Virginia Crist, Ph.D., LMFT

"young love"WHAT COULD BE MORE EXCITING THAN LOVE? Living and loving are two lifelong processes intricately interwoven. I will love for as long as I live. I will love the birds, and the sunsets, and the stillness of the lakes, and the sounds of the waves at the ocean. I will love the feel of the sand between my toes at the beach, the feel of the sun on my skin, and pelicans. I will love the smell of fresh brewed coffee in the morning, chocolate and char broiled salmon. I will love phone calls from my family and I will love helping a friend. To me living and loving are inseparable.

Now, what about loving that one special person? How is that different? You see, we can love our parents, children, pets, roses, cheesecake, symphonies and football games and never exhaust our capacity to love in these ways.

But “being in love” with one special person is an altogether different kind of love which involves a different kind of "How to keep love alive"energy that these other loving ways I’ve mentioned. HOW TO KEEP LOVE ALIVE — AT ANY AGE! Is what I’d like to focus on here, so please look for three more upcoming columns to complete this series.

One of our greatest personal challenges is to create the love we want. People try their best to love each other, but there is a lot of frustration and disappointment out there. The high divorce rate attests to that: 50% of first marriages, sadly 67% of 2nd marriages, and a whopping 74% of 3rd marriages! The clue suggests that you roll up your sleeves and try your hardest with your first marriage. It appears to become increasingly difficult as you go on to the next. Please don’t be complacent.

It’s one thing to fall in love and, it’s another thing to stay in love. So here is one key feature of a healthy love relationship.: High Mutual Regard is paramount. It is imperative in keeping love alive. Treat each other with respect, value and dignity. Avoid criticizing one another in public – that is a form of disregard, and that will not cultivate your partner’s (1) admiration, (2) long term presence, (3) one reason given for infidelity is that my partner often puts me down, criticizes me or tries to make me feel bad about myself, etc. Thoughtfulness and consideration are also important to feel safe and vulnerable with one another under the auspice of high mutual regard. Thoughtful gestures can be as simplea s a quick love not scribbled every other morning or a lovely card received in the mail every couple of weeks but, you must write something special in it, or it is meaningless. A beautiful long-stemmed rose across a bedpillow one evening would be an unusual surprise for many. Be creative. What would your partner like or enjoy from you?

Consideration suggests opening the door for her and pulling out her chair. I am all for women’s rights but, I am also very much a lady and I am sure I am not the only one who appreciates a kind gentleman with etiquette. Reciprocity would be offering a cold drink, getting the mail; everything applies to whichever gender is more comfortable doing so — just make sure you each do many courtesies frequently. A high quality desirable healthy long term relationship does not run on automatic pilot.

Treat him/her as though he/she is the most important person in the world because remember, to you, he/she IS!

Dr. Virginia Crist is in Private Practice in Boca Raton and can be reached at 561-212-6855. Her website is

Virginia Crist, Ph.D., LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Individual and Couples Therapist
Certified Diplomate, American Psychotherapy Association