How to Keep Your Marriage Close and Exciting

make marriage excitingWhen couples first get together the original “spark” they feel can become the mysterious element that alludes them later in their relationship. While many couples call it quits when they stop feeling that early flame, some stick it out accepting that relationships change, and the initial excitement cannot last in any relationship. Accepting defeat is the downfall of any relationship. The more people challenge themselves and work through their own defenses, the closer they can get to their partners, the more love they feel and the more the spark in the relationship remains alive and well.

Some key tips on how to keep relationships feeling fresh and exciting:

1. Respect your partner’s boundaries – What originally drew us to our partners was who they were independently of us.  We must not try to mold them into something or someone else nor should we disregard their personal boundaries. We are better able to offer respect and support by never thinking of our partners as a part of us. It may feel safer to think of our partners as our right arm, but soon we are no more attracted to our partners then we are to our right arm.

2. Make sure you don’t replace real love with a fantasy of love – When spontaneity is set aside in favor of routine or when choosing to be together becomes feeling obligated to be together, we are not expressing real feelings of love but adherence to an idea of love. This inclination toward form over substance is what psychologist Dr. Robert Firestone, refers to as the “fantasy bond.” This illusion of connection allows us to feel secure and attached to a person without having a real feeling of love for that person. We are less threatened by a “fantasy bond” then a real connection, as it allows us to feel that we are not alone or that we are taken care of, while diminishing the pain or vulnerability that comes with having strong feelings for another person.

3. Be honest, not critical – Once we start feeling comfortable tearing our partners apart, we lose respect for them and for ourselves. Respecting a loved one means never mistreating them but being honest with them about who we are and what we feel. If a quality they have bothers us, we shouldn’t sit on it and let it seep out in cynical comments, the rolling of eyes or loss of attraction. Instead, we should them how we feel in a way that is sensitive and invite them to share similar feelings with us. We must remember to be as open to what they say as we hope they will be to what we say. When we are punishing or defensive, we are indirectly (or sometimes directly) shutting our partners up and training them not to be honest with us.

4. Be independent – Marriage, moving in together and building a family are all meaningful ventures in life. However, the conception that sharing life means fusing into a single entity can hurt any relationship. Couples are made up of two individuals. The more these individuals treat each other as equals, as oppose to complementary parts, the more whole they will feel in themselves. When people feel secure in themselves, the more attractive they will be to their partners, and the more they  offer to the relationship.

Watch Dr. Lisa Firestone talk to PsychAlive about the “Fantasy Bond”

About the Author

Lisa Firestone, Ph.D. Dr. Lisa Firestone is the Director of Research and Education at The Glendon Association. An accomplished and much requested lecturer, Dr. Firestone speaks at national and international conferences in the areas of couple relations, parenting, and suicide and violence prevention. Dr. Firestone has published numerous professional articles, and most recently was the co-author of Sex and Love in Intimate Relationships (APA Books, 2006), Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice (New Harbinger, 2002), Creating a Life of Meaning and Compassion: The Wisdom of Psychotherapy (APA Books, 2003) and The Self Under Siege (Routledge, 2012).Follow Dr. Firestone on Twitter or Google.

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2 Comments

Tom DeMuri, MFT

Great article! I just found this site/resource and I love it. On number 4, I was thinking that “be interdependent” might work as a title too. Thanks again for all the work done on this amazing site.

Tom-

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osmam ali

The more these individuals treat each other as equals, as oppose to complementary parts, the more whole they will feel in themselves.

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