Trust the gut for a happy marriage? That’s only half of it!

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Breaking news this week was that Prof McNulty from Florida State University has proven scientifically that our Gut level responses are a powerful tool in predicting whether people stay happy in their marriage. The study is published in the Journal Science says that the test gauges the true feelings of newly-weds towards each other, rather than what they consciously believe to be true. His team interviewed 135 newly-wed couples just after their nuptials. The researchers asked them to evaluate their marriage related to positive and negative adjectives such as "good", "bad", "satisfying" and "dissatisfying". They then measured their gut reaction to each other using their "love test", reports the BBC.

However what the test failed to do is explain how the gut instinct works.

Embedded in the lining of the intestines, is the enteric nervous system, with hundreds of millions of neurons – one thousandth the number in your brain. Gut neurons communicate with the brain through the vagus nerve, which runs from the base of the brain to the chest and abdomen. This ‘gut reaction’ happened to protect us from danger. Using the gut we could sense predators before we saw them with our own eyes. The clearest connection between the gut and the mind is how we experience anxiety and stress. A gut instinct is when we have a reaction to something we may find fearful. Making decisions through this form of intuition means that we make choices out of fear or defence.  So the gut can tell you who NOT to marry, but it can’t tell you who will bring you the most happiness in a marriage!

There are, in fact, two forms of intuition as I write about in my book ‘You DO Know – learning to act on intuition instantly’. The second form of intuitive knowing is often discounted because it has no words. It is rooted in emotion. For example, when we have an excited, expansive feeling and we simply know, we may not understand why we know, we just know. This second intuition centre comes from your heart. The heart has its own independent nervous system. Like the gut there are at least forty thousand neurons (nerve cells) in the heart. This is as many as are found in various subcortical centres of the brain.

Following this heart lead intuition can lead to remarkable life changes, as your decisions become about the expansion of who you are rather then limiting yourself to avoiding pain or fearful situations. On a personal level of using heart-based intuition means you can make quicker decisions about what is right for you, which also means less stress. It also means that you can open your heart more widely to people as you know who you can trust, making it the intuition to follow for love. Next time you hear ‘follow your heart’ you will understand it’s not a brainless act after all.