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The world of love is an easily solved mystery of giving. As the holidays approach, people are too often filled with anxiety instead of love and serenity. This week I was reminded of the words of Dr. Leo Buscaglia, author of LOVE: "What love we've given we will have forever. What love we fail to give is lost for all eternity."  

The secrets to lifelong love are really quite simple. Why? Because love is more than a feeling, it is a decision. Lifelong love asks that we maintain positive illusions, be forgiving, re-ignite oxytocin, and laugh often.

Maintain positive illusions

From the research of Marcel Zentner, PhD, of the University of Geneva: "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." How to make love last. (Here is one way you can do this: Relationship Tips: choose to Cherish instead of Criticize).

Also it is important to be mindful of your partner's unique, genuine qualities and stay in touch with these during happy as well as difficult times.

Incorporate forgiveness in your life each day

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."

Re-ignite that oxytocin

Psychiatrist Dr. Scott Halzman says that natural highs "can produce excitatory neurochemicals that the brain interprets as excitement about your partner, not the activity." He suggests:

  • Making love: Sex produces a natural high that can boost oxytocin levels.
  • Doing something out of your normal routine: Try going to an amusement park or walking in the rain. And if you are walking in the rain, skip puddles or see who can jump into a puddle and make the biggest splash.
  • Dining at a new restaurant: When you do so, order a dish that is completely unlike anything else you have ever ordered.

These activities will trigger the bonding effect. These and many other thoughts are in his latest book: The Secrets of Happy Families: Eight Keys to Building a Lifetime of Connection and Contentment

Laugh together often

Men like women who laugh at their jokes and women prefer men who make them laugh. A small research study found that women rate funny guys as more intelligent than guys who are not so funny. The research was presented last year at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Brighton, England. Why funny guys get the babes - CNN

And in the often-quoted words of actress Joanne Woodward: "Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that's a real treat."

Copyright 2011 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved

Follow Rita Watson on Twitter @ LoveColumnist

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