There may be erotic attraction between a couple but is their continuing together an impossible dream? Is it unrealistic to expect two people to live together happily for the rest of their life?
Erotic attraction and marriage
These days in England for example, couples, more often than not, live together for some time before even considering the possibility of marriage; a very different way of looking at things from say the middle of the twentieth century.
What lies behind this change? Some would point to the availability of contraceptives that allow us to have a full sexual relationship for the time being without the long-term commitment of parenthood. Others would point to a less hypocritical society. We all know that many marriages these days end in divorce. It is asked, “Why pretend everything is perfect by getting married when it clearly isn’t likely to stay that way in many cases?”
Erotic relationships and co-habitation
Another suggested reason for living together without getting married is to do with a fear of failure of the relationship in the full glare of public knowledge. People see co-habiting as having the advantage of being a private arrangement between two people not involving any socially recognised level of commitment and which can be finished as well as started relatively quietly.
Others would suggest cohabitation reflects short-term mutual convenience. Others who are looking towards commitment through thick and thin over a long period ask why get married unless you are religious and wish the relationship to be eternally blessed and guided by God?
Erotic attraction and deep affection
If we mainly base our relationship on erotic attraction or infatuation, then we build it on sand. The trouble is the stability of our partnership may be unreliable if we draw together mainly for sexual reasons. Erotic can mean erratic. However, if also based on a deep level of affection, we build our whole relationship on solid rock. Nevertheless, even the best marriage will have its ups and downs and if the downs are not addressed coldness can set in. One common idea is that none of us is perfect and we therefore need to continue to change something in ourselves if we are to survive the challenge of living with someone.
Resentment and erotic pleasure
There is so much to do and there are few rules these days as to who should do what – looking after the children’s needs, housework, seeing to the car, maintaining the garden, organising the social calendar, earning the income, shopping, cooking, doing the decorating and house repairs, to name only a few. When one person in the relationship is doing most of the work or making most of the decisions about finance, rules of children’s conduct, or family holidays etc. then there is scope for resentment. A one-sided relationship in the end may not work if resentment ever surfaces and the submissive partner starts to assert his or her needs and point of view.
Communication and erotic pleasure
Some of us are born with `thin skins’ and others of us acquire them through life experiences that left us feeling hurt. The result is the same – we read a little too much into what our partners say or do not say to us. Once stung we may quickly feel hurt and humiliated. We then sometimes over-react and there is a danger of a mounting level of tension as a tetchy conversation merges into a disagreement and then even a fully blown row.
Healing and erotic pleasure
To prevent a sexual relationship falling apart it needs working on. What is growing needs nourishing. What is becoming routine and boring needs a stimulating tonic. What is damaged needs care and attention.
When there is real love present in the relationship then the couple will each want to make the effort to work on their difficulties. They will each be prepared to make sacrifices, at times putting the loved one first, being honest and open together about their inner ideas and feelings, spending time together – in a word prioritising their relationship so that together they can face the challenges of life in a state of mutual love and support. Does this not mean a full-hearted commitment to the relationship? Unless we commit ourselves to our partnership, how could we get through the rough patches that any living together relationship must face? A longer version of this article
Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems