How can you strengthen and deepen the intimate bond between you and your partner? One step is knowing how you and your relationship are affected by the science of interpersonal neurobiology, explains psychologist and relationship coach Sue Mandel for Yourtango.
Interpersonal neurobiology is a multidisciplinary field that, along with other areas of neuroscience, studies how experience in relationships literally shapes the brain, beginning with our primary caregivers (parents).
Very young children need someone to “read their minds” because they cannot yet express what they want. Just as every child is different, so is every mother. The situations they experience together then affect their brains and minds, says Mandelová.
In this context, we gradually learn if we can trust the people we depend on, if they are reliable, loving and helpful when something bad happens to us.
With all of this, we then enter “into the world”, with our own inner model of how intimate relationships work, with a set of beliefs about ourselves, as well as learned ways of behaving so as not to harm others. person.
Sometimes such learned practices and methods are right, other times not. Fortunately, thanks to neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to create new neural pathways – our brains can still change and grow well into adulthood.
With persistence and repetition, if we work to change bad habits, we engage in the right relationships, have new experiences, build and strengthen new nerve connections.
“Through this, we can decide to improve the relationship with ourselves and our intimate partner. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” bug Mandel. According to her, there are several ways to achieve it.
1. Notice your partner’s efforts to please you.
If your partner makes a cautious move or tries to please you, appreciate it. And it can be a small gesture to put the dishes in the dishwasher, watch a movie with you that he doesn’t like very much, or ask you to go out after a hard day.
Showing gratitude not only affects your partner’s neurochemistry, but yours as well. In fact, even the thought of your gratitude will change your brain and you will perceive your partner more intensely. In addition, it always motivates us to repeat what we like.
2. Eliminate minor conflicts with humor
There can be many reasons for minor conflicts in the partnership. Since your counterpart makes you coffee with a different type of milk than you are used to, he constantly throws napkins on the floor or he has repeatedly eaten your favorite cereal and left only an empty box.
When it comes to trifles, but also to deeper problems in relationships or possible outbreaks of hostility, it is very effective to combat them with humor. But it is important to have a good feeling about the possible reaction of the partner, insists the psychologist. If playfulness is part of your relationship and your daily interactions, this levity will be all the more natural.
3. Do new and fun things together
Did you experience this state of intoxication at the start of the relationship, when in moments of fear (for example at the cinema watching an unpleasant scene) or, conversely, of excitement (for example on a mountain bike or on a fun together) you could cuddle up in your partner’s arms and be safe? Try to live it again and break the gray routine.
Not only will you discover something new, but also, thanks to pleasant things, you activate the release of dopamine, a substance which is at the center of the reward in the brain.
Dopamine motivates us to pursue our dreams, our goals, the things we want and need. And when we finally experience the burst of joy that comes with success, passion, fun, and excitement, we’ll naturally want to repeat the experience that made us feel so good.
4. Be helpful and helpful about your partner’s needs
Why do we feel so intoxicated when the person we love leaves everything because we need them? Because when you feel like you have someone like that, serotonin, a substance found in many antidepressants, is released. Having the person in question look up from what they are doing when you enter the room will help create the same feeling. And the feelings are, of course, mutual.
However, at the interpersonal biological level, there are other types of behavior that have a similar effect. The simple act of touching yourself, making eye contact, holding hands, or simply feeling yourself lying next to a loved one promotes trust and intimacy by producing the hormone oxytocin, often referred to as “l ‘cuddle hormone’. And it is he who “animates” the bond between mother and child, where one experiences for the first time a feeling of love, explains the expert.
According to John Goodman, marriage and relationship researcher, two other factors are important: generosity and kindness.
5. Remember that a relationship will only survive if it is a safe haven for both
When we fall in love, we tend to idealize the person, creating positive illusions about them.
Research has shown that in couples who were satisfied even after 25 years of relationship, the individuals still harbored positive illusions about their partner. They continued to see the best in each other. Their relationships were more resilient, they could even laugh at their weaknesses and mistakes. Things were by no means perfect, but they weren’t expecting that either.
Happy couples could communicate effectively, and moreover, each individual could be himself. Conflicts always arose, but they resolved themselves and we moved on. The highest priority has always been to repair the relationship as soon as possible. And being able to forgive is love.