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Saturday, September 11, 2010
I believe God wired us for fascination. We all have an inner longing to be fascinated by something. His primary purpose for creating us in this way is to draw him to himself, the one who is endlessly fascinating. But I also think that the innate part of us that longs to be fascinated impacts us in our marriage relationship as well (of course, to me there are many parallels between the spiritual and marital).

The Science of Fascination

I am reading a book by Tara Parker-Pope called “For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage.” Although she does not write from Christian world view, some of the science of marriage is very interesting and gives us insight into just how God created us. She recently wrote an article in the New York Times that was quoted by Corey of Simple Marriage in his email newsletter. I’ll excerpt it here:
Using laboratory studies, real-world experiments and even brain- scan data, scientists can now offer long-married couples a simple prescription for rekindling the romantic love that brought them together in the first place. The solution? Reinventing date night.

Rather than visiting the same familiar haunts and dining with the same old friends, couples need to tailor their date nights around new and different activities that they both enjoy, says Arthur Aron, a professor of social psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The goal is to find ways to keep injecting novelty into the relationship. The activity can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or something a little more unusual or thrilling -- like taking an art class or going to an amusement park.

The theory is based on brain science. New experiences activate the brain's reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love, a time of exhilaration and obsessive thoughts about a new partner. (They are also the brain chemicals involved in drug addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder.)

Most studies of love and marriage show that the decline of romantic love over time is inevitable. The butterflies of early romance quickly flutter away and are replaced by familiar, predictable feelings of long-term attachment.

But several experiments show that novelty -- simply doing new things together as a couple -- may help bring the butterflies back, recreating the chemical surges of early courtship.
Although she is focusing in her article on infusing your date-night with a little variety, the science clearly has broader applicability to the marriage relationship in general.

Finding Fascination

In short, if you are feeling like you need to rejuvenate your marriage, try mixing things up a little by adding a bit of variety and adventure.

Do something together that will fascinate you, stretch you, introduce you to a new experience or challenge you intellectually. If your date night has become too routine, try some of the suggestions above. Bedroom boredom? Do something new in bed (or better, NOT in bed) that you both agree upon – be willing to step outside the box a little. The possibilities for fascination are endless: find a new musical artist you both enjoy and go to a concert, go to a new park or hike a new trail, or take up a new hobby together.

If you are feeling the doldrums setting in, get your imaginative and creative juices flowing and then be determined to act on it!!  Don't stop until you feel that sense of fascination again. Don't settle for living bored.

What have you done lately to breathe some fresh air of fascination into your marriage? Let our readers learn from your experience!


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