How do two completely different people become one? How can two people get on the same page? How do two people love each other for years and years, even after the honeymoon phase is over?
LeRoy sometimes said to us during premarital counseling, "Falling in love is God's way of tricking us into having babies." Like, God wanted the earth to be populated, and so he created those hormones that makes us feel like we can't live without one another, so then we have to get married and have kids, etc.
Obviously, he was joking when he said it, but there is some truth to it, I think.
People fall in love and then get married. Then, when they fall out of love (or at least stop having those "in love" feelings- feelings like, "I can't live without this person") and they are married, they need to choose to love the person. But why would those "in love" feelings go away?
I found this information on a website called "Can't Help Falling in Love":
The feeling of love begins with an infatuation phase and then turns into the attachment phase when the two people become more involved with each other. (3) In the infatuation phase, a person feels exhilaration when they see the person, an intense passion for the person and a yearning to see their lover. (3) "The euphoria or elation that accompanies infatuation can cause lovers to crave 'staying in love'." (3) Along with a heightened nervous system, there are hormones that are released.
One of these hormones is dopamine, which is also a hormone that is involved with addictive behavior. (3) When a person feels in love, they are activating their pleasure centers in the brain, which are rich in dopamine and blood flow is elevated. (8) Since dopamine is the hormone that makes a person feel an "erotic high" when they see their lover, (5) eventually the person will become addicted to feeling that "erotic high" and when it is taken away, they will go through withdrawal. Dopamine also causes a person's heart to race; pupils to dilate and a slight perspire. (4) Since dopamine is a natural endorphin, which acts like heroin or morphine when someone takes those drugs, it causes the body to respond by relaxing the body and kills pain in high doses but in low doses it cause the body to feel unpleasant, which could be related to the depressed feeling when someone falls out of love or loses a lover. (6) (7) Also, when there is a continue presence of a lover, there is a gradual increase of dopamine, which also cause the horrible feeling when we lose a lover.
Another hormone involved with the feelings of love is phenylalanine (PEA), which is also a natural endorphin that affects mood and attachment. "One study of 33 people who were 'happily attached and feeling great' found that all had increased PEA levels." (3) Researchers have also found that high levels of PEA increases sex drive and is believed that this might be the hormone of libido. (4) The body also becomes tolerant of PEA like dopamine once the body has been exposed to it for long periods of time. (3)(7)
The last hormone involved with love is oxytocin, which is also an endorphin and has an opiate-like effect. (5) "Oxytocin is another chemical that has recently been implicated in love. Produced by the brain, it sensitizes nerves and stimulates muscle contraction. Scientists speculate that oxytocin might encourage cuddling between adult women and men." (7) Since oxytocin acts as a natural tranquilizer, it allows for a woman to become more sensitive to other's feelings when present. (6) Oxytocin is released during sexual experiences as well as when lovers touch, because it activates cell-surface proteins in the nucleus accumbens, in the brain, which causes the release of dopamine. (3) So with this release of dopamine, the person feels a euphoric high.So God created our bodies and our hormones to be this way... So essentially, LeRoy is correct!
What happens when these hormones go away and we are still in a marriage where we don't feel "in love?" What happens when it becomes much more difficult to choose to love the person, and loving them is an every day choice and feels more like a chore than a privilege?
Why didn't God create our bodies to have those hormones going forever, convincing us that we are always in love?
I think God wanted it to be hard. Not necessarily hard, but...not necessarily easy either. Maybe He knew we wouldn't desperately need Him if our lives (and especially our love lives) were easy and perfect.
Phil and I are still in the very early stage of learning how to function as a married couple. Some of it has been quite fun, and other parts of it have seemed downright hopeless. I have come to learn from the counsel of friends, that this is all completely normal. What a revelation! Thank GOD it is normal!!
I read a really great article by this evangelist guy, whose name I forgot. He was talking about how marriage is not sacred anymore, even among Christians, and that part of the reason was the divorce laws that came into effect in the 70's ( no fault divorce- the part that says you can get divorced solely because of "irreconcilable differences"). Basically, because you can't agree on something, you can get divorced. What would America look like if that weren't the case?
God never intended on marriage becoming what it has today. But God also never intended for a married couple to stay in love forever.
So, what does a healthy and godly marriage really look like?
I never had much of a good example to follow...and any marriage I saw from the outside was just that- an outside perspective. What goes on behind closed doors, I will never know. The real issues are hidden. So I need to learn for myself, I think. Along with solid advice, testimonies from others, and God's voice speaking into my marriage.
At 2 months in...I am still learning. I wonder when the learning phase ends, or if it never really does.