In the first few years of a relationship, you and your beloved’s brains are bathed with a heady cocktail of chemicals that make you feel positively high for each other. And you can’t imagine ever feeling differently. Those middle-aged couples who sit silently staring at each other at restaurants? That will never be you two. Those friends you know going through an acrimonious divorce? No way you’ll ever find yourself in their shoes. You guys are different. Your relationship is surely above average. You’re destined to beat the odds in every way.
You get married and several more years go by. You argue more and have sex a lot less. You don’t feel as close, and sometimes you do stare at each other silently while digging into a Moons Over My Hammy. You’re not unhappy, per se, but you’re not really happy, either. You kind of feel like platonic roommates who enjoy each other’s company; you get along alright, but there’s a lack of depth, richness, and ardor to your relationship. The old spark is gone.
While the arc of this common story might seem like an inevitability, it’s not. Research shows that romantic love can last. You can beat the odds.
How? Answers on this question abound, and are readily offered by friends and family, trained marriage therapists, and popular culture in general.
Unfortunately, a lot of the advice given through these well-meaning channels, even by the “experts,” just isn’t accurate.
The real secret — one that’s been scientifically-studied and research-vetted — to establishing and maintaining a happy and long-lasting relationship is actually gloriously uncomplicated. Easy, really. Even fun. In fact, it doesn’t even involve working directly on your marriage at all.
Instead, all you have to do is think about your relationship like a bank account — a kind of trust, that, if consistently funded with deposits of positivity, will keep your marriage in the “black” your whole life through.
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