“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.” – Louis De Bernieres, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
This is a beautiful picture of how love works from Dr Iannis in De Berniere’s classic, but for many people there are going to be bumps along the way that might start to put a strain on those entwined roots.
So, how do keep the magic in your relationship when you have money problems, illness or stress to deal with?
Many people will tell you that having a great sex life is part of the answer. But it certainly isn’t everything if you want to have a rounded and joyous relationship.
And as Dr Iannis goes on to say:
“Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement… it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body… That is just being ‘in love’, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”
So what else is important to keeping your love alive? When you find someone that you can really enjoy those years with, that is something worth truly worthwhile.
For many, the number one thing that helps love stay strong is a sense of humour.
Laughter is one of the great forces that bind us together, and it’s truly sociable. When people laugh in a group they often seek to catch each other’s eyes. It’s a shared moment that unites people in a feeling of release, relaxing the body and relieving physical tension. What’s more, it release endorphins into the bloodstream, which promote an overall sense of well-being.
Having a conversation with someone about what was previously a “touchy” subject after a good laugh, and just laughing with each other brings that sense of shared well-being and optimism to the relationship.
Add to the mix a little bit of attention. It might seems obvious, but paying attention to your loved one is really going to help. It’s not only what they are telling you, it’s how they tell you, too.
I remember hearing one trainer in personal development talking about the different channels that people communicate through. The wife in a couple is unhappy and complains to her husband that he never says he loves her.
“But I do,” the husband replies, exasperated.
“When?” asks the wife.
“Every week. I buy you flowers every week.”
Just taking his wife’s request literally and telling her he loves her would have got his message across. Meanwhile, the wife might have asked the simple question of herself – why does he buy me flowers every week?
Speaking of flowers, small acts of thoughtfulness can also make huge differences. Bringing someone their favourite sweets and a cup of tea while they’re hard at work, or going for a walk to their favourite park – just sending them a thoughtful text – all these are acts of thoughtfulness that make a person feel cherished and wanted.
On the other side of a sense of humour is honest engagement. Hearing someone out without jumping to conclusions or judging them will draw you together. Feeling good because you have shared moments of joy recently will make conflicts easier to dissipate because – at the heart of it – most people are driven primarily by their emotions. The same discussion on a day when you are in a bad mood can go in a very different way to when you’re in a good mood.
These are just a few of the things to bear in mind. Yes, there may well have been a time when you were “in love”, as Dr Iannis tells us. But love itself is so much more!