Love, or at least that lovin’ feeling, doesn’t last. According to the experts, true love is something that has to be a decision and something that requires effort — something nurtured, something that grows.
Your doctor, dentist, mechanic, plumber, roofer and computer repairman all will tell you the same thing as a marriage counselor: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Kent Brand, a Shoals psychotherapist and marriage counselor, said the two biggest problems in a relationship are communication and infidelity.
When a problem, such as infidelity, arises, Brand said couples “raise a red flag, it’s high alert. Then they call the marriage counselor.”
But if the proper effort is put into a relationship, it can last, Brand said.
“Many relationships don’t make it out of the first 10 years,” he said. “The magic is gone and there are so many problems, and they just feel overwhelmed. They just give up on the relationship.”
And a team that doesn’t spend time together — even a good team — won’t have the chemistry or experience needed to face storms that arise.
“The No. 1 reason people get a divorce is because they stop spending time together,” Brand said. “They get involved with their kids or their careers, and they just don’t give each other the priority they need.”
Brand said he and his wife make sure they have a date night once a week.
Loresa Stansell, a counselor in the Shoals, said most of the people who come to her have problems communicating with one another.
“Communication is huge,” she said, adding that “99.9 percent of the people who come to me have let (their relationship) get to the point to where they cannot communicate about anything.”
Communicating thoughts and feelings without attacking the other person is a skill required for lasting relationships, she said. “Avoid blaming and approach conflict from the perspective of working together to form a solution rather than blaming. ... Let’s see what is really going on here and how can we resolve it.”
Stansell said having fun together is another key factor in maintaining relationships. It’s something that often falls by the wayside through the years.
Having respect for a partner also can erodes in time.
“Respect your partner’s point of view,” Stansell said. “you don’t have to agree, but you have to agree to disagree,. And that’s OK.”
According to Brand, there are six myths about relationships. The first is personal happiness is the goal of a marriage, which isn’t respectful of your partner.
“Basically, if you’re a demanding person you won’t last long in a relationship,” Brand said. “There has to be give and take. Would you rather be married or would you rather be right? If you’re in a relationship, you have to sacrifice.”
The next myth is: “I will get my mate to come around to my way of thinking.”
Brand called that a big red flag, saying relationships aren’t competitions.
“Love holds a marriage together,” is the third myth, he said. “Really, commitment holds a relationship together.”
Brand suggested when one person does something negative, the other person should respond with a positive action or a kind action will help alleviate and will do more to foster understanding.
The fourth myth is that love is a feeling. As Brand said, that feeling eventually will wear off and it requires dedication to keep it going.
The fifth myth is it takes a lot of work to make a good marriage, when spending time together and having fun are more important than the work, Brand said. The last myth is people think they can change their mate. Brand said to change yourself first and your partner will be more open to.
“The butterfly effect happens, the mate my say ‘look how my mate has changed, maybe I can change a little,’ ” Brand said. “But if you come on directly, saying ‘you’re driving to fast, you’re driving to fast, you’re driving to fast,’ the other person is probably going to drive faster.
“You change yourself first and watch your mate change as a result of your change.”
Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com.