Jun 23, 2013

Intimacy in Marriage Part 3: Love at First Sight vs Slow and Steady

Promise me, O people of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right. Song of Solomon 8:4

When I was just fourteen years old, I fell in love with a boy.  He was two years older than me, and we were horribly incompatible.  Not that it matters when you are a freshman in High School, we both swam and both played Water Polo and that seemed to be enough.  Our political view points were very different, our religious viewpoints were somewhat different, he wanted to be career military and fly F16s and bomb the crap out of our enemies.  I just wanted to hug trees and save animals that were being mistreated in testing facilities. 

We dated for about 10 months, which at that age, seems like forever.  When we broke up, we still remained friends and wrote letters when he went away to the Air Force Academy and we still found time to talk on the phone on and off for 6 years (except during times where I had another boyfriend, of course).  When I was 20 {just 7 months before I met my husband}, he asked me to marry him.  I asked him to pray about it and think about it and call me back the next day.   Of course, when he called me back, he retracted the question.   We would have made each other positively miserable.  

How did I know he wasn't "The One"?  Because our love wasn't based on anything "real".  It was just feelings and feelings can be liars.  

The verse I quoted at the beginning of this post comes from Song of Solomon, and it is a warning.  I awakened love inside myself at the sweet age of fourteen, and it led me down a path that only has caused me pain and confusion.  You see, I believe strongly that God did not intend for us to fall in and out of love with multiple people.  That is not why He created romantic love or Eros.  That type of love is meant to bond us forever to our spouse {and only our spouse}, not to the cute guy in our calculus class.

After that boyfriend, I had at least two others that I can honestly say I loved before my husband.  One of them (who I dated for 4 years on and off), I gave myself completely to, body and soul.  I did not come out of that relationship unscathed.  It was just one of the choices I've made in my life that caused long-term consequences.

I think most people look at "first loves" and those early relationships as "harmless" experiences that help you eventually find your mate.  I know I did.  Most people will agree that having sex with multiple partners has a negative impact on your future marriage.  Each time you have sex with someone, you release hormones that help you "bond" to that person.  Those hormones create deep and lasting pathways in your brain the longer you are in a sexual relationship with that person.  

Falling in love does that too, the feeling of love alone can cause permanent brain alteration.  So, is this "madness" of first love true intimacy?  It can certainly look and feel like intimacy.  You begin to learn everything about the other person and can't spend enough time with them.  Their presence in a room is enough to cause your heart to pound, your palms to sweat, and your brain to become fuzzy and confused.  Doesn't that sound like intimacy?  

Soon, you are able to share intricate details about this person, you know everything about them and can easily imagine spending the rest of your life in their perfect presence.  This period of time is called the "honeymoon" phase and it isn't really based on reality.  This phase can go on from 6 - 24 months.  

Kanika Goswami describes this phenomenon in "The Physics and Chemistry of Love":

"Infatuation... is the first stage of falling in love, an unbearable attraction towards someone.  This attraction cayuses a virtual explosion of neurochemicals very similar to adrenalin.  Assisted by Phenylethylamine (that speeds up the flow of information between cells), dopamine (that makes us glow and fell good), and norepinephrine (that simulates the production of adrenalin), make our world go round, our eyes sparkle and our heart beat faster.  Our entire existence then depends on the sight of the person who triggered these reactions to begin with, and as the addiction to the chemical grows stronger, our attraction becomes greater. At this stage we commit foolish mistakes which are the stuff puppy love stories are made of. Actually it is these three chemicals that combine to give us what we call infatuation. We feel we are energized, often floating on air…and the reason why people who are just falling in love can talk for hours on end… (the same person becomes boring at a later stage).

Kanika Goswami describes this phenomenon in “The Physics and Chemistry of Love“:


Kanika Goswami describes this phenomenon in “The Physics and Chemistry of Love“:
Infatuation…is the first stage of falling in love, an unbearable attraction towards someone. This attraction causes a virtual explosion of neurochemicals very similar to adrenalin. Assisted by Phenylethylamine (that speeds up the flow of information between cells), dopamine (that makes us glow and feel good), and norepinephrine (that stimulates the production of adrenalin), make our world go round, our eyes sparkle and our heart beat faster.
Our entire existence then depends on the sight of the person who triggered these reactions to begin with, and as the addiction to the chemical grows stronger, our attraction becomes greater. At this stage we commit foolish mistakes which are the stuff puppy love stories are made of. Actually it is these three chemicals that combine to give us what we call infatuation. We feel we are energized, often floating on air…and the reason why people who are just falling in love can talk for hours on end… (the same person becomes boring at a later stage).
- See more at: http://www.datingwithoutdrama.com/relationship-advice-101-hidden-danger-honeymoon-phase/#sthash.Fk52EFI1.dpuf
Kanika Goswami describes this phenomenon in “The Physics and Chemistry of Love“:
Infatuation…is the first stage of falling in love, an unbearable attraction towards someone. This attraction causes a virtual explosion of neurochemicals very similar to adrenalin. Assisted by Phenylethylamine (that speeds up the flow of information between cells), dopamine (that makes us glow and feel good), and norepinephrine (that stimulates the production of adrenalin), make our world go round, our eyes sparkle and our heart beat faster.
Our entire existence then depends on the sight of the person who triggered these reactions to begin with, and as the addiction to the chemical grows stronger, our attraction becomes greater. At this stage we commit foolish mistakes which are the stuff puppy love stories are made of. Actually it is these three chemicals that combine to give us what we call infatuation. We feel we are energized, often floating on air…and the reason why people who are just falling in love can talk for hours on end… (the same person becomes boring at a later stage).
- See more at: http://www.datingwithoutdrama.com/relationship-advice-101-hidden-danger-honeymoon-phase/#sthash.Fk52EFI1.dpuf
 
Photo Credit
  Our culture capitalizes on this phase in movies and books.  We are taught as young girls watching Disney Princess movies that TRUE LOVE happens immediately.  This is no new phenomenon, even Shakespeare was in love with "love".

So, no wonder so many people get 2-5 years into their marriage and say "This is it?"  "What did I sign up for again?"  "What did I get myself into?"   No wonder so many marriages end in divorce.  No wonder infidelity is so common, even in Christian marriages.  

We are confused.  We think that marriage is about the passionate, crazy-making, heart wrenching "love" that we experienced at the beginning.  We mistakenly believe we should feel that forever, and when we no longer do, we jump ship or decide to look for it somewhere else, or at best, we sit and scratch our heads and blame our spouse.  We yearn for the Romeo and Juliet desperate love, {without the double suicide.}

True intimacy in marriage is slow and steady.  It is what comes after you no longer feel that crazy love.  Healthy intimacy in marriage is based on commitment and mutual love, that is played out less through feelings and more through action.   It's that moment when you look across a table at your husband and you still feel love for him, but you can't help but notice the stain on his shirt.  It's where you start to pursue one another NOT because you are so desperately IN LOVE, but because the other person is valuable, and genuinely important to you.

Recently I have read dozens of blog posts about how to build up your marriage after the bloom has fallen off the rose, and they have great ideas!  Go and check out the Happy Wives Club Marriage Monday Link up for dozens of pro-marriage posts.  As you do that, remember, there is no magic strategy that will result in a perfect marriage, other than the following:

Love God, Love each other, and keep CLEAVING to one another, no matter what.

Slow and steady means that you are actually attempting to build intimacy.  It means you are reaching out to your husband and allowing him to reach out to you. It means that you are taking the time to talk, to spend time together, and to prioritize your marriage above every other relationship.

It is still Love, just Love all grown up.



This is part of my 6 part Understanding Intimacy in Marriage Series, to read more click on the Understanding Intimacy button below or in the sidebar under Series. Did you like this article? 

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4 comments:

  1. Beautifully said. Actually I got chills when I read, "True intimacy in marriage is slow and steady. It is what comes after you no longer feel that crazy love. Healthy intimacy in marriage is based on commitment and mutual love, that is played out less through feelings and more through action." I can't tell you how much I agree. I would go so far as to say that in order to experience true love we have to get past the "in love" and see the real person for who they are and present ourselves as we are as well. I think the madly in love stage is an illusion that feels really good. The myth of this is perpetuated in our culture. Thank you for a wonderful reminder!

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  2. Can I say how amazing this is. I am featuring you this week for Living Proverbs 31. I am so happy that you link up. Your wisdom shows through in this post and I am looking forward to the rest of the series!

    Kelly
    http://exceptionalistic.com

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