Excitement And Passion Can Fade in Long-Term Relationships
- Gayathri Mathivanan
- February 18, 2016, 8:48 PM
An editorial in New York Times examined the possibility of “happily ever after” and the unfortunate reality that seems to strike many couples around the two- to three-year mark. The researchers choose newlyweds and followed them to examine whether or not their relationship enjoyment and satisfaction faded. They also looked at whether it was ever possible for these couples to once again regain their passion once it was lost.
Their findings were illuminating. The majority of couples enjoyed a boon of happiness, passion, and excitement during their first few years of marriage, but afterwards they slowly began to “come back to reality.” Even though many of the couples were still happy and stable in their relationship. Generally, this is around the time that couples move from the stage of passionate love to the stage of companionate love.
As it sounds, passionate love describes when a couple can’t keep their hands off each other. It begins when two people fall in love: Everything is new and fresh and exciting, and it is as if you are seeing the world through different eyes. Then, years pass and the relationship continue to move forward, but the passion and freshness begin to shrink. In its place grows companionate love, a love that is deeper, more stable, and more intimate. In companionate love, partners love and care for each other in almost a familial way, such as helping your partner when he/she is sick. Companionate love doesn’t have the same sparkly, new feeling that passionate love has, but it’s this love that keeps partners together through the good and the bad and connects them as more than just lovers.
However, that doesn’t mean that passion isn’t important in a long-term relationship. The researchers found that when children grew up and left the home, couples once again went through an exciting “can’t keep my hands off” stage. Empty nesters seemed to experience a boost up of freshness and excitement as they once again reclaimed their home and entered a new stage in which they could redefine their relations and fall in love with each other all over again.
Ultimately, it seems that couples can experience real, lasting love throughout their lives, but they have to be prepared to make passion a priority and to look for ways to stay connected and intimate over the years. Happily ever after takes work, but it’s worth it!