Wednesdays for Wives: Please Pass the Pepto-Bismol

Not long after a couple we know were first married, they both came down with a terrible case of stomach flu the same night. It was that miserable, debilitating kind that causes your body to urgently purge itself in every way it can. Living in a small apartment, there was only one bathroom. As they lay in pain on the tile floor together, hovering near the the toilet waiting for the next episode, the husband looked over at his new wife and said, “I think the honeymoon is over.”

Recent scientific studies found that the mind altering ability of new love is similar that of narcotics. It causes the brain to release the chemicals dopamine, oxytocin and phenylethylamine. These combine to create feelings of euphoria and well-being that fuel the emotional attachment between two people. Basically when we are falling in love we are not thinking with a clear mind. That enables us to overlook certain faults and take risks we might not otherwise. In fact this may be essential to developing long-term romantic relationships. With out an altered state of mind we might not be willing to open ourselves up to all the ramifications that come with being that vulnerable and intimate with another person.

Initially the more time we are around the one we love the more chemicals our brains produce. Eventually though, as with real drugs, our body develops a tolerance to these chemicals. When this happens the infatuation stage of love ends. Some scientists believe it’s about a year before the chemical affects begin to subside. When that happens the relationship must change from one driven by passion to one driven by commitment if it is to remain healthy.  

Anyone who’s been married more than a couple years knows this is true. The infatuation does end and those warm, fuzzy “honeymoon” feelings aren’t always easy to find underneath the nitty-gritty of daily life. The mystery that once surrounded each of you and made getting to know one another so exciting is gone now that you’ve seen each other at your best and worst. The little quirks that were so cute when you were dating now drive you absolutely crazy. The differences between your personalties that you thought brought balance to your lives now create conflict.

Life can be like the flu. It can purge your marriage of happiness, but it doesn’t have to. Here are five fundamental practices that I think are key to a fulfilling marriage.

1. It is a choice, not a feeling, to love your spouse unconditionally. You love them because you selflessly decide to. Instead of focusing on what they can do to make you happy, focus on what you can do for them. This kind of commitment is far more rewarding than those early days of your relationship that were fraught with frenzy and emotion.

2. You have to be intentional about romance.Work at rekindling those feelings you had on your honeymoon. It can be something as small as a love note secretly tucked in a jacket pocket or a grand gesture like a romantic weekend get-a-way. My husband sent me an email bouquet of flowers. It was just a picture of my favorite blossom downloaded from the Internet with a typed token of endearment, but it let me know he was thinking of me. It was really sweet.

3. Remember what initially attracted you to your spouse. When those habits and personality traits start to grate on you, take pause to recall what drew you to them in the beginning. Those qualities are still there, but with out the filter of rose-colored glasses the faults are more glaring.

4. Find a common interest to talk about. When you were first dating you probably spent hours talking. Now that you’ve shared your life stories and have the same story, the conversation may not be as spellbinding. Talk about politics, music, art, sports – anything that might spark a discussion. You might find out you don’t know everything about them after all. If your opinions are different it’s O.K. A little debate can be healthy and fun. Just agree to disagree lest it turn into an argument.

5. Make time to spend time together everyday. In the beginning of your relationship you couldn’t get enough time together. I remember the time between our engagement and our wedding. We lived a few hours apart and could only see each other on the weekends. I recall crying on those Sunday nights that we parted for yet another long week. After marriage, other activities and demands can take priority over time with your spouse. If you don’t take some time to reconnect everyday you will find that you grow apart. It doesn’t have to be hours, and you don’t even have to be alone. Sit down to dinner together. Even if the kids are around it’s still time without other distractions. Turn off the TV and computer 15 minutes before bedtime and talk about your day. Once in awhile get away together for dinner and a movie or an overnight.

If your marriage feels less like a week kissing on a beach at a tropical resort and more like a long night hugging the toilet in the bathroom, crack open a bottle of Pepto Bismol and try applying these fundamental practices to your relationship.

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One Response to “Wednesdays for Wives: Please Pass the Pepto-Bismol”

  1. Marci Hoffman Says:

    Thanks for the encouragement and the realness! I love it. Life is just busy. But I don’t want that busyness to permeate every area of my life. Between working, cleaning the house, kids, dinner, dogs, etc… those tingly feelings get a little lost! But the Lord has been dealing with me on these things too. SO thanks for reminding me of these things! I will let you know how it goes! 🙂
    Blessings!
    Thanks for including a link to my blog too! I hope that we can encourage and challenge one another!

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