Ask Dr. Tracy

Love-Building Strategies

No couple ever remains madly in love forever, through leaky toilets and overflowing drains, crying babies and demanding families, business problems and bank overdrafts. What happens when the newness of your love wears off? What enables your "In-Love" feeling to mature into true lasting love, capable of withstanding the ups and downs of a long- term relationship?

In great relationships, the newness is replaced by a deep bond, a web woven from shared experiences, pleasurable little habits, and private, personal "love triggers." In most relationships, these develop by chance, but by knowing what they are, you can nurture your relationship and assure its progress by making them happen.

Build Your Relationship's History

Every solid relationship has its own history of loving experiences, of the things you've done together that created lasting memories -- the times you've loved, and laughed, and shared new experiences together, even the times you've cried together. These are the memories that bond a couple.

You can create such a history. You don't have to wait for unusual things to just happen to you, which might take years. You are not at the mercy of fate. Don't wait for the memories to build; create them.

Instant History can be created by doing memorable or even exciting things together as a team. Take a trip. Learn a new sport together. Or use your imagination instead of spending money -- stage an especially erotic seduction for her, or a "mystery date" where nothing's really expensive, but everything's a surprise, or a "pot-luck" birthday dinner party for him with all of his or her friends.

Take advantage of opportunities to create Instant History. Help him or her to move. Rescue a stray dog or cat and find a home for it together.

When Sylvia, a twenty-eight-year-old department store buyer and amateur photographer, met Monty, her divorced, thirty- year-old fireman, I helped her determine that he was highly visual (see "Inner Languages"). She knew she had to take her time with Monty, but she was smart enough to document their entire relationship with snapshots, including some of her and his little boy together. As the relationship developed, she shared the snapshots with Monty. Soon the photos became a little scrapbook -- a visual Instant History.

Later, after Sylvia and Monty were married, he confessed to her that he "used to look at that damn scrapbook a dozen times a day" when they were apart.

"Our Song"

Notice how some couples play the same music over and over again. It's "their song," and they can stand listening to it so many times because for them, it's highly pleasurable; it's a private "love experience trigger." Through this addictive repetition, the song and the experience both become habitual parts of their lives.

Find a favorite singer who has a meaningful song that both of you like, one that always reminds you of how much you care for each other, and let it become "your song." Don't worry if this sounds corny or hokey; it works.

Other "Love Triggers"

In addition to "our song," any other mutually shared love trigger can strengthen a relationship's bond by becoming a pleasurable habit which neither of you can enjoy except with each other.

Some couples have a silly little saying that only has meaning for them, or pet jokes that really aren't funny to anyone else, or private names they call each other.

Many couples retain, from the new and exciting "In Love" phase of their relationship, an unusual or even kinky sex act that's a sure turn-on for both of them. This very private pleasure becomes habit-forming and adds to the bond between them.

Some couples say the magic words, "I love you," a lot more than others. This verbal repetition adds to their bond in subtle ways. Now that you know about "Inner Languages", you'll be able to say the magic words in your mate's particular Love Language. To a visual mate, you could say, "You can see how much I love you." To an auditory mate, you might say, "You can hear how much I love you. To a feelings mate, "You can feel how much I love you."

Relive Your Special Times Together

Every once in a while, just for fun, play the music you used to hear when you were first falling in love, go through your pictures, and watch the video you took of your last vacation together.

Related Keywords: Love Strategies, Making Love Grow, Keeping Love Alive

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