We all know the story – boy meets girl, they fall head over the proverbial stilettos in love, can’t think about anything but each other, steal kisses, each other’s hearts and finally end up married and live happily ever after, right?
Not quite. Monoamines – that thing we call love – and causes all those euphoric head rushes and tummy tingles runs out after two years which is just enough time for us to procreate, and make sure our baby is healthy, according to scientists. Then around 40 per cent of couples get divorced. It’s not such a romantic fairy tale for Valentine’s Day is it?
‘Romance will never last for a lifetime,’ says neurologist Dr Fred Nour, who wrote True Love: How to Use Science to Understand Love. ‘You have to accept falling in love is just a phase that’s going to go away… If you accept that, you’ll have fewer divorces and more happy people.’
The global divorce rate has risen 251 per cent since 1960 so it’s clear that love isn’t all around us, including in Dubai, where the current statistic of two out of every 1,000 Emirati couples divorcing is a huge improvement since pre-pandemic statistics when the UAE’s divorce rate was higher than the global average.
There are many reasons why marriages in the city historically have turned sour, says lifecoach Adam Zargar, who runs UAE Coaching in Dubai. The main one is couples getting bored and frustrated — with each other, their lives and everyday pressures and commitments.
‘Dubai is a very sociable active city so people are always mingling and there is ample opportunity to meet new people,’ he says.‘Money is a massive pressure, with costs for rising medical care, private schooling, accommodation and living well. This can lead to arguments or resentment.’
The good news is there is a way to make love last – and it’s not with roses or chocolates. It’s actually driven by another chemical called nonapeptides that creates a strong long-lasting bond. With just a few tweaks to our thinking and behaviour, we can hold on to the spark. Here’s how:
Make Every date Your First
Schedule a date night once a week and pretend it’s your first date with each other, suggests Adam. ‘Even if you’re tired and worn out from work, or looking after the children, if this was your very first date with each other, you’d make an effort to dress up,’ he says. ‘You would flirt and take a real interest in what your date was saying.
‘You wouldn’t be on your phone. You’d listen intently and asks lots of questions to show your interest.’
UK life coach and self-development author Talane Miedaner says date nights are important to remind yourselves that you are a couple. ‘You can forget that when you’re busy with your careers and being a mother and father. You’re a couple first and the foundation of your family.
‘If your life is busy, then automate date night so you don’t have to make any decisions: Tell the nanny which night she’s needed and have a booking at the same restaurant. If you’re on a budget, you could get a takeaway and go to the beach.’
Look For the Positives
If you focus on your partner’s strengths, you’ll remember the things that made you fall in love with them in the first place, says Adam.
‘Everyone makes mistakes and forgiveness is key to a healthy relationship,’ he says. ‘Get a blank sheet of paper. Write down the grudge you’re holding about your partner – it could be anything, such as he’s a pessimist or always leaves the wet towels on the bathroom floor – in the middle of the page and circle it.
‘Make ten more circles around the centre one, and in each one write positive traits, attributes and qualities about your partner. It might be that he is a fun dad or that she is very generous with her time and money. Focus on all the positive things instead of the one negative thing they did or said.
‘Try and go for a full week saying only nice things about your partner or doing nice things for them. If you fail, you have to start the week again. This is a great momentum changer and it will put a lot in your relationship bank account.
‘Every night before you sleep, write down three positive things your partner did that day, from paying you a compliment to being generous to someone.’
Talane, who is author of The Secret Laws of Attraction, The Effortless Way to Get the Relationship You Want, (McGraw-Hill), says we all have emotional requirements, and the mistake we make is to try and get our partner to meet them all. This makes us appear needy, she says, and rather than attracting people, we repel them.
Instead, she urges us to take the pressure off our partner and ask our friends and families to fulfil our needs for a while. ‘If your need is to be appreciated, ask your mum to send you a card every week to tell you what she loves about you,’ suggests Talane. ‘If you need to be heard, ask a friend if they will sit and listen to you.
‘By doing this, you will appear less needy – and more attractive – to your partner and they will be keener to give you more of what you want.’
Turn Back Time
Remember the days when you’d just met? You only had eyes for each other and you were carried along by the thrill and excitement of new love. ‘Re-create those days,’ suggests Talane. ‘Make a list of all the fun things you used to do before responsibilities came along.
‘It may be you used to go to the cinema and eat popcorn, or dance the night away. There’s no reason why you can’t do those things now. Go and see a movie, or make every Thursday evening dance night in your home. Push back the furniture, put on some music and dance! This puts you back in the mood for love and reminds you marriage can be fun.’
Speak The Language Of Love
Love and romance mean different things to different people. Some people might like to be showered with expensive gifts while others love to walk hand-in-hand along the beach.
Talane urges us to communicate what we like so our partners know how to keep us happy, instead of playing a guessing game. ‘If you like it when they squeeze your hand, or bring you flowers, tell them so,’ says Talane.
‘Don’t make them try to work out what pleases you – be clear about what you like and want. If you want them to be attentive on a night out or buy you yellow roses instead of red ones, tell them!’
But remember not everyone speaks the same love language. ‘You may well love a foot massage after a tough workout at the gym, but your partner might hate the thought of having their feet touched,’ says Talane.
‘So find out what makes them feel loved. It could be a hug when they come in from work, a cup of mint tea in bed in the morning or a loving text message at lunchtime.’
• Adam Zargar is Executive Director of Coaching and Training Services at UAE Coaching, in Mosela Tower, The Greens, Dubai. He specialises in NLP, neuro-linguistic programming www.UAEcoaching.com
• Talane Miedaner is a UK-based life coach and author of Coach Yourself to Success and The Secret Laws of Attraction (both McGraw-Hill) www.lifecoach.com