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The Secret To Successful, Long-Term Relationships

By: Aesha Adams-Roberts

What's the secret to successful, long-term relationships?  I wanted to ask the couple celebrating 50 years of marriage that question. My husband and I were celebrating our 7th year wedding anniversary and noticed the couple as they walked in the restaurant because of their matching T-shirts: "The First 50 Years Are The Hardest," the shirts read. 

I think the message on the shirt summed up whatever advice they would have given me. I imagine they would have told me that being "in love" isn't enough to sustain a long-term relationship.

I love the goose bumps, butterflies in the stomach, fireworks, rainbows and unicorns that come with falling in love. But if you ask any couple who is honest and who has been together for a long time, that "goose bump-butterflies-fireworks-rainbows-unicorns" feeling can fade. When your kids won't sleep at night or you're exhausted from a long day at work, or your libido disappeared after pregnancy, it's not those "in love" feelings that will keep you and your spouse together. 

There's got to be something deeper. I like this quote from psychologist Erich Fromm's book, The Art of Loving:

“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.” 

The secret to lasting, long-term relationships is the decision to make a commitment to the commitment. 

This commitment is defined by consistency; it's a powerful decision you make when you wake up in the morning and say to your spouse, "I choose to love you today, flaws and all."  

This is why I teach singles to be READY for love. Beyond the skinny jeans, six-pack abs, sparks and whatever else you've put on your Ideal Mate list, make sure you include character traits that reveal the person can handle making a commitment to the commitment.  

Just a heads up: Commitment requires consistency which can create routines and predictability in a relationship.  That's why I teach couples that romance has to be intentional. It seems counterintuitive that passion has to be planned, but you do actually have to work at romance. 

Leading researchers in the science of love back me up here. They say to keep passion alive, a marriage needs:

  • Appreciation
  • Spontaneity 
  • Novelty
  • Variety
  • Surprise

It's one thing to "know" a relationship needs these things. It's another thing to know how to do it. That's why I put together my newest eBook, Keep Your Marriage Hot & Everything You Dreamed About Long After the Honeymoon is Over. (click here to check it out) I walk you through four weeks of fun conversations, fun date night ideas and secret seduction missions to keep the appreciation, variety and spontaneity going in a marriage! 

The secret of successful long-term relationships is that they take work, but they are worth it! 

What do you think? Should you settle for the everyday, ho-hum comfort and security of a long-term relationship or is it possible to keep the passion alive. Share your thoughts below!