Love

5 Unexpected Steps Happy Couples Take To Create Lasting Relationships

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smiling happy couple

All of us have dreamed about a romance that will last a lifetime. But, in reality, approximately half of US marriages end in divorce, which is not to mention breakups, bitter feelings, depression, and  disillusion.

Romantic relationships are more elusive and complicated than the ideal. However, you’ll have better chances of keeping your fire burning if you follow a few existential tips.

Here are 5 steps happy couples take to create lasting relationships

1. Choose human behavior over animalistic instincts

Soren Kierkegaard considered people to be prisoners of their natural urges. We typically crave immediate gratification of our desires. We prefer intimacy to love. Many famous lovers, like Don Giovanni, looked at people like objects, which is shallow and eventually leads to melancholy and even despair.

Love is like a drug, and we should enjoy it. But, according to Kierkegaard, we can still choose our behavior and own our passions instead of being slaves to animalistic passion.

5 Steps Happy Couples Take To Create Lasting RelationshipsPhoto: Ana Alice Azevedo / Pexels

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2. Remember that one plus one equals two

In love, we often feel like becoming “one” with our beloved — becoming “we” instead of “you” and “I.” It is a basic need of attachment, of togetherness, of not feeling alone.

Existential philosophers like Martin Buber and Viktor Frankl pointed out the essential faultiness of such an approach. We are isolated in our existence, and we need to accept it, as Dr. Irvin Yalom pointed out.

A romantic relationship will enrich our lives if we do not lose our freedom. If we become overly controlling, monitor every step of our partner, or tend to spend all our time together, it can cause a serious problem, according to the French existential philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre.

Many times, it may cause irritation and destroy trust. The best option for a harmonious relationship is two circles, overlapping only in the middle. Embrace your differences and be individuals contributing to each other.

   

   

3. Deepen your friendship

Have you noticed that in strong relationships, the two are not only lovers but also good friends? In fact, many people would like their partner to be their best friend. The ones who enjoy it can always rely on each other’s support and be a good team. Then they flourish together.

The great German existential philosopher and writer Friedrich Nietzsche pointed out that good friends educate each other and inspire others to achieve more. They push each other to new possibilities, opportunities, and challenges.

Constructive challenge, as opposed to mere criticism, can be very helpful for personal growth, and hence improve the relationship.

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4. Develop common interests and goals

Long before Dr. John Gottman pointed out the importance of having common goals and interests in life, Nietzsche said that while the passion may fade, the lovers will still enjoy each other’s company by having interesting conversations. Try to find a partner who is interesting to talk to.

A common project or goal can even be a common struggle, as the French existentialist writer Simone de Beauvoir wrote. Some couples are active in politics or communal work, while others develop businesses together or work towards raising a family and keeping it together.

A common goal will make your life together meaningful and will give you new interesting topics for discussion.

   

   

5. Prioritize each other over anybody else

We tend to take our most important person in life for granted, putting kids, work, parents, and even extended family in the first place.

Time and again, it hurts the feelings of a person when a husband forgets about her doctor’s appointment because he has a new project at work, or when a wife decides to go to her mother’s house for the holidays even though she knows her husband does not feel comfortable there.

Sartre’s and Beauvoir’s lifelong union is an example of a companionship that lasted a lifetime even when the physical passion faded. They treated each other as the most important person in each other’s life. It's that simple.

Human existence is uncertain and isolating. Romantic love is one of the biggest challenges we have in our existence. It can make us happier together and stronger individually. Strengthen your romantic relationship without losing your own personality and freedom, and strive together.

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Lana Cole is a licensed marriage and family therapist who helps couples reconnect, boost intimacy, and improve their communication to create happy partnerships.