Meeting someone and falling in love is a wonderful feeling. Your heart beats faster when you anticipate seeing your love, and you are easily distracted from the tasks at hand. You may even do things you would not normally do, like stay up all night talking or participate in an activity you really don't like just to spend more time with them.
But how do you know this love will last? Some say you don't, that it's just luck of the draw if your love lasts over time. Many believe that the more a couple have in common, the more likely they are to be compatible over time. Others say, not so fast.
With more than 40 years of love and relationship research under their belt, The Gottman Institute says that whether love will last is more about how couples address their differences and support one another's needs and dreams. (Read more about the study below.)
In studying successful couple relationships and couples whose relationships fail to thrive over time, The Gottman Institute found that people connect and fall in love by talking. John and Julie Gottman and their co-authors, Doug Abrams and Rachel Carlton Abrams, M.D., discovered eight crucial conversations that couples need to have. These conversations can either help couples know that love will last or help rekindle love that has become lukewarm. The authors made the crucial conversations for couples into dates in the book "Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love."
These conversation-based dates have the potential to help couples increase understanding and commitment regardless of how long they have been together. The topics for discussion include:
» Trust and Commitment. Trust is cherishing each other and showing your partner you are reliable. Choosing commitment means accepting your partner exactly as he or she is, despite their flaws.
» Conflict. Conflict is a part of every healthy relationship. There is purpose behind it, and it is an opportunity to take your relationship to a deeper level.
» Sex and Intimacy. Romantic, intimate rituals of connection keep a relationship happy and passionate. Couples who talk about sex have more sex.
» Work and Money. Money issues usually aren't about money at all. Instead, they are about what money means to each person. Learning what money means to each person can help take your relationship to a totally different place.
» Family. It is not unusual for relationship satisfaction to decrease after the birth of a child. The decrease often continues with each subsequent child. Couples who maintain their sexual relationship and learn how to manage conflict in a way that builds up their relationship can avoid this drop in relationship happiness.
» Fun and Adventure. People are often so busy "adulting" that they underestimate the importance of play and adventure in their relationship. They actually are vital components to a successful and joyful relationship. While couples may not necessarily agree on what constitutes play and adventure, learning more about the one you love can be part of the fun.
» Growth and Spirituality. The only constant in a relationship is change, and how each person in the relationship accommodates the growth of the other partner is key. Relationships can be more than just two individuals coming together; they can be stories of transformation and great contribution and meaning to the world.
» Dreams. Honoring each other's dreams is the secret ingredient to creating love for a lifetime. When dreams are honored, everything else in the relationship gets easier.
The Gottmans contend that every strong relationship is a result of a never-ending conversation between partners. This book will guide you through how to talk and how to listen in a way that will benefit you as an individual and as a couple.
Julie Baumgardner is president and CEO of family advocacy nonprofit First Things First. Email her at email@example.com.