Thursday, May 26, 2011
Married to One, but in Love with Another
I recently wrote an article for Family Life Canada and received this question: How can you be in love with one person, but marry another?
This was my reply:
When we have sex we bond with them, physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally, as well as chemically. We release chemicals and hormones that creates a bond or attachment with that person. God says He makes 'two into one flesh' through sexual intimacy. Both men and women release a hormone called oxytocin which is the bonding hormone, causing men and women to be glued together. Oxytocin is what creates that love feeling.
And in marriage as you have sex over and over...you bond more and more and your love deepens and matures. But when we have sex outside marriage and then break up, we start to damage our bonding hormone...we release less and less with each subsequent partner. Eventually if we've had enough adverse romantic experiences involving sex (where we love and then break up) we can inhibit our ability to bond fully the way God intended in marriage.
Hypothetically if someone had sex with a first love, she bonded with him. Then when they broke up, she was wounded...as she moved to her next relationship, she fell in love again, but wouldn't have bonded as much in the next relationship. Depending on how many sexual partners she bonded with before marriage would depend on just how well she bonded with her husband.
Just because we get married doesn't mean the past is all wiped away. We bring all those past partners into marriage with us, and in fact stay bonded to them without really knowing it. Then when we begin to experience difficulties in our marriage, and our love wanes, our attachment to past partners can cause us to still feel love for them. Also oxytocin increases the recall of the positive events of past relationships and decreases the recall of the negative. So when her marriage began to have cracks, she began to fantasize about the good in the last relationship...and began to wonder if life would have been better with him.
But unfortunately it's fantasy and not reality. All marriages experience struggles and sometimes we have days when we don't 'feel' love for each other. But when we've bonded well, the difficult times help us grow closer together and our love deepens. But if we are still attached to past lovers, we will stay in the past, and resist the work needed to grow our marriages. But when we let God heal us and break us from past relationships, we can fully love and bond with our spouses. Which is why I encourage young people to go through healing for all past sexual partners and experiences so that they don't bring anyone else into their marriages and are able to fully bond with their spouse.
Science is showing that God can heal the brain, and restore our ability to release oxytocin even if its been depleted because of past wounding. God has done this in my own life and marriage, and in countless others as I've led men and women through sexual healing the past 7 years.
So I guess what I'm saying is that this scenario doesn't have to be...with healing, we can be fully bonded and love our spouse regardless of past relationships. I'm praying that God gives you hope that what you long for and desire is really what He desires for all of us in marriage, and that when we trust Him, its also possible.