Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Marriage: Mating in Captivity

While surfing the net the other day, I came upon an interesting phrase that turned out to be the title of a book:
Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic by Esther Perel.

Intrigued, because this pithy phrase sums up exactly how I feel about marriage, I went over to Amazon to read about this book.

The author bases the book on these questions:

Why does great sex so often fade for couples who claim to love each other as much as ever?
Can we want what we already have?
Why does the transition to parenthood so often spell erotic disaster?
Does good intimacy always make for good sex?

My first reaction to the book's premise is that Perel is ignoring the elephant in the living room: that monogamy and domesticity itself inherently kills desire. Passion-killing boredom inevitably sets in when the novelty wears off; the old "familiarity breeds contempt" problem.

However, a couple of readers' reviews of the book gave me hope that she might recognize the problem after all.

...she is open minded, accepting, and understanding of the incredible impact that sexual freedom and individuality have had on marriage. She does not sugar coat the fact that monogamous marriage is "dying." She advocates being proactive about ensuring passion and desire within your marriage.

Here's a radical thought: don't do everything together. Cultivate your own set of friends. Create differences, not affinities. "Ruthlessness is a way to achieve closeness" --- ponder that for a while. Monogamy? Great if you can honor it. But it is, statistics show, "a ship sinking faster than anyone can bail it out." Infidelity is a symptom of deeper problems in the relationship? Many believe that. Perel doesn't. She finds life...complicated

This book sounds like it's worth reading, so I'll check it out and see what she has to say.

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