The secret of couples that last
What is it about couples that make their relationship last and keep the partners involved and thrive together?
Is there a secret that makes these couples last?
The answer to this question is not so obvious, because in my opinion each couple builds its own secret that makes it work well in between them. And that’s going to change over the course of their relationship.
For myself, after 9 years in a relationship and my job as a love coach, I am not 100% certain of this, because it’s a balance in which, in my opinion, is constantly redefining itself as each partner and the couple evolves.
Imagine how much you’ve changed in 10 years. That’s not going to change when you’re in a relationship.
Instead of a valid miracle recipe for everyone, there are, in my opinion, 3 aspects to consider to help each couple find their own secret:
- To understand the physiological evolution of the feeling of love after several years of living together
- Be clear about the role and expectations of the couple.
- Cultivating the ingredients for a successful life together
To understand the evolution of the feeling of love after several years together
This section follows the’article on how a man falls in love where I summarize Dawn Maslar’s research on the physiological mechanisms that occur when you fall in love and how these are different between a man and a woman.
In the same research Dawn Maslar finds that after falling in love, hormones roughly return to their origins, pre-date levels and that couples who continue to stay together do so by conscious choice.
At this point in the relationship, it is no longer the reptilian brain that is the motor of the relationship, but the rational brain, more specifically the cortex, the same area of the brain that connects us to our values, to our desire to be the best version of ourselves by developing qualities such as compassion, unconditional love. This is typically the area of the brain that is activated when you are doing personal development.
In other words love begins with a feeling and ends up being a choice.
It is therefore normal to see a change in the couple’s passion after several years together, because there is this return to normal hormones.
Dawn Maslar, nevertheless describes two phenomenon that occur in parallel with this brain change:
- The use of the prefrontal cortex will diminish our sense of attraction towards other people.
- Mirror neurones allow us to benefit even more quickly from our spouse’s experience, in the sense that we learn faster what he knows what to do, because he’s already acquired this skill and we are often in contact with him.
Be clear on the role of the couple
I hope that the description of the physiological evolution of the feeling of love will give you a more realistic expectation of the role of the couple in your life.
For me, the couple remains and will remain only a part of your life, in the sense that the couple is for me two independent and fulfilled individuals in their respective lives, who decide to share the bonus of the couple, let’s say this icing on the cake (sharing your life with someone you love) and not the whole cake.
And this means two things: first of all, the first of your mission is to continue developing yourself personally, independently from your life as a couple.
And that allows you to take advantage of this icing on the cake, which is the relationship of the couple, for your own personal development.
Once the couple is committed to the long-term, it becomes for me a tool for personal development in the sense that it is within the couple, in this zone of security and love, that the wounds of each partner’s past will resurface. The couple becomes the unique opportunity to settle what was not resolved in the first home where we experienced this security (or not), our parents.
Crisis often occur when there is a change in the degree of dependence on the other partner at the structural level (e.g. with the arrival of children), at the financial level (e.g. when the spouse loses his or her job), at the emotional level (e.g. if one spouse loses a loved one), at the physical level (e.g. if one spouse becomes ill).
And staying in a relationship finally becomes a choice you take until the end of your personal development, because in the end, changing partners will not necessarily help you solve the problem, you will simply experience the same problem with another person.
Of course, this is up to a certain point. For some couples splitting up will be the best solution.
In my individual coaching I propose different tools for the reflection in order to understand what lies behind a couple’s crisis, i.e. what are the wounds that emerge for each partner, what the couple can do to filter and manage the conflict, how each partner can help the other in this process and what questions need to be considered in order to decide whether it is worth continuing or not.
Ingredients for a successful life together
I hope that at this stage reading my article you have the clear idea that Staying fulfilled as a couple is a job.
Which means you have to dedicate yourself to it:
- Time and above all quality time. Here quality prevails over quantity. How much time do you dedicate to your partner to enjoy yourselves and not just to divide the tasks?
- Give priority to your couple. When the couple is not doing well, it is a natural reaction to take care of themselves in a different way, with other activities (going out, exercise, seeing friends) to escape from the crisis. But when you want to get through this crisis, you also need to invest time and sometimes reduce your investment in other personal activities to devote more time to your couple.
- Nurturing the relationship with gestures of care and love.
- Accepting that the other has an evolutionary rhythm different from their own, which means that the crisis can last longer and that a way must be found to “wait” until the other person has done their part of personal development.
- Stay positive in the relationship
- Continue to have common projects
- Making a conscious decision to admire your partner by focusing on what he does right. Not easy when you’re in the middle of a crisis.
- Continue to explore yourself outside of your relationship.
At this level of the relationship, each partner becomes the expert in his or her own couple, because you are in the best position to understand what it takes for you to flourish. I personally find it beautiful to see the couple becoming the greatest tool for their own personal development and a way to experience unconditional love.
Believe me, it’s worth it.