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Active Sex Life Means Longer Life, Even If Humans
Are Not Built for Long Romances
Feb. 9, 2005 - Couples who can sustain an active
sex life tend to live longer and be happier, although humans are not
built for long-term romance, says Robert Billingham, associate
professor, Indiana University Bloomington. He does have ideas on how to
Fanning (or rekindling) the flame. Finding time for
romance is crucial to a marriage or committed relationship, but it
shouldn't be limited to Valentine's Day.
Couples need to celebrate their relationship,
showing children, family and friends that their relationship as a couple
is the most important one in their life.
"The mistake most couples or one person makes is
they're so much in love with their partner that they assume the
relationship will last forever," says Billingham, of the Department of
Applied Health Science.
"They don't think it is something they have to work
on,” he added.
Human beings are not built from a biological
standpoint for long-term romance, said Billingham, whose research
interests include interpersonal relationships, parent/child interactions
and the long-term effect of divorce on children.
Biologically, the body chemistry that makes our
hearts flutter is replaced after several years with body chemistry
geared more toward attachment, he said. Couples, therefore, need to work
at keeping the romance alive.
Billingham said research indicates people who
divorce experience poorer health and a diminished quality of life, so
longevity can be worth the effort -- with the right partner. Billingham
offers the following tips:
*Date, find ways to spend time together to enjoy
each other. "Individuals change. The relationship changes," Billingham
said. "This core behavior (regular dating, emphasizing the relationship)
says, 'No matter what happens, we find time for ourselves, find time to
celebrate the relationship."
*Make sure your children see the love. Parents
spend 18 to 20 years preparing children to leave home. Parenting
requires sacrifices to properly care for children, Billingham said.
But investments in the relationship as a couple can
benefit parents and kids alike, and make the "empty nest" seem not quite
so empty. "If the kids don't see an emphasis on the relationship, what
we model is that the marriage isn't as important as work, sports or
other activities. When they do see the emphasis, what we're modeling is
that the marriage, the committed relationship is important.
That's crucial because we need to teach our
children that our relationships are more important than things like
work, movies and sports," Billingham said. "We do a very poor job of
this in our society."
It's never too late to rekindle love and romance in
a stale relationship, Billingham said, but it becomes much more
difficult if one of the partners has fallen in love with someone else
and is experiencing a new round of attraction "hormones." If both people
in the couple say, "I want to get this back on track," there's hope.
Sex can make life and the relationship more
pleasant. Couples who are healthy and who can sustain an active sex life
tend to live longer and be happier, Billingham said.
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