As I reflect on Valentine’s Day this year, I am reminded of our unrealistic cultural expectations of love and relationships and hope to open the door to continued conversation on what love really is and how powerful it can be.
My first thought is that love is a choice, not an emotion. We so often want to be with the people who we feel most energized by, passionate about or attracted to. And while each of those things are important, that is not really what a sustaining love is all about!
Drs. John and Julie Gottman provide a tremendous amount of scientifically valid research on healthy relationships. You’ll find many of their wonderful resources here.
Healthy and happy couples are often found not by how little they argue, but by how many small things they do for each other, how many repair attempts they make and how much they try to stay away from criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling (Gottman’s 4 Horsemen of the Apocolypse). Absolutely no one is perfect and everyone will make mistakes in their relationship. But a much higher ratio of positive to negative interactions makes an impact on the healing and forgiveness of those moments.
It can be easy to compare to other couples who seem blissfully in love, but remember sustainable love shows up in the hard times too, not just when life is going well. If you’re unsure of how to best show love to your partner, consider Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages for some ideas!
My husband and I work at implementing all of these principles in our marriage and continue to build a solid foundation of healthy communication and sustainable love for each other. While it is not easy every day, the love is deeper. We highly recommend a couple of accessible Gottman resources such as the Marriage Minute and also a cool app to continue the conversation!
Harmony Therapy Group is happy to offer support for any individual or couple who is looking to deepen their understanding of The Power of Love. Contact us here!