I’m fairly certain that (with the exception of very few anomalies) everybody over the age of 30 has demonstrated at least a passing desire for a stable love life.
There are a lot of negative connotations associated with the word “stable,” so let’s be clear: stable does not necessarily have to be boring. The need for stability is, of course, very pragmatic. Being the sort of person I am, I do not have a whole host of experience to draw from with regard to romantic stability, but I do have enough anecdotal information to say without hesitation that civilized human beings are usually more productive when they are engaged in loving and exciting relationships.
In an effort to provide useful information, I went beyond simple opinion and commentary, and I asked around a bit. Even though it is sometimes easier to find unicorns than it is to find artistic and creative couples that enjoy longevity and happiness, I did manage to look a few up and get to the heart of what keeps these marriages and relationships in their respective states of near bliss.
The information, distilled down to five key elements, looks like this:
1. Sexual effort. I try to be judicial and avoid stereotypes wherever possible, however, there are very few cases of women withholding sex from their partners because they are addicted to internet porn. It’s never a prudent thing to use the word “never,” but let’s assume it is a rare occurrence.
I am by no means a religious zealot, but I do believe that allowing sexual energy and sexual tension to build up naturally in a relationship, until things move toward their desired direction, helps to build a really strong intimate partnership. To put it in more blunt terms: stop looking at internet porn, stop messaging with your ex from college, and save that stuff for the person in the next room. The rewards are fascinating.
2. Repeat after me: “How was your day?” I know what you’re thinking. “Boy, that’s some cutting edge stuff right there…”—but the fact that it is so obvious is what makes disregarding it seem so frustrating and even insidious. It is kind of like the phenomena where everybody knows that the speed limit is 65 and yet traffic court is still jam-packed every week. Believe me, if you are not asking your partner this question at the end of the day, you are probably taking your relationship for granted and heading for issues.
3. Established shared rituals. Any couple that takes the time to meditate together, share a meal every day without cellphones, or take a walk together will reap unheard of benefits from the effort. Relationships that are huffing, puffing, and on life support usually involve one partner nagging the other to participate in these things. That can only go on for so long. As an engaging male partner, it is super helpful to volunteer or create these respites without being asked.
4. Develop the courage to be vulnerable. Let’s be honest: as emotionally evolved as a lot of us mindful men are, we are still very much biologically programmed and socially conditioned to swallow a lot of our feelings. I know for myself, just hearing the words “Can I tell you about something that hurt my feelings?” come out of my mouth, makes me cringe. This is not how we have been socialized to communicate. The fact that something “is,” however, does not necessarily mean that it is “right.”
Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable takes strength and courage—and it doesn’t happen overnight. The one footnote I might add here is that this is the sort of thing that needs to be utilized sparingly. If you find yourself sitting your girlfriend down every day to tell her about something that hurt your feelings, don’t blame me if she goes running for the hills.
5. Understand the importance of non-sexual touch. Research shows that couples who do a lot of kissing, touching, cuddling, and massaging have a tendency to be much more happy and satisfied with their relationships. In addition to these benefits, it has also been noted that these habits lead to better conflict resolution when the time comes. Besides that—come on—it’s fun.
Good, long-lasting relationships rely on many different variables, and this advice is by no means foolproof. Without attraction, passion, and common vision, these steps will only work so well. If, however, you remember a time when you couldn’t stop thinking about her day and night, and you’ve noticed that the butterflies are starting to wane a little, it could be complacency and neglect that’s driving the bus.