The Five Secrets of Lasting Love
Here’s the bottom-line truth we’ve discovered from our decades of work with couples in long-term relationships: People can endure long-term relationships in many ways, but they will only thrive if they do five things. In other words, you can grow older with your partner in many ways, but you will only grow closer and more creative through the steady practice of five actions, which are the keys for how to make love last.
We believe these five actions should be taught in every classroom in every school, every day. They most definitely should not be secrets we have to seek after or stumble into by trial and error. Yet they are. Almost none of us begin our love relationships knowing how to do these simple things, and our relationships are disastrous as a consequence.
Let’s permanently remove the veil of secrecy that has covered these relationship tips and skills, and begin a new era of intimacy in close relationships.
The First Secret to Lasting Love
If you want a close, vibrant, and long-lasting love relationship, you need to become a master of commitment.
We teach couples how to make love last by making real commitments to each other. There is an art to commitment, but almost nobody knows how to practice it. The first art of commitment is to spot and acknowledge the unconscious commitments that cause us to sabotage the harmony of our close relationships. In practical reality, the act of claiming ownership of an unconscious commitment changes a troublesome dynamic in a relationship faster than anything else.
The second art of commitment and another key for how to make love last is to make commitments you can stand by. Real commitments can only be made about things you have control over. Real commitments are verifiable. If you make a phony commitment, such as “I promise to love you forever,” you set up an impossible situation by promising an illusion. Nobody can commit to loving someone forever, because some days you won’t even wake up feeling loving toward yourself. Love is a mystery—part feeling, part spirit, part mind—and mysteries by their very nature are outside our control. A real commitment would be to commit to telling your partner the truth about when you’re feeling loving and when you’re not. This type of commitment builds long-lasting love and saves relationships while turning on the flow of intimacy and creativity.
The Lasting Love program offers a specific set of commitments we’ve researched with several thousand couples. When couples make these commitments, their relationships thrive.
The Second Secret to Lasting Love
If you want a long-term relationship that’s both close and creatively vital, you’ve got to become emotionally transparent. To go all the way to ultimate closeness and full creative expression, you must eliminate all barriers to speaking and hearing the truth about everything.
We teach couples how to make love last by listening to the truth about everything from their partners, and we teach them how to speak the truth about everything to their partners. Everything means everything: feelings, deeds, hopes, dreams. We ask them to consider any hesitation about telling or hearing the unvarnished truth to be a symptom of resistance to greater love and creativity.
We know this move is radical because it produces huge bursts of creative energy in everyone who tries it. As a practice, it has awesome power. As a concept, it quickly polarizes people—we’ve seen talk show audiences erupt in cheers and boos when we’ve said couples need to tell the truth to each other about everything. After twenty-plus years, though, we’ve still found no exceptions to the truth rule.
The Third Secret to Lasting Love
If you want a long-term relationship that’s both close and creatively vital, you must break the cycle of blame and criticism—it’s an addiction that saps creative energy as surely as drugs or drink.
We invite couples to turn their relationship into a blame-free zone. We teach each partner to take full responsibility for everything that occurs in the relationship, especially if it looks like it’s the other person’s fault. Radical responsibility—and the powerful creative energy it unleashes—comes from catching yourself in the midst of saying, “Why did you do that to me again?” and shifting to asking, “What am I doing that keeps inviting that behavior?”
In order to build lasting love, we ask couples to go a strict no-blame diet and stick to it. As a practice, this move liberates tremendous energy. In fact, we’ve seen life-altering breakthroughs come about when couples simply went one full day without criticizing or blaming each other. As a concept, the idea of giving up blame and criticism is often greeted with derision. “Impossible,” some say. “How boring,” say others. We have found that it’s actually possible, and anything but boring. The couple who is deeply addicted to blame and criticism has usually come to mistake the adrenalized drama of conflict for the flow of connection.