I have a confession to make….back in the day I loved me some Keith Sweat’s Make It Last Forever. I still throw my hand up in the air like my mom and aunties when the song comes up on the play list–along with the customary “That’s my song.” Not only is the song the bomb, but its sentiment takes me back to a time of love songs and slow dancing…such fond memories. This also makes me reflect on the love that was lost.
As I think back on the “lost” loves, I am relieved that I have no bitter, unresolved issues about the relationships and the lack of them “making it last forever.” Upon, reflection, I think this is because time has taught me that the ABILITY to have relationships is as important as the WILLINGNESS. Most of us have such a touching willingness to love and be loved, but, honestly, we lack very vital skills for having relationships–and we aren’t looking in the right places for the “schooling.”
Here are some behaviors that are necessary for successful, lasting relationships:
1. Happy couples tend to express love verbally. They say “I love you,” or some equivalent. SAYING it is very important. Love should never stay inside of us. It should come OUT in some form of expression.
2. Happy couples are physically affectionate. They can be found hand-holding, hugging, kissing, cuddling, etc.
3. Sex is integrated with their feelings of caring and is an important form of expression of love. “With my body I thee worship.” is an important mantra.
4. Happy couples feel and make the other feel appreciated and valued. They continuously talk about what they admire or respect about the other. You know you are the bomb to him and he knows the feeling is mutual.
5. They share their inner lives with each other. They happily share thoughts, feelings, hopes, wishes, dreams, hurts, angers, yearnings and fears. There is no JUDGEMENT in the sharing.
6. They provide an emotional support system to each other. During times of illness, difficulty, hardship and crisis, they are often best friends.
7. Happy couples express love with gifts, or do things that are performed to lighten the burden of their partner (cooking dinner for an overwhelmed mother; getting the yard mowed for a busy hubby). They give freely from the heart—just to make their partner happy.
8. They accept reasonable demands and put up with realistic shortcomings. PERIOD. NEWSFLASH: WE ALL HAVE THEM. Couples who know how to live together happily do not drive each other crazy over “imperfections.” Each knows his or her own stuff stinks, too, and does not demand perfection of the other. They aren’t doormats; they have reasonable demands—but don’t expect their partner to walk on water.
9. Happy couples carve out time to be alone with no distractions. Period.
10. Happy couples have figured out healthy, positive and non-toxic ways of dealing with grievances, disagreements and past wounds. Ignoring conflict does not protect intimacy. Good negotiating, conflict resolution, problem solving and compromising skills help couples last!
As I look over list I realize, the REAL reason I am not bitter about the “lost” love: the guys from my past are great….I am just not sure that we, as a couple, possessed the skill set to pull a “Make It Last Forever.” The list above takes a lot of sacrifice, diplomacy, compassion, and social skills to pull out. What is ironic is that there are great examples of enduring love all around us, if we would open our eyes. There are couples with 20, 30, 40, 50+ years of loving experience. Why don’t we seek their advice? After all, if I want wealth, I would ask a millionaire, not a broke chick.