Tag Archive for love language

The Perfect Cocktail for Love

Young love floods the brain with a cocktail of neurotransmitters that enhance attraction, pleasure, and commitment. In young love, this cocktail can prove dangerous, blinding young lovers to the red flags and flaws of their partner. They are too “drunk on love” to truly discern what everyone around them already knows. But, as time goes on, this cocktail loses its potency.  Neurotransmitter levels return to normal and feelings begin to level out. The love shared by young lovers becomes tested and their true level of commitment becomes apparent.  Mature love, a love that transcends mere passion to incorporate commitment and investment into the relationship, can develop at this time. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the feelings and passion of young love does not play a role in mature love. It just becomes supported by a foundation of commitment and investment. In fact, I really think it’s a great idea for every marriage to add an emotional, passionate cocktail of neurotransmitters to their foundation of commitment and investment.   Not only do I think it a good idea, I have a recipe. It is composed of three ingredients (Taken from The Neurochemistry of Love).

  1. Dopamine is the first ingredient in this perfect love cocktail. Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter. We experience pleasure when it is released. One author notes that dopamine is released in response to “the chase,” the pursuit of love. Dopamine also alerts us that our needs are about to be met. For instance, the smell of the charcoal grill alerts us that our hunger will soon be satisfied by grilled burgers or steak. Ahh, the joy…. Anyway, you can see how dopamine adds to the cocktail of love. You can add it into your love potion by continuing to pursue your spouse. Learn about your spouse and what entices them, excites them, or makes them feel loved ( Discover Your Love Language here). Then pursue your spouse by romancing them with your knowledge of their likes and interests. Put on the perfume he enjoys. Bring the gift that you know she likes. Say the words that “make their heart swoon.” Every time you do, you give them a shot of dopamine. They feel good. You feel good. The pursuit is on. Soon, your spouse will get a little shot of dopamine when you walk in the room with that smile on your face that says something good is on the way.
  2. Oxytocin, the “love hormone” itself, adds the second component in this cocktail of love. Oxytocin is triggered by touch. Something as simple as holding hands or a hug releases oxytocin. When you invest in repeatedly holding hands or hugging your spouse over years of committed relationship, you build an “oxytocin quick release system.” It is more easily released, which is good since oxytocin also promotes trust. Who doesn’t want trust in their marriage? So, bring on the touch and add a shot of oxytocin into your marital cocktail of love. Hold hands. Hug. Sit with arms touching. Put your hand on your spouse’s leg. Enjoy physical touch. (Read An Easy Way to Get in Sync for more.)
  3. Serotonin is the third ingredient in this love cocktail. Serotonin is stimulated by associating with a person of status. You can add this into your love cocktail by building a reputation of keeping your promises. Build a reputation as a kind person, a compassionate person, a patient person. Become known among your friends and community as a person of honor and integrity. As you grow in a reputation of a good person, you spouse will get a shot of serotonin to enhance your marital love cocktail. (More for men.)

These three ingredients will make a cocktail of love to keep your marriage young. Added to commitment, this cocktail can enhance your marriage and your love. Adding them in is simple: 1) learn about your spouse and continue to pursue them with romance; 2) engage in loving touch every day, and 3) build a reputation of honor and integrity.

5 Ways to Look Out for #1 in Your Family

You have to look out for “number 1,” “numero uno,” the “big cheese.” If you don’t look out for number one, who will? So, I encourage you to keep your eye on the goal, the “cream of the crop,” the…. Oh, wait. Maybe I need to clarify who “number one” is? When I say look out for “number one,” “numero uno,” “the big cheese,” I am referring to your spouse and your children. When it comes to building a healthy, lasting family, the other guy in your family is “number one.” And really, if you don’t look out for the other guy in your family, who will? Families flourish when each person in the family considers the other guy “number one” and looks out for the other guy’s interests. That is the crux of honoring one another. An ancient family expert said it this way: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Paul-Philippians 2:3-4) So, well, yeah…I hope I didn’t cause any confusion. Looking out for number one is looking out for other family members and here are 5 ways you can do just that:

      ·   Learn about their interests. Each family member has a unique personality and will have unique interests as a result. The “other guy’s” interests may not fill you with excitement; but if you take the time to learn a little bit about their interests, you will grow closer with “number one.” You will find yourself able to engage your family member in conversation about their interest and, even better, you will be thrilled to watch their face glow with excitement as they discuss this interest with you.

·   Listen intently. We can look out for “number one” by listening carefully with the goal of understanding. I don’t mean just listening with our ears either. I mean listening with our eyes, ears, mind, and heart. Make sure you not only hear the words accurately but that you can really see things their way as well. Listen so well that you can completely understand why they “think the way they think” and “feel the way they feel.” Listen so carefully that you can explain their point of view and behave in a way that informs them that you completely understand and respect how they feel. 

·   Find ways to express your admiration for each family member…after all, they are “number one.” Let them know you take great delight in them. You admire them. Tell them so with your words; and, let them see it in your eyes. Let them feel it in your hugs. Express your love with an encouraging back slap or a high-five. Let them see your admiration and delight for them in your actions.

·   Seek out ways to help them fulfill their dreams. Everyone has a dream. Find out about each family member’s dream. Share in their excitement. Learn about the topic of their dream so you can talk with them about it. Keep your eye open for opportunities for them to reach for their dream and share those opportunities with them. Help them reach for their dream.

·   Learn how you can make them happy. Maybe your kind words make them happy; maybe your acts of service make them happy. Or, you may find that loving touch, time spent together, or little gifts makes them happy. Carefully observe them to learn what brings them the greatest happiness and, most importantly, do it.

 It is true: you have to watch out for “Number One.” And, you have to make sure that the “number one” you look out for really is the right “one.” When it comes to family, “Number One” is not me…it is the rest of the family. Now go to it…watch out for “number 1,” “numero uno,” “the big cheese.”

Relationship Strength Exercises

Last week we reviewed a daily routine to strengthen core relationship muscles. However, to build more muscle, we need to engage in strength training related to the specific skills and abilities necessary to strengthen our overall relationship. Although these exercises are demanding, the improvement you will experience in relational skills and overall intimacy is well worth the effort. Relationship strength training is often done in an “on and off pattern” with several weeks of specific focus followed by exercises to build definition in “trouble areas.” Here are a few ideas for strength training in relationships. You may spend periods of time doing each of these exercises, strengthening the specific skills and muscles related to each area. Rotate through each exercise sometime during the year.

  • The first muscle to train is your ability to read each family member’s non-verbal communication patterns. Some people find this particular exercise more difficult and demanding than others. This exercise involves becoming a student of each family member’s unique non-verbal communication patterns for 8 weeks. During this 8-week period, study each family member’s facial expressions, gestures, and voice tone. Notice the faces they make and when they make them. What makes them laugh? What lights up their face? What gestures do they make when happy? Sad? Or, angry? How does their tone of voice change when they are excited? Happy? Angry? Or, bored? Really study these non-verbal communication patterns intently. Improving your ability to read each family member’s non-verbal communication patterns will strengthen your ability to understand each person. It will also strengthen the muscles and skills needed to communicate with them more effectively. And, it will strengthen you overall family intimacy.
  • For another 8 weeks become a student of each family member’s love language. Our love language is our “primary way of expressing and interpreting love.” Dr. Gary Chapman describes five love languages–receiving gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, and quality time. You can learn your love language by taking a short assessment at http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love /. Even if everyone in the family takes the assessment, study each family member to discover how they express their love language. Notice how they show love to others. Ask them what makes them feel loved by others. Most importantly, throughout this 8-week period, practice expressing your love for each family member in their love language. Gaining the strength to speak one another’s love language will strengthen the muscles necessary to honor one another and enhance intimacy.
  • For a final 8-week period, practice collecting “emotional moments.” Collecting emotional moments will also strengthen intimacy muscles. Emotional moment collecting involves looking for opportunities to connect with members of your family. Make a goal to collect three emotional moments each day. At the end of the day, think about how you did and keep a journal of each moment you collected. As you write them in your journal, ask yourself:
    • How did you know the other person was ready for an emotional connection? Did you know this through their gestures, words, facial expression, or some other way?
    • How did you connect with that person?
    • How did they respond to your interaction?
    • What impact did this have on the other person? On you? on your relationship? On your feelings about yourself?

 There it is–three strength training regimens for your relationship training program. Don’t over train, complete each 8-week training program once a year. As you complete each training program, you will see your communication skills improve, your intimacy increase, and your overall relationship strength grow.