Love Bug

David Pate has been counseling at Family Counseling Center for approximately 30 years. He recommends that maintaining a best friend relationship with your partner is the key to a long, happy and healthy relationship.

Whether you’re in the honeymoon stage or celebrating your 50th anniversary, there’s a chance that you and partner need a little help rekindling that romantic spark that brought the two of you together in the first place.

Experts suggest that to keep a relationship healthy and fulfilling, couples should continually work on maintaining a special connection. This Valentine’s Day, rekindle the romance by considering these tips from David Pate, who is the director of the Family Counseling Center.

“When couples come to my office, they aren’t asking me how to fix things, they are asking me how to save their marriage,” Pate said. “There are several recommendations and practices that I use to help the couple keep their love alive.”


Keep dating

No matter how busy you may be, you should never stop having the kind of fun you had when you were dating.

Set a date night where each person takes turns planning the date. Parents need this time as well as older couples. Always talk daily, and maintain good eye contact. Listen with your eyes and give feedback of what you heard your partner say, Pate recommends.

Taking time to continually date helps keep the relationship young and fresh. Any long-term relationship still needs some excitement to ensure the healthy, emotional connection continues for years to come.

“Be best friends,” encouraged Pate. “Marry your best friend, and stay best friends. Being best friend is the key to keeping the love alive forever.”


Take each other seriously

Listen to your partner and the things he or she has to say.

According to Pate, good communication has to be both verbal and nonverbal. This builds respect within the relationship. Listening to one another and valuing each other’s opinions and feelings also involves attempting to understand and affirm the other’s emotions.

Taking each other seriously could result in communication becoming more effective, which makes both partners happy. There should be no “boss” in a relationship, instead work towards the best friend relationship Pate recommends.


Ritualize contact time

Couples should always allot a block of time to do something they both like. This could be something as simple as having coffee together in the morning or watching a television show together.

“Learn how to make love with your clothes on,” Pate advises. “Learn how to emotionally love your partner. This is done through listening and communicating. This can be done anywhere at any time. Learn to have fun with each other.”


Speak the language of love

There are five main languages of love. While in a relationship, practicing the love languages can assist in emotionally fulfilling your partner. The five love languages of love are: affection/affirmation, time, gifts, service and physical touch.

Pate advises that the emotional needs need to be met to keep the love alive and healthy. He described what he called the “ABCs of Love.”

A. Affection/affirmation: consists of words, cards, hugs and kisses.

B. Sexual fulfillment: engaging in sexual activity at least twice a week is healthy in a relationship.

C. Conversation: share information, feelings and needs daily.

D. Recreational companionship: find things that the two of you like to do together.

E. Honesty and openness: reveal both positive and negative feelings with each other without fear

F. An attractive spouse: maintain habits that you both like about each other.

G. Financial support

H. Domestic support: help each other around the house and with child care

I. Family commitment: schedule sufficient time and energy for the moral and educational development of your kids.

J. Admiration: respect, value and appreciate your partner clearly and often.


Lose your inhibitions

Be open and honest with each other about everything. Find out how to emotionally and physically satisfy your partner, and don’t shy away from conversations discussing it. Sharing your desires, needs, feelings and concerns with each other helps develops intimacy within the relationship.

“I stress the importance of being best friend with your partner for many reasons,” said Pate. “By keeping a best friends status throughout the relationship, you should be able to talk to your partner about anything and everything. This also builds trust. Without true trust, there can be no ‘in love’ now or in the future.”


Give each other space

While finding activities to enjoy together is important, it’s also important to take time for yourself when it’s needed. Couples don’t have to do everything together to maintain a happy relationship. Support of each other’s space to do things the other enjoys supports a happy, healthy relationship.

“We all have to take care of ourselves,” Pate said. “In a traditional relationship, there is a him, a her and an us. However, he has to take care of him. She has to take care of her. If neither take care of themselves, then there can be no us. It’s great to have interests that you can do together, but it’s also important to participate in individual activities.”

Relationships are commitments that should be worked on every day to ensure that both individuals’ needs are met. Realistic and healthy expectations for yourself and your partner help set the stage for a life of happiness and love.

The Family Counseling Center has five locations within Middle Tennessee and specializes in several types of therapy. The center can provide help for those seeking individual, family, youth, premarital, divorce, blending families, divorced families and parenting planning counseling in a location convenient to you.

For more information on Family Counseling Center, visit

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