Are there really “secrets” to lasting love? Things that happy, long-term couples have figured out that would dramatically increase your chances for the kind of relationship you dream of?
Yes, there are. And the reason they feel like secrets is because they really are puzzles that are unique to each couple. You have to spend some time working gently to unlock each one and then put the prize you find to work for you.
Fortunately, these three things are easy to share — and simply knowing what they are will help you get ahead. When you put your energy toward unlocking these three secrets, you really will be on your way toward lasting love…
“Hi Claire, my boyfriend and I have been together for two years. We were middle and high school sweethearts, but when I turned 16 I had to move away and it broke his heart. I was away for eight years and had a kid. Three years ago I came back and we instantly fell back in love.
But something was different about him. When we were teenagers I was like a queen to him. He never hurt me and we never argued. But now we argue and fight and he calls me names. He says that when I left him I changed him… Is it possible that he was so in love with me eight years ago that when I left him it did in fact change him? Why was it much easier years ago?” — Melissa
Hi, beautiful; thanks for writing. There’s a simple answer to both your questions, but I think you’ll be more interested in the 3 powerful secrets to lasting love that your question actually points to… Feel free to skip down there and come back. 🙂
“Why was it so much easier years ago?”
When you’re in middle school or high school you have almost no real problems. Even if your home life is difficult, usually someone gets you to school every day, sees that food is on the table, and takes care of most of your basic needs.
But when you grow up (and have your own kids), all that changes. Now YOU are the one who has to be responsible, and you typically have many more challenges to face than you ever did back in school.
The reason it’s harder now is because you both are grown up, dealing with grown up issues.
“Am I responsible for how he changed?”
Once you’re an adult you no longer get to say, “I’m being mean and yelling at my girlfriend because she broke my heart eight years ago in tenth grade.” I mean, you can SAY it, but it makes you look silly. 🙂
Things happen to us, but we get to choose our responses, and to blame our own inappropriate behavior on someone else is immature.
And honestly, a tenth-grade broken heart is not the worst thing that will ever happen to him. You’ll both be spending many of your years growing your spiritual and emotional muscles so that you can get through all the things life will throw at you.
Here are the two REAL issues here, plus a third that goes with them…
3 powerful secrets to lasting love
When you’re fairly new in an adult relationship (I’m not counting the time you were together in school), one of your first major “tests” is how well you weather problems together. This is how lasting love begins.
Right now, you have one you’re working on, and it’s all about these first two things:
1. How well you resolve conflict
Arguing and disagreeing are normal in an adult relationship. It’s how you SOLVE things together that’s the real issue.
Are you going to respect yourself enough that you won’t allow him to treat you badly? Will you be able to communicate that with him in a way that he can understand? Are the two of you willing to keep working at solving this even if it takes repeated efforts over time? Do you have people you can get help from if you get stuck?
This is a BIG one, and many couples struggle with it for years.
2. Whether you will take responsibility for your own behavior
He may be holding on to his old heartbreak in order to keep from having to admit that HE is responsible for calling you names.
Is he going to let go of that old anger and move into a deeper relationship with you? Will his love become more about who you are, rather than what you once did?
And here’s a third important factor in any relationship that goes the distance…
3. Whether each of you will learn how to make the other person feel loved
When you’re with him you should feel like your best self. And the same should be true for him.
This takes years to get good at, but it’s essential to lasting love.
And in order to get started, you have to be a bit of a detective: you have to figure out what YOU need to feel loved (learn your own love language), and communicate that with him. Then you have to understand what HE needs, and fill his “love bank” or speak his love language on a regular basis.
And both of you will have to go back to number one above when you’re not feeling loved, and figure out how to solve it.