‘When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks’ (Ed Sheeran)
Is love, trust and commitment possible in today’s romantic relationships? Can we really promise ‘till death do us part’ and aspire towards ‘a happily ever after’? Long-term relationships are difficult to maintain and they require hard work. Two people meet, are attracted to each other and start to date. They bring to the table an intersectionality of identities that can involve difference in gender, race, and cultural, religious and familial backgrounds. The couple has usually experienced life differently and been brought up with ideas that can be very diverse. However, due to various biological, psychological and social factors their relationship flourishes. According to Steinberg’s triangular theory, there are 3 components of love: passion, intimacy and commitment. Initially passion builds up quickly however for a relationship to last, intimacy and commitment must compensate.
Very often relationships fail because of unrealistic expectations from one or both parties. We expect our partner to be our lover, best friend and emotional companion, our intellectual equal and full time entertainer. Always there for us, never failing, never making a mistake. What in the past was provided by a number of family and friends at times can be expected of one single person. We invest all of our time and energy to develop and maintain one relationship, therefore we expect our investment to provide us with a good, solid return. However, at times, we tend to forget that growing as individuals is an integral part of sustaining healthy long-term relationships. Giving each other space to develop hobbies, furthering our educational and professional needs and meeting family and friends is as important as spending quality time together as a couple.
Good communication is also an integral part of long-term healthy relationships as is a willingness to listen to the other and work through differences and difficulties. As the relationship develops and the couple grows older, life can present us with a number of tough challenges. Commitment to ‘trying to work things out’ and ‘surfing the difficult times together’ can see a couple through many of life ups and downs.
Are long-term relationships a guarantee of everlasting happiness? Definitely not. However, having meaningful, loving relationships unquestionably point us in the right direction…
Anna Catania is a counsellor with Willingness. She has had a special interest in working with clients facing intimacy and sexual difficulties and runs a service for families going through cancer and chronic illness. She can be contacted on email@example.com or call us on 79291817.