Contrary to what most of us think, it turns out that it is possible to be married for a long, long time; content with the partnership aspects of your marriage; and have a sizzling, passionate sex life. How cool is that to hear? In the past, the thinking was that over the years, couples who stay married tend to have either the stable, supportive partnership or the fulfilling sex life. But two studies done by Dr. Bianca Acevedo at the University of California, Santa Barbara, looking at long-married couples identified as being “madly in love,” found some very encouraging news.
This from The New York Times: “Dr. Acevedo expected to find only a small percentage of long-married couples still passionately in love. To her surprise, about 40 percent of them continued to register high on the romance scale. The remaining 60 percent weren’t necessarily unhappy. Many had high levels of relationship satisfaction and were still in love, just not so intensely.”
In a separate Acevedo study, the brains of passionately in love couples who’d been married for an average of 21 years were scanned to see how romantic love registers in the brain. The couples were shown images of their spouses, and the area of the brain that registers romantic love lit up -- but more interestingly, so did the area of the brain associated with deep attachment -- particularly for older couples. “They have the feelings of euphoria, but also the feelings of calm and security that we feel when we’re attached to somebody,” Dr. Acevedo said. “I think it’s wonderful news.”
The takeaway? It’s possible to have both. The homework? You have to stoke the flames of both, pretty much constantly (in my opinion). For Jack and I, that means staying current in each other’s lives and talking through each other’s problems nightly. It also means doing it, even when sleep is a tempting alternative. What does it mean for you guys?
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