Revered by some and envied by others, love is possibly the most celebrated of all the human emotions. True love has served as the source of inspiration for poetry, music, art, and the foundation for countless romantic relationships since the beginning of recorded history. However, blinded by its powerful effect, we rarely take the time to examine the biological processes that make this event possible.
When we fall madly in love, our brain releases a neurotransmitter—a chemical responsible for the transmission of messages in the brain—called Phenethylamine. Nicknamed the “love drug”, Phenethylamine, is released in high quantities during the presence of our romantic partners, which is why we feel so wonderful around them in the early stages of our relationship. Unfortunately the hypnotic effect of Phenethylamine decreases as the relationship progresses because the brain releases less of the “love drug” in the presence of our partner. This decrease possibly explains why the “honey moon” phase does not last forever.
After about four years in a romantic relationship the effect of Phenethylamine is greatly reduced, and coinciding around this time period many couples find themselves faced with difficult issues. It can seem as if these issues developed overnight. However, these problems may have existed long before the marriage or civil-partnership ever took place, and when left unresolved may unfortunately result in the termination of the relationship.
Counselling for Premarital Issues
In our increasingly secular societypremarital counselling can often be thought of as a “religious tradition,” or simply not thought of at all. The list of things to do when entering into a married or civil partnership is often very long and complicated; picking out the cake, finding the proper venue, sending the invitations, finding the perfect dress, etc. It is not surprising that with the effect of Phenethylamine, and all of the excitement before the marriage or civil partnership, that many of those about to enter into a union do not consider having pre-marital counselling before their big day.
Premarital counselling does not have to be completed by the minister of your local church, but can also be performed by a trained counsellor who has experience in helping couples resolve issues within the relationship. Taking the time to speak with a professional therapist may reduce stress during the pre-marriage or pre-civil partnership period, and could save your relationship from becoming another divorce or separation statistic. Speaking about current and possible future issues, including your sex life and any difficulties, may also be easier to address with the support of a therapist. Your therapist can help you and your partner to develop and strengthen your communication skills, which may help to resolve problems you face quicker and more efficiently. Above all, premarital or pre-partnership counselling will provide valuable time and a safe space in which you can work to strengthen your love and commitment to each other.
By Justin Duwe, Psychotherapist, BSc, MA, MBPsS, MBACP