Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside,
let us spend the night in the villages.
Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vines have budded,
if their blossoms have opened,
and if the pomegranates are in bloom—
there I will give you my love.
The mandrakes send out their fragrance,
and at our door is every delicacy,
both new and old,
that I have stored up for you, my beloved.
- Song of Solomon 7:11-13
“Christian sex therapists Joyce and Clifford Penner assure us:
“Those initial high-drive desires are fueled by the brain chemical dopamine, which is a powerful motivator or driving energy. As the brain production of dopamine decreases, the couple needs to shift to an attachment fueled more by the brain chemical oxytocin.
“Oxytocin, which is associated with bonding, is released during hugging and pleasant physical touch, and plays a part in the human sexual response cycle. This oxytocin-fueled attachment is deeper, binding love that lasts a lifetime. Yet the shift from large doses of dopamine to this oxytocin—fueled connection can feel like a loss.
“Be assured: Desire isn’t gone, it is just different. Nor have you lost your attraction to or love for each other. That also is just different! Embrace and enjoy the shift to a softer, more subtle urge for closeness and touch. After fifty-three years of marriage, we can promise you it is wonderful!”
- Sharon Jaynes, Lovestruck
For those wanting to know about the vote count for the next Sunday mini-series, a few things have come up which I might write about next Sunday. But you can keep the comments flowing to vote for Ms. Bevere’s book on the adamant attributes of God, Matt Chandler’s book on Paul’s letter to the Philippians, or Rev. Scrivener’s book on the self-evident concepts of today that were far from self-evident prior to Jesus’ arrival on the scene.
Ms. Jaynes book is very good. It is informative. She takes the Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs) from a literal viewpoint of the love Solomon had for the Shulammite woman. Many studies on that book of the Bible avoid the literal and speak of God’s love for His people on earth and our love for Him. But Ms. Jaynes has, according to her bio-information on the back cover, only 25 years in women’s ministry. She needs another chapter, or at least a few paragraphs, on what happens when the sexual intimacy stops.
When I bought the book at a Christian bookstore, it was on the bargain rack. Each of the books on the bargain rack were priced at a penny less than two dollars. But if I bought ten of them for twenty dollars, I got an extra book. In other words, the eleventh book was only ten cents. And these were new books! No one’s underlines or highlights! Although some of those used books have come in handy, focusing on what the unknown previous owner thought was important. In one of my commentaries, the previous owner corrected typos. Was the previous owner OCD (obsessive-compulsive)?
My wife looked through the eleven books, nodding with each one, but when she got to Lovestruck, she asked, “Why are you getting this one?!?!”
I replied, “Research!”
She shook her head and went back to the rockers in the front of the bookstore while I went to the back of the store to check out. Yes, in this Christian bookstore, the check out was in the back, trusting that folks did not slide a few more things into their shopping bag on the way out. They might have cameras, but you do not see cash registers in the back very often.
But as I read this quote about dopamine and oxytocin, I thought that the oxytocin may not be enough in older years to obtain the intimacy that the sex therapists are talking about. Some men use a pill to combat erectile disfunction. If women do not get enough of the right hormone, intimacy could either be painful or impossible.
So, when the hug leads to another hug, and then maybe tucking in the spouse for their afternoon nap, do you really need any oxytocin to keep that enduring flame of love going? You know, after forty years of marriage or more?
Sure some couples can be active, in that regard, for many years, but time is not on our side in that regard. Our bodies fail us, but can we not be more intimate in our speech toward each other? Is it enduring love when you hear wheezing in the spouse’s breathing and, without being asked, you get the nebulizer ready for a treatment? Can we not show love by briskly walking around the car when you drop your wife off for kidney dialysis to open the back door and retrieve her cane and her dialysis survival bag, all before she swings her feet out of her open door? A survival bag contains such things as a book to read, a blanket because they keep it cold in there all year, ear buds to watch her personal television if her station is not the one that is broken, cough drops, nitroglycerin pills, facial tissues, phosphate binders (calcium acetate capsules), a sleep mask, and an inhaler (albuterol sulfate). I am just doing a mental inventory of my wife’s survival bag. I think closing my eyes and picturing everything in the bag is a type of enduring love.
When she has surgeries, procedures, and tests, my survival bag includes a couple of word game magazines (usually one is a variety pack and the other strictly logic problems, but my son bought me a “crime scene puzzle book”), my latest three books to read, a couple of notebooks for taking notes or recording prayer requests, and electronic tablet with games and a web browser. I have researched a couple of posts entirely while she was having a procedure. I especially like researching the quizzes during those times. Of course, long procedures will require a snack and a bottle of some carbonated non-alcoholic beverage.
So, I think Ms. Jaynes needs another chapter for those people who know that the sexual intimacy is over, and the hugs are not a reminder of what once was, but a prelude of what is to come. When Jesus gives us a hug, I doubt if dopamine or oxytocin are even involved. I doubt if the scientists in Heaven will even put a name to it, but it will be eternal bliss.
Thinking of eternal bliss with each hug and kiss in your golden years provides Hope instead of a trip down memory lane.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.