Intimate love — 31 March 2012
Are Marriage and fun mutually exclusive?

The thrill of early marriage slowly dissipates with time. Some believe that this process is inescapable and dooms longer marriages to a state of resigned co-existence. Yet, there are many couples who have successfully recaptured and sustained the novelty of fresh romantic love. How do they do it and how can you do it too?

Neuroscience research has documented that certain behaviors activate specific parts of the brain that release dopamine and norepinephrine leading to experienced pleasure. Helen Fisher, the love researcher explains that by stimulating the brain’s reward system “it’s enabling you to feel more romantic love.” These hormones are also the ones evoked by drug and alcohol use.

How can you activate the romantic love hormones outside a research laboratory?

Professor Kim Halford and Danika Hiew from Queensland, Australia studied Chinese and Western perceptions of what makes a happy marriage. They report, “We found that Westerners tended to talk about being in love, and expression of affection, whereas Chinese were more likely to comment on working together to build a good life. They put a strong emphasis on the concept of ‘togetherness’.”

Togetherness is a bi-product of teamwork and shared positive experiences that lead to satisfaction and emotional closeness. The latter invigorates romantic feelings and intimacy.

An easy way to recapture romantic love is to create togetherness that is fun. Having a routine date night of going to dinner and a movie, though pleasant and bonding, is not as effective as creating a fun, exciting outing together.

Professor Arthur Aron’s research documented that couples who took up novel, stimulating activities showed increases in love and satisfaction scores, while couples who shared mundane activity showed no meaningful changes.

Dr. Fisher clarified, “You don’t have to swing from the chandeliers. Just go to a new part of town, take a drive in the country or better yet, don’t make plans and see what happens to you.”

The latter option of leaving the date night open may not turn out to be ideal for you. Knowing yourself and your partner can guide you toward a creative and mutually rewarding activity that will leave both of you on an emotional “High”.

Agree to take turns planning for your special weekly time together. Use your formerly creative ideas for date night as you consider your mate’s likes and dislikes. It need not be a night activity as long as it consists of three to four hours of mutual interest and shared pleasure.

To get “High” on fun dating:

  • Remember how creative you were in suggesting fun activities when you were dating? Tap into that same energy again.
  • Consider your partner’s pleasure preferences. Abstain from evoking your spouse’s fear or dislike for the activity you propose.
  • Ready yourself with fun attire and celebratory attitude. Add humor and laughter to your conversations.
  • Think happy, romantic and excited thoughts prior to your date night. It stimulates your brain to create pleasure hormones resulting in greater intimacy.

Related Articles

About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

(0) Readers Comments

Comments are closed.