Mind Matters: The secret to lasting romance

On Valentine’s Day what topic could be better than romance? One definition for romance in Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary is: “A romantic affair or experience; a love affair.” Not one of Webster’s many definitions alludes to lasting love. How interesting. Does that mean committed love and romance are not the same, that they are mutually exclusive? Or does it mean that most of us assume romance and lasting love are two different animals? If so, is it necessarily true?

Here are my thoughts. It seems to be true that romance seldom remains a part of long-term love relationships. As two individuals build a life together it’s too easy to get caught up in mundane chores, future goals, financial concerns and the stresses of life. We forget how important love is and take for granted that it can sustain itself.

What is there in life that can survive with no attention? If we loaf on the job or don’t show up, the job is gone. If we pay no attention to amount of income versus expenditures we go bankrupt. Anything we neglect eventually goes to pot. Why then do we so casually allow our loving relationships to reach a state of bankruptcy? Love matters more than anything in life yet we so easily become distracted from living that truth.

Many authors on happy marriages concur that romance is kept alive by consistent loving behaviors. In one study it was found that the happiest couples perform over one hundred loving acts toward each other every day. A mere touch or smiling acknowledgement expresses love.

When we fall in love we are consumed by thoughts of the beloved; we can’t stop thinking about him/her. After a few years of marriage separate vacations feel like a treat, at least for many couples. The desire to be apart doesn’t necessarily imply a lack of love; more than likely it reflects the too common lack of desire that evolves when love isn’t sufficiently demonstrated. The romance is missing, sparks aren’t flying.

It seems that St. Valentine was on to something. He apparently knew that romance was not only a key ingredient in young love, but that it also is essential to keep love alive, vital and passionate, regardless of age.

For most of us every day can’t be Valentine’s Day, but little romantic gestures are possible almost any time. Surprises are wonderfully romantic and perfect antidotes for fading interest. The possibilities are endless. An unexpected card, phone call, or flirtatious email can send your spouse to cloud nine. Flowers for no reason send a message of love. Anything that once excited your loved one can be resurrected, modified or recreated to relight that spark of romance and passion.

Chocolates and roses might make Valentine’s Day special, but why not romance your partner with a special touch every day? Romance is exciting, fun and it fans the flames of love. It’s said we’re as young as we feel. Romance is forever young.

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Elinor Stanton is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner on Marco Island. She has 30 years of experience as a therapist, in private practice and with a large health maintenance organization in Boston. She graduated from Boston College and University of Rochester, and is certified as a clinical specialist by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Elinor is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and is a certified Imago Relationship Therapist. She welcomes requests for professional assistance with a variety of troubling issues, including mood disorders, trauma, anxiety, panic and phobias as well as marital problems. Comments and questions are welcome and may be submitted by e-mail to: etseven@aol.com or telephone 394-2861.

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