Chances are, if you are breathing, you’ve had some heartache, maybe a lot of heartache. There is good research that shows that living with heartache can actually damage your heart, as well as make getting through daily life an ordeal.
When does heartache begin? When does a couple start falling out of love?
Many scientists believe that the body chemistry that ignites a couple’s sexual and emotional attraction usually lasts about two or three years but can start changing as soon as a few months after meeting. Some lucky couples report staying in love for two decades, but that’s not the norm.
Over time, your chemistry as a couple changes. The feelings become less intense and exciting, and this is when a power struggle can begin.
When the initial excitement of a relationship starts to fade, some couples choose to coast along in the relationship without making much of an effort to build on their bond. But relying on habit and familiarity to keep the relationship going is a mistake. Unspoken expectations and assumptions will lead to resentment, unhealthy conflict, greater distance, stubbornness, and even dislike of one another.
Most couples are in denial when engaged in the actions above, and broken hearts are the result.
You don’t have to live this way. First you need to admit that you’ve been engaging in toxic behaviors. Then you can choose to accept being a victim of circumstance and living as you are, or you can find the tools and do the work you need to make life great again.
Rekindling a relationship where the love seems to have faded isn’t rocket science, but it does take both of you to make it work. It starts by understanding that together you have more control than you might think.
The key to romantic happiness is to maintain and build on the intimacy that you have. One study found that people who remained most passionate about their love lives were the ones who gave themselves new experiences regularly — from trying new restaurants to learning new relationship skills — rather than only sticking to the tried and true.
Here’s another hint: It’s not about sex. Sex can take away from intimacy if it’s used as a distraction or as a way to hide from true emotions or difficulties in the relationship.
When love fades, our feelings vacillate between sad, uncomfortable and angry. It is our right and responsibility as human beings to try to fix it. And we all have the ability. Unfortunately, many people are afraid to work on their relationships. They may not be able to look that closely at themselves or how they have both contributed to pushing their love to the brink of destruction.
Given that there is so much you can do to make things better, why would you want to sit in your pain? Why not take the risk of trying to make your love and your life as good as it can be?
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is an award-winning therapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of seven books, and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 27 million readers. He practices in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles and is available for video sessions. Reach him at email@example.com. His column appears Sundays and Tuesdays in the News-Press.