What makes love last? Is it possible to keep a relationship strong and vibrant over the long term or are we destined to live out our days in boredom and annoyance after the honeymoon is over?
That is a million-dollar question and researchers have been asking the same question for a very long time.
The beginning of a romantic relationship is often marked by high levels of passion, joy, attraction, excitement, and novelty. We find everything very exciting.
With time, however, these feelings and experiences become less intense, rendering the relationship a great deal less exciting.
This does not only happen in marriage and relationships but in all aspects of our lives.
Let us take the example of travel:
When we travel by air for the very first time, we are impressed if they give us earphones and a drink. It feels luxurious to sit in our seat with the stewardess coming around to check if we need anything and if our seat belts are tied.
One of the things that sets newly weds apart from couples who have been married for a while is how they respond to a “bid for connection” from their partner. Dr. John Gottman, the renowned marriage expert explains that a bid for connection is any small or big gesture made by one spouse to get the attention or affection of the other.
Bids for connection are small everyday occurrences like calling your spouse just to check in during the day, commenting on something you read or heard, asking for an opinion or making an affectionate gesture.
Spouses make these bids for connection many many times throughout the day. Bids can be in the form of questions or everyday comments such as “how do I look”, “did you see that?”, “what did you think of the show”, “it is cold today”. They can also be in the form of a gesture, a touch or simply looking at the other for a response.
In the beginning, it is...
Couples in therapy are often surprised to see how little it can take to turn the course of a distressed relationship. Small everyday acts of kindness and appreciation can make a big difference to the overall health of your relationship.
Can you remember some of the little things that you used to do but are no longer doing? The exchange of a newsworthy story at breakfast? The telephone call at lunchtime just to “check in”? Making sure there is enough toothpaste/toilet paper/soap for your spouse before they go into the shower? The little hug or cuddle at the end of the day?
Start doing little acts of kindness and see how the climate of your relationship improves.