Love doesn't last! Recently, I read an article by Emily Smith in the Atlantic entitled, "There's No Such Thing as Everlasting Love (According to Science)." It was based on a book by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do and Become. In it, she argues that love is not a long-lasting emotion that sustains a marriage. Rather, it's what she calls a "micro-moment of positivity resonance." Further, she claims that you can experience these micro-moments of loving connection with any number of people, including strangers. But, a romantic relationship that goes long stretches of time without these moments of close connection eventually ends.
I once had a neighbor who came from across the street and said, "I'm curious. I see couples pull up in front of your house fighting and crying, and a few hours later they get in the car and spend a few minutes hugging and kissing before leaving. What do you do?!" I laughed and told him that I facilitate micro-moments of positivity resonance between partners who have forgotten how to keep themselves in love.
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There are many ways to create a loving moment ... a touch, a kiss, helping out with a task, a smile. Another great way that few of us maximize is by listening to the other with the goal of really understanding what they are trying to say. Every communication skills program includes some form of this skill because it dependably works to reduce conflict, prepares hearts for successful resolutions and meets our deep-seated longings to be heard and understood.
There are several layers of listening — ignoring, pretending, attentive, thinking up your rebuttal — but only the highest level will produce a "micro-moment of positivity resonance." That requires setting aside your own agenda and listening with the single intention of trying to understand. So, the next time someone wants to tell you something that appears to be important to them:
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1. Stop what you are doing;
2. Face them, looking them in the eyes with a caring, interested expression;
3. Listen carefully, not just to the words, but the emotions behind the words;
4. Stop your inner judge, critic. This isn't about you, right now. It's about understanding the other;
5. In a caring way, repeat back to the other what has been said, including the emotions and perhaps motivations you perceive;
6. Accept correction if you got it wrong and listen some more until they appear to be finished; and
7. Do not spoil this moment of loving connection by criticizing, arguing, or taking this chance to teach a lesson. Keep reading ...
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