Anyone who’s been in a relationship knows that in the beginning, it can be amazing. But as the years wear on, the things you used to love about your special someone may start to annoy you. The relationship doesn’t feel reciprocal anymore. What gets couples through the hard times is love, but how do you make love last when you’re angry, frustrated or upset with your significant other?
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we asked our social media followers for their tips on making love last, including advice from men and women who have been with their mates for years.
Make love your priority. When you put all your energy into your work, you see results. The same goes for your relationship. If you put it on the back burner and ignore it to focus on your friendships, career, or social life, you’ll feel the impact in your relationship. After taking care of yourself, your relationship should be your next priority. Just like your car needs constant tune-ups to run smoothly, so does your relationship.
Maintain your identity. It’s easy to lose yourself in your relationship. But this only leads to resentment in the end. “Make time for yourself, have something that you just like to do by yourself and a couple of times a month do it, it helps you feel like you haven’t lost yourself,” said Moesha Spikes (23 years). Do things without your partner and focus on participating in things that make you happy. That happiness will spill over into your relationship. If you expect your partner to provide all your happiness, you’ll end up disappointed.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. One of the hardest things in a relationship is keeping your mouth shut when your significant other does one of those million little things that drives you crazy. A relationship already has enough issues. Save your energy and annoyance for the big ones. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Let go of the little things that bug you. “My aunt has been married 57 years and when I got married, I called her crying because my husband and I were arguing so much,” said Lena Sledge. She gave me the best advice; ‘Learn when to shut the hell up.’ Other advice she gave me, “Lena you do not have to always have the last word.” Twenty-five years later, I still use her advice.”
Don’t be afraid to seek help. Part of nurturing a constructive and healthy relationship means that you don’t always have to go it alone. Yvonne Murray said that her 20-year marriage has benefited from some outside help. “Most people don’t know how to be a wife/husband and just like you learn how to be good at your job, a counselor can help you learn how to be a good mate. Don’t wait until something goes wrong to seek counseling. Do it in the beginning when everything is good and you’d be amazed at the difference it can make.”
Take responsibility. When fights happen, immediately accept responsibility for what you did wrong. Neither of you are perfect and chances are likely you said a cutting comment or made a harsh judgement. A sincere apology goes a long way in mending any argument and will encourage your partner to reciprocate. Once apologies have been said, make an effort to forgive and let it go. And realize that not everything deserves a fight. “Pick your battles carefully. Every conflict does not require the same amount of energy,” said Jetola Anderson Blair (25 years).
Look for the good things. Some people go on a detective-like search for things that their partners do wrong, maybe because they want some ammo for the next time they have an issue to argue about, but telling your mate what he or she is doing right may well prevent that other issue from ever coming up.
Boost the love chemicals. There are many brain chemicals that go into the feeling of love and attachment. Oxytocin is known as the bonding, trust and cuddle hormone. Oxytocin is enhanced by watching romantic movies together, holding hands, cuddling, and long, loving eye contact. “We hold hands during good times and bad,” said Tracy Price Thompson, who has been married more than 30 years. “Reach for each other’s hand. While watching television, walking in and out of a store or restaurant, while chatting, while making love. It creates a physical bond and a strong sense of intimacy. It anchors you together as a unit and denotes emotional connectivity. Reach for that hand when talking and laughing, and also when annoyed, angry, or in the heat of an argument. It will remind you to fight fairly because it’s kinda hard to lob a grenade at someone when they’re holding your hand.”
Make them smile. Find little things to do that make your partner smile. If they love it when you help out in the kitchen, load the dishwasher and prep dinner. If it makes him or her feel special when you give them little gifts, pick up a treat on your way home from work.
Make it your mission to discover or re-discover what makes your partner smile. Then use it to let them know you love them or are thinking of them daily.
Do little things. Little things can make a big difference, like leaving a love note. “When I reach into my pocket and find a piece of paper that says ‘Love you,’ it brightens my day, and can turn my day around,” said Amanda Lewis.
Sex matters. Learn what pleases your partner sexually. Make it clear that their pleasure is your pleasure, and you want to discover everything about what turns them on. Schedule sex if you have to. “We purposely schedule intimate time together as we are both busy professionals and it too easily gets overlooked. Invest in learning about your intimate relationship,” said Mark Andrews (32 years).
- 2 out of 5 married couples are happy
- 3 out of 5 are somewhat satisfied or living with spouses in quiet desperation, experiencing little intimacy, passion, romance or sex
- 4 years before marriage quality starts to decline
- 20% of marriages end within the first five years
Advice from couples
Check out tips from our social media followers on making love last:
“We live by this acronym KIS KIS — Keep it silly, keep it sexy. Always laugh; laughter is so very necessary! And definitely keep it sexy! A look, a touch, his favorite outfit.” –Sharon Caples McDouglas
“Never stop learning about each other! Read and re-read the book ‘5 Love Languages.’ Keep Jesus at the top, in the middle and at the bottom and He will continue to direct your path! Learning to communicate is a continuous process! We’ve started a habit of praying together almost every day.” — Carrie Conway-Jones (30 years)
“Being friends and actually making time for fun. Also being a de-escalator. Both spouses take turns with this. Have lines that you don’t ever cross.” – Tiffany Warren (22 years)
“Keep well meaning people out of your relationship. Don’t keep score as to who does what and You must communicate and be willing to compromise. Liking is as important as love.” — Karen Brown (23 years)
“We try best to always make sure that we clearly communicate to each other our wants, needs and desires. Additionally, we always try to never go to bed mad at each other. Communication is the key to keeping the unity.” — Steven Bobino II (21 years)
“Learning both how to listen and how to ask for what I need. The first year was tough because as a lawyer, I was formulating my rebuttal argument before he’d finished talking. That meant I wasn’t really hearing what he was saying. I also expected him to read my mind. It was completely impractical.” — Trina McReynolds Bailey (21 years)
“[Tips include] listening and assuring your spouse has enough space to enjoy his/her interests and hobbies…” — Tyronne Malone
“You have to be friends first. I have been married for 21 years and we have been together for 28 years. I love him dearly but some days if I didn’t like him I would have left.” — Stephanie Michelle Anderson
“Never give up on each other at the same time; 32 years and counting.” — Andrea Coleman