On Monday, I started answering a reader question about what to do if you don’t find your husband attractive. The wife’s question went like this:
Recently I’ve realized that I’m not attracted to my husband. I don’t think I ever was. He’s a good looking guy, but not my type of good looking. . . . I feel [guilty] and shallow, for being so upset that I don’t feel SOMETHING when he walks in the door, or when I spot him in a crowd of people.
Do you have any advice for me?
I have to believe other wives are out there with similar stories. Maybe you wed your husband because he’s a great guy, a devoted Christian, a wonderful provider, or the sort of guy you figured you’d marry, but he didn’t give you that heady sensation we often expect with love. Or maybe you were once very attracted to your husband, but now, not so much.
Where are you supposed to go from here?! You’d like for the guy you share a bed with every night to give you a case of the yeah-baby! tingles.
Earlier this week, I covered three important perceptions you can work on to help increase your attraction to your husband. Today, let’s talk about “romantic chemistry.”
Romantic chemistry is called that for a reason: Actual body chemicals are involved in our attraction and connection to a romantic partner. We feel drawn to or aroused by someone who gets certain natural chemicals moving through our bodies. Numerous studies have looked into these chemicals such as oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins. When our partner is nearby and we experience these body chemicals, we feel bonded to that person.
If you don’t have that automatically, you can still foster the firing of those chemicals in your body when your husband is near. What can you actively do to get that “love potion” moving through your veins?
Oxytocin. Often referred to as the “bonding chemical,” oxytocin is released when you experience deep embraces, nursing an infant, and sexual activity. It creates feelings of connection and attachment and love.
You can increase its presence by engaging in physical touch, like holding hands and sustained hugs of twenty seconds or more. It’s important to hang on to that touch long enough for your body to register the affection and respond with an oxytocin release. And yes, sexual encounters with your husband definitely impact the “bonding chemical” — with sex capable of producing an oxytocin rush for wives at three to five times the norm.
Dopamine. Dopamine is involved in the reward system of the brain — a chemical that provides good sensations when a particular activity is experienced. Matching the activity and the feel-good results, we learn to repeat that behavior again and again to get the same “high.” It’s what contributes to addictions, but it’s also what contributes to a continuing desire to be with someone you love.
Make use of that reward system and pair good sensations with your mate! When dopamine is combined with other chemicals in humans, including oxytocin, our happy-place feelings become attached to the individual who helped create them — our spouse. Watch a delightful romantic comedy together, have him give you a relaxing massage, or experience orgasm in his arms. Let dopamine fire away and get you “addicted” to love with your husband.
Testosterone. Research has shown that testosterone fuels sex drive in both men and women, and feeling “lovestruck” gives women a natural boost of testosterone. But don’t worry about the chicken-or-egg argument for what comes first; add a boost of testosterone and see if that doesn’t increase chemistry with your guy.
How can you naturally increase testosterone? LiveStrong has several ideas, among them:
- eat plenty of protein
- intake enough “good fats”
- limit alcohol intake
- take Vitamin C . . .
And have sex at least weekly, since longer periods of inactivity with your mate cause a drop in testosterone production.
Endorphins. Endorphins aren’t usually part of the heart-pounding attraction you experience when he walks into the room. Instead, these naturally occurring chemicals take longer to cultivate. But they’ve been compared to opiates in their ability to produce feelings of calm, stress-reduction, and general happiness. Endorphins are what cause the “runner’s high” (for you other people who keep running long enough to experience it).
How can you increase your “love opiates”? Certain foods stimulate the release of endorphins, including spicy foods and chocolate. Why not incorporate snuggling and snacking on endorphin-releasing nourishment? Smells can also trigger endorphins, particularly lavender and vanilla. You could burn vanilla-scented candles or place lavender-scented potpourri in your bedroom. Or go all out, grab some lavender-vanilla massage oil, and get to rubbing each other!
Exercise more, exercise together. Endorphins are released with steady exercise, and sharing those moments with your husband means you feel that “runner’s high” when he’s around — getting a double-whammy. Laugh! Oh yeah, research has shown that laughter triggers endorphins. So watch comedies together, share jokes and word play, flirt and giggle, even go to a Christian comedy show for date night. And, of course, sex releases endorphins. Have some of that with him.
Others chemicals are involved in chemistry and unleashed by spending enjoyable time with your spouse, engaging in physical touch, and keeping yourself healthy. And while it may seem like I’m skewing the results toward sex (writing as I do about married sex), honestly everywhere I turned to research the issue of romantic chemistry, sex with your mate triggered increases in the chemicals needed to feel connected, attached, loved. And some of these effects are only seen in those with long-term, committed relationships.
Turns out “have more sex” is a pretty good prescription for your marriage! No wonder I keep saying it. *smile*
Sources: Love Chemicals and Chemistry of Love – About Education; The chemistry of love: Oxytocin may drive monogamy in relationships – Los Angeles Times; The Chemicals Between Us: Chemistry in Romance – Heroes and Heartbreakers.com; How to Increase Testosterone Levels Naturally in Women – LiveStrong.com; Cupid’s chemistry – Royal Society of Chemistry; The science of love: I get a kick out of you, The Economist; How to Supercharge Your Sex Drive – HuffPost Women; 8 Ways to Naturally Increase Endorphins – Reader’s Digest; 12 Ways To Release The Happy Hormones “Endorphins” – Good Relaxation