photo by emutree
Let me put it blunt. You don’t need flowers, romantic songs, chocolates, cards or anything that’s in the shape of heart to enhance romance in your marriage. You only need two simple things that don’t even cost a penny but are most effective in bringing love to your marriage.
Have you heard of families that looked perfect on the outside? Families that always have time together, that no matter how busy, husband and wife can find time for family and marriage bonding such as dining out every weekend, seeing movies or discovering exciting places to hang out? A marriage that seems to be filled with romance and love, so perfect that you just can’t believe when you learn one day that they’d divorced. It’s usually a complete shock for you, isn’t it?
I didn’t only hear of such couples, I knew quite a few.
But what went wrong? If spicing up your marriage doesn’t really mean filling it with true romance and making it divorce-free, then what else can you do?
I stumbled upon an article today “Romancing your Brain” from the March 2011 issue of The Signs of the Times and I learned two effective ways of enhancing true romance and divorce-proofing your marriage.
1. Fall in love through your brain, not your heart
Did you know that it’s your brain that causes you to fall in love and not your heart? When I was a freshman in the university, I learned from my psychology professor that we fall in love through that part of the brain called the limbic system and not the heart. Upon learning this fact, I and my classmates decided that instead of saying “I love you from the bottom of my heart” to someone’s special, we should instead be saying “I love you from the bottom of my limbic system.”! That was hilarious but true.
The article confirmed the limbic system theory that was taught by my professor. Only, there’s more to it.
Thanks to brain researches it’s been revealed that “the human brain is divided into four main regions called lobes, and each of them makes a contribution on how you connect with others. There are also structures deep in the brain such as the gear shifter (anterior cingulate gyrus), the anxiety and pleasure center (basal ganglia) and the emotional center (deep limbic system), that play powerful roles in making and shaping your life and relationships.”
The most important lobe for healthy relationships is the prefrontal cortex which is located in the front third of the brain. It’s that “still, small voice” that helps you to decide between right and wrong. It’s the same voice that makes you decide whom to love or to remain madly in-loved with your spouse.
2. Change your brain, change your life
According to Daniel Amen, a brain-imaging specialist and author of The Brain in Love,
“When the brain works right, it helps you to be thoughtful, playful, romantic, intimate, committed, and loving with your partner. When the brain is dysfunctional, it causes you to be impulsive, distracted, addicted, unfaithful, angry and even hateful, thus ruining chances for continued intimacy and love.”
Amen and his research team found, over more than 16 years of studying brains and scanning over 35,000 brains related to behavior, that a healthy brain function is associated with more loving and sexual relationships while poor brain function is associated with more fighting, less sex, and higher divorce rates.
How can you make your brain healthy? The answer is simple, by making your thoughts positive and hopeful. If you can learn how to change your thoughts, you can also change the way you feel.
If your brain is healthy you’re able to:
- supervise your words and the way you act.
- think before you rush to speak.
- learn from your mistakes.
- focus on the conversation and follow through on your commitments.
- express your feelings
- dislike conflicts, tension and turmoil.
Negative thoughts, on the other hand, are compared to ants – tiny, very annoying and can spoil your day especially if there are lots of them.
In order to change your brain and make it healthy, you must be able to identify those ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts) and crush them before they get to ruin your relationship.
The article gave us a checklist of common negative thoughts that occur daily in our mind.
- Always/never thinking – repeating such words to yourself as always, never, no one, every time, and everything.
- Focusing on the negative – seeing only the bad in the situation.
- Fortune telling – predicting the worst possible outcome of a situation.
- Mind reading – believing that you know what others are thinking even though they haven’t told you.
- Thinking with your feelings – believing negative feelings without ever questioning them.
- Guilt beating – thinking in words such as should, must, ought, or have to.
- Labeling – attaching a negative label to yourself or to someone else.
- Personalizing – investing innocuous events with personal meaning.
- Blaming – accusing someone else as responsible for your own problems.
And here are three more ANTS from my own checklist:
- Putting words on someone’s mouth – rephrasing someone’s statement to make it sound negative.
- Hearing only what you want to hear – regardless of your partner’s explanation, you only hear and believe the negative things that you want to.
- Living in the past – recalling and indulging yourself with the mistakes and painful experiences that occurred in the past, never getting over them.
Wow! That’s quite a list.
I figured I better start crushing my own ANTS. So instead of my blunt statement at the start of this post, I’d rather say that those flowers, romantic songs, chocolates, cards or anything that’s in the shape of heart would be most helpful in bringing romance to your marriage if you do them as obedience to that good small voice in your head that tells you to stay in-loved with your partner. Keeping a healthy brain through positive thoughts will make you attractive to your partner and her to you. Marriage stops to exist as a mundane partnership.