What does a love counselor do? Most of us in the west understand what marriage counseling is about, usually a last ditch attempt to save a union where one or both participants are very dissatisfied.
But what does a love counselor, as opposed to a marriage counselor, or a marriage broker do?
He or she would teach skills relevant to the Four Pillars of healthy relationships: Commitment, Realistic Expectations, Intimate Knowledge, and Essential Relationship Skills.
Instead of searching endlessly for that perfect mate, pick someone with whom you are compatible and work on a series of relationship exercises to make love, as Robert Epstein,Ph.D. says.
Epstein is the chief advocate of a new field called relationship science.
In 2002 Epstein, then editor of Psychology Today, wrote a controversial editorial suggesting that we ought to quit searching for that perfect someone, and instead find someone we are compatible with, and build love with them by doing a series of activities that Epstein has developed.
OK, so a love counselor would walk you through the exercises, and part of the process would be giving up the search for Cinderella or Prince Charming, and I would also have to quit looking for the Fairy Godmother's intervention on my behalf?
That actually sounds like a very good idea.
But if I were searching for a mate, I would want us to take the Helen Fisher,Ph.D., test at Chemistry.com which would help me determine the requisite compatibility.
Their are a lot of parallels between what Epstein and Fisher are discovering.
Professor Fisher put some brains that had recently fallen in or out of love through a fMRI or functional magnetic imaging system, and discovered which parts of the brain are active in those early, wonderful days of being in love.
They are the same parts that Professor Epstein says we should get aroused in love building exercises like riding a roller coaster.
Apparently the brain gets itself excited when it is going voluntarily on a ride like that, and it will look for an explanation, see the other person in the roller coaster car, and attach itself to that person as the explanation for the excitement.
One of the other exercises that Epstein indicates that we should try is synchronized breathing, which I can give him a high five for.
I have been using a wonderful heart rate variability tool called Heartmath which requires attention to the breath, and to thinking about a positive fun time and attempting to relive it, with my clients.
As they master the Heartmath tool, they are able to control the time between hearts beats which feels good, and opens up the affiliative and cooperative brain in the heart for chemistry and intimacy.
Yes, the heart, that traditional seat of love, has a nervous system of its own, which is large enough to learn and make decisions on its own.
(Doing Heartmath opens the higher perceptual centers in the brain too. Check out Brainfit for Life to see how this works).
So the impact of the synchronized breathing exercises coupled with Heartmath can really open us to a physiology of intimacy.
What I like to do with couples is teach them the Heartmath tool individually, and then hook them up to computers and hold hands so they can get used to paying attention to their and their partners Heartmath at the same time.
Attention to the heart rather than resentments or indiscretions becomes the order of the day, and if my heart is beating coherently, I am in a physiology where I can accent the positive, another of Epstein's exercises.
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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