New love is easy—it sparks inside us; but what about keeping love alive? Researchers looked at long-lasting happy marriages to find the secret to romantic success.
Recent psychological studies have shown that romantic love does not always fade as relationships progress. In fact, many long-term couples have found ways to sustain their spark for each other throughout years of companionship.
From analyzing the tendencies of people in lasting, healthy relationships, psychologists have been able to point to several characteristics as being helpful toward keeping love alive. One of those traits has to do with why a couple commits to each other in the first place.
The research suggests that people who get married or commit to a relationship for personal fulfillment rather than for security have a better chance at maintaining the satisfaction of both partners. Also, it is encouraging to note that many people who get married today do so for self-actualization and fulfillment whereas people from previous generations got married to cater to their sense of survival and safety. In this way, our society has shifted in its motivations for entering into a long-term companionship.
This shift has led to the strengthening of relationships, because the marriage itself becomes a facilitator for the self-development and self-expression of the individuals involved in it. Average marriages of the past tended to last longer than they do today, but the best marriages of today are more potent than those of previous generations in terms of the well-being and happiness of both partners.
There is one caveat. Although a relationship of lasting romantic love can have positive affects on physical and mental health, the benefits do not come easy. To reap the rewards of a fulfilling relationship, both people have to be willing to put in a lot of time and energy to sustain their satisfaction.
There are helpful hints for keeping a spark alive; but when it comes right down to it, there is no secret. A healthy relationship is hard work.
For some more characteristics of strong couples, click here.
[Image: via Hugo Chisholm, on Flickr]