It is easy to fall in love. It’s even easy to be in love. It is, however, very hard to keep love and to grow in it. But as with most hard things, it is very much so an endeavor worthy of effort. Margaret Paul, Ph.D. of the Huffington Post has shared a few of her thoughts on how to keep and grow love in the long term. We, in turn, would like to share some of those with you.
Paul’s idea is that love flows between open hearts. At the beginning, our hearts are wide open to new experiences and shared perspectives with our partners. As we grow together, we often react to romantic relationships by starting to narrow the passages into our hearts. It follows that if both partners strive toward the same goal, keeping that passage wide and clear, love will not only last, but blossom.
Behaviors that can cause a closing of that line in our partner’s are often rooted in control, be it overt or covert. Overt controls include anger, criticism, defensiveness, righteousness, and violence. Covert controls include withdrawal, lying, resistance, and denial, among others. Controlling behaviors are an attempt to change the other person, rather than ourselves, which diminishes love in an unwillingness to open ourselves up.
The best way to fight behaviors like this is to replace them, as often as possible, with behaviors that reflect prioritizing loving yourself and giving love to your partner over getting love (which is really what controlling behaviors are all about). Being honest and authentic, without blame or judgment, is a huge part of positively interacting with your partner. That also means taking responsibility for your own feelings of worth, joy, anger, pain, and security is a priority, rather than leaning on your partner to provide those things.
Finally, both partners need to be committed to loving and learning. Mistakes, disagreements, outside strife, will happen. The trick is not falling into a lucky, mad love; it is prioritizing open communication and working through issues together in times of trial.
If you and your partner are ready to keep and grow in love, contact Rabbi Lebow of Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings today. We can’t wait to help you along on your journey.