With Love and Gratitude

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Six Secrets for Finding and Keeping Lifelong Love

Despite the divorce rate, we still want to believe in happily ever after.

Robert Indiana, Yale Digital Commons
As photos capture the story of baby Prince George and his glowing mother, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, we are reminded of the fairy tales.  Who can forget days when young girls swirled about to words of the song, “Some Day My Prince Will Come.” While Kate Middleton is now a duchess married to Prince William, very few women will marry into royalty.  

Nonetheless, as we graduate from childhood dreams to a more calculated matchmaking society we remain in search mode, asking, “What are the secrets for finding and keeping love alive?”

The top answers to meeting one’s soul-mate include love at first sight, dating a person who shares your values, or taking a page from Oprah’s magazine and creating the 100 point perfect mate list.

Add to the love tips a new book on creating happiness and you have a sensible blueprint to pave the way for commitment. Dr. Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist whose latest work is Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence. At Psychology Today he is author of Your Wise Brain

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The calm aspect he talks of can help save many relationships. Imagine that instead of letting sparks fly you find the inner strength to create peace. 

How does one find love?

But how do you meet that special someone in the first place? Love at first sight still happens. Matt Damon met his wife, Luciana, in a Miami bar and the couple recently renewed their vows in a million-dollar ceremony.

However, a more practical approach is dating someone who shares your values by engaging in charitable work, politics, religion, or sports.

Creating the 100 point wish list was a recommendation by Alice Gorman several years ago in O Magazine. This list should be so complete that you are encouraged to write out wishes from physical appearance to qualities to how he will dress. Yes, down to the color of his socks. How to Find Love - Do Magic Lists Work? - Oprah.com.  At the end, Martha Beck, O's life coach, explains why it works.

Secrets for sustaining love

Despite a society in which the divorce rate hovers at 50 percent, we still want to believe in romance. Some thoughts for keeping love alive include:

  • Expressing gratitude: Each day look for the positive qualities in your partner and say so.
  • Speaking with respect to each other: Whether alone or in the company of othersit is important to watch words and tone of voice.
  • Creating memories: Through mini-vacations, parties, or love notes, make a point of keeping the magic alive.
  • Negotiating differences: While opposites may attract, we all have a variety of aspects to our personalities. Embracing your love's complementary opposite sustains wholeness.
  • Maintaining positive illusions: From the research of Marcel Zentner, PhD, of the University of Geneva, we learn: "Men and women who continue to maintain that their partner is attractive, funny, kind, and ideal for them -- in just about every way -- remain content with each other.”
  • Embracing the forgiveness factor: In Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth he talked about the essence of marriage, and later discussed this with journalist Bill Moyers on PBS. He called "loyalty" the essence of marriage — "not cheating, not defecting — through whatever trials or suffering, you remain true."

    Bill Moyers added: “The Puritans call marriage the little church within the church.

    In marriage, every day you love, and every day you forgive. It is an ongoing sacrament — love and forgiveness.” 

    4 Best Kept Secrets to Lasting Love | Psychology Today

Your love story

Robert Sternberg, Ph.D., while at Yale’s psychology department, pointed out that a love relationship between two people follows a story, oftentimes a story we created as children. If we find that our stories do not turn out happily, he suggests rewriting them. Dr. Sternberg is currently president of the University of Wyoming.

Here is a twist on a love story for couples. Remind yourself as to why you fell in love and retell the story to each other. Embellish it. Fill it with romance. Add little forgotten aspects and wishes that you can now make come true.

Make your love story a commitment to each other. Writing or rewriting it together can turn your relationship into a lifelong adventure.

Copyright 2013 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved

Rita Watson, MPH, is an Associate Fellow at Yale's Ezra Stiles College and a columnist for The Providence Journal.

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