I met with a friend a couple of days ago; we ended up talking about marriage. She complains her husband only wants to spend time with the children, doesn’t want to go on dates anymore, he doesn’t want to have sex at all. He doesn’t have the time or energy to be with her “he’s always tired” she says. Life is boring, work, work and maybe the occasional weekend off and the mini-vacation. No romance, no kisses; nothing that can promote more intimacy. Love may be there but it’s not the same she said. How is it that every marriage turns out pretty much the same: a mundane relationship without desire or sex. Why, why….
Yes, I agree that the marriage after so many years will not be the same. It can’t be the same. A relationship cannot go unchanged for long. All affiliations change over time, some for better and others for worse. During your married life there will be so many happy and sad moments, you will share many common activities, anecdotes, occasions, conversations, trips, things done together that you in time will become friends (hopefully good friends you say) and because of that friendship your lust for one another has transformed into something else. Maybe there’s camaraderie or maybe good companionship and a loving connection. Is that wrong? Isn’t that how marriage is supposed to be?, she asked.
I don’t know the answer as how “marriage is supposed to be” and I don’t think anyone does. Basically our fantasy of how a marriage should be is very different from the day to day reality of millions of other couples out there. Social media, movies, books, the Church, our family members and even marriage counselors may tell you otherwise but the fact is your marriage doesn’t live up to what you are experiencing every day. You love your spouse but can’t help being bored sometimes. You have become good friends, roommates even. Bored with him or you or the family (guilt feelings all over the place), or can’t help feel attracted to someone else; it’s a novelty, a much younger, handsomer, athletic novelty. You considered cheating but can never do it (guilt again). You want out but can’t think you could be on your own after all this time (fear). But you look at others, you fantasize you’re single. And you think it’s even better, a clean tab, no history, no shared baggage, no shared experience or familiarity to ruin the sex. He /she won’t need to know anything about you. They don’t know your insecurities like your spouse does. That makes is so much more interesting I tell her. That’s the attraction. Once you know all their flaws, their character traits of everyday life, things change. They have to. That is normal. All those books that talk about keeping the passion in your marriage, fire in the bedroom, how to keep things new and on and on they advise because they know is the reality of daily living. A routine will emerge. Things become predictable, friendly. It doesn’t feel fresh. It is human nature I tell her.
You may disagree with me, but think for a bit; your partner should never really become your pal. Sounds odd perhaps in this era when people make it such a big thing “I am marrying my best friend” on wedding invitations, social media. Oh how sweet! With a bit of luck years later it won’t come back to haunt you.
“I met my best friend and I think she’s the one”, said a male colleague, I smiled and said good for you! and then I thought: So now you dump all your good friends! Even your childhood friend who was until a few months ago your best friend? You dump them because you like this person so much SHE has to take over that role? So all those memories you shared, your hiking trips, your drinking/dancing days, your shared dating stories, your games of ball every weekend, all of that is gone and now she will replace all of that, huh!?. Of course a year later wedding announcement, you guessed it, it’s on the wedding invitation now, and they’re best friends! He dropped everyone for her. Nice! Newly engaged people are no longer listening, they’re deaf and blind. You don’t need another friend. Let your significant other stay in their role before it’s too late. You need a lover, someone who wants you, who desires you, who wants to touch you, kiss you, protect you, take you places, enjoy things with you, and have fun with you and surprise you on your day, to still be romantic and curious about you. That is your lover, not your comrade. She doesn’t want to hear your farting or nasty jokes; she won’t laugh and join you with enthusiasm and more farting unless she is your buddy. And he doesn’t want to know about your bloating, or your irregular periods. You can go to the doctor or better yet tell your friend. Got any? And if they do want to share all that, good luck. They crossed the line, not a lover, but a good friend to hang out with every day, that’s what you got. So don’t complain. Harsh? Perhaps.
For some people it feels stupid to act sensual with their “best friend” (husband/wife). After years of marriage you got too comfortable, just like you do with your friends. I hear men say “well she knows me so well I don’t need to tell her anything romantic or I don’t need to buy her a birthday gift, she just tells me what to get for her “. What! No romance for a friend? After all friends are platonic, fun, and your friends are never sexual or romantic with you (I least I hope not). According to the Oxford dictionary, a friend is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of (not including) sexual or family relations.
You read that! A friend is not your family member or your sexual partner! Better yet, you know what the synonyms of friends are: ally, comrade, chum, crony, confidant, and fellow. There you have it. Yes, your friends are your allies, your pals, and your confidant. Friends are reliable, predictable, non-sexual, and consistent. The one you can talk about your sex life if you wish. That’s the friend we all want. Your spouse cannot be your friend; yes they can be your supporter and your intimate but not your chum, not your pal… If they are, that is the problem I tell you. I am not saying don’t share with them. I am not saying keep it private. I am saying do not use them as your only and best friend. They are not. Have a life outside your marriage. Have other friends so you don’t treat your partner as your best chum. Of course we all know those friends who tell you they wished their spouses would confide more in them, that they would share more, but heck their sex life is good….no one is ever happy.
So here’s my friend complaining, she has no friends left (I am the only one she says), and her husband ignores her all the time. That’s the mistake many make: isolate from others, don’t need anybody but your sweetheart, then routine gets you, nothing new to talk about and you became roommates. The enigmatic feeling that attracted you to your partner is gone. The sex-appeal is gone. It is only natural to learn so much about another person after 19 years together I told my friend. It happens with daily living so it may be inevitable. What about asking him on a date without the kids and call me when you need to vent. He doesn’t have to treat you like a pal either. Set your boundaries. Too late she says, he already see me sitting at the toilet in the mornings, or eating with my hands, or getting my legs shaved, or whatever …and that is definitely not sexy. Not at all. You stopped being sensual in front of each other’s eyes because friends don’t want to be sexy with one another. Yuck! I don’t want to be sexy with you I tell her. I don’t want to date you she says, and we laugh. So no, I don’t have the answer. It would be nice if things we want would never change and only those we want differently would actually change. I don’t have the solution for a great marriage.
Yet others tell me I am wrong, their husband is their best friend and their sex life is wonderful. Is it? Great I say. Good for you! But guess what, you’re not the majority. And if you know why you can have it both ways, go ahead and share. Maybe you will help reduce the infidelity rate or even better: fewer couples will get a divorce. Go for it, I challenge you my “friend”.