Relationships have gone through a tremendous makeover in the last few decades. Millennials are facing challenges in their relationships that never existed before. As Esther Perel says, “Never have we invested more in love and never have we divorced or broken up more in the name of love.”
Millennials are defined by their quest for freedom. They value freedom and give it significant importance in all aspects of their life. They refuse to be bound by any belief, institution or hierarchy that tend to limit them. This has opened up a world of possibilities before them. However, the lack of clearly defined boundaries has increased the chances of getting lost too.
Marriage used to be an institution where people sought safety and security, but now we are not ready to settle for mere safety and security in our relationship. We expect more from our marriage. We expect more from our partners.
We expect our partners to fulfil our conflicting needs for security and adventure. We yearn for closeness and separateness in the same relationship. We need the comfort of love and the heat of passion from the same person. In short, we expect our partners to play various roles and fulfil different needs, which once used to be fulfilled by a community.
These changes are neither good nor bad. It is part of evolution. It has always happened and will always continue to. However, to deal with these challenges, we need to be able to see beyond the paradigm of good and bad; right and wrong; and understand what’s really happening beneath the surface. We need to be willing to accept that we don’t have answers, and trust we could discover them if we stay true to our enquiry.
There are no shortcuts or quick fixes here. However, with boundaries being diluted, it has become extremely important for each couple to converse and find a common ground for their relationship. If I have to pick the two most important elements to nurture an intimate relationship, I would say they are: the courage to be honest and the strength to be vulnerable.
As Donald Miller has said in his book Scary Close, “Intimacy is the one thing we all want, and must give up all control to get.”