“For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we are finally home” says Stephanie Perkins. Romantic relationships are a lot more about being happily together than being happy as individuals. To make a relationship last forever, one has to understand and fully live the concepts of commitment and togetherness, and lessen a focus on individual needs. Finding the “right” person, magic moments, thrilling intimacy and all other treats are not what love is all about. When people say ‘love hurts’, in most cases, it’s a catch phrase that combines the host of challenges with which love comes. Every romantic relationship undergoes difficult and painful times. Perfection in relationship is just an illusion that sits for a moment and vaporizes even before you could fully appreciate it.
Thinking about the other in the relationship before (or at least at the same level as) your own self is a primary goal of mature love. More important – the sooner you get rid of the concept ‘the other’, the easier it gets. While early in the relationship – which our culture refers to as ‘being in love’, togetherness is fairly easy – as the relationship matures it requires more work to maintain a focus on the relationship and your partner’s needs. Constant communication and deeply focusing on the others perspective is compulsory in order to instill the truth of the ‘engaged’ status in you.
Being in a relationship is more of a state of mind, and if acceptance is not attained, you will remain to co-exist as individuals with differences than as two beings complimenting each other. When alone, remember the good times spent that does not necessarily have to be in physical presence of each other. It could be a moment of happily laughing on a small joke or reflecting on the intense discussion you had lately. The first few days of courtship and romance could be worth looking back to. Remembering the joyful moments is a skill worth practicing.
Also, facing your responsibilities, rather then focusing on your partners is a best practice. It is easy to get pulled into a petty annoyance, but takes practice to return to focusing on what you can give to your partner. Loyalty is a primary building block in a relationship. Give your partner the space and time needed to breathe and be themselves so that you can claim the same in a relationship.
Above all, remember that you are with a person you chose for many positive reasons, and it is possible to see the beautiful elements of the other – if you practice focusing on the other and on the relationship. Remember that love is often difficult, but worth the effort.
Michael Winters is a Psychologist in Houston focusing on marriage counseling and therapy. Michael received his PhD from the University of Memphis and has been practicing since 1991.