How To Make Love Last
by Hollye Dexter
After twenty-one years of marriage, three kids, earthquakes, house fire, bankruptcy, good times and bad and still madly in love, I consider myself somewhat of an expert in the “love” business. In fact, I even used to work in the biz back in the late eighties- matching people up through Great Expectations dating service. So when I tell you that yes, love can last, I‘m speaking from experience.
I won’t say its a cinch. It isn’t. Because in order to have a healthy relationship, you have to work on yourself first – that’s the priority over everything else. When you’re standing strong and confident in who you are, everything else in life flourishes – marriage, children, work, friendships and family.
Most of us “project” our own issues and needs onto another person, and then feel incredibly disappointed when they can’t make us happy. But first ask yourself if you are truly happy deep down inside. If the answer is yes, then you are probably happy in your relationship. The majority of us live in fear and insecurity, often staying trapped in past disappointments. We expect our spouse to alleviate our suffering and give us that fairytale ending we’ve always seen in movies. Here’s the kicker – that “prince charming” character in the story is looking back at you in the mirror. It’s only after we save ourselves from the dungeon, free ourselves from the dragons of the past, that we can ride off into the sunset with another person.
The most important thing I’ve learned about relationships is it’s never about the other person changing- it’s about me. My husband and I each had to do our hard work, overcoming childhood hang-ups and lifelong baggage. It was hard, and at times we thought we wouldn’t make it. Sometimes we were weak and took backward steps, but we learned to be kind and patient with each other on this journey to becoming whole.
I’m not suggesting you wait until you’ve perfected yourself to have a relationship. None of us are ever truly done with our inner work. We are human. To me, the perfect marriage is when you can make that journey to inner freedom side by side.
How do you do that? First, be patient with yourself, and you’ll see your kindness and patience toward others blossom. Understand that your partner doesn’t see life through the same unique lens that you do, and let that be okay. Try to understand you partner as much as you want to be understood. And when you come into a place of conflict, you surely know one another’s weak spots, so don’t attack. Be especially tender with those fragile places in the soul.
Take a renewed interest in one another, especially in the interests you don’t share. Celebrate your differences. And above all, as my husband always says, in times of trouble, turn toward each other, never against each other.
In summation; simply love one another. It’s really that easy.