Love That Lasts
5 Scientific Secrets for Lasting Romance
How do you keep a relationship strong in the face of common midlife shake-ups? Changes like an empty nest, aging parents needing help, adult kids boomeranging back home, and financial strains can bring couples closer -- or not. A strong relationship in midlife and beyond buffers stress, research shows. But it takes more than the clichéd weekly "date nights" to keep romance stoked, experts say.
Some surprising happiness sustainers:
Realize That Inevitable "Romantic Burnout" Is a Myth
Research shows: Most people know to expect that the obsessive, passionate love of the start of a relationship eventually fades. But they often mistakenly assume that its natural replacement is a happy, but not very romantic, "companionate" love, says Bianca Acevedo, a social neuroscientist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. Instead, her research shows that long-term romantic love -- defined by intensity, sexual interest, and engagement with one another -- is very real for up to 40 percent of long-wed pairs. (Only the obsession part of early love fades, replaced by feelings of deep security and calm.)
Real-life action step: Aim high -- and focus on the bright side. "One of the most important things associated with the sustaining of love over time is thinking positive thoughts about your partner," Acevedo says. What she recommends: Let go of minor transgressions. See your partner in his or her best light. Look for humor. Celebrate one another in large and small ways. And don't feel silly or apologetic about feeling crazy about your partner even after all these years.