Life & Style | Relationships

Love lessons

Expert relationship advice from the pros

  • Compiled by Andrea Anastasiou.
  • Published: 00:00 February 1, 2010
  • Aquarius

  • Image Credit: Camera Press

The initial flurry of excitement that comes with being in a new relationship can be infectious. Those first few months of getting to know someone can trigger a whirlwind of emotions, ranging from extreme exhilaration, to curiosity, awe, hope, happiness and love.

Everything is new and exciting, and many of us completely lose ourselves in this new person. However, once the initial honeymoon period is over, real life takes over and what was once a thrilling partnership can sometimes seem difficult, predictable and a little dull.

The truth is, relationships are challenging - marriage, children, financial difficulties and families can all add pressure, and soon enough you find yourself wondering where it all went wrong. The good part, however, is that relationships can be kept just as fresh, exciting and alive as they were at the beginning. They just need nurturing from both parties. We spoke so some experts in the field of love, who were on hand to offer some of their top tips on how to keep the love alive in the face of some of the most commonplace difficulties couples encounter.

How to make your love last

  • Love lesson 1

"One way to make love last between you and your partner is to work on developing and maintaining a deep friendship. Often couples forget why they fell in love or they become too busy in their day to day lives of work, children, and running a house and they forget to nurture their friendship. Love is similar to any other thing in life - if we want it to grow or flourish, we need to spend time nurturing it." - Dr Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist, Human Relations Institute Dubai

  • Love lesson 2

"Prioritise the relationship. Make it more important than work or children, becauseindeed it is. Work will come and go, and when you've prioritised the marriage over the children, the children still receive all the benefit." - Dr Kennon Rider, professor at Michigan State University Dubai, and marriage therapist at the Australian Family Care Clinic

 

  •  Love lesson 3

"Wake up each day with a loving thought and then turn it into an action." - Barbara Peters, author of The Gift of a Lifetime: Building a Marriage That Lasts (AuthorHouse)

 

  • Love lesson 4

"Expect love, all sorts of love, and not any particular act of love, like an anniversary gift, your favourite meal, tolerance of your mother's harsh words, a high income, or a long conversation about feelings. While you wait for one, you miss all the others. If you wait impatiently, you may discourage your spouse from trying others." - Patty Newbold, president of enjoybeingmarried.com

 

  • Love lesson 5

"You have to think about your relationship every day and create ways to help your mate feel good about himself. You both must be committed to keep on going on." - Lois Hjelmstad, author of This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage (due for release in April 2010)

 

  •  Love lesson 6

"Happy people do not have less ‘wrenches' thrown into their lives. However, they do see and appreciate the positives that are also in their lives. This concept is vital for couples wanting to make their love last. While it can be easy to point out and dwell on your partner's less-than-optimal characteristics, try to change your focus. Concentrate, instead, on his or her positive traits. In fact, verbally identify his or her positives and write down at least one thing you feel grateful for about your partner every day." - Elizabeth Lombardo, psychologist and author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription For Happiness (Morgan James Publishing)

  •  Love lesson 7

"One way to keep romance alive is to be genuinely interested in the other person. Get to know your partner's likes and dislikes and make sure you update yourself, because people change and so do their desires. A person will naturally be attracted to someone who shows interest in them." - Dr Saliha Afridi

 

  •  Love lesson 8

"Pay attention to the small things, such as remembering birthdays and anniversaries. Go beyond that to take special interest in what your partner is doing or is interested in. For example, if a wife has a doctor's appointment, a husband should remember, and inquire how it went." - Dr Kennon Rider

  • Love lesson 9

"Review your wedding day and early courtship frequently and feel the emotions." - Barbara Peters

 

  • Love lesson 10

"Never, ever complain about what is missing. Instead, make it as much fun as possible and as easy as possible to be romantic together. Prepare a romantic meal, light a few candles, send the children to visit their cousins. And remember that men are more likely to offer romance when women offer respect and admiration." - Patty Newbold 

  •  Love lesson 11

"Be spontaneous and always remember birthdays, anniversaries, and any other special days you share as a couple, whether it means writing a poem if money's tight and you can't buy a gift, or getting your loved one something indulgent that he or she wouldn't get for himself or herself. Act as if you're always going out on your first date and put your best foot forward for each other, but still feel comfortable and relaxed with each other. You'll experience that amazing blend of feeling familiar with each other but still excited and special with new adventures about how you spend your time together." - Dr Jan Yager, author of 125 Ways to Meet the Love of your Life (Hannacroix Creek Books)

 

 How to make up right

  •  Love lesson 12

"In every argument there are two parties who are responsible. Find out what you are responsible for and apologise. Whether it was raising your voice, or walking out the door while your partner was talking, find something that you wished you would have done differently and say sorry. It is important to use the language of ‘I' versus ‘you' and once you say sorry, just stop, do not add a ‘but you also' at the end of your sentence. When a person takes responsibility and uses ‘I' language for their part in the argument, it automatically brings down the defences of the other person." - Dr Saliha Afridi

  •  Love lesson 13

"Life is too short to not speak to the person you love for any extended period of time." - Dr Kennon Rider

  • Love lesson 14

"Of course, say you are sorry, and then ask what you can do to show your commitment to be a better person." - Barbara Peters

  • Love lesson 15

"One of the best predictors of a happy and long-lasting marriage is fair fighting. Arguments will happen (if you never disagree with your mate then you are probably not being as open and honest as would be healthy). And making up (including what you say and do, how you say it, and how long it takes you to forgive) is a vital component of the argument. Change your goal from ‘winning the argument' to ‘winning as a couple' by listening to, respecting and even appreciating each other's differences." - Elizabeth R. Lombardo

 

 How to survive parenting

  •  Love lesson 16

"Take time for you and your relationship. As important as it is to nurture your child so they can grow and thrive, it should not come at the cost of your health and the health of your relationship. If you nurture anything in your life, your children, your work, your family, your relationship, it will most likely fulfill its potential, if you neglect it, its growth will be stunted. Take time out to do things that make you happy and everyone in the family will reap the benefits. Also take time out to have fun and be romantic with your partner. It has to be scheduled and although scheduling it may seem like it lacks spontaneity, it will help serve as a reminder for you both to spend time on your relationship and serve as a good example for your children." - Dr Saliha Afridi

  •  Love lesson 17

"The best gift you can give your children is a happy and long-lasting marriage. Despite their great needs, children will thrive when they see their parents loving each other and giving quality time to the marriage, without always including the children." - Dr Kennon Rider

  • Love lesson 18

"Know that children are a lifelong deal; learn to say ‘no' sometimes, provide them with tools for making their own decisions, and never lose sight of the special relationship you have with your spouse." - Barbara Peters

  •  Love lesson 19

"Children thrive when their parents love each other. Do this first, and the rest gets a lot easier. Children do not benefit when you spend so much energy on their needs that you are too tired for your spouse. They grow less secure when you ask them to take sides or keep secrets from their other parent. And it is through your eyes and words that they develop respect and love for their parents and, later, their own mates." - Patty Newbold

  How to maintain long distance relationships

  •  Love lesson 20

"There are many positives of being in a long distance relationship, so focus on them. Someone said distance makes the heart grow fonder and this is probably because the couple is not fighting over day-to-day chores, or who made the mess in the bathroom. Being away from your partner can be a time of self-discovery as well as a time of discovering and appreciating the positives in your partner. Write letters, email, chat, Skype - find ways of learning and loving this part of your life." - Dr Saliha Afridi

  •  Love lesson 21

"Long distance relationships should be kept to a minimum! But when circumstances are unavoidable, then attention to the relationship needs to be stepped up. By whatever means, communication must be a priority and happen consistently to keep the bonds tight." - Dr Kennon Rider

  •  Love lesson 22

"Keep in touch frequently, believe in each other, verbalise insecurities, and act loving even though you may have doubts." - Barbara Peters

 

 How to get through life's ups and downs together

  • Love lesson 23

"Life is difficult! It is made easier when two people see themselves as on the same team to confront life's difficult moments." - Dr Kennon Rider

  •  Love lesson 24

"Live in the moment, always communicating needs and addressing concerns as they happen, looking at life's challenges as opportunities." - Barbara Peters A

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