Many people in this world have the privilege of having a loving and lasting relationship. However many others search their whole lives for the secret to making love last.
In fact, with divorce rates higher than ever before, it seems like finding that love that will last a lifetime is an increasingly elusive prospect.
So the question is, what does it take to find and maintain a loving relationship in a world that seems to be crumbling around us?
According to science, there are three basic characteristics to every lasting relationship. What are they?
Helen Fisher, Biological Anthropologist, says that it all comes down to activating dopamine hits in the brain, and in love, there are three ways to go about doing exactly that. Check out her brilliant TED talk:
What does the brain think of love?
Helen Fisher’s findings suggest that romantic love gives off the same dopamine hits as other things in life that cause us to feel euphoric, excited, and giddy.
As someone becomes more attached to a person, those dopamine hits become stronger and can call up feelings over time to maintain the bond between the two people.
Her research saw couples participating in brain scans and found that thoughts of their partners elicited strong brain activity that suggested they did not just “love” their partner, but they were “in love” with their partner.
Staying in love is the hard part for people. As people change with age, it can be difficult to stay in a relationship with someone who is completely different than the person you married.
But when your brain recalls the person and dopamine is sent out in to the body, the memories you have might be enough to keep you invested.
The three most important traits that were found to be present in happy, long-lasting marriages were:
1) The couple’s ability to feel empathy for one another.
2) Each person’s ability to control their own emotions and feelings during times of great stress.
3) And the introduction of positive illusions. Positive illusions, according to Fisher, means you have the simple ability to overlook what you don’t like about someone to see the good in them. Focus on what you do like instead.
What’s important about Fisher’s research is that it keeps the responsibility of the relationship on both partners.
Whether you think your partner has wronged you or not depends on how you will handle yourself during the situation too.
So if you find you are always fighting about the dishes, dog, children, car, work, money, why not try to reframe those things in your life to more positive illusions such as: you are blessed to have a home to wash dishes in, you are lucky to have a car to get to your job so you can make money, and so on.
Relationships are a lot of work and without the efforts of both partners, they will fall apart quickly.