As couples begin to fall in love they experience a "chemical high." According to Dr. Pat Mumby, "Falling in love causes our body to release a flood of feel-good chemicals that trigger specific physical reactions."
You remember those days, right? Sweaty palms, a racing heart, and when you were apart (which wasn't often) your thoughts were still centered on your guy (or your girl).
These chemicals (dopamine, adrenaline, oxytocin, norepinephrine) are actually quite useful in helping us fall in love as well as helping us want to progress to courtship and marriage.
But, what happens when the chemical levels drop?
This "high" doesn't last. After a few months, our body's chemical levels return to a more normal level.
This is actually a really good thing. Otherwise most of us would have flunked out of school or been fired from our jobs. The "love high" can be fun, but it is difficult to live a productive life in that chemically altered state.
But does our love fade when this "high" is gone?
Well, it depends.
There are plenty of neglected marriages that leave both people riddled with hurt, disappointment, bitterness and anger.
By contrast, when couples choose to continue to prioritize their marriage (long after the initial "high"), this relationship can grow into something deeper and sweeter than anything experienced during the "chemically aided" beginning of their romance.
Before you were married, you probably made sure you spent all the time you could with your significant other. Sure, the "chemical high" helped, but by choosing to prioritize your relationship, you grew closer and had an ever-increasing amount of love for each other.
However, according to William J. Doherty, PhD, "When we get married and especially after we have children, this reverses. Other things - the children, our work, our hobbies, even our religious involvement - become central and the marriage recedes to the background and only receives our attention when something is wrong."
I have seen countless couples (even marriages between two wonderful people) who allow their relationship to fall into the background.
Hopefully this doesn't describe your marriage. If it does, you can decide to recommit yourself to your marriage today.
How you can recommit today
If your marriage has fallen into the background, will you decide today to recommit to your sweetheart? Will you decide to prioritize him (or her) above all others?
Commit to prioritize your sweetheart above your career. Commit to prioritize your sweetheart above your hobbies. And, yes, even commit to prioritize your sweetheart above your children!
When describing this type of marriage, Dr. Doherty noted that the happiest of couples have an absolute commitment towards each other and their marriage. He noted that happily married couples make these type of vows to each other:
"Nothing will break us up."
"We will fight through whatever obstacles get in our way."
"We will renovate our marriage if the current version gets stale."
"If we fight too much or too poorly we will learn to fight better."
"If sex is no longer good we will find a way to make it good again."
"We will accept each other's weaknesses that can't be fixed."
"We will take care of each other in our old age."
He concludes by saying the happiest couples don't make these commitments just one time. They renew them over and over throughout their lives.
This article was originally published on Family Good Things. It has been republished here with permission.
Rob Stewart has taught marriage classes at BYU-Idaho for the last decade and is a co-founder and contributor at familygoodthings.com. He is also the author of the popular new eBook "3 Things You Can Do Today to Create a Ridiculously Happy Marriage."