More and more couples are turning to therapy searching for a solution to their problems. In many cases it is possible to find a remedy, however, there are times when it is impossible due to the deterioration the relationship has suffered over time. The expert psychotherapists and psychologists in couple and group therapy explain what the keys to achieve a lasting relationship are.
Being in a committed, long-term relationship with someone is something that requires a lot from a person. “Both as an individual and also as a unit,” explains Proyecto ART. The team of psychologists and psychotherapists in Barcelona points out that lasting loving relationships are possible, however, it is essential to pay attention to a number of issues. Aspects such as commitment, generosity, common values and good communication, among others, are essential. However, they stress that one of the most important points is self-regulation or affective responsibility. Self-regulation, they describe, is a term that refers to the ability to take responsibility and actively change one’s behavior. “Instead of blaming our partner for the problems we face together,” ethe couples therapy experts at ProyectoArt.com explain. Moreover, according to a meta-analysis recently published in the quarterly academic journal Journal of Family Theory and Review, willingness to change will make the person in question feel better about themselves even more so than with their partner.
The keys to a long-lasting love relationship
Recently, in July 2023, a study was published by the Doctors of Philosophy, Christian Heim and Caroline Heim, on what is the secret of long-lasting love relationships. The study was carried out on 180 couples who had been married for more than 40 years. In it, most of the respondents agreed that commitment between partners is the most important point, the number one in the relationship. This is followed by altruism (or generosity in putting one’s partner before oneself) and shared values. Such as, for example, religious and political values, values transmitted by the family, effort at work, friendship and many other issues. In this study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, the importance of good communication is also mentioned, especially the importance of increasing listening skills, honesty and authenticity in communication. It even emphasizes becoming less critical of one’s partner.
Commitment in the long-term relationship, love and overcoming, finally, are three more aspects that add to the results of the study in question for a loving relationship to be healthy and lasting. Regarding compromise and the need to reach an agreement, the study highlights that this is the tool to manage relationship conflicts and that it is something that each couple has to figure out over the years. Love, on the other hand, is defined in the study as mutual physical attraction, quality and constancy; and overcoming, finally, has to do with the importance of never giving up and overcoming difficult times to move forward.
Self-regulation and couple regulation: Are they effective?
The team stresses the importance of working on self-regulation and, very cautiously, couple regulation; in other words, “I do this for us” and “you should do this for us,” respectively. With regard to partner regulation, they explain that the effective way to take responsibility and actively change individual behavior is to evaluate one’s own behavior that negatively affects the relationship. This is followed by setting achievable goals and finally defining a strategy and effort to carry out the plan. “The results show that effort is more important than strategy for a good quality relationship,” they say, adding that “the key is to be persistent, even if you face challenges”.
Regarding couple regulation, on the other hand, psychotherapists express that trying to change some things in the couple to improve the relationship can have both positive and negative consequences. Moreover, they indicate that this is something that most people do. However, although they comment that partner regulation can, to some extent, improve the relationship with positive forms of regulation, it is more likely to worsen it with negative strategies. They clarify that the four ways to bring about change in a partner are with direct positive methods, such as, “I know you can cook a delicious dinner,” positive indirect methods (“Look, how romantic! He cooked dinner for you!”), with direct negative methods, such as “You’re so lazy, you should cook dinner at least once a week!” and negative indirect methods (“Oh, I see, so I cook dinner again!”). “It is important to note that indirect negative methods such as manipulation or guilt induction are just as problematic as direct ones, such as open criticism, demanding and belittling communication,” they express.
Navigating External Stressors Together
External stressors such as financial strain, health concerns, or intricate family dynamics often cast long shadows over a relationship. The key to navigating these tumultuous waters lies in unity and mutual support. Couples can foster resilience by creating a shared space for open dialogue, where fears and concerns can be expressed without judgment. It’s about forming a pact to face these external forces as a team, pooling resources, offering emotional support, and seeking solutions collaboratively. Remember, the storm might be fierce, but a shared umbrella can make all the difference.
Fostering Individual Growth within the Relationship
Personal growth is the lifeblood of human experience and an integral component of any relationship. Embracing each other’s individual journeys fosters a dynamic and enriching bond. It’s about celebrating personal milestones and supporting individual aspirations while weaving these unique threads into the fabric of the relationship. Encouraging personal development, whether through education, hobbies, or self-care, doesn’t just benefit the individual; it infuses the relationship with fresh perspectives, mutual respect, and an ever-evolving tapestry of shared experiences.
Mastering the Art of Conflict Resolution
Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship, but its resolution lies in the heart of effective communication. Strategies like active listening and empathy are more than mere tactics; they are the cornerstones of a deeper understanding and respect. Active listening involves fully concentrating, understanding, responding, and then remembering what is being said. It’s about giving your partner your undivided attention and acknowledging their feelings without immediately jumping to solutions or judgments. Coupled with empathy, which allows you to walk in your partner’s shoes, these strategies transform conflicts from battlegrounds into platforms for growth and understanding. It’s not about winning the argument; it’s about winning together, growing closer, and emerging stronger on the other side.