How To Make A Relationship Or Marriage Last… The Hard Way

How To Make A Relationship Last

When you survive the excruciating recovery period following the end of a relationship, you will ask yourself one particular question:

What can I do better in future relationships to make them last?

It is a substantial part of the recovery to understand the reasons that initially led to the split, but apart from that, is there something we can do that can make the relationship long-lasting and fulfilling?

According to an article I recently read from Jane E. Brody, a 71-year-old personal health columnist for The New York Times, there is plenty you can do.

It takes active work, and we cannot rely on the “flame of love” to fuel a marriage or relationship.

Research shows that the “flame” only continues to burn for about two years after the wedding or the beginning of a relationship. The passion eventually cools down, and we have to build a foundation of companionate love, deep affection, and connection.

This is easier read than done.

But what can we specifically do to strengthen our relationship and bulletproof it against a break-up?

You probably know that I have been happily married now since 2007, and if I had to list two of our secrets, it would be profound communication and keeping the “we” alive despite the kids.

Jane E. Brody lists a few more, some of which you wouldn’t think of, like “the 5 to 1 rule”.

It implies the observation that happy couples tend to “average five positive verbal and emotional expressions toward one another for every negative expression”. Unhappy couples, however, display a ratio less than one.

What that actually means, is that giving your partner positive energy on a daily basis, is the key ingredient to marital happiness – which completely stands to reason, (who wants to be with someone who constantly slams you emotionally).

There are other, more obvious methods to get your love life on a happier track, like talking often and truly listening to your spouse, or to avoid marital boredom by finding new activities, places, friends, and skills.

One of the things suggested in this article that made the most sense to me was, to unconditionally support your partner’s goals, dreams, and values.

This is where we have built a strong foundation for a long-lasting, fulfilling relationship. One that makes us stronger, and where both partners benefit from it.

You can read this excellent article by Jane E. Brody here.

Another very helpful article about how to keep your relationship healthy simply lists ten straight to the point basic rules and can be found here.

Your friend,
Eddie Corbano

  • I understand not judging your partner or accepting them as they are but where do you draw ths line? Had a live-in bf the last year and 4 months. In our late 20’s, failed marriages due to spousal infidelity, preschool aged children. Knew it would be difficult w trust issues and betrayal, ignored red flags, talked about taking our time, solidifying communication and healing from past in the beginning. Had to ask him to move out to save the relationship in the long run. Kicked him out of the nest so he could learn to fly. I want to be his girlfriend, not his mother. He wasn’t paying his half of the bills for a full year and living off of me who is making minimal income and parting w a business I had in the marriage, even though he has 2 full time jobs. I was taking care of his kids, his animals, his housechores, his bills until I said no more after several attempts to compromise peacefully. The man spends all his money on the drink, frequently rages when he’s drunk, doesn’t remember, doesnt apologize, doesn’t keep promises, employed passive-aggresive ways to push me away, wanted to maintain his Independence and freedom, which is more than ok with me since I like mine, but he became resentful and withdrawn if I pursued hanging with friends or my hobbies. They door only swings one way with this guy, so yes, I gave him and us both what we needed even if it wasn’t what we wanted.I did not give him any sort of ultimatum to quit drinking for the relationship because it was unreasonable, but I did tell him I do love and accept him as he is but I will not cohabitate with him since he does not want to function as a unit and he needs to be responsible for his own life. Essentially, he is a man-child, not emotionally mature for a serious relationship, which is fine, because I feel the same way. He may be bad with money, but it will not be my problem anymore. It just sucks, because I notice he only calls me when he needs something and I’m starting to loose that love for him because it’s not reciprocated. I’m sure he is just protecting his heart as well. Is it expecting too much for a grown man to pay his own bills, take care of his own shit, be in control and responsible for his own emotions, actions and happiness and take some initiative once in a while? I don’t push him for it. Totally backed off and living my life. You can’t force love and commitment, so even though I’m ok with being exclusive friends with benefits, it’s kind of a test to see what kind of friend he really is. He thinks it’s ok to be an asshole and treat me like dirt and I’m supposed to stick to him like dirt. Might explain why he has no really good friends. He tells me I’m his only friend and I tell him it’s not healthy, he gets offended and I become the emotional punching bag. I love the guy, but I have learned to set up boundaries for my own protection amd well-being. The only thing I can change is my reaction so it’s like how I deal with my 4 yr old when he’s having a temper tantrum. But it’s Sad for a 30 year old. I hope his move will allow him to grow. I’m praying for it, I have faith in him which is probably why I haven’t let go yet. Ps. It’s fucking amazing having my house back. I have so much emotional energy since he moved out!

  • I read a lot of Eddie’s articles and find all of them so profoundly right. The only thing is that in relationship you never know where is that thin line between standing your ground and compromise, or being selfish and being dominated, or supporting your partner and being at the bottom of his priorities… I have a difficult time of distinguishing between such delicate stuff. Something else comes to my mind… We all might be willing to improve ourselves in order to find a right partner but I doubt that there are many out there who are capable of doing relationship. It is nice to entertain an idea of a perfect partner waiting for you out there but using Eddie’s words I will say that we are not living in Holliwood’s movie…

    • Olga, I understand what you mean.

      The line is always your personal boundaries which consist of your principles, values and needs. You have to define those consciously. This is YOUR line.

      Also, the minute you stop believing in the fact that there is the right person for you, that’s the moment that there isn’t… self-fulfilling prophesy.

      Fact is, there are millions of wonderful, caring and loving partners out there, you just got to develop the mindset to attract them.

      • Thank you, Eddie. You made me feel better and confirmed what I was already feeling about establishing your boundaries…

        I also agree about the mindset comment.

        At the moment I am in a very difficult relationship/situation… I am thinking of submitting my story, I would like to get comments, advice… I just need to get my thoughts together, it is a long story…

  • Don’t mind me if I don’t agree with everything here. Even with daily communication, daily affection and love, no fighting or arguing, full support of everything she has ever wanted my marriage is failing.
    My wife separated from me 7 weeks ago after 19 years married and 24 years together. Says she was never meant to get married and feels she got married for the wrong reasons like that’s what she was supposed to do in everyone else’s eyes. We’ve traveled a lot, hang out all the time, never fight or argue, financially stable, no kids. She said she has tried to find a reason to leave and can not except that’s what her heart is saying. Says I have always been there for her, always supported her in everything, made her the woman she is today and is extremely guilt ridden.
    I am seeing two psychiatrists, and she refuses to see anyone regardless of how torn she is and how indecisive she is about all this. She has gone through these episodes about 5 times in the past 19 years but this is the first where she left. She is missing something and is not sure what, she is asking for space but yet can not seem to leave. You see she lives in a second house we have directly next door. She sees when the lights go out, see’s when I leave and when I come home. There is no one else in each of our lives at all. Recently we decided she has to find an apt but she has yet to start looking. We’ve gone out a half a dozen times since the split. She has not been straight with her family, refuses to get help, blocked out a lot of friends. She enjoys the arts and enjoys hanging with the people who also enjoy that even though I also like the arts! Going to see her at shows that she participates in would ruin her fun at the show even thought it may have been 2 hours away and I would go way out of my way to go and show my support to her. Puzzles me…
    She says waking every morning and giving her a kiss good morning and expressing my love to her daily even after 19 years has become repetitive and boring….everything about relationships I’ve learned through strong family values seemed to have failed in my own relationship. I’ve been a mess for the past 7 weeks even with the professional help I am seeking. We have a lot invested in our relationship and I am basically begging her for the opportunity to fix this together. We need to figure out what she appears to be missing because she doesn’t know. She has never communicated her needs and wants to me, she does have an extremely hard time to open up to me which we have identified as a major issue but she says that it is now too late but in my eye’s it’s not because since she is having a hard time, she is still connected and still talking to me like she was months ago that there is something still there we need to dig out. I am perfect the perfect husband woman dream about she says but yet she’s unhappy…
    I am puzzled beyond words, the pro’s are a bit baffled and just tell me to leave her alone and move on. I see more there and can’t just leave her because I have no closure, I feel cheated from being able to work on this after she says I’ve been the perfect husband (I don’t deserve this). I think for the sake of both of our mental states we need to bring closure to ourselves so that if it’s meant to move on then we feel like we gave it our all but right now she wants out and we both don’t know why. I’m trying to rope her back in for the sake of our history in order to give this a fighting chance.

    • Hello,
      I feel very bad for your situation.
      All I can say is that you can’t fix her. She has to learn to figure out what she really wants out of life.
      You are a great husband, but that doesn’t mean that’s what she wanted.
      You are just not lucky to have this kind of treatment from her. But you will soon find a new love, if you let her go and let her explore her own world. And you explore yours. She may come back to you later when she realized you are the best thing that ever happened to her.
      At the moment, she doesn’t appreciate you, because you have always been there for her.

      I am speaking from my experience. I saw how my step father did everything for my mom, but my mom had never appreciated him. She left him. Later on in life, she realized he was the best for her, but it was too late. He remarried, and happily married too. He died few years ago. My mom still keeps his picture.

      Be strong, stand your ground. Don’t let your wife keep leaving you like this. She will never change, if you keep on enabling her to treat you that way. You can only blame yourself.
      Good luck.

  • You are doing great work!!

  • I think the hardest thing to deal with after the breakup is find yourself. I wish it was that easy but the more I get back into my life the more I feel I have come seperated by it. I reached the point where I never what to go back with him. I realized he would of hurt me more if I stayed. Therefore that gave me the incentive to leave.

  • Alexandria says:

    I think part of why so many relationships derail is that they are utterly unprepared for the period after the “flame.” Interesting points also about the high ratio of positive affirmations among happy couples. Seems obvious but how many of us are actually doing it?

  • Hey Eddie,

    I’m no expert on this front (my longest relationship has only been ten months) but I can’t help but agree with you. That and not trying to be someone you are not. Keeping up that ruse is all but impossible — as far as I am concerned, if you have to wear a mask to be with someone then that person isn’t for you.

    One last thing — I think out-of-the-blue gestures can do a world of good to. It’s one thing telling someone you love them — it’s another to do little things here and then that truly demonstrate your feelings. Words are easy to say, after all.



  • >