Ah, love. It’s like a drug no one is immune to. Once we get a taste of it, addiction is bound to happen ;-)

But love isn’t just doe-eyed romance. There’s a lot more to it, and as Dr. Block says, “the test of love comes over time.” Check out his article below, and you’ll discover a whole new side of being in a relationship. From being open to being yourself, there are significant nuggets of wisdom in there.

Check it out and of course, drop a comment. I want to know how you manage to keep a relationship fiery and filled with love.

The Beginning of Love

Joel Block, Ph.D.

drblock color pictureThe beginning of love is wonderful. It is the subject of songs and the theme of movies; it has created an industry in fiction writing, the romance novel. But the test of love comes over time, the time beyond the courtship and honeymoon phase. It is in the long-term relationship that our capacity to maintain the vitality and energy of love is challenged.

The Challenge

The challenge goes beyond simply getting along. There are lots of couples who get along but whose relationship lacks spark. Some of these couples have excluded anything controversial from their relationship in an effort to keep the peace. It is peace that comes with a price.

Not being genuinely open because it may “stir things up” is precisely the wrong thing to do. The spark comes from being emotionally open in a relationship and allowing the other person to do the same.

Joel D. Block, Ph.D., is an award-winning psychologist practicing couple and sex therapy on Long Island, New York. A Diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology, Dr. Block is a senior psychologist on the staff of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Einstein College of Medicine. For 20 years, he was the supervisor of the Sexuality Center at Long Island-Jewish Medical Center. Dr. Block is the author of over 20 books on Love and Sex.

Being Open

Being open requires that we make our feelings known when we talk about things that are important to us and that we stay emotionally connected to our love partner when he or she thinks, feels, and believes differently; we don’t waste our energy trying to change or fix each other.

Yes, creating and maintaining a vibrant love through the process of revealing yourself, warts and all, can be a frightening prospect.

Ditch the Caution

To do otherwise, to play it safe and avoid the risk of being open, or to discourage your partner’s openness because it doesn’t conform to your views is the most significant risk of all. It will, with certainty, drain the relationship and leave it empty. The excitement of the early days will become a distant memory to be mourned. This is so because the liveliness of love relationships, the very core energy of love, is fed by the openness that comes from the heart. Real love involves opening your soul to the person you love.

The Need for Approval

It’s ironic that people who are sharing their lives are often less open with each other than they are with other people who are not as crucial to their lives. And therein lies the rub. It is because a person is important in our life that we become guarded. Their view of us matters more; they are central to our lives, and we want their validation. We want to avoid their disapproval.

We want them to see things our way, especially those things that are dear to us. If one is excited by a movie, he or she wants the other to be excited as well. If one has a painful experience and is upset, and the other is not, that may cause a problem; one or both feel the other is reacting improperly. If one feels like sex and the other doesn’t there is resentment.

The demand is, “feel like me, think like me and behave like me.” But we are each different and may feel differently, think differently and behave differently at times. Demanding otherwise doesn’t work!

Which are You?

When I go into a restaurant and glance at the couples, there’s a palpable difference in energy levels. Some couples are animated; others are staring past each other. Often the energized couples are dating, and the stale couples are married. The married couples have already talked about the kids and gossiped… there’s not much left they’re willing to get into.

They’re playing it safe—and that is the problem. To avoid their partner’s disapproval, they’ve eliminated the energy and passion from the relationship. Playing it safe, their solution, has become the problem!

Reach Out

Does your relationship have that dating energy of the early days, or has it been whittled down to topics that are safe? Not sure? Ask your partner!

Guide to Inspired Life