Here is an important biology lesson that every parent needs to know; especially those who want their kids to be successful in marriage one day. For all those readers out there who are fine with divorce and are open to letting their kids move in and out of a number of marriages, then feel free to move along. This isn't for you.
For the rest of us, however, here is an excerpt from the book project I am continuing to develop. Remember, it's all about what parents need to do NOW to give our kids the best chance of marital (and sexual) success later. This particular section deals with the biological components that God has hard-wired into emotional and sexual relationships.
BIOLOGY: The Addictive Power of Romantic Relationships (Part 1)
Do you know about oxytocin? You need to.
Do a search on Google for “oxytocin” and you are likely to get millions of results. Even better, try something a little more specific to the issues we are considering here. Try a Google search for “oxytocin teenagers sex connection.” When I last tried it there were almost three million results. Something is going on here and parents need to know about it.
Doctors, therapists and researchers are talking more and more about the powerful biological connections that are formed when two people are physically intimate. Any parent who is striving to help their kid to be successful in her teen relationships and in her eventual marriage needs to be well-informed of what oxytocin is and how it works.
Oxytocin is known in scientific circles as “the bonding chemical.” It is secreted in both men and women, helping to create meaningful bonds and attachments to others. It also gives one a sense of euphoria in the deepest places of our mind and body. Oxytocin can be stimulated by something as simple as a really good hug with someone you love. It is also quite active in nursing women, forming a special bond between mother and child that most men can’t even begin to understand.
But oxytocin is most powerfully generated in times of sexual intimacy. It’s certainly more complex that this, but one of the reasons an orgasm is so satisfying is because of the presence of oxytocin. It is what enables a husband and wife to feel so intimately connected after sex.
But oxytocin has a dark side. As a simple chemical, it doesn’t have any awareness of if it is working to bond a husband and a wife together or if it is bonding two people experiencing a one-night stand. But in both cases, it’s potential power is still the same.
God, who created everything, knew what He was doing when He created oxytocin. He created a powerful chemical bond that the human heart translates into an emotional connection with another person. It is why I have heard sex referred to as the “super glue of marriage.“ It bonds a husband and wife together in a way that is unique to all other human relationships. Oxytocin plays a big part in this connection.
But it’s also the reason that God tells us to wait until marriage to experience sexual intimacy. In the context of pre-marital sexual activity, oxytocin has the power to undermine the very thing that it was designed to do, as this magical stuff isn’t smart enough to know if the people who are secreting it are in a marriage relationship or not. It bonds any couple of any age experiencing sexual intimacy. This has tremendous implications to our kids and their dating relationships.
Most sexually active teenagers and young adults have heard plenty of lectures and public service announcements about safe sex and STDs. They are told that there are biological factors they need to consider if they don’t want to get pregnant or to catch a disease. But few are aware that there are also biological factors at work that impact them emotionally and psychologically, as well.
In their excellent book Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children, physicians Joe McIlhaney, Jr. and Freda McKissic Bush provide thorough and detailed documentation of this reality. (I highly recommend their book for further reading.) They conclude that when teen couples become sexual intimate, these brain chemicals create powerful emotional bonds whose significance cannot be ignored.
For parents who want to guide their kids towards healthy long-term relationships, I can identify three implications of the findings of these really smart guys. When it comes to what oxytocin does and how it works, there is some bad news (two bad implications) and there is some good news (one awesome implication).
*Tune in on Thursday for the bad news and the good news of oxytocin as it relates to our kids and their future marriages.