How to Rekindle Your Relationship
Great tip from Wired magazine’s November 2011 edition:
Sooner or later, most relationships fall into a rut. Advice abounds on how to spice things up (cue the furry handcuffs). But the scientifically vetted solution for making sparks fly is much simpler, says Arthur Aron, a psychology professor at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. Aron set up an experiment in which couples roll a ball across a room toward each other, which they did with ease. He assigned other couples a similar task but with their hands and feet tied. Afterward, Aron asked everyone to complete questionnaires on how much they loved their partners. The bound couples reported being much more smitten than the unfettered ones, whose task was easier.
No, this doesn’t take us back to furry handcuffs. The moral of Aron’s experiment is actually this: Take on a new challenge and the excitement of tackling it will rub off on your relationship. “That exhilarating feeling may come from another source, but it’s still associated with your partner,” says Aron, who theorizes this happens because of brain chemistry. “When people fall in love, they get activation in the dopamine system,” he says. Novel or exciting pursuits also stimulate the brain to pump out more dopamine. Aron theorizes that even playing videogames together may draw a couple closer. (Who knew Grand Theft Auto could help your love life?)
One easy way to put this wisdom to work is to shake up date night, suggests Aron, who conducted another experiment in which he asked couples to spend 90 minutes a week doing unfamiliar activities like rock climbing or taking Italian lessons. Ten weeks later, when these couples filled out a questionnaire about how they felt about each other, they scored much higher than couples who had stuck to familiar date nights like dinner and a movie. Problema risolto!—Judy Dutton
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