Christian Pedersen knows that there is work—real, honest work—involved in keeping love sustained.
Adam and Nina used to be in love. Not just a bit infatuated, no-no, they used to be soulmates. Both of them had had longer marriages that had disintegrated, and now, as more mature people, they’d finally met “The One” with whom they felt equally matched, where love-making felt like a blissful merge of Heaven and Earth, and all things seemed possible! Aah, finally!
That was five years ago. Now, Nina sent us an email via our “Ask for Advice” form on our website, saying, “We’re so distant. We’ve already decided he’s moving out. Any last ideas?” As Providence would have it, they lived in a town where on that very same night, Sonika and I were hosting our In Love Again evening. So I replied to Nina, “just come to our event, you never know, maybe something unexpected will open up for you.”
She agreed to invite Adam to come with her.
On that same day, in our coaching office, another couple, we’ll call them Katie and Peter, were telling a very similar story. Katie and Peter were a beautiful couple, both looking well-groomed and attractive. They’d started out steaming hot, they loved their sex life and how much the enjoyed each other’s company. They used to have sex every morning before they started their day. That was four years ago.
The next day, we got a call from Finley, who told a now very-familiar story. He’d been married to Luna for five years. They were still the best of friends, had great love and respect for each other, no intentions of splitting up or anything like that, but as he said, “Our spark is gone. Our sex life is almost over, it seems, and it’s really getting to us.”
You can see why we called our free evening “In Love Again”! At our event, we asked the audience, What are you biggest questions about love and relationship? Unsurprisingly, Adam was the loudest one, asking, “How do you sustain it?”
All the couples I’ve mentioned here, all real people (but of course with changed names and details for privacy), had one overarching desire: To be in love again. To have passion again. In other words, to sustain the love they felt they used to have, but now for some reason don’t anymore.
There’s something you should know about this issue. You’ve probably heard it said that falling in love is a form of insanity, but socially acceptable. This is not as far out as it may sound. When you’re first in love, the entire experience of passion, wild abandon, powerful attraction, heightened sexual desire (“really, you’re ready again?”) is in large part—some say entirely—fueled by the cocktail of hormones and chemicals that are coursing through your brain and blood. We talked to a sexologist recently who compared this chemical cocktail to heroine or cocaine in terms of addictiveness and pleasure production. It’s powerful stuff!
However, it’s not meant to continue at elevated levels in our bodies. Some experts speculate that Mother Nature made this arrangement so we’d be wildly attracted to each other long enough to mate and see a new child into this world … but she didn’t have any plans for the second, third, fourth, or ten-year anniversaries!
Here’s my point:
Falling in love is automatic. Staying in love isn’t.
Falling in love happens without any deliberate intention or action on your part. It just happens to you! Like being hit over the head while you’re minding your own business.
Falling in love is the infancy of relationship. It’s fun and passionate and all-round awesome, but it’s not meant to last forever. That’s not to say you can’t create a relationship that stays fun, passionate and all-round awesome. You absolutely can, but this time, in stark contrast to when you first fell in love, you have to create it to be so.
So back to Adam’s question of “How do you sustain it?”
It’s not that difficult to do; but unfortunately, it’s not self-evident and it’s almost impossible to explain in writing (without writing 500 pages and even then, it’s tricky)
Here’s the basis of it:
1. Know what you truly want (typically not what you think you think you want)
2. Learn how to resolve the small and big conflicts that show up in daily life. If you don’t, they pile up and inevitably kill off your love and sex.
3. Interact with yourself and your partner as your Fullest Potential (our term for the best version of you).
4. Don’t stop having sex and physical affection. It’s not like you have to keep up the three-times-a-day schedule of the first two months, but you can’t let it wither away, either. It’s too important for that.
5. Keep up the “Acts of Love” you did automatically in the beginning.
For now, the simplest one to begin with is the last point above—remember what you used to do for each other when you first met. What “Acts of Love” did you do, perhaps without even thinking? Simple stuff. Go out to dinner. Talk for hours. Listen with keen interest. Leave love notes around the house. Make meals. Light candles. Make love in the living room. Whatever your favorite Acts of Love from the beginning, if you do them again, they’ll begin to recreate the feelings of love, warmth and attraction that accompanied them in the past.
Oh, and the couples mentioned above? Adam and Nina cancelled him moving out and after just that one evening felt so much closer. They came to our Give Yourself to Love weekend a few weeks later, and Adam said, “Wow, I thought we’d lost the magic. We just found it again!”
Peter and Katie stopped waiting for the “sex magic” to appear by itself and started creating it themselves. They lit up again!
We haven’t heard from Finley and Luna since that first conversation, but if they’re willing, they too will find out to stay in love on purpose. And when they do, they’ll know how much more rewarding and powerful it is when you’re the one doing it!
[photo: via skedonk on flickr]