The Science of a Happy Marriage, Part 5 - Keep the Romantic Love Alive

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


There’s nothing wrong with the calm, settled feeling of compassionate love, but there’s a risk that boredom and discontent will set in. That doesn’t have to happen. Love researchers have come up with a way for long-married couples to rekindle their early romance. Here’s the prescription: Embark on a regular date night but reinvent it to include new and unusual experiences. The advice is based in brain science. New experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love when you feel exhilarated by—and obsessed with—your new partner. And several experiments show that novelty—simply doing new things together as a couple—may help bring the butterflies back, re-creating the chemical surges of early courtship.


The lesson: Protect your marriage by regularly trying new things and sharing new experiences with your spouse.”


Taken from the June 2010 issue of Ladies Home Journal magazine. From For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage, by Tara Parker-Pope. Copyright 2010 by Tara Parker-Pope.




This research contains what is probably my favorite practical tip for marriage found in her article. Parker-Pope suggests that we date regularly, but she specifically suggests that we try new things together. I love this.


We have all experienced the humdrum “dinner and a movie” date where there is a “been there and done that” experience. We are glad we did it, but it doesn’t do much to revive the spark.


On the other hand, sharing some new things together has the same effect that you experienced in your early dating years. It’s adventurous and unknown. You may have to push past some awkwardness (and endure some flops) but at least you’ll be failing together.


So next time you go on a date, try something different. Explore a museum, do a picnic, go parking by a lake, or do anything that’s not on your normal schedule. Guys, your wife will LOVE that you made the extra effort to dream up something unique.