Relationships are hard work, plus many of us carry so much emotional baggage that we sabotage the very relationships that we work so hard to find.
Dr. Linda Austin, author of Heart of the Matter, visited with Balance Television host Dr. Marla Shapiro to talk about five core behaviours that can foster true and everlasting love.
"We tend to think that falling in love is magical or it's chemistry, but it's really about the behaviours of love and intimacy," Austin said.
When people fall in love they're in a state of psychotic denial, Austin joked. You're only showing your in-love personality: you're kind, generous, loving, unselfish, humorous and witty.
But staying in love, she said, is a very different thing. You show your true colours and "that's where the rubber really meets the road."
The Core Behaviours of Love
1. Engage with the world
You want to search for the emotion that the other person is feeling, Austin said. If they're sad, you want to connect with that. If they're happy, you want to join in the humour and engage around the emotional world of your lover.
"It should be a give-and-take," Austin explained. "The two of you together should at times focus on the other person and at times focus on you yourself. But it should flow back and forth."
2. Evaluate choices you make for love
There's a point when it's really important to sit back and evaluate, she said, and decide whether the relationship is really the right choice for you. Opposites often attract and you can be excited about a mysterious person but what really makes a good match is things in common.
"Marriage involves so many compromises anyway," Austin explained. "You have to say ‘Is this a person who can really meet my needs, who understands me, where he doesn't have to compromise so much, I don't have to compromise so much, we come from the same village, we understand each other?'"
3. Expand your safety zone. Try new and exciting this with your partner. Refresh your usual routine and take part in new adventures -- travelling together, getting active together, etc.
4. Establish emotional independence
What happens in relationships is that an individual may have her own moods. She may be anxious or depressed – an all too common disorder – and start to pin the blame for those moods on her partner, instead of getting treatment or help or taking care of her own emotional word.
5. Evolve consciously, willfully, healthily
When you're falling in love, Austin said, your entire psychological makeup is oriented toward being in love. But over time, we start to retreat into ourselves. We become preoccupied with demands, become much more interior in dwelling and we forget to really pay attention to what's going on with our mate.
"We also forget to be honest about what we're feeling," she said. "It becomes easier sometimes to not talk about painful feelings, not bring up issues, to tuck them away, but what happens then is you withdraw and a barrier goes up between you and your spouse and sometimes you can become so detached that the relationship erodes."
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