Secrets to Love

Review and Summary of the ABC Documentary ‘Secrets to Love

Although we all know a picture paints a thousand words and videos are just so much better….  This review, summary and reflection is offered for those of you outside Australia who cannot view this, which is really sad as the documentary is so impacting. And apologies in advance for not doing it justice…  [Unfortunately it is also no longer available in Australia ie until it is aired on television again, so if you see it please contact me.]

My overall impression of this documentary was ‘impressed’ and ‘inspired’ to share especially with those of us struggling in the relationship aspect of our lives (which if everyone is honest, is all of us at some time!)

The documentary began with scary statistics on how much the breakdown of families costs society.  Followed closely by the famous images of the perfect couples as shown in media especially since the 1950’s where we were taught as women to get the latest vacuum cleaner or washing machine so we could have all the household chores done, have prepared a meal fit for a king, and look absolutely stunning for the moment our beloved husband walked in the door after a grueling day at work.

Did you ever think that you would get married and live happily ever after?

Well the creator of this documentary did ,but her marriage did end in divorce.  So she decided to find out why some marriages end in divorce and others are still going strong decades later.

The research covered both science and social sciences.  And we met real people who shared their stories and lives and love and loss and resurrection of love!

We were shown how our brain works with becoming attracted to someone and how this can vary.  Findings included:

We unconsciously choose people similar to our same sex parent.  Our early years affect our perceptions of the source of love.

Danger increases our attraction.

Danger –> ^ testosterone –>^ lust

Which in turn can lead to –>^infatuation

Infatuation also involves romance , which in neurological terms is basically obsessive compulsive disorder.

The chemicals are serotonin and dopamine.  The latter reminds us what we like or are attracted to.

Lust (= testosterone) + dopamine (= attraction) –> hormones of attachment (which are run by oxitosin which forms social meaning)

Men and women have a bit of all of these hormones however the interesting thing is that during sex the amounts of these hormones increases 5 x for men and 12 x for women àmajor difference in communication.

Scenario:  the morning after

Woman – “I love you.”

Man – “say what????? Where did that come from?”

Commitment is very different between men and women.  Men often won’t behave in a committed way until the ring is on the finger, or even the until the actual marriage ceremony.  Defacto does not equal marriage for these men and they will usually be on the look-out for something better.  Women on the other hand are already committed and behave in that way.

Historically marriage was more business-like.  Women were chosen due to their capabilities for work or for having children or for what their parents could offer with money or status.  Romance as a factor for marriage eligibility came in much later with the freedom of choice.  The concept of romantic love became more widespread in the 1800s.

So as in today’s society the idea of romantic love leads to a fairytale wedding ,but then what????

As one of the women shared

“I just assumed everything would work out?”

But over time, more and more problems come up (which of course is logical if none are dealt with) which leads to breakdown in communication which usually leads to extramarital affairs or other problems.

Another woman shared

“He just got sick and tired of me… He’s a guy… he thought it was his right to sleep with other women.”

One of the men said after there were problems in his marriage…

“What’s the easiest thing to do?  Leave her.  Then pick up a new ball and run with

that for a while.  So that’s what I decided to do but I didn’t have the guts

to tell her about it so I just did some really crappy stuff and made sure she found

out about it and that ended it.”

Another woman

“… it got to the point where I just had to get out.”


“It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made

as I had so many emotions for him… I had no idea of the

consequences of being a single mum.”


Expert:  “Most couples do go through a very difficult period .  Having great sex, great intimacy… is part of a great marriage but it’s not always going to be like that.”

The commonality with all of these couples is that the men decided that they really did love their wives and chose to do whatever it took to make it work.

Then all of them as couples decided to seek help and change the way they related to each other.  They learned the skills to make their marriages work.

They decided, committed to making it work, acted on it and persevered.

AND ALL of these couples are back together and more in love than ever.


We first need to choose to become aware of where we came from, then learn where we want to go and how to get there – then do it!

Strategies learned were all about communication including becoming active listeners and having empathy.  Also learning that men and women are different!!  Duh!

The couples differed in where they got their help – counseling, marriage education or spiritual guidance.  There are so many resources out there in the community, the church, the mosque or other places of worship.  Some experts believe that as long as both partners choose to stay together and get the help they need and walk out that commitment – that divorce does not need to result.

This help includes learning about expectations – in fact Paul Gray, author of the fantastic book ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’ believes that women have a set of expectations that will never be met.

Why did the marriages of the past last and yet now roughly half of all marriages fail?

Life is different now – biologically our bodies are built for the traditional roles – men as the hunters out in the jungle, women as the nurturers and gardeners.  However now women are also in the jungle and the stress is much higher and no-one really knows the expectations as they are so different.  So we need new strategies to deal with the new situation.

The key is communication!

And compromising to allow for differences eg when a man is stressed he will want to disconnect such as being a couch potato in front of the television – this lets his testosterone regenerate.  On the other hand women want to connect and talk about their stress.  Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!

However if we know this and expect this and allow for these differences – we can make life much easier.  Women do want to talk and go into detail.  Men don’t.  Men are uncomplicated!  Women are complicated.  But this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Paul Gray also explains that men do not feel the need in general to keep re-establishing the givens.  Just as he doesn’t have to keep reintroducing himself to those who know him, he doesn’t have the need to keep telling his mate that he loves her.  He knows he does.  On the other hand, women tend to want constant affirmations of the declaration for love.  When she can learn to understand and empathise with him and he with her – much of the miscommunication melts away.

Why is it so important to have successful marriages?

It is a well documented fact that in areas of stable homes there is less crime, better homes, better schools leading to a more prosperous life – which is surely what we want for the next generation – great relationships, increased education, more stable financial environment and safer.

Just as with the great thinkers and empathetic communicators throughout history who have made major differences in the world such as

  • Ghandi
  • Martin Luther King
  • Mother Theresa

When we choose to communicate with love and genuinely love ourselves and others we can make a difference by stopping this dysfunctionality now and beginning world peace in our homes!

So we now know…

that a successful marriage is knowing where we came from and choosing to take or discard certain elements from our own upbringing and choosing to commit to a lasting relationship.

When we realize that our patterns keep being repeated so even when we leave someone, or are left, due to a breakdown in the relationship, if we move on to someone else – new does not always mean different.

More important than finding the right partner, we can learn to become the right partner.

So the Secrets to Love are:

  • Picking the right mate
  • Be the right partner
  • Having realistic expectations
  • Shared commitment
  • Empathetic communication
  • Recognize that marriage is a process
  • Work as a team

Marriage is a leap of faith, and faith with action does create miracles!!!


UPDATE - the video is no longer online (thanks to those of you who let me know)


to see blog post on ‘There are no 100% compatible soul mates’ go here


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