Staying deeply connected in a long-term relationship takes work

When you first start dating and falling in love, everything is beautiful. But staying deeply connected in a long-term relationship takes work, which is why men and women in truly healthy relationships regularly commit to nurturing their intimacy and deepening their connection.

Tue intimacy, the act of giving and receiving in a safe and nurturing relationship, is not a linear process. It is the dance of commitment to love and honour each other.

The list to describe intimacy is long, vibrant and somewhat unique for every couple, as they each have their own way of creating closeness and space in their relationship. There is no closed door to how love works within healthy boundaries.

True intimacy is not emotion- or thought-based

However, true intimacy is not emotion- or thought-based. Emotions and thoughts come and go like the waves on an ocean, while lasting, intimate love is all about healthy mutual commitment.

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That’s why the happiest couples in a healthy, long-term relationship make conscious, action-based commitments to deepen their intimacy and stay in love.

They each motivate themselves to succeed and, when they experience conflict, friction or disappointment, as all couples do, they see it as a part of their commitment to each other to work through their issues together. They perceive their conflict as a stepping stone to deeper love.

They educate themselves on the making of a successful relationship, and invest education, personal growth, work, time, energy and full commitment in their love.

Successful couples don’t lead by emotion or thoughts; they lead by their commitment to each other and their relationship, which makes them steadfast in their loyalty and leads to deeper intimacy and love.

Here are the three things men and women in a long-term, healthy relationship do to strengthen their commitment, deepen their intimacy, and help them stay in love:

1. They love themselves as much as they love each other

Men and women in a committed, healthy relationship not only love their partner, but they love themselves fully, as well.

Do you know yourself well? Have you stood up to your family relationships that injured your sense of worth, value, and your right to love? Do you have a strong support system? Do you trust your needs and care for them? Do you choose partners who have high emotional intelligence?

Successful couples don’t lead by emotion or thoughts; they lead by their commitment to each other and their relationship

If your answers are “yes”, then luck is on your side and your relationship future looks bright. The more self-aware and committed you are to developing your own intimacy, the more likely you are to achieve it with your partner.

2. They are transparent, empathetic and compassionate with each other

These three things are nice to have in a relationship, but the lack of them is not always a deal-breaker. However, they help create a safe and welcoming feeling of connection between partners. The openness that is created between you as a result, is stronger than your inner fears.

That’s why the most intimate, long-term couples focus on caring for their relationship. When mistakes are made, they can carry on and start afresh. They talk about difficult topics – sometimes with empathy and compassion, and sometimes not. They know that perfection is not what is necessary.

What is important is that they are both committed to each other. They care for each other and hold the intention of staying strong together. They promise to keep working on it and making it good together by creating a trusting and nurturing environment.

3. They address conflict as a team

Couples in the healthiest relationships understand that conflict is not a deal-breaker, as long as it’s addressed clearly and authentically.

However, men and women tend to communicate in relationships differently, which can prevent problems from being resolved. Women are often straightforward when it comes to confronting and expressing their concerns, while men tend to avoid confrontation.

That’s why couples who stay in love know that effective communication requires both flexibility and elasticity.

They address challenges in their relationship until they find a solution, even if it means the solution is to agree to disagree. Their commitment to each other is more important than anything else.

When blended with deep, mutual love, healthy conflict can actually feel okay. The point is to focus on carrying on with your relationship in a win-win manner, while showing unconditional love for your partner that can invite an even deeper connection.

Staying in love is more about nurturing a caring and intimate connection with your partner, than it is being right or wrong.

READ MORE: 7 Secrets to an amazing relationship

Suzanne Kyra is a registered clinical counsellor, empowerment speaker, and award-winning author who is an expert in individual, couple, family and professional development. Visit her website to learn more about how to “live big” and create the life you love or read her award-winning book, Welcome Home To Yourself.

This article was first published on YourTango.