A guest post by Heidi Dennis
“We fell out of love”. You’ve heard that before, haven’t you? I know I have. I realize that this is a strange post in light of Valentines Day, but what happens when you just don’t feel “in love” anymore? What are you supposed to do? Well the truth is, there is a really good reason for that and it has to do with hormones- more specifically Oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as the “cuddle hormone” because it is released when you are physically close or “snuggling” with another person. I don’t know about you, but I did A LOT more “cuddling” with my husband when we were dating (I mean, do you remember all of the making out??? Mercy, it’s a wonder we could BREATHE). I’m guessing that most of you can relate to me in that you don’t seem to do that when you get married. For starters, when would you have the time? Sex, sadly, turns into a check list item when you bring kids, chores, work, etc, etc, etc into the equation. You really have to WORK at staying close- physically and emotionally. So much for Oxytocin building. And this is ALL of us, by the way. Don’t let Hollywood tell you differently.
Another factor at play are the chemicals released in your brain during the early stages of a relationship such as serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These effect your mood, emotional experiences, and even how you feel about others. In fact, many of these chemicals are effected by anti-depressant medication to decrease symptoms of depression. That feeling of “falling in love” is caused by these chemicals (and not how “sympatico” you are with your significant other). The really bummer part is, a lot of times these hormones PEAK at the time of your engagement and then seem to taper off as things get “real”. Lame, right??? Wah-wah.
My husband and I often talked about how normal (and even anti-climatic) our decision to get married felt. Instead of the crazy romantic butterflies, we felt like “Yeah, this makes a lot of logical sense. I like you, you like me, our lives are moving in the same direction. Lets do this thing!”
I would argue that the TRUE love lies in the deepening commitment that comes over time and not in the release of chemicals that come when you are new in a relationship (you know, the same ones that are released when you are eating a slice of Chicago style deep-dish pizza. Mmmmm…pizza. Now I’m hungry). What I’m saying is, the good stuff starts after that. It’s the tried and true, we have been through everything together, we are committed to each other kind of love.
Do I feel all lovey-dovey with my husband every minute? Not even close! Underwear left on the floor does not evoke that loving feeling (can I get an amen?). However, the life built together, the closeness that we have fought for, the commitment that we share- now THAT is something worth fighting for.
In the next post, I’m taking a risk and being vulnerable about one of my own personal demons that has hindered my marriage. What is it, you ask? You will have to wait and see. Perhaps you have struggled with the same thing…
What about you? What do you think about the different stages of love? Do you think it’s possible to fall out of love? Let me know below or join the conversation at https://m.facebook.com/heidid831/