"As Valentine’s Day approaches, people are especially eager to connect with the perfect partner—and hold onto him or her for good. This is nothing new; mankind has searched for aphrodisiacs for centuries. The ancient Romans slurped down oysters, the Chinese swore by shark fin soup, and the Arabs were keen on camel’s hump. ... Psychologists maintain that the dizzying feeling of intense romantic love lasts only about 18 months to—at best—three years. Yet the brains of these middle-aged men and women (Led by neuroscientist Bianca Acevedo, our team searched for people who said they were still wild about their longtime spouse.) showed much the same activity as those of young lovers, individuals who had been intensely in love an average of only seven months. Indeed, there was just one important difference between the two groups: Among the older lovers, brain regions associated with anxiety were no longer active; instead, there was activity in the areas associated with calmness."
"I had one goal when I started graduate school five years ago—to understand why some romantic relationships thrive while others fail. I also had one primary hypothesis—that relationships fail when partners begin to take each other for granted. And I thought: If taking each other for granted is the poison, then gratitude might be the antidote. ... In research by Sara Algoe and colleagues, grateful couples were more satisfied in their relationships and felt closer to each other. And in our research, we found that participants’ reported feelings of gratitude towards a romantic partner predicted who would stay in their relationships and who would break up nine months later. The more grateful participants were, the more likely they were to still be in their relationship. ... It’s important to say that gratitude isn’t always the answer—and it can sometimes hurt you. Our research is focused on understanding what factors promote the maintenance of healthy relationships that may be experiencing a bump in the road. Gratitude is good if the relationship is good."