Have you ever worried about falling “out of love”?
Partners will tell us, “I’m just not ‘in love’ anymore”.
In love. Out of love.
Do these phrases simplify our complex human experience? Do they influence our perspective of love to be all or nothing? You either feel it or you don’t, and by the way, it’s temporary…?
Current research tells us that a predictor for divorce is not infidelity, lack of romance, financial stress, or co-parenting differences.
It’s a lack of love.
Yes, life happens. But conflict between partners arises when they decrease their emotional expression and intimacy, positive regard for each other and demonstrations of caring. Couples can live in that love-less state for years.
Research from the Gottman Institute shows us that on average, couples will wait at least five years before they reach out to a relationship therapist for help.
In the words of playwright Jean Giraudoux, “If two people who love each other let a single instant wedge itself between them, it grows – it becomes a month, a year, a century; it becomes too late.”
So what does it take for a couple to achieve and sustain love for the long haul?
Lucky for us, research shows us specific ways we can make our love sustainable.
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No Communication. No Time Together. No Touch. Sex Feels Like a Chore. Roommate Status. Complacent.
Strengthen your relationship with this simple-to-follow, therapist-created program.
Through our go-at-your-own-pace course, you can take as much time as you need to work through the guided exercises and LoveSheets.
On our website, we refer to, what most couples call “in love”, as, “the honeymoon phase” of your relationship.
It refers to a common experience during the early dating process where you may have felt lots of excitement about your partner. Sex may have happened often and felt passionate.
In the book, A General Theory of Love, authors, Lewis, Amini and Lannon, distinguish between the honeymoon experience of being “in love” and the experience of “loving”.
They note that being “in love” conjures up the memory of the energy and excitement of a couple’s first meeting and early courtship. In that phase, two people achieve instant attraction and passionate sex, often while barely knowing each other.
They also highlight that our culture values an “in love” status. Books, magazines, movies and media cast images of being “in love” without acknowledging the work involved to maintain that high state of arousal.
The authors show us that the “in love” state shown in the media is merely an entry point to the long-term experience of “loving”… if one chooses.
Further, they explain that “loving” involves “synchronous attunement and modulation”, and requires the investment of time to really know each other. Synchronous means “in person, in real-time”. Modulation refers to adjustment and regulation.
In our take-a-pill, fast-food, high-speed internet, instant messaging culture, “in person, in real-time” experiences become less prioritized. Instant reactivity seems to supercede self-regulation and adjustment.
We expect connection and intimacy to happen quickly or through digital emoji hearts. We are not encouraged to “make time for and attune” to our partners. As the authors put it, we’re encouraged to “achieve, not attach”.
Lewis Amini and Lannon added, “If somebody must jettison a part of life, time with a mate should be last on the list…”
So we know that being “in love” captures an entry point and that loving occurs over time, in multiple, real-time, in person, interactions. It requires us to know the depths of our partners and ourselves.