5 Life Lessons People Learn Too Late | Reader's Digest

5 Life Lessons People Learn Too Late

Strong relationships make for a rich life, but we're often mistaken in the ways we pursue them.

By Elizabeth Svoboda from Psychology Today
Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine February 2014

don't wait handJoel Holland for Reader’s Digest
Lesson #5:
Lust Wanes, Love Remains

Too often, couples assume a relationship is beyond repair when the intense romantic excitement ends and the arguing begins. “The immature part of us loves the idea that compatible people don’t have conflicts,” says psychologist David Schnarch, author of Intimacy & Desire.

But research doesn’t support this. University of Denver psychologist Howard Markman, coauthor of Fighting for Your Marriage, says successful couples argue—it’s how they do it that matters (among other things, happy partners refrain from nasty zingers). Airing grievances lets both people speak their minds and take responsibility for their missteps.

It’s also normal for desire to wane. “Romantic love is when we have this consuming, emotional experience, and it usually lasts about a year and a half,” says Will Meek, a psychologist at the University of Portland. “Deep love comes after we see how imperfect the other is and commit to him or her anyway.”

Rather than get caught up in complaints, psychologist Harriet Lerner, author of Marriage Rules, suggests that you work to restore connection. That might mean initiating something new in your sex life, or perhaps it’s as simple as recycling that pile of boxes that’s been annoying her for months. “People know what warms their partner’s heart,” Lerner says.