According to research, the two main reasons for divorce are “lack of communication…” and “libido”. Probably no big secret.
We automatically assume that women are the ones who want communication and men are the ones wanting sex, and if our husbands would simply communicate with us, we would want more sex and voilà, problem solved. As they say in France, c’est tout (that’s all or that’s all there is to it.) To a large degree that is true.
But here is how that works, according to Dr. Stephanie Estima, who specializes in brain optimization and functional neurology. She explains why our relationships often fall apart.
Take that lovely chore, the proverbial dinner – the one we are so eager to prepare early in our marriage, looking up recipes, making everything just perfect only to have our husband come home tired and not even say thank you (insensitive jerk, right?)
I don’t know about you, but that one thing landed me in tears more often than anything else.
The problem is that there is way more going on than we understand. We have no idea what is motivating us to make this special for him (we just call it love) or why it affects us so deeply when he shrugs it off (we call this lack of love typically). But here is what is going on chemically inside our marvelously created brains.
The left side of the brain, the logical, linear part (what we normally call the male brain) is where we find the feel good chemical dopamine. One of the two chemicals we need to “feel” happy.
The right side, the creative, passionate side (all female, right? smile) is where serotonin lives. We need serotonin to create dopamine. Pretty simple so far.
But here is where it gets more complicated - we can raise our own dopamine levels. But - we can’t raise our own serotonin levels. That stinks right? It gets worse. Men have 50% more serotonin receptors than women. Say what?
Yep, that means we truly, chemically need twice as much serotonin to create dopamine as men do. And (according to this very scholastic article) it must come from outside of us.
Boom. We aren’t demanding, whiney, overly emotional creatures, we just need serotonin! We do things for our husbands because we love them, yes, (or did at one point) BUT – we are also doing it to get something we need too.
It is a rather complicated chemical dance that Dr. Stephanie does a much better job of explaining than I do. (link if you are interested in the whole article.)
So, what happens when we don’t get the S. boost we were hoping for from our husband? We withdraw, get angry, perhaps resentful, or as I suggested above, cry. Which in turn invites criticism from guess who. Lots of fun times.
Can you understand why - IT ISN’T YOUR FAULT and NO, YOU ARE NOT FAILING.
The problem is that when we pull back, pour all of ourselves into our family, stop doing things that we enjoy, stop creating, leave our community of women, we are drowning. We have no exterior resource for serotonin. We are exhausted because we truly are depleted.
But, if we focus on us, turn our energy back to discovering what lights us up, connect with other women and find a resource to give us what we so desperately need we are no longer as dependent on our husbands for this external stimulus.
Ironically, by taking the focus (and therefore the pressure) off our husband, we suddenly become far less impacted by what he does or doesn’t do. We “need” him less. Surprisingly enough at this point, we often become more capable of seeing and sometimes even appreciating the things he does do “right”. When this happens, (being gracious and generous by nature), we share our appreciation, (which feeds his need for appreciation and very deep desire to please us).
This whole pattern ironically re-sparks his interest and often creates modifications in his behavior. I.E. husband “fixed”.
Now this all sounds incredibly simple, it is a bit more complicated. However, before we toss our husband overboard, isn’t it worth investigating how we can impact our own needs apart from him, before we pull the divorce lever?
It might save your marriage.
It might not.
But one thing it will do for certain. You will know you, what step to take, what makes you happy, what you need in a long-term relationship, and how to get your needs met.
If this sounds intriguing because let’s face it you “Can’t Live This Way Anymore” and you want to know how to find your joy, whether you “fix” him or leave him – join my webclass. Only two left, July 5th and July 10th. Grab your spot here.