Two people fall in love. They find they have “chemistry.” Italian researchers have found that this “chemistry” is more than a metaphor. They studied 58 people who had recently fallen madly in love. These scientists from the University of Pavia found that the powerful emotions of new love are triggered by a molecule known as nerve growth factor (NGF). Compared to a control group of singles and people in long term relationships, the newly in love had far higher levels of NGF.
But after one year, the couples who have stayed together find their levels of NGF dropping down to the same level as singles and couples in a long-term relationship. This chemistry may be important to bonding two people together, but this emotional high does not last. Although researchers can now point to a particular molecule, the wise have always known this truth from human experience.
Since the Bible teaches us to make a “till-death-do-us-part” commitment in marriage, we realize that such a commitment means going beyond the emotional high of new love. Marriage takes work. Couples must learn how to communicate. They must also learn how to resolve conflict. They must meet one another’s needs. Emotional ups and downs should be expected. The birth of children and living with teenagers often impacts marital satisfaction. Bills, illnesses, repairs, and crises are the stuff of life with which all of us must cope. The promise of “for better or for worse” should never be entered into lightly. Yet the vows speak of the reality of life.
The person who contemplates going beyond the boundaries of his or her marriage also needs to hear this warning. The emotional high will be short lived, but the consequences will last a life time and maybe even an eternity. God’s ways are truly what is best for us and our children.
Emotions can and do change. Researchers have found that couples who have a drop of feeling in love can change the direction of their relationship. If they begin to do again some of the things of courtship—they communicate, solve problems, and meet needs, then the feelings of love can return. It takes time. In fact, doing the right things must come first. The emotions will lag behind. The difference is caused by an initial lack of trust. Will this person disappoint me again? But as the couple works at the relationship, trust is rebuilt, and the relationship restored. Actually, it won’t be quite the way it was. Researchers have found that it can actually be better.
“Till death do us part” is God’s plan for marriage. The powerful emotions of falling in love are a part of the way God has made us. Yet, we all need to be reminded that marriage takes work. It must be more than chemistry.