From Hug the Monkey Blog - http://www.hugthemonkey.com/2008/03/index.html
I've been corresponding with a man who totally understands the oxytocin bond, and has very powerful ideas about the male/female, sex/love dichotomy. He has kindly allowed me to publish his story. Warning: You may, like me, be jealous of his marriage. -- Susan
Intrigued by research results of oxytocin, and the need to help repair a damaged relationship with my wife, I decided to try using oxytocin. I was especially interested in oxytocin when I saw it described as a “bonding” hormone – that really resonated with me. And, it resonated with me because my wife and I have been working on re-bonding for about a year now . . . .
My wife and I had gone through a very rocky period where our relationship (after 27 years) hit a very low point; we were both upset at each other, felt resentful toward each other, and were seriously considering divorce. The rocky period lasted 3 years. We decided to enter into marriage counseling, and that has been very helpful; much improvement has been made and we both feel very confident about our future together, once again.
About 3 months ago, a friend who provides alternative healing therapies pointed me to research going on with oxytocin. As I read many articles and books, I found one aspect of oxytocin fascinating: the bonding aspect. When I read this, I realized that the oxytocin effect was what I had been trying to tell my wife about for years, related to our sex life. She and I always viewed sex somewhat differently: My appetite was stronger than hers, and I placed a much higher value on it than she did.
During many counseling sessions and private talks while we worked on our marriage, I told my wife that something special happened to me when we had sex. It went past the physical pleasure, way past it. During and after sex, I felt a recharge, a recharge of energy, of confidence, and a major recharge of my feelings of love and care toward her. I also felt that she loved me at those times. I was more productive, more creative at work. The world seemed brighter and more welcoming.
The recharge feelings were very strong and would persist for days, then start to slowly dissipate a week or so later. By two or three weeks, those feelings were low - a recharge was needed. Over the years, I have wondered, why these ups and downs ? If I love my wife, why does my interest in her drop low sometimes ? Do I really love her ? Am I oversexed ? Is something wrong with me ?
When I would discuss this with my wife, she would say, “OK, I get it - sex is important to you, but don’t you realize I love you when I do other things, like cook meals, take care of the kids, do your laundry ?” I would respond, “Yes, those all matter too and make me feel you care for me and love me, but the feelings for you that I derive through sex are so much stronger.” She would typically shake her head, not understanding why sex was so important to me. She told me many times that I placed way too much importance on sex, and this was the basic problem between us. (I can only imagine how many times that same conversation has happened in other homes !) Later, after she and I learned more about each other, and about oxytocin, she took on a completely different view.
When I thought back to the beginning of our “bad” times, I saw the cause. Due to an illness and others issues my wife was facing, our sex life began to decline. Our normal pattern of sex once or twice a week declined to once every 3, 4, or 6 months. This really affected me – I didn’t know anything about oxytocin, how it worked, and that it was released during orgasm, but I knew this; my feelings for her declined as our sex life declined. When I tried to talk to her about this and its impact on me (and us), she was preoccupied with other issues, or just not interested, and I ended up feeling alone, abandoned, and eventually decided that she no longer cared for me (this wasn’t true, but at the time I was convinced it was). When I decided she no longer cared, I stopped caring for her, and my behavior reflected it. 3 years of pain followed.
Now, I see a few things more clearly. There was a “withdrawal” going on with me when our sex life almost ceased. I was not just missing the physical part; I was missing the oxytocin effect which made me feel bonded to her, made me feel that I loved her, made me feel that she loved me. I now see why I feel like doing caring, thoughtful, loving things for her when we have an active sex life, and when we don’t, it is a struggle some days to think and feel that way. While I know I also benefit from oxytocin release thru non-sexual activities (and I have definitely felt those lately), not one of those compare to the sex-related oxytocin; it is so much stronger and lasts longer.
Now to my experiment. Since we had been actively engaged in repairing our relationship, when I learned about oxytocin, I wanted to try it to see if it would have an effect on my wife and I. I was looking for ways to help bring us closer, to help us bond, help us rekindle our love feelings for each other. And, oxytocin looked like just what we needed !
I bought some Liquid Trust, which, as you know, claims to have Oxytocin in it - not sure how much - manufacturer says potency is a trade secret. Anyway, it’s a spray to be used on your body or clothing. Instructions say it is odorless and lasts between 2 and 4 hours. Instructions say to use it "whenever you want more trust in the people around you, and when you want more passion".
I first tried it on a Friday morning, applying 2 spays on my shirt before I went to work. Interestingly, as soon as I sprayed it on, I immediately smelled it, quite strongly, which surprised me as it was supposed to be "odorless". All morning I felt like “something” was happening, but saw no real evidence of it. I work mostly alone, so its affect on others around me that morning were not observable. I could not tell if I thought something was happening simply because I hoped it would. One thing I was sure of – I could smell this odorless spray. This persisted all morning.
My wife and I had a counseling session at noon that day and before I left for it, I re-applied the spray as it had been over 4 hours since the first application. I am normally a bit anxious before these sessions as there have been some sessions where issues were raised that caused a lot of tension. I felt a bit anxious as the session started, but that soon dissipated. When I saw my wife at the beginning of the session, she appeared extra radiant and beautiful. She was in good spirits and no big, heavy issues came up in counseling. By the time the hour was up, I was mesmerized by her - I couldn't stop looking at her and admiring her glow and beauty. Even though I had an important meeting at 1:00, I blew that off and we went to lunch.
Lunch was extra delightful. At the restaurant, I found myself noticing others more and striking up conversations with people spontaneously. I found myself smiling at others and them noticing and smiling back - more than usual. While we were eating, my wife was talking but I was soaking her in - her smile, her laugh, her hair - all were extraordinarily glowing and wonderful. I was smitten big time. Everything she said was interesting. I could hardly remember to eat my lunch. She was the most beautiful, engaging, sensual woman I had ever seen.
After lunch we walked out into the parking lot, I turned to her, held her hands, looked into her eyes and told her that I loved her, would always be with her, and I was coming home early to be with her - and I was 1000 % sincere in my feelings and comments. Her eyes lit up and she was delighted. We parted ways - I had to go wrap up things at work and get home !
When we re-joined at home, the afternoon was delightful. The mood was light and happy. We discussed what we would do for the rest of the day and she suggested we plan to go to bed early (her code for sex). The evening was very nice and early bedtime was very good as well. Sex was very nice; it wasn’t astronomical, it wasn’t earth-shaking beyond description, but it was very nice for both of us.
Subsequent uses of the spray have resulted in some similar results, but none as strong as that day. Which makes me wonder how much of the effect was placebo. I decided long ago that whether a perceived benefit is due to the treatment/drug/therapy or is simply a placebo effect, if it delivers the beneficial effect, that’s great – I’ll take it.
Back to my wife’s view of my placing such importance on sex. She has recently told me and our counselor that she has a new understanding of what sex means to me, and what I derive from it. She said in almost 30 years of marriage, she never realized how strongly I was affected by it (positively) and how I was affected without it (negatively). From that point on, our sex life was elevated in priority in our lives, much to my delight as you can imagine. And, this was entirely her idea.
My experiment and what it means. My view is this: I doubt the spray has enough oxytocin in it to elicit the type responses I felt that day (this is only a guess on my part). But, maybe there was a boomerang placebo effect: because I wanted it to work, when I got into oxytocin-friendly situations (pleasant lunch with my wife, feeling good progress made in counseling), then maybe that led to oxytocin release. Regardless of the cause and effect mechanics, it was a striking, profound experience that I attribute at least partially to the oxytocin spray.
Side note. Since learning abut oxytocin, I realized a new meaning (new for me, anyway) to the term, “making love”. Previously, I viewed it as a polite way of referring to sex. But, after understanding a little about how oxytocin works, I now realize that when two people have sex, they are indeed “making love”, creating the feelings of love and bonding that most people would call love. It took 57 years for me to understand this.
I have exposed her to the research materials and she is also fascinated by the subject. She has related to me how and when she knows oxytocin has been released in her - many of her triggers are like mine, and some are quite different. I am so glad I was pointed to people researching oxytocin - like yourself – and that now I understand what was happening to me all these years. Learning about oxytocin has been a big plus for me and my wife.
This article helps me put so much in perspective, I have been so turned off by my husband's need for sex. I need hugs, cuddles, and sweet whispers in my ear, or him to recognize that all of the million things I do for him should show him that I love him. But need to read some more on this amazing thing of what it is to be human. We truly are miraculous beings!