A few years back my husband and I went away for the weekend with another couple. We’ll call them Kyle and Shari. We had a great time, introducing each other to great music, enjoying grilled Brie and blueberry wine by the camp-fire, and talking intimately about our lives and relationships – or so my husband and I thought. Shari and Kyle were one of those couples who had experienced love at first sight and been inseparable ever since. They never failed to call each other by nauseating pet names and seemed to have endless patience for one another. We were shocked a few months later when they not only told us that they were divorcing, but that that weekend had been “the beginning of the end.” Seth and I were stunned. How could our impression of Kyle and Shari have been so wrong?
1)Act How You Feel (Within Reason) – We’ve all been around those couples bickering violently in public or making nasty passive aggressive jabs all the time. When we air our dirty laundry too readily, we make other folks so uncomfortable they may stop hanging out with us. On the other hand, pretending your relationship is flawless is lame too. We all do it at times. We act like everything’s fine when it’s not. We fight in the car and then get out and hold hands all through dinner until we get back in the car and go another round. So how do we strike the right balance?
Does what's happening in bed tell us what's happening in a marriage?
The sexless marriage is much maligned in our culture. Most of us, including a lot of mental health professionals, view a sexless marriage as a bad marriage. But when you think about it, things that make us want to have sex are often not the same things we want in a long-term partner. For a lot of us unpredictability, passion, spontaneity, and even conflict can be sexy. However, in a long-term partner, we seek reliability, stability, safety, and trust. Grrrr… doesn’t knowing someone will remember to take out the recycling every week just make you want to rip your clothes off? In a wonderful book called Mating in Captivity, which in my opinion should be required reading for life as a human, psychoanalyst Esther Perel argues there are good reasons why sex drops off in long-term partnerships, even good ones. In fact, these relationships are often quite stable and the partners extremely connected. Perel argues that desire and lust are borne out of distance and difference. We feel there is some space between us and another person and we long to physically unite. Feeling very connected and similar to someone doesn’t stir up that desire.