Ask Dr. Joy: Staying in Love

By WEEK Producer

April 17, 2012 Updated Apr 17, 2012 at 9:29 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- The spring and summer are filled with multitudes of weddings, so love is definitely in the air. But how do new couples stay in love?

There is a new area of research that surrounds couples who were recently married: the newlyweds. It examines what keeps newlyweds locked in a strong relationship, and what breaks up marriages.

What are the key things that are stressful for newlyweds?
* Chronic stress from in-laws and family disputes
* Stress related to work
* Stress related to finances

What do we know about these stressors and the way partners handle the stress?
* Stress and support during these times were an indicator of the duration of the marriages of newlyweds.
* Those partners who did not feel supported by their partner reported that their satisfaction levels dropped 61 percent.
* A supportive partner tended to help make the stressor disappear- it tended to buffer the stressful situation so it was bearable.

Divorces tend to happen in the first five years of a marriage and marital support is a big factor in the ability to stay together What are some tips for newlyweds or for any couple keeping it together?
* Know your partner. If you can sense that your partner is stressed and having difficulties, find time to help them talk through the problem, or give them slack for being a little moody.
* Focus on time together. Relationships need attention. Remember the importance of together time and spending quality time with your partner
* Keep the lines of communication open. When one partner is stressed, the most common reaction is for one person to shut down, and pull in. Communication lessens and partners shut each other out of their deepest feelings. The key is to keep talking and encourage conversation and expression of feelings.
* Focus on what really matters. Relationships that are enduring tend to be ones where there is laughter, the ability to communicate and stay open, the ones where there are shared activities, and ones where each partner feels like a priority.

The key to a long lasting relationship is to pay attention to the "us" and put your partner at the forefront of your attention.

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