“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
—Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
I’ve never been great at science. I muddled my way through high school biology and never even took H.S. chemistry because it wasn’t required for college at the time. But even though I don’t have much of a love or understanding of science, I do know a little bit about “Relationship Chemistry.”
God made us intricately complex creatures with chemicals that fire in our brains whenever we feel those first pangs of love. And the chemical that floods our brains at a time like that is Phenylethylamine or PEA for short. This chemical can only remain in our brains for about 6 months to a year. This is the chemical that produces that euphoric feeling or the “high,” if you will, of new found love.
Many couples feel the PEA fading and try every trick in the book to recreate it. The only problem with that plan is—it won’t work! Instead, your relationship moves into a new phase of bonding. And in that phase, your brain produces a new chemical called, Oxytocin—which I will refer to as the big “O”. Actually, the big “O” has been referred to as the bonding chemical.
A few weeks ago, I had several blog readers ask me, “What can reignite or add a spark to a diminishing relationship?” Since we are unable to go back to the beginning of our relationships and produce PEA, we need to focus on what produces the big “O” instead!
The most obvious and probably easiest way to produce the big “O” is through pleasant touch. You could hold your partner’s hand, hug them, or stroke their back. In fact, massage is one of the best ways to produce the chemical.
Another surprising way to produce the big “O” is to work through difficulties and hard times together. Of course, the emphasis of that last statement is on “working through” and “together.” Very often couples allow hard times to pull them apart rather than coming together to find a solution or persevering and supporting one another through the harsh realities of life.
I must say that working through the messes with my husband has been one of the main bonding ingredients in our marriage. You know the old saying, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” I think that describes us to a “t”.
My husband, Gary, and I have learned to turn from fighting each other to fighting the problem instead. This has produced a deep and time-tested trust in each other. I know that he won’t easily give up on me—on us—and he knows that about me too. That produces a strong feeling of being connected and “for each other” unlike any massage can give. (Although, a massage ain’t bad!)
When I see couples hurting and in the trenches of their messes, I want to help them see that there really is hope down the road—if they will look to God to help them pull together and persevere. And not only is there hope down the road, but love—deep, big “O” love—that is so worth the fight!
Can you relate?
Have the marriage messes you’ve been through brought you closer to your mate?