Friday, October 17, 2008

Questions about Marriage/ Love/ Hormones/Divorce, etc.

I used to wonder why people said the first year of marriage was the hardest. Now, I am starting to understand why.

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.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Last Night's Dream

In my dream I was in the library, researching. I took out two huge books, without knowing what they were about. I brought them upstairs, which was a whole different place. I started looking through them, and someone appeared wanting to know what they were about. I opened them. One was a history of the Olympics. Out of the book fell newspaper clippings and other things. The other book, I think, was on fairy tales. When I showed the person, he seemed to get hostile and said, “I don’t think you should have these.” My intention was to bring them back but the scene changed.

Some other people and I were in a large house, upstairs. I didn’t know whose house or why we were there, except to visit. We were getting ready and changing. We then went into this room for lunch. There was a long table, and a lot of people sat at it. There was a man who was in charge. He got the attention of the room, and he asked, “Who went to China?” No one answered. He looked angry. He asked again, louder and angrier, “WHO WENT TO CHINA!?!?!” People started to gather their stuff and get up to leave. All of a sudden, a huge tornado/ whirlwind came and started to destroy everything. We knew the man in charge was the one bringing the destruction. We all frantically scurried around, trying to find a way out. Things were violently exploding and being demolished around me. I ran for the stairs and made it down safely with some others. But when I got downstairs, I knew someone was missing- my mother. I called around for her to see if she was with the other people….she wasn’t. I found a bathroom downstairs, and went in. It was like a public bathroom with stalls. When I got in there, my mother opened the door of the bathroom and came in, wearing gauze on her head. She looked traumatized and worn. “Are you okay?” I asked. She looked at me wearily and said, “I was the one who went to China.”

Then I knew. The man upstairs was my father (although he didn’t look like my father- he was a very old man, small bone structure, and with white hair), and he hurt my mother. I knew we had to get out of there to safety. He could come after us. We needed to buy plane tickets. All of a sudden, there was a machine where you could buy plane tickets. I got in line, and when it was my turn, someone else typed in all the information for me. They then told me, “you need your credit card to make the purchase.” I didn’t have it on me…and then I remembered that I had left it upstairs in my purse, which was a maze (and also left in complete turmoil). But I thought about all that was in my purse- credit cards, my social security card, my lisence- everything I needed. It would not be simple to replace those things. I stood there, weighing the options and for a minute, I rationalized that I could always cancel my cards and get new documentation. But then, I decided against it. I was going to go back upstairs. I was quiet as could be, sneaking back upstairs. Noone was there. I looked in the large dining room for my purse, but it wasn’t there, and then I realized it must be in the room where we were getting ready. I snuck back in there and found it under the bed. When I found it, I started running quickly through the maze of hallways, looking for the stairs. But things change in the house, doors appear and staircases move their spot. I finally found stairs, but I wasn’t sure if they were the same ones. When I looked back, there were all closed doors behind me. In the dream, I was aware that they were all closed doors to bedrooms (even though they hadn’t been there before). I knew one of them was a door to the hallway, and one was a door to where my father was. I decided not to chance it, and turned back towards the staircase. I made my way downstairs, and things changed again. I was in a weird lighted tunnel, that had blue and red light waves shooting through it. I was with two other people who were also trying to buy plane tickets and escape. They were using their high tech cell phones to buy plane tickets. One of them handed me his phone to let me us it to buy a ticket, but I didn’t want to because I didn’t know how to work the thing. I just wanted to use the ticket machine. Then, before I could say anything, the guy and girl started to fly down the tunnel. I was left with the choice: be left behind, or fly with them. I thought, “if they can fly, I must be able to as well!” So I lifted my feet off the ground, and flew! I saw the atmosphere of the tunnel looked thick, and there were what looked like small white specks. I figured that something in the atmosphere was keeping us up. Then, we flew up a hidden staircase, where there was a hidden door on the ceiling. It was dark, and the three of us were trying to open the secret door. I recognized the girl as a girl I used to work with in NY, and the guy was my fiancĂ© (but it didn’t look like Phil, I don’t even think it was Phil). I was suddenly aware that the guy used to date the girl, but that I had come into the picture and stolen him from her. I wondered if she was jealous. Then I woke up.