Mother Nature’s Dirty Trick

45Dopamine. Adrenalin. Serotonin. When you’re falling in love, your brain produces these hormones by the gallon. This flood of hormones is why we’re “addicted” to our sweetheart, can’t think of anything else, and are blinded to his or her all-too-soon-painfully-obvious flaws. They make us want to have sex. That triggers other hormones, including the Oxytocin and Vasopressin that cause us to bond and form long-term relationships. So far, so good, right? Well, here’s the dirty trick: The hormones produced when we have sex interfere with the brain’s ability to produce the falling-in-love hormones. That’s why the lusty-can’t-get-enough-of-you, high-on-love feeling goes away.

What?? You mean we’re programmed to fall in love, have sex and bond, and our “reward” is that the blinders come off and we realize our Perfect 10 is more of a 6 or 7? ‘Fraid so. Turns out love isn’t as much an affair of the heart as it is Mother Nature’s way of ensuring that we fall in love, mate and reproduce to ensure the continuation of our species. Okay. But, since we’re hardwired to couple, wouldn’t you think Mother Nature would have been more generous in doling out relationship survival skills? Sorry. You’re on your own. That’s why when the falling-in-love stage ends, we think we got it wrong, and why so many divorces occur in the first three years of marriage.

Knowing all this may take some of the romance out of falling and being in love. But isn’t it reassuring to know that you’re not alone? And knowledge is power. Knowing that the falling-in-love stage is just that, a stage, helps you prepare for the being-in-love long haul. Here’s how:

Focus on the positive. Yep, you’re going to notice that your sweetie has faults. Guess what? Your sweetheart is noticing the same thing about you. You’re both wonderful. And you’re both flawed. Stay focused on the “wonderful.”

Remember that differences are just that, not matters of right and wrong. Being married isn’t hard work but being “right” is. You’re not always going to see eye-to-eye. That’s okay. It’s also hard work to remodel your partner, and it doesn’t work so don’t even try.

Remember that words hurt. Be careful what you say and how you say it. Words can cause mortal wounds. They can never be taken back.

Remember the power of nice. Make it a point to be kind to each other and to do things that say, “I love you.”

Remember that the little things count big time. Most marriages that fail suffer death by a thousand cuts that are not individually lethal but cumulatively sap the life out of once vibrant relationship. Little hurts will destroy a relationship as effectively as infidelity. It just takes longer. Likewise, little acts of kindness go a long way to keeping the marriage solid.

Bottom line: Every couple experiences the end of the falling-in-love high. It’s inevitable. That’s not the “real deal.” It’s Mother Nature up to her tricks. The “real deal” is the quiet but profound and enduring love that sustains you throughout the years. Work on nurturing that love and accept that the fireworks will and do end.