there, but sometimes the romance might be missing in favour of practicalities, or we simply co-exist in an easy-going fashion.  We are always fully supportive of each other and back each other up when it matters.

March’s Psychologies Magazine (out in January, really?!!) has an article on keeping the love alive in which it suggests cultivating lasting love is a bit like nurturing plants in a greenhouse rather than leaving them to the frost. How you think about your relationship directly impacts your experience of it by shaping your feelings and influencing your actions.

Some couples have great chemistry and magnetism, know themselves really well and communicate brilliantly. Most couples, claims Cate Mackenzie, have some issues that need to be worked through. When you’re with a partner longer term you get to experience deeper growth and develop into a more authentic and well-rounded person as a result of being challenged and learning how to be in a relationship. Rather than thinking about how your partner should change in order to improve your relationship, Mackenzie suggests shifting the focus to yourself.  Invest in your friendships, make time for fun and consider therapy if you think it will help.  These can all help you become a friendlier person, which can lift a relationship.  Take responsibility for you own needs and wants and journey into your own vulnerability and authenticity.

So followed the ten-question quiz to determine what you need to allow love to flourish. Although my answers were quite spread across the board, the majority of results (by two points) for me pointed to “Commitment”.  The response was:

It’s good to have clarity about what you expect from a relationship, but sometimes high standards become unrealistic expectations.  In a healthy relationship, differences are valued and each partner grows by understanding the triggers for conflict between you.  But that can be hard, and sometimes it’s easier to give up and look elsewhere for a ‘better fit’.

When small irritations spiral out of control, they can trigger an exhausting internal debate about whether or not the relationship is working. But sometimes, being hyper-aware of other people’s faults is a defence mechanism to avoid commitment.  When we stop ourselves from feeling completely connected, we’re protecting ourselves against being hurt by rejection.

It might take your partner threatening to leave for you to feel certain about your feelings for them – which can be painful for both of you.  If your partner’s ‘faults’ were there when you met, but didn’t put you off, your focus on them as the relationship progresses may be fuelled by commitment anxiety. Explore with compassionate curiosity what scares you about intimacy.  Professional help from a therapist ca help you gain the perspective you need.”

I came from a four-year relationship where my opinion didn’t matter, I was constantly made to feel inferior and whilst it was ok for him to ‘bump into’ ex-girlfriends down the pub, if I so much mentioned another guy’s name, apparently, I was a tramp and on the pull.  It took me four years to pluck up the courage to leave that relationship.  I vowed at that point that no-one would ever treat me that way again. 

I won’t pretend everything is perfect with my relationship with C, we have our moments albeit very rarely, but mostly, it’s secure, loving and equal.  We both do what we want with our friends without the other getting jealous.  We share a hobby which we can either do together or separately.  We are fully supportive of the other’s actions. I certainly won’t be looking for a ‘better fit’ because I don’t believe there is one.  I have it already, thank you.

I guess there is an element of protecting myself from getting hurt or rejected and sometime that does boil over in certain situations.  I suspect there’s an element of both of us having been hurt in the past but we found each other and helped heal those wounds. I get less and less bothered by ‘faults’ and accept our relationship as it is.

I got a goodun and I plan on keeping him.


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