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[Opinion] Old Couples

Posted June. 02, 2005 06:28,   


Those who have been in love will understand how touching pop song lyrics can be. Whether they are spoken in a 70s style, such as, “I exchanged coins to use the phone,” or a more modern style, such as, “Tears are leaking though I closed my heart,” love makes one do things that others cannot understand. Would it be discouraging if this power of love were merely a function of hormones and the brain?

The New York Times reported the results of an MRI test of the brains of youths who had just started a romantic relationship showing that part of the brain called the caudate nucleus showed energetic activity. The caudate nucleus is filled with cells producing dopamine, a chemical that is actively secreted when a person expects some type of compensation. In other words, this is similar to a state in which the body is too hungry, thirsty, or drugged to think normally.

However, this changes when a relationship become long term. A part deep inside the brain related to affection becomes active, not the part that was active in the early stages of a relationship. This is why couples become disappointed with each other after marriage.

Cruel scientists explain this in terms of the law of preservation of species. Romantic love is necessary in a finding a partner. It is obsessive and impulsive since it makes the person want to take as much as he gives. However it is not enough just to have children and raise them together. Affection is more important than love. This is the stage where peace, comfort and emotional accord are achieved through a legal device called marriage. The only problem with this is that couples become too comfortable with each other to the point that that the husband feels like a homebody and the wife feels like a piece of furniture.

What could be the secret of Mr. and Mrs. Percy Arrowsmith (aged 105 and 100), who were married on June 1, 1925, and are in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest married couple? Percy Arrowsmith says, “Yes, dear” and his wife, Florence, says, “Sorry.” Fortunately, their answers show that the key to being able to say, “We are sill in love,” is too easy. I encourage couples dreaming of a long life together to try this at once.

Kim Sun-duk, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com