“Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.” ~ Brené Brown
Listen to today’s post on the go or continue reading below …
I couldn’t resist writing about love on Valentine’s Day. This past week, I had to do quite a bit of out of town driving for work so I took the opportunity to listen to some of Brené Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” audio program. She describes how loving someone is one of the most vulnerable things we can do. We have no guarantees that someone will love us back or that someday our heart won’t be broken – we definitely have to be vulnerable to be all in.
Most of us would agree that love is one of the most powerful emotions of our human experience. Finding that one person to love and have it last a lifetime is truly a gift.
What is lasting love?
For me, a lasting love is that deep, intimate love between two people, extending beyond the phase of excitement and newness, and that endures all of life’s challenges along the way. I have spoken about a resilient marriage in a prior post and I believe that in order for a love to be lasting, it must be resilient. Life can be very unpredictable and having that degree of love that can withstand it all is what real life fairytales are made of.
In the Scientific American article, Discovering the Secrets of Long-Term Love, Dr. Emma Seppala discusses a survey of couples married ten years or more, 46% of women and 49% of men said the were “very intensely in love” with their partner. This is an encouraging perspective that may reflect the fact that people are waiting longer to commit to someone and our overall greater acceptance to openly love who you want.
What is the secret to lasting love?
Well, it is no secret that no one secret exists! Having said that, I strongly believe that in order for love to last, it has to be built on a foundation of admiration, caring, respect and trust. Once that level of love exists, a few additional key ingredients that can contribute to make it a lasting love include:
1) Affection: In the article cited above by Emma Seppala, she also discusses the importance of affectionate behaviours such as hugging and kissing for intense love over the long term. Research has consistently shown that social connection is a fundamental human need, and this physical connection is vital to a loving relationship. In a recent article I wrote about healthy physician relationships, I highlighted the importance of little things such as a kiss before walking out the door in the morning. These small physical gestures let your partner know that you love them and will miss them when you are gone.
2) Time together & shared experiences: In order for love to thrive, spending time together and sharing experiences is essential. This can be a struggle for people who also want to be independent and value doing things on their own. For some of us, the day-to-day time together and common activities and goals, fosters our relationship. For others, it may require more scheduling to be together such as going on a trip, taking cooking lessons, etc. My husband and I definitely fall into the former category and enjoy each other’s company – from doing errands, to exercising together, to working on this blog together.
3) Teamwork & compromise: In the article, 7 Things Researchers Know About the Science of Long-Lasting Love, Jennifer Abbasi discusses the importance of sharing household chores in successful marriages. If the chores fall more to one person due to the household arrangements, an expression of gratitude goes a long way. I grew up in a household where chores and running the household were shared by my parents so I grew to value this concept in my own household. My husband refers to he and I affectionately as a “team” and I think it unifies us as a powerful force.
Of course, I couldn’t end this post without acknowledging the lasting love I have in my life. This is my 22nd Valentine’s Day with my husband and I am still absolutely intensely in love with him.