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A close-up of a newly opened delphinium flower (Summer 2013).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Making Love Last

Perfect love is rare indeed - for to be a lover will require that you continually have the subtlety of the very wise, the flexibility of the child, the sensitivity of the artist, the understanding of the philosopher, the acceptance of the saint, the tolerance of the scholar and the fortitude of the certain.

No other personal investment is as risky and as painful as the love investment. Because the nature of love coincides with our deepest core as human beings, when love goes wrong our soul goes wrong. It is as though each molecule in our body aches and suffers. Either slowly or suddenly, we feel that the solid ground upon where we stand is not there anymore. We become insecure and our mind plays tricks on us. We ask so many whys and we engage in so many what ifs.

The statistics about marriages, which are supposedly contracted out of romantic love, are dismal. There were 71,783 divorces in Canada in 2001, the last year when statistics were available. In the US (see #2 Raw Numbers), there were 957,200 divorces in year 2000 (excluding the non-counting states), with most marriages ending in divorce in the early years of marriage. In the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country, the Office of the Solicitor General received 43,617 cases of annulment and separation from 2001 to 2007.

We need to make enormous efforts in preventing our love relationships from going wrong, otherwise we could become part of the divorced or separated statistics. We cannot afford the wrenching pain that results when families are torn apart with children suffering the most. Therefore, the important question to ask ourselves is: How do we make love last? 

I searched for evidenced-based journals to find out what can be done to make love last. However, there are no "fit-for-all" techniques that will ensure a lasting love because relationships are complex and contextual.   Below are some vital strategies, a love map you might say, to make your love relationship last. 

Communicate well. If the mantra for business is location, the mantra for love relationship is communication. We need a kind of communication that runs through the fabric of trust, respect, honesty, understanding, integrity, forgiveness, and compassion. The best form of communication is listening. We need to listen with our heart because what is usually unsaid is what is most important. Criticizing seldom works. What is effective are the following words: "I am sorry, please forgive me." "This is what I feel at the moment and this may not have anything to do with you." "This might hurt but here's the truth." "I would like to understand you better so tell me more." "Is there anything I can do for you?"

Be faithful. A relationship rarely survives infidelity. An affair strikes at the core of trust, even if it is just a one-night stand or even if there is no emotional attachment. It is a violation of sexual exclusivity between two people who are married or in a conjugal relationship. And it never "just happens." It takes motivation, opportunity, and planning (read Woman Who Stay With Men Who Stray). Buffer your relationship against the possibility of infidelity by prioritizing your relationship and paying attention to it. You need to spend quality time together (without the kids in tow) and refresh your intimacy, and make each other feel great, desirable, and wanted. 

Make time for sex. Some time apart is healthy and even necessary to nurture one's self and pursue one's interests and dreams. However, don't put sex in the back burner. Try spending at least one weekend every two months alone with your partner. This will improve your sex life, mood, and relationship. Engage in pleasurable diversions in mini-honeymoons. Learn how to give and receive pleasure. Be an excellent lover

Nourish each other. Do little things for each other everyday--the loving phone calls, the winks, the smile, the hugs, and the kind words. Cook for your mate once in a while or serve breakfast in bed. Remember those anniversaries--when you first met, your first kiss, and other wonderful events in your life together. These little things could add up to nourish your relationship and could cushion everyday stresses as well. 

Be couple-centered. There is a tendency for couples to give their attention to their children and neglect each other. Recognize that you are there for each other first, that you are each other's best friend. Being parents comes after that. When a marriage is too-child centered, it will suffer. When you begin to call each other "Mommy" or "Daddy" it is time to go back to "Honey" or "Darling" to make you aware that you are still each other's lovers (and not each other's parent). 

Manage your financesMoney problems is one of the leading causes of divorce or separation. Living up to the Joneses will create tension in your relationship. Remember that persons are more important than things. Live simply and want what you already have. Be honest about what you value and align your financial values in terms of affordability and need. 

Accept each otherAcceptance requires respecting and affirming each other's uniqueness. It does not mean tolerating abuse, dishonesty, and unethical activities. It means letting each other be and giving each other the space to grow and blossom. It also means tossing aside the need to change each other to suit expectations and your want for perfection. Walk away from a relationship marked with chronic infidelity and abuse. Accepting each other should not involve suffering of this kind.

Be proactive. Start the day by asking yourself this question: "What can I do today for this person I love?" Initiate family activities--cooking together, playing together, shopping together. Develop family rituals--reading to kids before bedtime, praying before sleeping, celebrating special occasions. Establish connections with in-laws, relatives and friends.

There are other hundred little ways to make your love last. What I have outlined here are just the major ingredients that will have positive impact on your relationship. 

If romance is like building a sandcastle, you then need to continually rebuild and ultimately create a stone castle.

I would like to close this write-up with a poem I wrote in October 1975 when I was 19 years old and a new English instructor. This was published in the Crusader Publication of Xavier University. This poem is my Valentine Day offering for all lovers in the world.

A Passionate Lover to Her Beloved
 © Amy Morales Labitad (1975)
kiss me

with eager lips

but don't consume me

else nothing would remain of me.

touch me

with such delicious warmth

Oh, tenderly!

but don't cling too lightly

else it would become a necessity.


passion is a crazy, tricky feeling.

kiss me....

touch me....

 leave me half-awakened....

  but forever wanting!


Happy Valentine's Day to all of you! May you love with all your heart, mind and soul and receive whatever you dream of in love. May this earthly life be your paradise.

As always, I welcome comments, questions, and contributions from you, dear readers. Click the Comments link below and leave your message.