We recently dug deep into what makes relationships last, even when both people are working an insane number of hours.
In some cases, it’s common sense. For instance, we weren’t surprised to learn that kindness makes relationships stable.
In others, common wisdom gets turned on its head: One couples therapist says that “date night” is not enough to make love last.
If you want the full story of how power couples nourish their relationships, see how Jessica Jackley and Reza Aslan manager theirs.
In the meantime, here are the action points you can apply to your life:
• Share chores. The takeaway from one of the most thorough studies on American domestic life? “Couples who don’t have a system for household tasks can get really resentful, really quickly,” the Atlantic reports.
• Make the effort to be kind and generous. Psychologists have found that the most successful couples have “low physiological arousal” when they’re around each other. In other words, they feel calm and connected when they’re side-by-side. Getting to that blissful state requires paying attention to when your partner is asking for attention, and giving it to them.
• Recognise that these things take time. Work has lots of short-term rewards; you ace a project, your boss high-fives you. Relationships have a longer reward cycle. “The relationship is a more long-term investment,” Northwestern psychologist Lesley Seeger tells Business Insider. “Bonds have long-term security, where our stocks and other more immediately gratifying things are a whole different ballgame.”
• Don’t let “together” time happen by accident. When both people have busy lives, take the time every week to sit down and plan your schedules out. Seeger suggests questions like: What’s on my spouse’s schedule? What’s on my schedule? How do we feel about our respective duties together?
• Workshop your goals. Jackley and Aslan, the entrepreneur-and-author power couple we profiled, have a tradition of taking a four- or five-day vacation at the end of every year. The kids go to hang with the grandparents, and the two of them figure out what they want out of the upcoming year. “We map out all the areas of our lives: individually, together, family, professional, everything, and talk about our hopes and dreams,” Jackley tells Business Insider.
• Make big dreams come true. Date night isn’t enough — dreams are necessary for long-term love. “You’re going to need something more exciting to pull you through those low spots,” says couples therapist Peter Pearson. He encourages couples to think about goals that “excite their imagination.” Pearson and his wife Ellyn decided to start building schools in Africa. Other families road trip across America or backpack around the world. Pearson’s advice: “Look for something that is a joint endeavour.”
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