How Long-Term Relationships Evolve Over Time
By Joseph Thorn
Young love is one of the most beautiful things a person will ever experience.
The moment your lips first touch those of your spouses is the forming of a period in your life you’ll remember forever. There’s something magical about the way a gentle kiss makes the body tingle with electricity. And how the stomach, in its surprised state, begins to knot, churn and bounce. The mind, so overwhelmed by all the glorious dopamine, begins to pity anybody who’s not standing in your shoes, holding hands with their dearly beloved.
It’s nothing short of mind-blowing.
But, everything evolves. It changes. Given time, the booming choir of angels singing ‘Hallelujah!’ every time you meet Mr. Right becomes more of a white-noise than a tear-jerker.
Young Love Soon Becomes Old Love
It’d be unfair to say love is only beautiful in its infancy. It isn’t. It just has fewer obstacles in its way. The newness and the intensity serve as rose-tinted goggles that block out anything that would compromise such a feeling. (These are the things that cause problems later on.) But one thing remains despite the emergence of imperfections and the reduction in infatuation: they’re still your soul-mate.
Relationships After 40
40 is an odd age. It really is. It’s young enough to feel optimistic, yet old enough to realize life isn’t the glamorous fairytale we believed it to be when we were 20. Some may say that’s depressing, but it isn’t. It’s this wisdom that makes us more successful in business and in love. A man’s peak, according to Oxford University in bonny England, is 45-years-old. Everything you were doing before you joined the over-40 club, was, essentially, practice.
Psychologists believe there are several stages to a relationship:
• First contact
• Romantic realization
• Honeymoon period
By the time you’re 40, assuming you’ve been in a long-term relationship for some time, you’ve reached either the Reality phase, the Dissatisfaction phase, or the Contentment phase. (Hopefully it’s not the middle one.) The two phases on either side of the dissatisfied one above differ drastically from their predecessors. Mainly because of habit, life consciousness, and self-permission to work towards singular objectives, rather than relationship ones.
Comfort, Calmness And Support
It feels unjust to say an over-40 prefers a slower pace of life. That’s not always true. But what is, is we usually prefer less drama. Drama we can’t control, anyway. Time is more-or-less a great big trade off. It’s not always one we want to make, but it’s one that brings with it certain benefits, nonetheless. In exchange for some of our energy, a little of our looks, and the ability to party with teenagers, we receive a little more wisdom, some patience, and more direction in our lives. Those who lived through tumultuous 20’s often enjoy the process of growing older.
As with life, love mimics art. As time passes in our relationship, we trade some of the passion, some of the intensity and some of the buzz, for comfort, security, calmness, and hopefully, support. After several years with someone, a relationship becomes about enjoying the whole of life’s picture, rather than just two of its segments: entertainment and sex.
A New Dawn, But Still A Good Day
Abraham Maslow spoke in his 1943 paper to Psychological Review about the necessity of balance when it comes to human happiness. The pyramid, used by Maslow, featured 5 different stages people go through before reaching fulfillment: Physiological, Safety, Love/Belonging, Esteem, Self-actualization. The phases range from securing the most basic of acts like sex, eating and remaining safe on a regular basis, all the way up to benefiting the community around.
Making It Last
As many of the wonderful chemicals reduce in frequency and intensity, it becomes up to a more-balanced life to provide an overall feeling of happiness in two members of any relationship. This is where the converge begins. Some couples make it to happy ever after. Others take the dissatisfied route.
It becomes essential for both parties in the relationship to recognize their role in helping the other climb their ‘hierarchy of needs.’ Instead of taking attention, time and energy away from their partner, they need to understand their role. Sometimes their partner will need what they offer. At other times, they’ll need their support and security to accomplish things outside the relationship. Whether they get it goes some way towards deciding which path is taken.
This is a sensation virtually everybody feels, yet few know how to understand when things go wrong.
Making it last is about investing in the person, and allowing them time to nurture their other investments too. Of course it should be a two-way street, and you should be afforded the same luxury.
What changes in a relationship as time passes? The bigger picture becomes far more important than the little one in your wallet of just the two of you.-