SPOKANE, WA - Every February around the 14th, love is displayed in storefronts and on shelves. But that feeling you get doesn't come from the heart... it actually starts in the brain.
"It was a blind date."
Jim and Melissa Schroeder fell in love long before they said "I do."
"I wrote him and I wrote him and I wrote him," Melissa said.
And sent brownies," Jim added.
"And sent brownies," Melissa agreed.
Levi McBournie and Ashley Yoke were bit by the love bug last spring.
"The way she looked was very attractive to me," Levi said.
"Look how happy I look!"
"A lot of giddy!"
Fell head over heels. And both love stories...
"To know that it's real and feel that emotional love."
...Are more than a Cupid cliche. Call it chemical euphoria.
"You feel something."
"Yeah, like my heart rates increases. I bet my heart rate is increasing right now."
...Is the power of love.
A scientific explanation as to what happens to our bodies when we fall for that special someone. According to a Harvard study which looked at the mechanics of marriage and relationship... love is like a drug.
For Levi and Ashley, chemicals like testosterone and estrogen get the blood pumping.
"We were standing pretty close to each other and he was kind of getting closer and I was definitely interested," Ashley said.
That's followed by dopamine which re-wires our brain pathways that control 'reward' behavior. It can partly explain why these two can be so exhilarated, even consumed by each other.
And when we're in love... we crave it.
"It's really overwhelming, just the love and acceptance I get from him and his family," Ashley said.
Lastly, Levi and Ashley are experiencing a chemical rush that fuels their attachment for one another.
And protecting our loved one is just one way we display it.
"The best way I know how is make sure tires are good, you have brakes and she wears her seat belt and doesn't text and drink coffee while she drives ... gonna drink coffee while I drive," Levi joked.
While increased heart rate and sweaty palms are short-lived symptoms of an early relationship...
"Who's that from?"
"From you, it's your love letter."
The Schroeders have benefited from years of healthy marriage.
"We've had zero issues," Jim said.
According to that same Harvard study, healthy marriages tend to lead to healthy lives. Research says happily married couples:
- Live longer
- Have fewer strokes and heart attacks
- Are less likely to become depressed
- Have a lower chance of developing aggressive forms of cancer
- Survive major operations more often
Healthy couples like Jim and Melissa even eat better.
"When she's gone for a few days I just raid what's in the fridge and it's not pretty what I eat...PB & J," Jim admitted.
"It's easy to sit around and do nothing but if someone says 'hey, lets go take a walk, hey, let's go do this,' that's just what you need."
And even in their mature relationship, the Schroeders can still reap the benefits Levi and Ashley are experiencing.
"I wear it every anniversary."
Melissa still slips into her wedding dress, every year.
"Yeah I put it on," she said.
"There's still a spark there?" Jim asked. "Still a lot of..?"
"Good answer. I knew the answer."
So from the young, to the old; from the very first date to the last anniversary... love is something we can all become addicted to - literally.