Keeping Marriage Alive

I recently saw an article on MSNBC.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30808963/from/ET/) about couples either kindling or rekindling their marriages. The assertion is that dull marriages can wreck a marriage. Couples need to do new and/or exciting things together to keep the flame going (continuing the fire metaphor). They said, “Experts say that shared challenges and exciting diversions are what make relationships hot long after the wedding gown has been packed up and stored away. And the opposite, boredom and a dull, daily routine, can kill a marriage, squashing intimacy and romance.”

The findings are based on research conducted at State University of New York at Stony Brook. “The researchers found that boredom at the seven-year mark strongly predicted future unhappiness and loss of intimacy nine years later.” Rutgers research shows that the part of the brain that registers during dating still registers in long-term happily married couples. And brain chemistry is effected, principally with an increase in dopamine. Dopamine increases cause the pleasure centers of the brain to light up.

Helen Fisher of Rutgers suggests couples who want to keep their marriage passionate to, “Marry the right person, have sex with them regularly, and go out and do novel, exciting things with them. What kinds of activities does Fisher suggest? ‘Anything that’s new or interesting — or even slightly dangerous — will help sustain feelings of romantic love,’ she says. ‘And it will certainly kill feelings of boredom.’”

All this does is reaffirm two known principles of marriage: 1) it is work and cannot be taken for granted, and 2) joint activities help couples feel close to one another. (The primary ones are communication and knowing how to resolve conflict.) The trick is to find what both of you would like to do together and then do it. The way you find that out is by talking to each other and through knowledge of your partner’s likes and dislikes. The latter also happens by talking to each other. And last step is crucial – DO IT!

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