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The Fallible Man

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Cultivating Lasting Love: The STRONG Framework for Modern Relationships


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In today's fast-paced world, where distractions abound and priorities often shift, maintaining a strong, fulfilling relationship can feel like an uphill battle. Yet, as licensed marriage and family therapist Kristal DeSantis emphasizes, the key to unlocking a love story that transcends into a lifelong journey lies in embracing a holistic approach to nurturing your bond. The STRONG Framework: A Roadmap to Relational Wellness

Through her insightful book, "Strong: A Relationship Field Guide for the Modern Man," DeSantis introduces a comprehensive framework that serves as a blueprint for building and sustaining a healthy, thriving relationship. The STRONG acronym encapsulates six pillars that form the foundation of a lasting partnership: Safety, Trust, Respect, Openness, Nurturing, and Generosity.


Safety: The Bedrock of Emotional Connection

Couple Embracing

The journey towards a fulfilling relationship begins with establishing a sense of safety – a space where both partners feel free to be their authentic selves without fear of judgment or rejection. DeSantis emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, stability, emotional regulation, and effective communication as the building blocks of safety. When these elements are in place, trust can flourish, and the relationship can thrive.


Trust and Respect: Cornerstones of Lasting Love

Trust and respect are inextricably intertwined, forming the foundation upon which a strong relationship is built. DeSantis delves into the nuances of trust-building, highlighting the need to recognize and address any lingering patterns or attachment styles that may hinder the development of trust within the relationship. Respect, on the other hand, is not merely demanded but commanded through integrity, character, and alignment between values and actions.


Openness: Embracing Growth and Change

Couple on a bike

As individuals evolve and circumstances shift, relationships must adapt to remain vibrant and fulfilling. DeSantis emphasizes the importance of openness, encouraging couples to cultivate curiosity about each other's changing needs, desires, and perspectives. This openness not only fosters deeper understanding but also prevents the insidious "growing apart" that can erode even the strongest bonds.


Nurturing and Generosity: The Fairy Dust of Love

True love is not a passive state but an active pursuit. DeSantis highlights the importance of nurturing the relationship through intentional effort, whether it's investing in quality time together, fostering emotional intimacy, or nurturing personal growth and self-care. Generosity, the "fairy dust" of the relationship, is the willingness to go above and beyond, to make small gestures that bring joy and deepen the connection.


Embracing the Journey

Couple holding hands

As DeSantis eloquently states, "Love takes work. Having a love story that becomes a life story is not magic. It's hard work. It's dedication." By embracing the STRONG framework and committing to the ongoing work of nurturing your bond, couples can navigate the complexities of modern relationships and create a love story that transcends the test of time.


In a world where relationships often take a backseat to the demands of daily life, DeSantis' guidance serves as a powerful reminder that true love is not a destination but a journey – one that requires intentionality, effort, and a willingness to grow together. By prioritizing safety, trust, respect, openness, nurturing, and generosity, couples can unlock the secrets to a love story that becomes a lifelong adventure.



STRONG Framework Infographic

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