How to Make Love Last: the 3-R’s of the Loving at Your Best Plan

7 New Year’s Ways to Improve Your Marriage

How to Make Love Last: the 3-R’s of the Loving at Your Best Plan

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At the Loving at Your Best Plan in NYC, we use the “3-R’s” to increase the security in your marriage or relationship. The 3-R process is:

1.     Regulate your central nervous system to maintain your ability to adequately see yourself and your partner or spouse

2.     Reflect on what is happening with yourself and your partner or spouse and make sense of it

3.     Identify the response that you need and that your partner or spouse needs that meets the needs of how you’ve made sense of your emotional states and the meaning behind those emotional states.

Two negative patterns emerge when you feel a threat to your marriage or love relationship:

1.     You may get stuck in a pattern that pulls you away from your partner or spouse when you feel hurt or disconnected.

2.     You may also “pursue” your partner or spouse when you feel this hurt or disconnected, chasing after him or her through angry demands in order to get a response, even if that response ends up reinforcing your original fears or hurts.

Either pattern usually leads to more distance and increases the sense of insecurity in your marriage or love relationship. The negative patterns can end up overtaking your relationship with your partner or spouse, and lead you to feel that you are living with an “enemy” instead of the person you feel in love with and depend on most to feel safe and secure in the world.

When threats in your marriage or love relationship lead to negative responses that reinforce threats, you most likely feel more pain and anxiety. At times you may even feel more alone in the relationship than when you were single, before you met your partner or spouse.

We all ask key questions in our love relationship every day, whether realizing it or not, that include:

  • Do I matter to you?

  • Can I reach you?

  • Are you physically, emotionally, and sexually available to me?

  • Can I rely on you to respond to me when I need you?

  • Will you stay present with me, tune into me, and resonate with me so that I can trust you?

Most of us are not aware that our survival circuits focus on having positive answers to these questions. Keep in mind that a neutral answer to any of these questions is similar to a negative response, and can lead to an increased perception of alarm, threat, and danger in your romantic relationship. The conflicts that come up regularly with your partner or spouse can take on new meaning when insecurity is present. Suddenly, not taking out the garbage becomes a signal for not being able to count on him or her, and the threat grows. Differences between you and your partner or spouse may shift from being admired to being read as a “mismatch,” even though most likely it is the pattern of how you are engaging that is to blame. Sex can become distant or cease to exist. Money can easily become a source of frustration and increased insecurity. Child-rearing questions can also play out some of the worst parts of the negative pattern you’re stuck in.

When you feel safe and loved in your relationship, you manage and honor differences and problems together with your spouse or partner. If insecurity and doubt are taking over, fears and hurt can lead to endless disagreements around even the smallest things, and can lead to a “domino” effect on your relationship.

Share Your Experiences

ave you found ways to help your marriage or love relationship when you’re feeling disconnected? Do you keep getting stuck on the same topics? Share your experiences, and help others grow.

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  • Travis Atkinson

    Travis Atkinson, L.C.S.W., is the Director and Creator of the Loving at Your Best Plan. He has extensive training in marriage and couples therapy, based on over 27 years in practice, earning certificates from top-rated couples therapy models, including: *Certified Advanced Schema Therapist, Supervisor and Trainer for Individuals and Couples *Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist and Supervisor *Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapist *Certified Group Psychotherapist *Honorary Lifetime Member of the International Society of Schema Therapy Travis is a co-author of the latest schema mode therapy inventory, the SMI. He is also the co-author of two chapters in the recently published “Creative Methods in Schema Therapy: Advances and Innovation in Clinical Practice (Routledge, 2020) and author of “Schema Therapy for Couples: Healing Partners in a Relationship” in the Handbook of Schema Therapy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).

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