Elderly-couple-sitting-on-002Can romance and passion last a lifetime? Based on a recent study by researchers at Stony Brook University, yes.
The findings, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, surveyed couples married 10 years or longer, and found a significant number of couples, 40 percent, reported intense feelings of love and high levels of passion, decade after decade, even couples married 30 years or more.
The published work of psychologist K. Daniel O’Leary and colleagues, titled Is Long-Term Love More Than A Rare Phenomenon? If So, What are Its Correlates, also identified factors that, when present, predicted strong, enduring relationships and intense feelings of love between partners.
In addiction to the presence of factors commonly associated with strong, healthy relationships, such as mutual attraction, communication, commitment, affection, and so on, surprisingly, other factors were more pragmatic in nature. For example, couples in enduring relationships reported having positive thoughts about their partner overall, and enjoyed engaging in self-challenging activities together.
Here are 10 of the key factors that were found predictive of partners in long lasting relationships, they:
  1. Maintain positive thoughts about their partner. Partners focused on the positive qualities and attributes of their partner, rather than thoughts that magnify minor misgivings or weaknesses.
  2. Keep their partner in mind when apart. Partners thought of one another during the day, and stayed tuned into one another’s interests, cares and wellbeing.
  3. Stay focused on partner despite distractions. Partners were able to maintain connection despite stress factors, such as work overload or visiting relatives, etc.
  4. Spend a lot of time together. Partners wanted and sought one another’s company and companionship.
  5. Enjoy new and challenging activities with partner. Partners not only enjoyed spending time together, they also spent time together that was physically, mentally and, or emotionally stimulating.
  6. Express affection with physical touch. Partners expressed their love with physical affection, nonsexual in nature, such as a touch on the shoulder, a hug, kiss etc.
  7. Are sexually attracted to partner. Partners report feelings of love that stimulated them sexually.
  8. Engage in regular sexual intercourse. Partners expressed their love to one another with regular sensuous touch or sex.
  9. Are overall happy in life. Partners were personally happy with their lives with an overall positive outlook.
  10. Have a strong passion for life. Partners were passionate about one or more aspects of their lives, i.e., work, hobbies, interests etc.

The O’Leary study provides new evidence that vibrant, long lasting couple relationship are a real possibility. It makes sense considering how many studies show that healthy relationships are associated with greater personal health, growth and confidence, as well as emotional fulfillment, for individual partners.

The ingredients for keeping the love light burning in your relationship are both simple and complex at the same time. On the one hand, they’re simple in that, when certain factors are present, relationships work like clockwork! Relationships are no longer a mystery, rather a science. On the other hand, they are also complex because such actions require conscious effort to sustain momentum, and a willingness to become aware of and change any intentions and attitudes toward self, other and the love relationship that do not sustain momentum in the direction of your goals.
The good news for you and your partner? If you really, really want an enduring, vibrant relationship, and that means both of you are willing to take action to make conscious changes to your own (not partner’s!) thoughts, beliefs and attitudes to make it happen, chances are high that you’ll to get what you really, really want.