Your Brain in Love
- Thursday, November 19, 2009
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Dr. Earl Henslin's book, This is Your Brain in Love: New Scientific Breakthroughs for a More Passionate and Emotionally Healthy Marriage, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009).
Although many couples simply expect passion to fade out of their marriages, that's not an inevitable fate. You and your spouse can experience lasting passion together if you understand how each of your brains work, and how to use that knowledge to keep passion alive in your relationship.
Here's how you can experience lasting passion in your marriage:
Recognize that your brain affects your relationships. When your brain is troubled, you tend to sabotage your relationships as you struggle with challenges like moodiness, anger, and inattentiveness. But when your brain is working correctly, you tend to invest well in your relationships through qualities like thoughtfulness, caring, and reliability.
Refuel your brain with the chemicals of love. Combining sexuality and spirituality - enjoying sex as a sacrament - floods you and your spouse's brains with hormones that make you feel more in love with each other. When you make love as a holy act together, your brain chemistry strengthens your bond as husband and wife.
Bring your best brain to your marriage. Both you and your spouse should try to balance your brain chemistry in healthy ways to make your marriage the best it can be. Consider getting a brain scan done by a qualified neurologist who can explain the results and suggest treatments. But you can start by observing behavior patterns that you and your spouse often notice each other display, and identify what emotions lurk behind those behaviors. If you can normalize your emotions by balancing your brains, your marriage will be much stronger than it would be otherwise. In fact, the problems that you may be seeking marital therapy for now may evaporate, making therapy unnecessary.
Heal if you're a scattered lover. A scattered lover (one with high amounts of energy who is often absent-minded) may be suffering from brain problems in the prefrontal cortex. Some possible treatments: Eat frequent meals and snacks to help you focus throughout each day. Use fish oil supplements. Get intense aerobic exercise for 30 to 45 minutes daily. Try to avoid distractions whenever possible. Make a daily to-do list. Give yourself a lot of extra time to get ready to go to appointments, and develop strategies that help you be on time. Allow time to rest between activities. Limit your screen time (on the computer, watching TV, etc.). Notice what time of the day is easiest for you to concentrate, and plan to use those times to have significant conversations with your spouse.
Heal if you're an over-focused lover. An over-focused lover (one with controlling thoughts) may be suffering from brain problems in the cingulated gyrus. Some possible treatments: Eat some carbohydrates to get extra serotonin (a relaxing neurotransmitter) to your brain. Take a supplement like St. John's Wort. Ask your doctor about prescribing a medication that increases the amount of serotonin in your brain. Talk to yourself in soothing ways, reminding yourself to relax and let go. Do some type of physical activity (like walking) to break up thoughts that loop around your mind and help you shift to a happier mental state. Regularly remind yourself of the good that your spouse has brought into your life, and let your gratitude help motivate you to forgive your spouse when he or she hurts you. Breathe deeply. Broaden your visual focus on what you see around you, since that will broaden your perspective on your circumstances, as well. Take a mental vacation to an island for renewal. Every day, tell God that you're giving up your own agenda and welcoming His plans for you.
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