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Brain Scans Show Married Love Can Last
Date:1/14/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Remember the intensity of falling madly in love? Ever feel like the passing years, the never-ending housework and the demands of raising a family and working have quashed your infatuation for your spouse?

New research using brain scans suggests some married couples hold on to that passion and romance for decades or more.

When gazing at a photo of their beloved, the brains of couples married 10 or more years who considered themselves "intensely" in love with their partners lit up similarly to scans of newly in-love couples.

The 17 study participants weren't just happily married, said study co-author Arthur Aron, a professor of psychology at Stony Brook University in New York. These were spouses who couldn't keep their hands off each other even though they'd been married for more than 21 years, on average.

"They told us things like, 'We drive our friends crazy. We're physically all over each other,'" Aron said. "We're talking about people who have this intense connection, huge amounts of physical liveliness and passion. This is the sort of thing people thought was impossible or crazy. Our data suggest it's real."

The study was published online recently in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Study participants had answered an ad that asked: "Are you still madly in love with your long-term partner?" Researchers screened them using several questionnaires that asked about their sexual frequency (an average of 2.2 times a week) and to what degree their spouse was the most important person in their life and how their body responds when they're close to their spouse.

The 10 women and seven men then underwent functional MRI while looking at a series of photos that included the object of their affection; a close, long-term friend; a long-term acquaintance; and a shorter-term acquaintance.'/>"/>

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