Novel Experiences Don’t Hurt a Relationship.

Often professional advice to international couples advice sees “difference “and “novelty” as a stressor in these marriages. But does it have to be?

In reality, studies have shown that novel experiences can actually stimulate the production of the neurochemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which show up in the brain in the early, blissful stages of a relationship.

About 13 percent of people reported high levels of romance in their long-term relationships, in a new study published in the March issue of the journal Review of General Psychology.

Will your marriage be one of the lucky ones?

There may be some aspects of living in an international couples relationship that invites this type of novel experience.  Here are three of the big ones:

Novel Experiences: 1. Learn the Language

Learn the language.  Go beyond elementary levels, and actually study the idioms, the “mindset” and the world view.

Watch movies that have sex scenes in that same native language, and learn what “sexy talk” is to your spouse.  It may surprise you to know that bilingual Spanish/English women in one study had a very different sexual experience when they had “sex in Spanish” than they did in English.

Novel Experiences:  2. Cook the Food, Eat the Food, Mix up the Food

To really develop an appreciation for culture, food tasting is essential.  But why stop at learning to make your partner’s “favorite food”?  Why not work together to make foods that have elements of both cultures?  Think in broad categories like sweet, savory, texture, or “mouth feel.”  Is there a way to combine foods from each culture in a way that surprises the palette?  What about experimenting with wines, beers, or other liquors?  Can these be put together to make a novel meal?

Novel Experiences:  3. “Escape”  back home in your own living room

Locate a travel video and “head back home.”  Check out a film in your native language to watch together.  Buy magazines from home and keep them around.  Buy perfume that is unique or popular in your country.  Sometimes even re-arranging the furniture in a way that “feels like home” can make a big difference.  In the USA, for example, TV’s often dominate a living room, but this is less true in many parts of Europe.

Try banishing it for a month or two to a less used room. It might make the space feel more novel and “homey.” Did you find this International Couples Advice useful?

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Dr. Kathy McMahon

Dr. Kathy McMahon (Dr. K) is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist. She is also the founder and president of Couples Therapy Inc. Dr. K feels passionate about couples therapy and sex therapy and holds a deep respect towards those who invest in making their relationship better. She is currently conducting online and in person private couples retreats.

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