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The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

Five Tips for Making it Last

One thing all relationships have in common is that they take work. Some more than others. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, flowers, puppy dogs and all those sappy sweet things people think of when they think L-O-V-E, The Beacon sat down with Robert Bohlander, a psychology professor who’s also worked as a marriage counselor for 24 years, and Jane Elmes-Crahall, a communication studies professor who teaches classes in interpersonal communication, to come up with these…


1. Be Yourself

Have foresight. No one wants to spend the rest of their lives sacrificing their self-identity for someone else’s happiness, and no one wants to be with someone who isn’t really who they thought they were.

“During the dating phases, people become like chameleons,” Bohlander said. “They want to be exactly like what the other person wants, so you’re really not seeing completely who they really are. People think ‘Oh, she wants this now, so I’ll do it, but after we’ve been together for a long time it’ll change.’ They think that after a while the hard part’s over, that they don’t have to work as hard. But it doesn’t get easier as times goes on, it gets harder.”

2. Find a Balance

Being in a relationship does not mean being fused at the hip. It’s important to remain your own person and to not be afraid to ask for, or offer up, alone time.

“Sometimes couples want different levels of that. One wants to be together 95 percent of the time, the other wants to be apart 95 percent of the time,” Bohlander said. “Ideally, you want a balance between connectedness and separateness, so, yes, there will be things you want to do on your own, but there are other things you do as a couple.”

3. Don’t Wait

If something’s bothering you, get it off your chest. Don’t just sweep it under the rug because, chances are, later on it will come up.

“When things are going well, we don’t talk about it. When things are going bad, that’s when we talk about. ‘We’ve been together for 15 years and you still don’t know the kind of birthday cake I really like.’ Talk about stuff early, before it festers and causes resentment,” Bohlander said. “A lot of time when people arrive in marriage counseling, it’s kind of late because there’s so much animosity and resentment built up.”

Talk things through, but, as Elmes-Crahall added, “don’t fight dirty” and don’t get bogged down in debates over who’s “right.” Be candid, but use tact and be mindful of your partner’s own thoughts and feelings.

4. Be Logical

Speaking of being mindful. Obviously, romance is all about emotion. But a real relationship needs a mix of emotion and logic to be successful.

“If you say you’re in this for the long haul, that’s a logical decision and you have to learn how to communicate,” Elmes-Crahall said. “The biggest skill needed is what we call dual-perspective, or empathy. Even if there’s tension there, try to think about things from the other person’s point of view. Don’t become so wrapped up in ‘What does this mean for me?’ You need to establish the ability to find out from their point of view what may be causing the tension. … Pay attention to their non-verbal communication as well.”

Self-reflection and open-mindedness are also necessary.

“It’s good to get some insight into how you came to your current perspective on relationships,” Bohlander said.”That can help you see, ‘OK, this is how it was in my family, this is what I raised to value, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If I’d grown up in a different family, I might see things differently.”

5. Don’t Give Up

One thing Bohlander wants people to know is that there’s always hope. “Even if there’s a setback, a big blowout or whatever, learn from that,” he said. “Anytime two people try to get along, whether it’s a friendship or a working relationship, there’s always going to be rough spots. You have to believe that this relationship will still be intact six months from now.”

Meanwhile, Elmes-Crahall shared own insights gained not just from her profession, but personal experience.

“This is not me being the interpersonal communications professor, but the person who’s been married for 27 years,” she said. “Be open to surprises. Don’t think because you’re with the same person for a long period that things are predictable. There will always be surprises and changes, and if you trust the person enough, then change doesn’t have to be a problem. In fact, it can bring you closer together.”

About the Contributor
Bill Thomas, AE Editor
Arts & Entertainment Editor Fall 2012 Office Hours: M-W-F 8am – 11am, 12pm – 2pm Bill Thomas is a senior Communications major at Wilkes University, with a concentration in Journalism. In addition to serving as The Beacon’s Arts & Entertainment Editor, he is also a former member of both the board and staff of Zebra Communications, and is still a regularly contributor to local alternative weekly the Weekender. Bill currently runs an intermittently updated blog about the Pennsylvania underground music scene called 570 Mine Fire. In 2011, he was voted “Best Blogger” by Diamond City for his now-defunct movie review blog, Total Popcorn (a.k.a. Cinema Cyclops). A self-professed pop culture geek and lover of all things A&E-related, Bill is both a die-hard film buff and a passionate supporter of the local music scene. He is currently working on putting together a radio show for Wilkes University’s radio station, 90.7 WCLH, that will focus on independent, underground musical acts throughout Pennsylvania. All in all, he finds it a little weird writing about himself in the third person.