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How to keep the love, by Joanna Kleovoulou (Clinical Psychologist and Director)

A Couple embraces under a red umbrella.

Once upon a time… lived Snow White with her seven dwarfs. Fast forward…

And the prince found Snow White sleeping comatose for decades. He bent down on one knee, caressed her cheek and passionately kissed her on her lips. Magic – she opened her eyes from her eternally poisoned sleep, and was whisked away in the golden sunset, with her handsome prince and his white horse … To live happily ever after. Day two – “Ey, I’m late for work, where did you pack my shoes!” Pop, and the fairy-tale fantasy bubble had burst.

From the time we are children, these fairy-tale stories teach us what true love is “meant” to be like; these fantasies then come in the way of your relationship, setting unrealistic ideas and leaving both partners disappointed and disillusioned. So if you want to keep your relationship sustainable, PsychMatters shares some tips to help you along:

Tip 1: Flatten the Fantasy

Shine the light on some false fantasies you have grown up with, for example, “A relationship will make me happy.” Putting all the power in the hands of your partner to keep you happy leaves you disempowered and not allowing you to take ownership of your own well-being. Instead, understand that a relationship’s purpose is to help you grow into recognising your own wholeness (owning all your positives and negative traits) and to be inspired by your magnificence, just because you exist. Once your relationship moves past the infatuation stage, and past the power struggle of seeing yourself as right and your partner as wrong, you both move deeper into the relationship in to the heart of what true love is. Once you appreciate and embrace all the qualities in yourself and your partner, you begin to feel thankful for what you and what you have in your life right now in the present moment.

Tip 2: Choose your Words Wisely

Our words and thoughts carry energy as do our bodies, and these affect our mood and perceptions, which then impact how we operate in the world. Make a list of words or sentences that you repeat as affirmations regarding what you desire in your relationship to keep you feeling balanced and inspired. For example,

“When my partner annoys me, my partner is teaching me about myself”;

“When I love my partner as is, my partner grows to what I love.”

Tip 3: “Union” through Communication:

Both partners will feel more intimate, more connected and more fulfilled when each partner’s values and needs are affirmed, and each attempts to understand the other by embracing all aspects of their partner. You need to clarify what you want in your life and partnership, and by sharing your thoughts and feelings on an ongoing basis in order to create an atmosphere of open communication and trust. It’s hard to really know someone if we do not know how they think, how they feel about situations and what interests them. These daily exchanges are the gift of ourselves to our partner, and in return you set the tone for them to reciprocate the same.

Love is the answer and only love. And start with loving yourself enough first.

You realise that the purpose of a relationship is not only romance, joy, support and so-called happiness; it is also equally about learning, challenge, growth and personal evolution within yourself and your partnership.

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