You know what they about a stable marriage that’s moving along with no major hurdles – ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ But you may feel that your relationship just hasn’t reached its full potential or that something is missing. Believe it or not, you can break out of the routine and recapture some of the magic.
According to the field of interpersonal neurobiology, the brain is constantly changing. And that has a lot to do with your daily interactions. All relationships, especially loving ones, alter the brain circuits that shape memories and emotions. Think about when you first met your spouse – the immediate attraction, the flow of attachment hormones, the we-can’t-live-without-each-other interdependency.
This alchemy continues throughout life, and how we treat each other matters. In a loving relationship, we can change each other’s neural functions when we decide to be more mindful, attentive and compassionate. And holding hands is enough to reduce stress and minimize physical pain. So whether you want to release euphoria-inducing chemicals like dopamine and adrenaline or change the wiring in your brain, here are some ideas to consider:
Invest emotionally. Make time for each other just as you would for any valuable asset. Remember why you fell in love and keep romance alive. A gentle touch or quick hug releases oxytocin, a hormone that facilitates bonding as well as reduces stress levels. When you’re feeling tense, an affectionate moment can help you feel relaxed, closer, more loved. Studies show that celebrating positive events predict greater relationship satisfaction than commiserating over negative ones. The efforts you both make will be returned in multiples.
Eliminate boredom. Although lightheartedness is often one of the first casualties of hectic family life, when the kids grow up you may feel a void and realize your relationship isn’t exciting anymore. Do you wonder who is this person and what did I first see in him? If so, talk to your partner about how you feel, without judging or accusing. And come to the conversation prepared with suggestions for change. Plan some adventures and discover new activities you both enjoy. Take on a physical challenge together and train to make it happen. Have fun together, laugh and bring humor into your daily life. Being playful can lead to greater intimacy.
Interested in sharing how you’ve worked to change your relationship? Just click on ‘comments’ below and follow the prompts. And log on Wednesday for more practical insight about refreshing your marriage.