But sooner or later the excitement of first dates, three-times-a-day sex and the feeling of being drunk on love is bound to fade. That’s when you may start to notice that your partner tells terrible jokes, hogs the duvet or refuses to ever hang up a wet towel.
While the madly-in-love phase almost always comes with an expiry date, deeper relationships can give you intimacy, stability and commitment. If you’re prepared to put the work in, you may get a happy, stable relationship in return.
Clinical psychologist Tara Clark, of Psychology Associates in Dunedin, shares her secrets for making love last long-term.
- Couples who play together, stay together
Make sure you have a quality catch up for at least 10 minutes each day – maybe over a cuppa or a glass of wine while making dinner.
Put down all other distractions, such as the phone or the newspaper, and really hear about each other’s day.
Once a week, plan a one or two-hour date. It could be breakfast, a walk together or dinner.
Once a month, have a special activity to look forward to that takes you away for a good length of time. Go for a day tramp or cycle ride, spend a night or two away from home, or take a day trip to a neighbouring town.
- Make sure you’re on the same track
Think of your relationship as being like a train on railway tracks. Long-term relationships run the risk of getting derailed.
In the beginning of a relationship, we spend a lot of time together. We enjoy planning dates, thinking about the other person, and talking and really listening, which keeps us on the same track.
Over time, we get complacent and forget to put so much time and energy into our relationship. We assume the relationship will just keep tootling down the tracks, but what we forget to appreciate is that one or both of us can veer off in another direction and leave the other behind. We’re then surprised when the train derails.
Appreciate that relationships take work and a lot of communication.
- Be nice to each other – create and build security
Humans are simple. We are attracted to people who make us feel good about ourselves.
Think of your relationship as like a precious bubble with you two inside it. Boost each other up, remember to have each other’s back, and support each other.
Make sure your relationship is a safe place for you to come home to. Do you look forward to seeing your partner at the end of the day because you know they’ll provide you with great emotional support? Or do you dread talking to your partner because you fear rejection or humiliation, or feel unheard?
Look at long-term relationships you admire. Often it will be couples who do everyday small things for each other like talking nicely, smiling kindly, holding hands and showing loyalty and patience.