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Eight Keys to Lasting Love

by Linda Miles, PhD

Linda Miles is speaking at the Better Marriages Conference: Educating Couples, Building Relationships  July 11-14, 2013 in Raleigh, NC.


My granddaughter, Merritt Miles, at five years old, was the inspiration for, 8 Keys to Lasting Love. While reading her a fairy tale I was very disturbed by what I was about to say to her when I read; “And they lived happily ever after.”

So, I took the liberty of changing the ending to, “They began the work of creating a very good marriage.” I didn’t want Merritt thinking, as so many of my clients had, that marriage was so simple, that it just magically happened and couples lived happily every after.

As a marriage and family therapist for thirty years, I have seen the pain people experience after the honeymoon is over, when they awaken realizing they have married a mere mortal. I hope my granddaughter, as she enters adulthood, will avoid the pitfalls and pain of those who succumb to this “happily ever after” myth.

  1. Stop blaming. Start living. It is our responsibility, and not our partner’s, to feel better and to heal. Our partner will be responsible to us, but not for us. So it’s useful, instead of blaming our partner, to ask ourselves these two questions, “Why did I draw this person into my life?” and “What is it that I need to learn from this?” Within a good marriage, we grow up.
  2. Avoid the fixer-upper syndrome. We think we can fix our partner and shape them into perfection. Our version of perfection. So many people marry for potential. Never marry potential. Marry for safety, the safety between two people who accept one another faults and all.
  3. Make a promise to keep our integrity. Do not hold onto victim hood like a prize. This doesn’t allow us to grow. Work on behaviors that make our partner want to change by being kind and loving. Vent our feelings, without being out of control. If we are in a relationship that does not have mutual respect, over time we may need professional help.
    Preferably, we would seek that help with our partner.
  4. Eliminate attack thoughts. These types of thoughts are incredibly destructive over time. If we attack other people, ourselves and our thoughts, it really interferes with our happiness and peace of mind. Learn to find the joy, even in difficult times. As Mother Theresa once said, “Our best protection is a joyful heart.”
  5. Do not hold onto anger. Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. Turn attack thoughts into constructive thoughts and actions. Think thoughts that are appreciative of ourselves and our partner. And express those thoughts often. When we build an emotional bank account full of positive thoughts, we have positive emotional currency to counter with when angry times come.
  6. Wake up, without makeup. On soap operas I’ve seen women wake up first thing in the morning with all their makeup on, false eyelashes and all. That is not the real world. What we need to do for a successful marriage is to learn to be more and more real. What we need to do for a successful marriage is learn to feel more and more safe to be who we truly are.
  7. Wake up and make up. It is essential that couples learn to repair and heal after every fight. Find solutions. Do not get stuck rehashing the past. Live in the present, and find ways to keep the marriage buoyant and alive. Happy couples learn how to repair differences.
  8. To change our relationship, the place to start is with changing ourselves. Better to reinvent ourselves, because we are not going to be able to change our partner. Learn to love in a mature way without trying to control or manipulate. C.S. Lewis once said, “To love without control or manipulation is to be surprised by joy.” We will truly be surprised by joy when we can live in the moment with our partner and within ourselves.


Copyright 2013 Linda Miles Ph.D


Author, Dr. Linda Miles, is deeply committed to helping individuals and couples achieve rewarding relationships. She is an expert with a doctorate in Counseling Psychology, and has worked in the mental health field for over thirty years. She has been interviewed extensively on radio, TV, and in magazines. Find more relationship ideas and relaxation techniques on her web site and in the award-winning books she co-authored, The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth, Friendship on Fire and Train Your Brain: For Successful Relationships, CD. http://www.drlindamiles.com