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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Romantic Rewards Wilt to Soft Security




Sustaining romantic love over the course of many years has a positive function in the brain, which understands and continues to pursue romantic love as a behavior that reaps cognitive rewards, according to positive psychology researcher Adoree Durayappah.

"The key to understanding how to sustain long-term romantic love is to understand it a bit scientifically," Durayappah wrote in Psychology Today. "Our brains view long-term passionate love as a goal-directed behavior to attain rewards. Rewards can include the reduction of anxiety and stress, feelings of security, a state of calmness, and a union with another."

(Carolyn Gregoire. "The Psychology Of Loves That Last A Lifetime."  
Huffington Post. May 05, 2014)


People in a marriage want to sustain a lifelong passion for life. They seek personal fulfillment and personal well-being in marriage, and those demands mean each partner must continue to put more and more resources into the relationship. 

A 2011 study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience looked at the brain regions activated in individuals in long-term romantic partnerships (who had been married an average of 21 years), and compared them with individuals who had recently fallen in love. The results revealed similar brain activity in both groups, with high activity in the reward and motivation centers of the brain.

Now, you may see these findings as proof that intense marital romance can thrive for decades and for even entire lifetimes. I, too, believe this is true, and I also believe long-term "romantic partnerships" do exist. Yet, I also see something else in this research. What I see does not extend the idea that long marriages maintain a fervor of the fever "hotter than a pepper sprout" as described in the song "Jackson" by Johnny Cash and June Carter.

Look once more at those rewards men and women in marriages seek: "reduction of anxiety and stress, feelings of security, a state of calmness, and a union with another." These dividends of marriage are more akin to the rocking chair than to the marital bed. I contend most long marriages involve more passive acceptance than active romance.

If my supposition is true, is it any wonder so many red hot love affairs end in disastrous marriages? As flames of passion die and embers of love subside to cold ashes, sustained coupling depends so much upon comfort and toleration. The sweltering climates of love generally become lukewarm, the most comfortable temperature for maintaining unions.

How ironic that initial love is so consuming that humans cannot look beyond first enchantment to judge the merits of their own impending marriage before taking the plunge. How many couples even consider their own greedy interests before taking their vows? The truth is most people think romance is hot, heated sex mixed with some illusion of total enthrallment with a destined "soul mate." With heads and sex organs whirling out of control, they enter marriage in a drunken state of hope with fantastic, Disney-like expectations.

“A person newly in love sees the world through the lens of love and most everything is tolerable and everything their partner does is delightful,” says Kane, - See more at: http://source.southuniversity.edu/the-psychology-behind-love-and-romance-70700.aspx#sthash.flZwCalI.dpuf
“A person newly in love sees the world through the lens of love and most everything is tolerable and everything their partner does is delightful,” says Elizabeth Kane, a clinical psychologist and behavioral scientist.
clinical psychology and behavioral science

romantic love and infatuation are not so much of an emotion as they are motivational drives that are part of the brain's reward system. - See more at: http://source.southuniversity.edu/the-psychology-behind-love-and-romance-70700.aspx#sthash.iWQ2hthA.dpuf
Scientists say that romantic love and infatuation are not so much of an emotion as they are motivational drives that are part of the brain's reward system. The drives consume sweet, sticky, physiological treats that feed euphoria -- the caresses, the kisses, the intercourse.


physiologicaltreats help create a temporary euphoria. 
“A person newly in love sees the world through the lens of love and most everything is tolerable and everything their partner does is delightful,” says Elizabeth Kane, a clinical psychologist and behavior scientist. 
But, I believe great change is inevitable for most of us dizzy lovers. It is both natural and predictable, but couples prefer to believe their vision will remain perfect in those infallible "lenses of love." Not only do they want romantic perfection, but they also demand their mate perform the magic without hesitation or fail.



“A person newly in love sees the world through the lens of love and most everything is tolerable and everything their partner does is delightful,” says Kane, who is also a marriage and family therapist. - See more at: http://source.southuniversity.edu/the-psychology-behind-love-and-romance-70700.aspx#sthash.iWQ2hthA.dpuf
OK. Someone has to say it, so I will: 

Marriage, especially in the long run, is pretty damned boring. And guess what, you either learn to accept the comfort level or you suffer the losses of divorce and the demands of starting over. 

These days people seem to downplay the utility of marriage while, instead, seeking everlasting, non-compromising thrills. Living together, raising children, and facing new challenges that involve difficulties with finance, social status, and compatibility require hard work. "It ain't no country club, baby."

Back to long-term commitments and their relationship to reaping cognitive rewards. To me, the key to keeping vows is both recognizing the futility of maintaining bliss and the obligation of accepting many disappointments. If you expect to continue in a tit-for-tat "I'll stroke you when you stroke me" existence, I think you will be greatly disappointed in a long-lasting marriage. Giving and receiving are wonderful mutual concepts, but I, for one, don't believe any scorecard of love will reflect equality on behalf of the participants. Loving people are not machines who tally favors they offer while collecting IOU's for their own gratification.

I do not like the following ideas of "marriage": 

* Separated marriage couples;
* Stay together through hell for the sake of the children excuse makers;
* Non-committed long-term "let's just live together" folks; 
* Split-the-living-space arrangement and remain "married strangers" people; 
* Booty-calling, convenient sexual depository "get some when you need it" clans. 

In contrast, I respect those who stay together and work out their problems in their own simple ways.

Nothing is stronger than the craving for love. Nothing is more satisfying than experiencing mutual affection, romance, and passion. And, I believe, these desires never go away. They always drive the human animal spirit and soul.

And when a person enters marriage, with all its promises and responsibilities, even though the union is with the "One" most loved, the new arrangement, in some ways, flies in the face of the most glorious feature of love -- uninhibited affection. Marriage limits ardor to one person as it constantly pushes to control yearning for new, fresh, exotic delights.

Accepting the union as a state involving less and less fiery romance is difficult; however, I think it is honest to say a married couple must learn to love in less intoxicating ways to make their marriage survive.

Perhaps a mellowing of goal-directed behaviors can help sustain nuptials. Forget age in this consideration. Face it -- many young couples split after a year or two of dissatisfaction. If security and reduction of anxiety top the list for success, couples should re-evaluate their chances of having a long relationship with some new criteria before getting married. The cold, hard reality is that "the fire," in all its lustful and rapturous connotations will likely dwindle and go out. 

Damn, I'm so happy for those of you who are married and living Utopia with all its hot passion and stimulating romance. I am envious. But, I am also skeptical of many of you who claim to "have it all" when your mutual finances and possessions are really what you consider to be happiness. I hope it all is "the best it's ever been" in your golden years of marriage. I guess my doubts are harbored in my immature mind that still contains fantasies of the future and memories of the past.

I have heard people compare love to a drug that consumes a young mind and body. If, indeed, it is the "highest high," I think we spend our lives seeking comparisons to our own best experiences with the intoxication of intimacy. Despite our condition, environment, or age, we feel the need for new realities with the emotion. 

We never stop longing, desiring, or considering infatuation. Some married couples say they do, but I find their admission hard to believe. Problems often occur in marriage because we expect supreme satisfaction without fail. I believe God may be laughing about this trick of desire he instilled in our beings. He is sitting back, amused, and delighting in how "we handle that little twist."

Marriage does not, in itself, take away our best asset and our worst defect -- that is, we must love and be loved. It is how we handle love that makes all the difference to living happily.

Let's say you and your mate are in a hot tub of love. At first, all of that stimulating heat and undulating motion feel so good, but when the water turns tepid with time, and then eventually colder although the jets still push the icy currents against your bodies, you both must determine how to find mutual fulfillment.

Maybe, just maybe, it's time to consider denying the actuality of a romantic tryst, getting your bare asses out of the freezing water, and just putting on your warm flannels to get comfortable. Love can be like that, you know -- kind of mutually "old and in the way." It becomes softer in so many ways.     
But, above all, seek your own advice. I am not trying to be a dream killer. I just know what works in my case. I am married. I have been married for thirty-six years. And, I'm a scarred, contentious old survivor who still wonders what the romantic side of marriage is all about. There are many others like me. We continue to roll ride our painted ponies of this centrifuge and reach out to grab an occasional golden ring. I'm not even sure if the merry-go-round is speeding up or slowing down.


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