Couples often say ‘I love my partner but I am not ‘in love’ with him/her any more’. We all look back longingly on those heady days when we felt so ‘in love’ and wish that feeling could last forever.
The reality is that blissful feeling lasts between 6 months and 2 years while a relationship is forming and couples are finding out how much they have in common. People at this stage spend endless hours talking, sharing, expressing affection, thinking about each other and having fun.
As time goes on, it becomes clear you are two separate people with real differences in personality, needs, backgrounds and preferences – and these need to be addressed and negotiated if the relationship is to grow. This takes new skills of listening, managing one’s own anxiety, negotiating separateness and togetherness, and managing conflict. This can be difficult, and couples can mistake this for ‘falling out of love’. It is actually the relationship doing its work to challenge you, to ensure you have the skills and the resilience and maturity to have a successful relationship – one that can withstand the demands of life. These are normal steps towards reaching a mutually interdependent relationship which allows you to be your best selves and have a loving relationship. In fact when couples know they have this capacity to deal well with issues that inevitably come their way, even greater levels of intimacy can be reached.
Of course, most of us want to be able to capture the spark and romance of ‘being in love’ whatever stage of life we are at. This is possible. We do, however, need to look after our relationship. Prioritise it, give it time and attention (including an enjoyable sex life), deal with issues as they arise, and make sure we acknowledge and celebrate the good times, especially those that have meaning for us as a couple.
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