The One Thing You Must Know About Keeping Your Relationship Alive
(If You Want To Stay Together)
Keeping your relationship alive is an art - and a science. As a sex and relationship therapist, I’m always helping couples cultivate this art and learn the science. And while there are many ways of doing this, one of the most important ones is working on your thoughts.
It may sound trivial - but it’s not. And knowing why your thoughts matter, might just turn your relationship into a life-long romance.
Your beliefs about romance matter
Our thoughts are powerful. They affect our mood, how we feel about ourselves and others - and also, what we do. This means in any given situation, a lot of our behaviours have to do with our thoughts. This includes the thoughts we’re aware of, but equally, the ones we’re not.
So, what you think and believe about your relationship, whether consciously or subconsciously - will affect your relationship. And this can be both great and not so great.
When the passion of the early days subsides, it’s easy to feel like keeping your relationship alive is doomed. After all, decreased desire and a sense of slight boredom must mean something, right?
Well - not necessarily. And this is where your thoughts about the matter might have a long-lasting impact on your future coupledness.
If you believe that relationships can’t be brought to life again - you run the risk of ending them prematurely. This means you might lose out on a relationship that could have been satisfying in the long-term. Perhaps, even life-long.
On the other hand, if you believe that magic once lost can be regained, you stand a much larger chance of turning that belief into a reality.
Keeping your relationship alive by changing thoughts
Turning your beliefs into a reality isn’t about magic or anything divine. It works because a belief about the possibility of recapturing passion, positively affects how committed you feel to your partner.
And more commitment motivates positive relationship behaviours - ones that sustain your bond and keep things interesting. This effectively can bring back that giddiness of the early days.
Sound too simple? Let’s look at the research supporting it.
Carswell & Finkel did a series of experiments, proving why our beliefs about relationships matter. The authors state: “(...) holding a decay belief of passion likely reduces commitment at even average levels of passion, suggesting that believing passion does not revive may lead to even a modest cool-off of initial pasion causing alarm and doubts about the future.” (Carswell & Finkel, 2018).
This research is important because it challenges our western views of desire and passion in long-term relationships.
If average levels of passion are seen as a sign of something being off and this reduces commitment - what does this mean for the future of our romantic relationships?
Why sexual desire is strong at the beginning of relationships is, in part, due to the chemical cocktail of testosterone, dopamine and norepinephrine.
If this chemical reaction changes as we move into the attachment phase of a relationship - maybe we can’t expect desire and passion to feel the same way forever.
This doesn’t mean that passion decay is irreversible.
It means desire acts in different ways and therefore we need to approach it in different ways.
Keeping your relationship alive can be done by changing your thoughts and beliefs. By believing that you can regain passion and desire.
Maybe not in the same exact way you used to experience it - but in a different way. One that makes you happy and satisfied and keeps you connected.
Why people break up
People end relationships and get divorces for a multitude of reasons. These include, but aren’t limited to things like, infidelity, high levels of conflict and a feeling of growing apart.
A recent nationally representative study of Americans suggests that we might equally end things because of a decrease in positive relationship behaviours, rather than an onset of negative ones.
In fact, the study claims that almost half of all divorces aren’t because of endless conflicts. They’re because the good stuff; the emotional intimacy, the conversations, the fun, the hugs, the kisses and the sex - stop.
And, according to the study, when a low-conflict relationship ends in divorce or separation, you’re more likely to experience less happiness after divorcing, compared to those who divorce from high conflict marriages.
One reason we stop engaging in positive relationship behaviours - are, again, our thoughts and beliefs about the relationship.
So, instead of focusing on how to remove the negative stuff, a more powerful tool might be increasing the good stuff.
Keeping the fire going with positive relationship behaviours
There are lots of ways to sustain the spark in your relationship or marriage. Some of these include things like:
- Committing to 60 seconds of intimacy, three times a day. This might be by sharing a long hug, having a quick cup of coffee together, or checking in on each other during the day with a phone call.
- Creating a morning routine for sex and emotional connection and proactively getting in the mood for sex.
- Doing something new and fun together, such as taking a cooking class together, trying out a new sport or even testing a new cuisine.
It doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be hard. But by infusing your bond with positive relationship behaviours - as opposed to just getting rid of the negative stuff - you can start to feel more content together.
The Magic isn’t Lost
Thoughts and beliefs are powerful because they affect how we feel and behave. If you’re looking for ways of keeping your relationship alive - it’s important to address your beliefs about passion and desire.
By changing how you think about what is possible for your relationship, you increase your commitment to one another. And with increased commitment follows more of all of the good stuff - the stuff that keeps you together.
The stuff you really want and deserve. It’s possible.
If you’re looking to get that passion back and remove all the pressure and stress surrounding sex - get on the waitlist for my coaching program Re:Desire, launching soon.
Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and coach with a Master of Science in Sexology. She helps people reduce stress, shame, & anxiety surrounding sex -- so they can get their sex drive back and enjoy their partner again. If you want to improve your relationship (even if you’re already happy), download her free resource, The Guide for Intimacy.
Originally published at LeighNoren.com.