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Lost that lovin' feeling?
There's hope you can bring it on back and learn to love your partner again
By JOANNE RICHARD, QMI Agency
CANOE - Lifewise Updated: addthis

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, Last Updated: 2:30 PM ET


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Sticking it out can be tough –- especially when there’s often a lack of relationship skills to boost staying power. (Shutterstock.com)

    Your marriage is a mess?

    Don’t despair. “Research shows us we can learn to love our partners again after we think we’ve fallen out of love. And that couples that stick it out end up being happy in the long run,” says Dr. Scott Haltzman, clinical assistant professor at Brown University department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior.

    But you have to put the work in. Sticking it out can be tough –- especially when there’s often a lack of relationship skills to boost staying power.

    And it doesn’t help that “marriage is injected with the hopes and aspirations promoted by Hollywood, and expectations are so high as to what marriage will bring - or what it will not bring, like arguments.”

    He adds that people often view their marriages as failing when, in all probability, they are quite normal. “I mean, ‘Love is never having to say I’m sorry’.” Give me a break! I must say it once a week -- on a good week.”


    There’s hope for marriage. “There’s still as strong core of people who want to be married, and many very happy and healthy marriages.”

    So take hope, adds Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men: Eight Ways to Win Your Wife’s Heart Forever, as well as The Secrets of Happily Married Women: How to get more out of your relationship by doing less.

    If your relationship is taking a beating, maybe your expectations are too high. “People expect their partner to make them happy, but don’t do what’s needed to nurture their relationships themselves.”

    Societal mobility and lack of support systems take their toll on marriages, as well as economics put another big stress on the relationship. “Many couples are eager to live lives with lots of goodies - from flat-screen TVs to new cars. But these things cost money, and the efforts to keep financially solvent requires a lot of time outside the home.”

    And while pursing these goodies, there are consequences, including less time together because of long work hours, and “there’s no energy left at the end of the day for the relationship.”

    You have to make your marriage a priority to make it work. According to Haltzman, the biggest relationship killer of all is resentment. “We have internal agendas of what we think we need in marriage, and when our partner fails to meet our needs, we often assume that is intentional on their part.”

    Phooey! It’s highly likely that it is not their prime directive to make you miserable. “When resentment builds up, it turns to anger and love fades rapidly, replaced with contempt and pain,” says Haltzman.

    He adds that the greatest gift you can give a partner is the gift of listening without judgment.

    Make your relationship work

    Need a relationship rescue? Well, here are five essential ingredients for making it work:

    Empathy: the ability to see things through your partner’s perspective. “So many arguments start from hurt feelings, and the belief that your partner’s actions were intended, either by ignorance or by intent, to harm you,” says relationship expert Dr. Scott Haltzman. “But if you stop for a moment and try to see how they might see things, and what motivated them to do the things they do, they you’d feel less contemptuous, and more understanding.”

    Listening: “Most people listen long enough to hear what they think is what their partner wants to say, and then jump in with an answer. That’s not listening! That’s debating,” says Haltzman, of DrScott.com.

    When there’s disagreement or conflict, “talking” is less about sharing ideas, he says, as it is being able to feel heard about whatever problem may be interfering with the happiness of the person who is speaking. “Men in particular in inclined to want to jump in and fix the problem... But real listening doesn’t require an answer; it requires acknowledgment and the ability to make the person feel heard.”

    Putting your partner first: “When we dated all we could think about was the things that we could do to make our partner happy,” says Haltzman, adding that seeing him or her happy brought us joy. “That shouldn’t change when you get married. Putting your partner’s needs first can bring both of you happiness.”

    Excitement: Studies show us that we bond better when we share new and exciting experiences, says Haltzman. Doing the same ol’ same ol’ generates boredom in marriages, and lowers feeling of love.

    “Think of choosing your partner as finding the best dish you’ve ever tasted in the best restaurant you’ve ever found, and deciding that you would have that same dish every day for the rest of your life. You’d get bored!

    “The gastronomic solution is to change dishes, and for couples who choose to leave marriage, the option they choose is to change spouses,” says Haltzman. “But for people who choose commitment, they have to learn to spice up their marriage with different activities and interests.” It’s worth the effort.

    Patience: You’re both gonna mess up! “Marriage requires a life change for newlywed couples, but that change doesn’t come all at once. Even along the way, one or another partner will make a mistake. Don’t expect change to come over night,” adds Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Happy Families: Eight keys to building a lifetime of connection and contentment.

    This story was posted on Mon, February 8, 2010

    CANOE - Lifewise Template Includes: Main Valentines Right

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