Love is one of the most profound emotions known to human beings. Love is grand. It’s fulfilling, exciting, if it’s true. True Love Is In The Heart, and, as it turns out, good for you, too. “All you need is love,” (1) sang the Beatles, and they got it right. True love and good health are intertwined in surprising ways.
Humans are wired for connection, and according to Wharton University Of Pennsylvania Harvard Business Review, so much so our Stone-Age hunter-gatherers ways are engrained in our mentality, even in modern times. When we cultivate good relationships, the rewards and benefits are immense. Experts have determined that romance can bring you more than just giddiness, it can also positively affect your health and well-being.
There are many kinds of love, but most people seek its expression in a romantic relationship with a compatible partner. Here is one of our favorite sayings about love…author unknown…..
Love is an emotion experienced by the many and enjoyed by the few.
In one of many studies on love, researchers looked at 34 couples who lived together and tested for the stress hormone cortisol before, during and after being separated for 4 to 7 days. Researchers found that when the couples were separated physically, they had higher cortisol levels and had worse sleep than when they were together. According to researcher Lisa Diamond, of the University of Utah,
The findings can contribute to our emerging understanding of the process through which longstanding romantic ties are good for our health.
All of us have an intense desire to be loved and nurtured. In this Psychology Today article, Raj Raghunathan, Phd, said this about our need for love and being loved.
In the surveys that I have conducted, people rate having healthy relationships as one of the top goals, on par with the goal of leading a happy and fulfilling life.
That’s why for many, romantic relationships comprise the most meaningful aspect of life, providing a source of deep enjoyment and fulfillment. The need for human connection appears to be innate because we are wired to connect, according to Scientific America, but the ability to form healthy, loving relationships is learned and most people have to work consciously to make relationships endure and flourish.
A great deal of evidence suggests that the ability to form a stable relationship begins in infancy, in a child’s earliest experiences with a caregiver, who reliably meets the infant’s needs for food, care, warmth, protection, stimulation, and social contact, as addressed by A U.S. Health and Human Services research study.
Such relationships are not destiny, but they appear to establish deeply ingrained patterns of relating to others. A baby not getting loving contact (touched), particularly during their first six months of life, grow up to have psychological issues. According to a National Institutes Of Health study, and we quote:
Depriving infants of a loving family environment causes lasting damage to their emotional well-being, their intelligence and their capacity to develop fully. Failed relationships happen for many reasons, and the failure of a relationship is often a source of great psychological anguish.
Most people have to work consciously to master the skills necessary to make relationships endure and flourish. Strong relationships are continually nurtured with care and communication.
Although relationships can take many forms, certain traits have been shown to be especially important for healthy relationships. Both individuals should feel confident that their partner is willing to devote time and attention and to feel grateful for the other, and that they are committed to accommodating the differences and challenges that inevitably emerge. Extensive research, such as this Harvard Medical School study “Giving thanks can make you happier”, has shown living in gratitude has tremendous health benefits in relationships.
In the 21st century, good relationships are generally marked by a sense of fairness in the distribution of the chores of maintaining a household and daily responsibilities. A new study this year published in Psychosomatic Medicine, a journal of behavioral medicine, shows that increased levels of “perceived partner responsiveness” (PPR) defined in the paper as how much people feel their romantic partners understand, care for, and appreciate them, can lead to a longer life.
Besides feeling grateful for one another, loving relationships also openly provide and receive affection, and engage in honest discussions about sex. In good relationships, partners always afford their partner the benefit of the doubt, which creates a sense of being on the same team in life, a feeling that can help couples overcome many difficulties. The importance of feeling grateful and thankful for your loving partner, and vise versa, is a very positive emotion strengthening a relationship.
Every romantic relationship has many essential characteristics that make it a long-term healthy relationship. So here are some of the most important characteristics, which basically describe any healthy romantic relationship.
Important Relationship Characteristics
Honest Direct Open Communication. The need for honesty in a relationship is summed up pretty easily in this NIH article
If you don’t have honesty in a relationship, then there is no relationship.
In a healthy relationship, if one of the partners is bothered by something, they should openly talk with their partner about it, instead of holding it in, and avoid passive aggressive behavior. According to an article published in The University of California Berkley “Greater Good Magazine”, learning to express anger or disappointment in a healthy way, or avoiding being passive aggressive, will help couples resolve conflicts.
Don’t let misunderstandings simmer and cause further damage, or even ruining a relationship. There are ways you can improve your communication skills. Be quiet and be a good listener, choose the right time, and talk openly face to face, be totally honest and frank, and, pay attention to the importance of body language, especially eye-to-eye contact. Being honest is always a good policy, particularly with your better-half, and besides it’s much healthier, according to a 2018 University of Chicago Booth School of Business study, finding that people can often afford to be more honest than they think because people can handle the truth much more than you assume.
Positive Versus Negative. Sometimes, we get caught up in the negative. We hate our jobs, are annoyed with our friends, and our boyfriend or girlfriend is getting on our last nerve. Uh-oh, have we been drinking too much of that half-empty glass? It’s vital that we look at our partner’s positive qualities, in contrast to the negative. And, on a personal level, it’s also vital important to maintain a positive mental attitude.
It’s not only because it benefits your physical and mental health, but positivity attracts positivity in a healthy way, according to a Mayo Clinic study. So, positive thinking keeps the “good vibes” flowing with your loving partner. Just as important, it will help prevent negative thoughts from creeping in, as well. It’s known as an “upward spiral” resulting in daily positive affect and cognition are maintained by an upward spiral that might be promoted by mindfulness training in being positive, according to a 2015 University of Utah study.
According to research, when happily married couples are asked what part of their relationship is the most important to their strong healthy relationship, they always seem to cite the positive aspects of their relationship. Nobody is perfect, and that includes our significant other.
So instead of focusing on the bad, let’s make a conscious effort to look at the good and positive in not only yourself but all others, as well. And, besides, researchers suspect that people who are more positive may be better protected against the inflammatory damage of stress. Another possibility is that hope and positivity help people make better health and life decisions and focus more on long-term goals. Studies also find that negative emotions can weaken immune response, found a John Hopkins study.
Mutual Respect Importance. Mutual respect is essential for a healthy relationship, along with trust, honesty, support, fairness and equality, separate identities, and good communication according to a University of Washington review. The partners should listen to one another. They should value each other’s opinions, wishes and feelings and listen to their partner patiently without being judgmental. There is no imbalance of power. Partners respect each other’s independence, can make their own decisions without fear of retribution or retaliation, and share decisions, as related in a 2017 New York State Government study.
They should show appreciation, respect, and patience, for each other. Couples who respect each other and support one another, and value each other’s opinion and independence, because of their honesty and independent, can make decisions together and even compromise when necessary. According to Sutter Health,
You have to give respect in order to get it.
The Give and Take Principle. Disagreements are a normal thing in healthy relationships. The partners need to find a way to make a compromise if they disagree on something. They have to try to solve conflicts in a fair and rational way. There are arguments to be had in every relationship.
It’s crucial to bring issues to the forefront, and work through the hard times together. However, we don’t think arguing over your using your favorite old beat-up coffee cup should be one of those. Choose your battles wisely, because people in happy and healthy relationships do. Paying compliments to your partner isn’t a bad idea either.
Oftentimes, your partner needs you to observe their personal growth and recognize their achievement or qualities. From telling your spouse how great they look before going out to dinner to showing your admiration for their results at work, a well-thought and honest compliment every day can make wonders in your relationship, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Fun and Unusual activities.
It’s easy to fall into a rut, and in turn simply take your partner for granted,
says licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD, author of “Should I Stay Or Should I go?”. As mentioned earlier it’s healthier, that’s why both partner are grateful for having each other. But, couples who actively pursue unique and fun things together can avoid the rut or boredom syndrome, like this couple having some simple fun together (2).
By mixing your activities, the relationship remains interesting and you continue to discover and appreciate new things about each of you,
says Dr. Durvasula.
You have to keep it interesting! Here are a few good examples of unique and fun things done together that will keep things interesting: Have a cocktail party at home, take your pet dog for a swim, watch the stars come out, or a sunrise, share a massage, pick a random spot on the map and go there together, go offline and wireless for a night, go roughing it out in nature, create a unique garden, and make Maca smoothies together. What Is In Maca Root and why it makes such delicious smoothies!
Partner Sleeping. If you been having trouble sleeping lately, you might want to consider finding a snuggle buddy. Scientific studies prove that sleeping with a partner is good for your health and well being, and will help you sleep better at night. One of the reasons that sleeping with a partner is healthier than sleeping alone, may be because couples who sleep together have feelings of safety and security, which may lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
It’s also possible sleeping with a significant-other increases the hormone oxytocin, which reduces anxiety and is produced in the same part of the brain that controls your sleep-wake cycle, according to an NIH study. Quoting the NIH study:
supporting the notion that intranasal oxytocin in healthy individuals enhances the recognition of emotion and elevates the level of trust in established relationships.
Summing it up, lack of sleep is linked to risk of heart disease and psychiatric problems effecting well-being, meaning that a healthy and consistent sleep pattern with partners leads to health benefits, found another NIH study “Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency”.
In Between the Sheets. Let’s also talk about how important it is in cultivating a flourishing intimate relationship. The American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) describes sexual health as:
Just the physical aspects involved in the movements, in getting excited and your heart rate up, and taxing your body, research has shown is great cardiovascular exercise, according to a 2013 PLOS|ONE study. Some of the benefits include: lowering blood pressure, burning calories, strengthening your heart and muscles, increasing libido, and reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.
There is also evidence that individuals or couple who are sexually active tend to exercise more frequently and have better dietary habits than those who are less sexually active according to a Harvard Medical School review. Physical fitness may also improve sexual performance overall, as well, as small bouts of exercise can drastically improve sexual functioning, according to a 2018 Journal of Education Health Promotion study reviewed by the NIH.
In one study on immunity in people in romantic relationships, people who had frequent sex of 2 times a week, had more of the antibody that plays a role in preventing illnesses, immunoglobulin A (IgA), in their saliva, per a Sage Psychological report. People who had infrequent sex had significantly less IgA, which is an antibody that plays a crucial role in the immune function of mucous membranes and protection against invading microbes.
Remarkably, another Sage Cephalalgia study found that sexual activity can provide full or partial relief from migraines and cluster headaches. And for all you men out there, know this: A recent review found that men who had more frequent penile-vaginal intercourse had less risk of developing prostate cancer, according to a Wiley Online Library study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Furthermore for men, sex may even affect your mortality.
According to a Planned Parenthood paper, men that had a 10 year follow-up reported that men who had frequent orgasms of 2 or more a week, had a 50 percent lower mortality risk than those who had sex less often. And, for you women out there, having an orgasm increases blood flow and releases natural pain-relieving chemicals like oxytocin, according to an NIH review.
Orgasms are thought to reduce pain up to 70 percent because of the release of oxytocin, the “Love Hormone”, which is a chemical that facilitates bonding, relaxation, and other positive emotional states, according to a study from PsycCentral. Inflammation and swelling are also known to decrease.
How about this one women? Researchers from the University of California studied 806 women living in a planned community home. The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, measured the sexual activity of these women who had a median age of 67 and were all postmenopausal.
The findings reported that sexually satisfaction actually increased with age, with approximately over half of the women over 80 years old reported sexual satisfaction almost always or always! Does that tell you anything women, like never stop having orgasms? There are also well-established findings that individuals experience higher levels of well-being and mental health when they have an active and satisfying sex life. A Wiley Online Library study found that sexual activity may correlate with:
Increased satisfaction, increased levels of trust, intimacy, and love in your relationships, improved ability to perceive, identify, and express emotions, and less use of your immature psychological defense mechanism to reduce emotional conflict. So, according to the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, it’s more than just about sex
Our findings underscore the importance of affection and positive affect for understanding how sex promotes well-being and has long-term relational benefits.
Sex is simple, but it’s more about the touching and the affection shown by the two partners. The more you have that affection, the more you want it and the more you realize that Love Is In the Heart. The other side of that is true as well. The less you have it, the less you want it, and, unfortunately, the less you’ll have well being and feel connected to your partner.
Keep your sex life alive and interesting. “Spicing it up” is not just meant for the kitchen.
Sharing Cooking Duties. Research has shown sharing daily responsibilities together build stronger, longer-lasting relationships. The same can go with buying foods and cooking healthy meals side by side. Couples are more affectionate when they feel confident in themselves, and getting healthier will do just that.
Choosing fresh, healthy nutrient-dense foods and cooking them will not only help your waistlne, but it can also help your relationship, and preparing a meal with your partner can help you both feel more connected and much happier. Cooking has added bonuses for its health, convenience, and joyful qualities.
You’ll be even happier with your partner for helping you cook a healthy, well-balanced, nutritious dish of the four major food groups, such as a theme dinner, and sharing this healthy lifestyle together, and with your family and friends. And speaking of nutritious foods, according to a Sage Journals study, men seemed to benefit most health-wise from the new arrangement. Quoting the study:
However, associations between women, food and nurturing were evident in the efforts women made to improve their husbands’ diets.
So, women here are the nutrient-dense Mediterranean-style foods you and your husband should be buying and cooking at home: Choose foods high in lean organic protein in the form of grass-fed red meats, free-range poultry, grass-fed eggs and dairy (A) Definitely choose wild-caught or cold-water fish and seafood (A)?
And of course, choose fresh organic fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, and edible flower seeds (A)? Don’t forget about organic whole grains and dietary fiber, naturally fermented foods, fresh herbs and spices, and healthy antioxidant drinks, and last but not least, dark chocolate (A). No milk chocolate though.
In addition, For optimum health and well being, you two should routinely use organically certified, nutritious, well-balanced, whole food supplement, Peruvian Maca, as added-assurance that your bodies are getting the very best in natural healthy full array of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, omega 3s, and anti-inflammatories. Give you and your family the added health and well being protection of this incredible natural whole-food healer (A).
And, it doesn’t have to stop with cooking, gardening, grocery shopping, and even cleaning the house are other practical ways to add to that time together, strengthening your love for each other. Gardening together is especially healthy and productive because not only will you both be getting healthy physical activity working in the garden, but also growing the freshest and healthiest fruits, veggies, raw nut, and edible flower seeds in the entire world (staples of the Mediterranean diet) to prepare and put on your table!
Research has also shown that doing useful and practical things together were particularly important to men. But, ladies, sometimes you’ll have to lead your man on the tasks at hand and what you two need to accomplish together because he probably doesn’t know what direction to go in. According to a BMC Psychology research, women’s brains are better built for multi-tasking than men, so it’s harder for men to juggle work, home, and social life all at the same time.
Trust and Support. Happy partners in a relationship are normally both secure people and offer reassurance and encouragement to each other, according to Jeffery Simpson, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota. Secure partners have a positive view of both themselves and their romantic partners in the context of relationships.
They need to support each other’s goals in life and let their partner know when they need their support. In healthy relationships the partners should build each other up, not put each other down. This is one of the most important relationship tips that many people do not follow. “Lean on me when you’re not strong, I’ll be your friend……I’ll help you carry on……..”. Do this verse ring a bell? Listen to this version, (3) sung by Lou Prince in tribute to Lou Rawls.
Exercise As A Pair. Research finds surprising healthy benefits from participating in physical activity together, such as helping you both achieve your fitness goals, increase your thrill of romantic attraction, and your happiness with your relationship, and increase your physical and emotional bond.
In a Time Magazine article, Terri Orbuch, PhD, and marriage researcher, who studied married couples for 28 years through the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center, said in her interview that, not only does exercise help couples out in the bedroom by boosting your endurance, strength and flexibility, but also a sweat session has more immediate benefits by releasing the pleasure endorphins, which gives you an adrenaline rush through the body and particularly through the brain increasing desire and boosting arousal. Need we say more!
Privacy Respect. The partners in a healthy relationship should respect each other’s privacy. Just because you are in a relationship, it doesn’t mean that you have to constantly be together or demand to know what your partner is doing at all times. Healthy relationships require space and as we said, its all part of trusting.
Obviously, spending time together with your partner is important. But just as important is spending time apart. Being able to do your own thing and remain independent is vital. When couples spend too much time together, it can create an unhealthy co-dependence. For an in depth study on co dependency relationships read this article from Mental Health America. Maintaining healthy boundaries and some autonomy will make for a long-lasting partnership. Dr. Orbuch contends, having enough space or privacy in a relationship is most important for a couple’s happiness.
Quality Not Quantity. It’s all about quality and the right balance over quantity. It doesn’t matter how much time you and your partner spend together. The most important part is about balance and the quality of this time. There’s a huge difference between having dinner at a table while talking about your day at work, versus having dinner while sitting on a couch watching the latest episode of The Voice.
It’s fine to zone out together and enjoy distractions, but it’s crucial to make sure you two are still engaging and spending quality time together to maintain a deep connection. So, what is the right balance? Here are 5 ideas from Psychology Today article.
According to Harry Reis, PhD, and co-editor of the Encyclopedia Of Human Relationships stated
People who fall in love, say it feels wonderful and agonizing at the same time. All those ups and downs can be a source for stress.
If Love Is In The Heart, it will be a calmer, more stable form of love to yield clear health benefits.
There is very nice evidence that people who participate in satisfying, long-term relationships fare better on a whole variety of health measures,
Reis said. Here are some examples:
Enhance Immune System Function
Been saving your sick leave for that 8-day cruise around the Caribbean? Well, get busy in the bedroom! According to sexual health expert Yvonne K. Fulbright PhD, “sexually active people take fewer sick days.”
Being in an intimate relationship correlates to healing faster, getting sick less often and living longer,
says James Coan, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. It so happens that being sexually active strengthens your immune system by not hobbling it with stress and anxiety. Refer to the “In Between the Sheets” section above.
Good relationships offset tension in daily life.
Who could have guessed that a half hour of fun in the sheets with your significant other could burn off the vanilla ice cream you ate last night? Experts, such as Professor Antony D. Karelis, along with colleagues from the Université du Québec à Montréal in Canada, studied exactly how many calories we burn when we get our groove on, and in his article published in the journal Plos One, estimates that sexual intimacy burns about 5+ calories per minute, meaning thirty minutes of sex can burn about 150 calories or more. Even though it may not sound like much, it definitely adds up. Who said sex wasn’t healthy?
Fewer Sick Days
The Health and Human Services Department reviewed a bounty of studies on marriage and health. One of the report’s most striking findings is that married people have fewer doctor’s visits and shorter average hospital stays. Quoting the study results,
Researchers are not absolutely certain why loving relationships are good for health, other than, that human beings have been designed by evolution to live in closely knit groups.
When that doesn’t occur, the biological and immune system become overwhelmed and can’t fight infections. Another major consideration is that people in good relationships take better care of themselves. Another study at Carnegie Mellon University, found that people who exhibited positive emotions, and were happier, calmer, and healthier, and were less likely to get sick after exposure to colds and flu viruses.
Less Anxiety and Depression
Getting married and staying married, reduces depression in both men and women, because social isolation is clearly linked to higher rates of depression, and overuse of prescription drugs. Everyone needs to feel like they are not alone and part of something and at the same time, and also feel needed.
Social support in a relationship is vital and effective part of relieving depression. It can turn around damaging isolation, affect a person’s life focus, and generate solutions for depression management,
according to Erika Krull, MSEd, LMHP, of psyccentral. In young married adults, studies show a decline in heavy drinking and drug abuse. In long-term relationships, you also have activation in the areas associated with bonding, and less activation in the area that produces anxiety.
Studies, such as this NIH review, also show a link between social support found in a loving relationship, increased the ability to cope with stress for both partners, in addition to the promise in influencing the quality of life in many chronic disease populations. Quoting the study:
Control Blood Pressure
That’s the conclusion of a study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine. Researchers found happily married people in quality relationships, had the best blood pressure, followed by singles. Unhappily married participants fared the worst. This supports the idea that other positive relationships can have similar benefits.
In fact, singles with a strong social network also did well in the blood pressure study, though not as well as happily married people. An MRI study reveals another big perk for long-term couples, more activation in the part of the brain that keeps pain under control. A CDC report complements this finding. In a study of more than 127,000 adults, married people were less likely to complain of headaches and back pain.
The power of a positive relationship may make flesh wounds heal faster. Researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center gave married couples blister wounds. The wounds healed nearly twice as fast in spouses who interacted warmly compared with those who demonstrated a lot of hostility toward each other. The National Institutes Of Health concurred with Ohio State’s findings in their review.
A growing body of research indicates that married people live longer. One of the largest studies examines the effect of marriage on mortality during an eight-year period in the 1990’s.
Using data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), researchers found that people who had never been married were 58 percent more likely to die than married people. The National Institutes Of Health reviewed the NHIS research and said
Among the not married categories, having never been married was the strongest predictor of premature mortality.
Married people live longer because they feel loved and connected. A study published in the British Geriatric Society found that at an older age, sexual activity may affect your well-being and ability to think. The NIH reviewed the British Geriatric Society study and found that sexually active adults between 50 to 90 years old had better memory and they were also less likely to feel depressed and lonely.
One Planned Parenthood white paper found a connection between frequent sexual activity and looking significantly younger, even 9 to 12 years younger. The majority of these individuals were also comfortable expressing their sexuality and sexual identity.
It may seem obvious that one of love’s greatest benefits is joy. But research is just beginning to reveal how strong this link can be. A study in the Journal of Family Psychology shows happiness depends more on the quality of family relationships than on the level of income. And so we have scientific evidence that, at least in some ways, the power of love trumps the power of money.
How about that happy healthy life? If you are single, or unattached, do you feel like its time to find that “special someone”, and experience firsthand when Love Is In The Heart. Would love to hear your comments. If you have unanswered questions, leave them below, and be happy to address them.
(A) Use these links for more information, documented studies on benefits, and to purchase these incredible nutrient-dense foods and supplement for optimum health.
(1) The Beatles “All You Need Is Love” Video
(2) Silver Black Stock Video
(3) Lou Prince Video
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