From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Keeping love alive in new and old relationships

 Like many aspects of life, falling in love is always easier on the way in than on the way out. Driven by our most basic instincts, love can either be a great power surge or it can fizzle. Falling in love is like a glorious adventure; falling out of love is more like getting lost in a jungle. While the process of coming together may be a swift and creative blending of ingredients, the process of moving apart is more like dividing the last piece of cake; no matter how you cut it, it’s gonna crumble! For those who long to be in relationships for the long haul, here are a few thoughts on the matter.

·         Communication the elusive butterfly. Ask almost anyone what they are looking for in a relationship and you will most likely hear the word communication. When couples fall in love, they usually credit their communication. When couples get into trouble, they usually blame their communication. Take time, at least once a day, to share something personal with your mate. Turn off the TV, sit down together and tell each other the story of your day.

·         Why is it so difficult to communicate? We humans are a sensitive breed. We long to communicate but we abhor being criticized. In the early stages of getting to know someone, we open up to each other slowly and carefully, but recoil at the slightest sign of danger. We long to open up and share our private selves, but exposing our innermost thoughts and feelings can render us vulnerable. It is helpful that people falling in love tend to exchange words that make each other feel good. We all need to feel good about ourselves. Be sure to compliment your mate at least once a day.

·         Be sure that the message you sent was the message received. Words alone do not make for good communication; thoughtless words are notorious for getting people into trouble. When used as weapons, words are hurtful and they leave scars. Sometimes the free-flow of words is not free at all; it can carry a heavy price if misinterpreted. For accuracy, we must be certain that the message we intended to send is, in fact, the message received. If your partner’s facial expression changes unexpectedly, they may have received a different message than the one you intended to send. When conversations suddenly come to a halt, take time to back track and clarify any misunderstandings.

·         The key to accurate communication: Practice, practice, practice. Even after years of love or friendship, it is unacceptable to become careless in the way we speak to one another. Even after years of love and friendship, it is still easy to hurt each other’s feelings deeply and permanently. Take time to think before you speak, and especially, take time to cool off before speaking when you’re angry. Quick, angry retorts feel good momentarily, but usually just make matters worse.

This month, Valentine’s Day will once again decorate our lives with pink and red hearts that invite millions of people to question whether they are loved or question why they are not loved. The mere thought of being alone on Valentine’s Day has been known to send people scurrying in pursuit of instant love.  But love is never as simple as it seems.

Love is a physical and emotional relationship that must be nurtured every day. Saying the words “I Love You” affirms our connection, our commitment, and helps couples to focus their emotional energy toward staying in love for years and years. Love is neither an achievement nor a plaque on the wall, but a consistent lifestyle that allows both partners to thrive individually and as a team.

©Copyright, 2012, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.            

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