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love feelings versus loving relationships

answered 09:47 PM EST, Thu January 10, 2013
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anonymous anonymous
This question is way out of left field so, sorry about this. I understand that the hormone oxcytocin plays a key role in love, like in romantic love and in the development of parent and child love. As someone who is grappling with a possibly failing marriage one of the things I miss most is that feeling of being in love. When I felt that love high I could overlook a lot of the stuff that now sends us into quarreling. So my question is, is there a way to take oxytocin like a drug? And if it doesn’t exist, shouldn’t it? Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we all loved each other a little more?

Delisted Expert Says...

Absolutely the world would be a better place if we all loved each other a little more! However, there is a difference between "love" as an noun and "love" as a verb. I have read various articles of research on bonding hormones and the chemical "high" in new relationships, but I do not believe that chemicals alone can make or break a long-term committed relationship. Maybe someday someone will invent a drug that will keep us feeling that "new relationship high" all the time, but then do we really want our most important relationships to be based on continuous chemical pill-popping? It is a normal part of being human to enjoy and seek pleasure, and at an extreme we can fall victim to addictions, but learning to grow in love is also part of being human.

I am sorry to hear that you are having difficulties in your marriage. If you are willing to seek help, there are definitely ways to "keep the spark alive" and more importantly, to learn how to grow from feeling "in love" to being an awesome partner in a committed and loving marriage.  Self-help, support groups, and time with a therapist can help explore how to get needs met in a relationship and how to build strong bonds. When love becomes a verb the feelings of "being in love" are easier to experience even if the feelings may be different than that initial new relationship high. "Little things" might also seem less problematic when both partners feel fulfilled in their relationship.

Another issue to consider is that most people don't think and feel exactly the same for the duration of their entire lives. Can you remember how you felt about learning a new skill, for example, when you were 5 years old - maybe riding a bike? How exciting and exhilarating was it?! And as an adult, you may still really, really love riding a bicycle, even though you may not feel like you did when you were 6. Most people go through various developmental stages throughout life - some are easier, some are more difficult, and the challenges and the rewards may be different at each transition. Since marriages and family cover a large span of time, our feelings and thoughts are bound to vary with different circumstances. Self-help resources, therapists, and support groups can also provide information on a range of views and theories about life-long development.

Most often, marriages succeed due to a combination of getting needs met, meeting the needs of the other person, mutual appreciation and commitment. For some couples this is relatively simple, for many couples it takes devotion and diligence and years of hard work!  For some couples, the years with children are the most difficult as there is little time nor energy left for the relationship after child-rearing needs. For some couples, the years after the children leave home are difficult as it may require adjusting to being a "couple" again. Some couples might say they don't expect to have that "new relationship high" ever again, but they have a stability and durability that means the world to them; they would never trade that away. Some couples might say they have learned to find adventure together, and that they are committed to finding that next adventure and sharing the "highs" with each other - highs that are even better than the "new relationship high" because they are secure in their future as a couple. 

That said, you may want to get check-ups, both of you, from your primary care or family doctor, just to rule out potential issues caused by physical problems - a variety of conditions (including changes in hormones) can contribute to emotional changes and of course, that can interfere with relationships. You can check your local churches or non-profits for support groups or self-help groups. You may also want to check if your employer has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) that offers any free counseling to try it out. 

I wish you all the best and do hope that you will seek some type of assistance. Life is short and the choices we make, even not making a choice, can impact the quality of what time we do have here with the ones we love. And even if someone did invent a pill, I probably wouldn't take it - after all, everything in life is a trade off, and the trade off for that one would probably be something huge! 



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Page last updated Jan 10, 2013

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