How to Create Love That Lasts
Brad and Jen split after five years of seemingly blissful marriage. Speculation rages over how long Tom and Katie (whose relationship seems a bit too, well, intense) will last. Call it "tabloid love." It's sudden. Sexy. Superheated. Short-lived. And all of us watching such relationships explode and fizzle from our grocery store lines and living room sofas should learn a thing or two.
"Watching these larger-than-life dramas unfold can teach us a lot about what love is not," says Susan Jeffers, author of The Feel the Fear Guide to Lasting Love.
"Tabloid love, or what I call 'enchanted love', is often mistaken for real love, at least by the celebrities who experience it. These men and women are crazy with excitement and passion. It's too bad so many of them can't figure out that it is a guarantee that the initial attraction will wear off. It's too bad so many of us can't figure it out either."
Here's what happens to celebrities and mere mortals alike, Jeffers says. "Boy meets girl. Passion flares. Sex thrives. All is great until the passion dies down and real life sets in," she says. "We become dissatisfied ... resentful ... angry. We find ourselves bewildered and dismayed. And some of us act like our Hollywood counterparts, tossing aside our budding relationship and seeking those heady feelings with someone else. What we don't realize is that when the enchanted love wears off, it is then time to begin the journey to real love."
If we don't have this important understanding, how can we ever create a superb relationship for life?
"I believe that a relationship is the best workshop going," Jeffers says. It can teach us about moving ourselves from the weakest, most selfish part of who we are to the most powerful and loving part of who we are where real love lies. Remember that the same feelings come up in a good relationship as a bad relationship. It's what we do with these feelings that makes all the difference in the world.
So how does one begin? Here are 6 suggestions from Susan:
1. Expand the purpose of your relationship.
As I see it, a relationship has two important purposes – a Practical Purpose and a Higher Purpose. The Practical Purpose of a relationship is to have someone with whom to share our lives. Traveling the road together can be a joyous experience. But sometimes problems with money, sex, children, work and the like can make the journey together very difficult. It is for this reason that we need to have a Higher Purpose. The Higher Purpose of a relationship is to learn how to become a more loving person – despite what problems come up. It is our using all the problems as a vehicle for seeing what we need to work on within ourselves to keep love in our hearts. In this way, problems become a plus instead of a minus. We learn, we grow, we are filled with creativity, we take responsibility, we feel strong, and we ultimately experience the exquisite beauty of real love.
2. Pick up the mirror instead of the magnifying glass.
What does that mean? The magnifying glass represents our symbolically pointing a finger and blaming our mates for our unhappiness. The mirror represents looking inward and taking responsibility, not only for our actions, but also for our REACTIONS to what is going on in the relationship. The mirror is self-awareness, and self-awareness is the first step toward positive change. An example:
The magnifying glass: I am angry because he/she is taking time away from me to spend time with his/her friends.
The mirror: Is my life so limited that I can't function without him/her for a few hours? It's time for me to take responsibility to create more balance in my life so that I don't feel empty and needy when he/she is not around.
3. Handle the neediness.
Neediness is an emotion created by fear and is one of the prime destroyers of love. Neediness causes us to protect ourselves at the expense of our mates, to close our hearts, to judge our mates and blame them for our unhappiness. But when we feel strong and whole, we can be "safely vulnerable," always knowing that no matter what happens we will handle it all. In this way, our neediness disappears and our ability to love with a sense of confidence and joy radiates throughout our beings. We become a magnet to a truly wonderful relationship.
4. Become the mate you want your mate to be.
First make a list of all the characteristics you want your mate to have. It could look like this: loving, thoughtful, warm, considerate, caring, appreciative, romantic, generous. Now for the big challenge: Pick up the mirror and begin developing these qualities in yourself. You may be someone who resists this challenge. But how can we ask our mates to be something we have been unwilling to be ourselves? Trust me when I tell you that incorporating all these loving qualities within our own beings can dramatically alter the thoughts and actions of our mates.
5. Validate your mate.
We have to learn to notice and openly express thanks for the beautiful things our mates do for us. (And if you can't find anything to thank him or her for, then why are you there?) It makes our mates feel so good when we let them know the things we appreciate about them. And it encourages them to continue doing beautiful things. Remember that every relationship has its good and every relationship has its bad. By focusing on the bad, we starve. By focusing on the good, we thrive. So don't let another day pass before you say, "Thank you. I love you." Say it today – and say it often.
6. Stop gender bashing.
You've probably been guilty of telling (or at least laughing at) jokes about members of the opposite sex – even when your mate is in the room. Don't. What seems like "harmless" joking may actually be working against your efforts to move out of the realm of selfish love and into the realm of real love. When you participate in the bashing of members of the opposite sex, you are behaving in a hurtful and unloving way. Remember, if you don't love, respect and admire the opposite sex, you won't, by definition, love, respect and admire your mate.
All of the above is about learning how to radiate a positive and loving energy – a must in a great relationship. Science is proving that feelings are contagious. This means that if you think and act lovingly, your partner will actually "catch" that loving energy. You become a model that evokes love in your mate. And the whole nature of the relationship begins to move in the direction of love.
Bottom line? The power is yours. If you are feeling resentful, negative, disdainful and the like with your mate, work on changing your energy to one of love, appreciation and caring. It is definitely worth all the effort you put into it. Why? A loving relationship feels sublime and brings you great joy; it makes life sweeter and easier. You delight in your ability to give to your mate; you feel abundant as you take in the love that he gives to you. Just sharing the journey with someone you love – it doesn't get any better than that.