Relationship science is exciting stuff. I am very intrigued to discover this work, from Robert Epstein,Ph.D and juxtapose it with the work that Helen Fisher, Ph.D. has done with the science of romantic love, and to teach both to my domestic violence counseling clients.
The science of romantic love and the science of relationship.
Both Professors have looked at the research and offered us some real life tools that very well could impact our love life in a very real way, from the beginning to the end.
Professor Fisher's work is a significant part of the chemistry.com process. She has taken her work with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)of newly-in-love-brains and created a questionaire which will hopefully connect us with someone that the relationship chemistry will happen with, which means that some reward systems deep in the brain will activate.
Dr. Epstein's is studying couples who have passed beyond those intense early stages of relationship or are in an arranged marriage and, and want to develop something deeper and richer.
Another expert who can add illumination to the science of relationship is Dr. John Gottman.
Dr. Gottman has studied the behaviors of couples he calls the Masters of Marriage for 30 years, and has teased out what behaviors those couples do naturally, so the rest of us can engage in them consciously.
Robert Epstein says that we can take control over our love lives, that there are exercises that couples can enter into regularly which enhance their connection.
He says that we can learn a great deal about how to accomplish that richer, deeper connection by studying arranged marriages in other cultures.
Not sure about you, but when I think of arranged marriages, I feel a lot of fear. Apparently couples and families in other cultures do not have that fear, nor do those folks see arranged marriage as abridging freedom of choice for the couple involved.
More than half of marriages on our planet are brokered by parents or professional matchmakers, whose main concerns are long-term suitability and family harmony.
This process sure works in India where 95% of marriages are arranged and the divorce rate is one of the lowest in the world, even though divorce is an option.
So the science of relationship seeks to extract a practical technology from the research and teach people how to use it.
Epstein reports that there are at least 80 scientific studies that discuss how people learn to love one another, and he goes on to discuss the impact of one of the exercises which are used to increase vulnerability between folks, called the soul gazing exercise.
It turns out when mutual eye gazing happens, there are rapid increases of the feelings of liking and loving even between strangers.
Remember, mutual gazing is different than staring, which produces a different mammilian response, one of threat.
Mutual gazing is about giving permission. and being vulnerable. That is probably what makes it work in relationship science.
I am reminded here of John Gottman's exercise in his the Art and Science of Relationship workshop called Finding Your Partners Love Map.
According to Epstein, a careful look at arranged marriage, combined with the knowledge accumulating in relationship science, has the potential to give us real control over our love lives, without practicing arranged marriage.
We can learn to have that deep, lasting love that we talk about in fantasies and fairy tales by practicing techniques that build love over time.
And if our love is fading, we can use those techniques to rebuild that love.
But here is where you go to begin the process of love building. Use the research Helen Fisher,Ph.D. has put into Chemistry.com.
The Science of Relationship building exercises are more easily done when the chemistry is right.
One of the tools I have used with clients as we have gone through the process of learning to create relationship is Heartmath.
I have taught couples how to do Heartmath individually and then had them come together to work on the heart beat of the relationship while hooked up to the computer.
Heartmath, or heart rate variability biofeedback, is a computerized biofeedback tool that very easily and quickly helps clients learn to control the time between their heart beats, resulting in a truly good feeling. (However, without some attention, we lose that good feeling to stress).
The heart has its own nervous system, call it a brain if you will, and that brain can learn and make decisions independently of any other brain we have. The heart's brain is affiliative and cooperative, which would seem to me to be an important part of the science of relationship exercises.
Cue the physiology of cooperation and affection, then do the Epstein or Gottman exercises, for example.
And Heartmath has another side effect, it can be a key part of your brain fitness stress reduction exercises, which means you grow new neurons for a plastic brain.
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