Before a person begins to focus on how to sustain love in a relationship, they should be sure that the love is one worth sustaining: a wholesome love, a fearless love, a supportive healthy love, an unrestricted and unrestrained love. Your relationship may not be everything you want it to be all the time, and that’s perfectly fine, but ask yourself if the love is worth sustaining. If it is, then be prepared to put in the effort.
The most important part of sustaining love, is sustaining yourself first. To focus on your relationship you have to focus first on reaching a balanced state of dignity, self-respect, self-worth and self-gratitude. Try to foster a love for yourself that honors the wonderful you, both inside and out. When you feel like you don’t measure-up, change the metric and scale. There is no superior measurement system you have to hold yourself to, and it’s all about perspective. Try looking at yourself from another angle. This isn’t to say you should be blind to your faults, but accept them as a part of yourself and remember that you are worthwhile. If you can’t love yourself, it is very difficult to sustain a healthy form of love in a relationship.
The Hard Times:
Sometimes you and your partner won’t be on the same page. Sometimes you may feel rigid and irritate, or you may find that you don’t appreciate their presence. If this is the case, that’s okay. You are only human. Pat yourself on the back for even recognizing the emotions you are feeling, because if you don’t recognize what is happening, you can’t work to fix it. Now you can take the next step. Try to figure out a way for you to come back to the relationship. Work to improve on the foundation you’ve already built. Maybe a way to do this is to reach out to people in your life that can act as a support system for your relationship–whether this is a friend, a family member, or a professional counselor. The ultimate goal is to get back to a place of being thankful for the presence of your partner… after all, you probably searched for love for a while to find them.
If you feel like you unintentionally go into “fight-mode” every time you are around your partner, that may be a good sign that you need to gain some distance. Even in a committed long-term relationship, space is needed to maintain a part of yourself for yourself. It is usually healthy to give yourself some space at times. However, this doesn’t mean distancing yourself emotionally from your partner. There is an important distinction between giving yourself space and putting space between you and your partner.
Any form of love connection is strengthened by the presence of generosity of spirit and vigilant attention. If nothing is given to feed the connection, then there is nothing there to connect with.
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” — Mother Teresa
If your partner is putting in all the effort, and you are giving nothing in return, there is no connection, there is only half a connection. If there is only half a relationship built, then is isn’t sustainable love.
A sustained love is also tied to your intentions, goals, motives and passions. What are you excited about, and how does the other person fit into the picture or support you in the direction you are going? These are also things which you must put into your relationship to help it flourish.
If you are holding back from your desires then you are likely holding back a part of yourself from your relationship. You have reach a place where you let go of your fears and venture towards where you want to, and know you need to, go. Then you can reach a place of contentment, happiness and love in both your inner self and in your relationship.
Communication is the currency of love. Treat your communication with your partner like you spend money: be deliberate and thoughtful. The goods news, however, is that there is a limited return policy. Don’t get too worried about getting everything you say exactly perfect all the time. But remember it is limited because if you are frequently too incautious in your speech then you may run out of chances.
Focus on being vulnerable and empathetic when you talk to your partner. If your feelings were hurt, say that. If you feel like you have needs that aren’t getting met, discuss how to move your relationship in a way that benefits both partners.
Most people have a difficult time expressing themselves, especially when it comes to their feelings and needs. Sadly, often, after several failed attempts, they end up giving up and relinquish the decision making process of the relationship to the other person.
Expressing yourself is hard stuff, sometimes you will need to take baby steps:
- Try speaking up about something small… reflect on what happened.
- Practice what you want say ahead of times… then give it a try.
- If you don’t feel you can directly express what you want or feel… try expressing it in a non-direct way.
- If you feel like you can’t start with your feelings… try asking about how they feel about it first.
Any relationship that doesn’t allow you to be you, isn’t going to be truly fulfilling. Fully expressing yourself is a personal need and a relationship requirement in a love worth sustaining.
A Fresh Start:
Occasionally relationships need to be re-started. You and your partner may still truly deeply love one another, but the negative things can accumulate and the good things can get neglected, even with the best intentions and efforts. Before resentment builds and leads to vindictiveness, make the time to really listen and talk truthfully. Restart your love.
Think about what you feel and what you need. Listen to what your partner is feeling and needing. Don’t take what is automatic or habitual for granted. If you don’t appreciate it, you may lose it. Notice what is unavoidable, even if it is something that typically leads to bitterness. Learn to love it or deal with it. Acknowledge what is difficult and stressful and use it to foster growth. If you don’t acknowledge it, it can build until it explodes. When the hard decisions come, don’t react with a panicked defensiveness, but with calm and forgiving assertiveness.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable, allow yourself to be imperfect, take the time to understand how your partner is feeling and empathize, and realize that your partner isn’t perfect either. Don’t be afraid to apologize to each other and admit your own fault.
Don’t let your wounds fester. Practice clearing, refreshing and restarting. This is the only way to cultivate a love that will sustain the test of time.