Well, it’s that time of year – our anniversary! We’ve now spent 2 years in wedded bliss. In commemoration of that epic occasion, here’s Matt’s “Science of Love” speech.
At most weddings there is a point where the minister spends a few minutes talking about love and marriage and how best to have a happy life. Usually giving relationship advice that only someone who has vowed celibacy can take seriously. I bet you all thought that since we had a quick ceremony and a justice of the peace you would all be spared today. Well you were wrong, I’m gonna do it.
You all know my quirks about the word ‘love’ and how it is usually described as vague ethereal concepts. I am much more interested in what happens inside the brain.
Love can easily be described by what chemicals are swimming around in our brains at a specific time. Most relationships start in the infatuation phase. Attraction so powerful you don’t want to be apart for a second. Mixtures of testosterone, estrogen, adrenaline, and dopamine so strong that if they were sold in pill form they would be illegal are being produced at dangerous rates. When teenagers are affected adults affectionately understate this as ‘puppy love’. When adults are affected it becomes a furious love affair.
Unfortunately for those affected this ends at about seven months, and for those who don’t understand brain chemistry they may think the love has died. I remember the day the love died for us. Shortly after we moved out of rez we were stuck in a small one-room apartment with a shared kitchen until the apartment we really wanted became available. Tensions were quite high. Amanda came home one day very proud of herself that she had found an undersized travel can opener that would save drawer space. Unfortunately it didn’t work. I told her meekly “this doesn’t grip on the can very well”. She wasn’t angry about the can opener but it was the wrong time to tell her she failed at something. She dragged me to the kitchen grabbed the can opener latched it on a can of tomato soup and shook it at me saying “it works just fine!” as the can detached from the can opener spraying a shocking amount of red soup from a tiny puncture all over the floor around me. She stared at me while I did the worst thing I possibly could at that moment. Sitting quietly being right.
That was the day the love died.
Serotonin is a chemical you may be supplementing if you take anti-depressant drugs. It is also a chemical you start to produce coincidentally about seven months into a relationship. No longer are you in the “can’t be apart cannot do any wrong public display of affection love-fest” that disgusts everyone not involved. The relationship becomes “long term”, most people get married sometime in this stage of the relationship. People consider this “true love,” or “adult love.” Serotonin production ramps up the longer the relationship lasts building stronger and stronger bonds. Increased serotonin production stops at about 7 years. Many relationships end at this time giving rise to the expression “the seven year itch.” A little past our seven year anniversary we found ourselves sitting in a Mexican restaurant that served gluten free taquitos for Amanda. It happened to be Valentines Day and Amanda had just received a diamond from her grandmother. I suggested we put it into a ring for her. We sat there newly engaged and thought how appropriate that it happened right as the love “died.”
Oxytocin is a chemical that promotes companionship and contentment. It starts increased production about seven years into a relationship. like serotonin the longer the relationship the more is produced. Unlike serotonin there is no upper limit to its production. Couples who have been together for decades can become literally addicted to each other becoming sick when their companions leave them. I stand now at the beginning of the final stage of love happy in the thought that we will love each other more every day for the rest of our lives.
We’ve been together a total of 11 years now!! I can hardly believe it! Here’s our rockin’ slide show so you can see some of what led to the happy occasion (put together by Carolyn). Sorry PNG friends, the rest of this post may be too much bandwidth for you! But I had extra that was about to expire. Also, if this link doesn’t work, someone let me know please.
And finally, a few pictures – the photographer captured loving moments I didn’t even know we were capable of!