Can skilled love counseling help us build love? Is there a blueprint to love which can be followed? Are arranged marriages more effective for the growth of love than our western model which demands the input of mystical fates and forces like the Fairy Godmother?
Are you saying love isn't accidental?
Robert Epstein,Ph.D., thinks so, and I am very intrigued. My first thought about arranged marriages is that arranged marriages deprive women of choice, but then I took a closer look at Epstein's ideas, and they parallel my own experience, of how love grows from shared experiences, and Epstein's ideas parallel John Gottman's ideas from the Art of Science of Love, that there are some things couples do that foster love, and I have had couples work on those exercises, and do so joyfully, even when moments before they were fighting powerfully.
I am particularly intrigued by the application of Epstein's work to the domestic violence field.
And I am very intrigued about how Epstein's work fits with Helen Fisher's study of romantic love. Helen Fisher,Ph.D., put some in love brains through a functional magnetic imaging machine and discovered where in the brain this powerful experience of love happens, and has developed tools which help us meet folks with whom that love can happen most easily.
Epstein also has folks work on exercises like mutual eye gazing and synchronized breathing, which sounds suspiciously like what I have had clients do using the Heartmath or heart rate variability biofeedback process.
I teach clients that while they have a heart rate variability coherence of their own, their relationship has a heart beat of its own, and that heart beat is easier to keep coherent (which leads to an affiliative and cooperative physiology)when each partner is aware of how quickly coherence can change (1/18th second)into either coherence or incoherence.
Epstein's couples sign a "Love Contract", and if those folks had completed Helen Fisher's survey from her site at Chemistry.com, they would have established that they have 'chemistry' which seems like a good base to work from as you do Epstein's exercises.
Epstein believes that "healthy love relationships, are built on Four Pillars: Commitment, Realistic Expectations, Intimate Knowledge, and Essential Relationship Skills."
Interesting how there are pillars of healthy relationships, like there are pillars of brain fitness.
One of the key pillars of brain fitness, stress management, can be sigificantly improved by doing the Heartmath process above.
Heartmath is a wonderful way to access the affiliative and cooperative brain in the heart.
Yes your heart, the traditional seat of love, has a nervous system of its own which we can train to beat in a very coherent manner using a computerized biofeedback process.
Once I learn it on the computer, I can cue the physiology of affiliation and cooperation on demand, which is a very good thing to do when I am working on Epstein's intimacy and relationship exercises.
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Very early in my personal growth experience, a wise person taught me to use the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was resentful or afraid and that phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
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