Can you believe there was a time when love played no role in marriage? Marriage used to be about preserving power, forging alliances, and producing the next generation. In fact, even when the Church declared it as one of its sacraments, marriage was still considered too serious a matter to be based on something as fragile as love. Now, when we hear of an arranged marriage—one that focuses on companionship and security—we instinctively cringe.
But actually, our desire for economic stability, partnership, and family life didn’t go away. We just added more requirements—being in love/marrying your best friend/having amazing sex—and in a way, more pressure, to the mix. Couples therapist Esther Perel notes, “We have moved from a model of sexual duty in this romantic arrangement to sexual pleasure and sexual connection, in which desire is, ‘I don't [have sex] because it's part of marital duty. I do it because I feel like it and you feel like it and we feel like it at the same time and hopefully for each other.’ [There are] a lot of conditions that need to be met here.”
Basically, having more expectations can lead to more disappointments. But this doesn’t mean that we should throw in the towel and revert to the traditional model of marriage. We should just be more aware of the demands we subconsciously put on our partner, and vocalize concerns instead of bottling them in. Having an outlet will also serve your marriage well. It doesn’t have to be just you and your partner against the world. Finding other interests and hobbies will provide a sense of fulfilment.
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