Here is the most profound thing you have ever heard: the secret to a long-term relationship is that two people need to be able to love long-term. If you think that this is so evident a truth that it doesn’t deserve attention, think again. The longer we are with someone, the more we are inclined to focus on faults while ignoring what we previously deemed as attractive or admirable. Instead of taking responsibility for this loss of perspective and our own failure to tap into feelings of love, we tend to blame the other. If only she did not put on the toilet paper the wrong way! If only he did not leave his socks on the floor! If only she could be more supportive! If only he could stop giving advice when I need a hug!
Surely, some new habits and certain new cell formations are added as we grow older. Nobody can escape the law of impermanence which does not always work in our favor. Let’s take my lines, for example. Sniff. Yet, most of the annoying characteristics we see in our partner were visible from the start, don’t you think? It’s just that we are reacting to them differently as we become familiar with them. We lose the whole picture as we stand too close to it. But before recommending how to step back, let me share briefly how we kill our love actively and what to do instead.
I recently read an article written by a woman listing the top seven most annoying things about her husband. It’s not that complaining is always a bad thing. Sometimes it can be a first healthy step. Yet the article was written triumphantly, revealing mostly the author’s inability to love. She might as well have titled her article: Seven Ways of Destroying My Love:
When you find a flaw, make fun of your partner, especially in public. Never mind your own imperfection.
What to do instead: As rejecting imperfection erodes love, identify your own imperfection and start to accept it as a fact of life. Then look at your partner again.
Pretend to listen and agree when you don’t. Then be proud of having out-smarted the other.
What to do instead: Pretending amounts to lying, making it impossible to share reality with your partner. Speak the truth, thoughtfully and timely. At least, don’t suggest you care when in reality, you don’t.
Use as much sarcasm as you can muster especially when your supposedly loved one has made him or herself vulnerable.
What to do instead: Studies show that young married couples who make even occasional sarcastic remarks about the other are much more likely to end up in divorce. Don’t hurt the other twice, first with your opinion and second with a snide remark. Stay away from sarcasm altogether!
Assume You Know Your Partner’s Real Intentions
Think that you know best what goes on in him or her.
What to do instead: As nobody knows anybody completely, ask questions and stay curious. It not only shows your humility. It keeps your love fresh.