Stability has been the trademark of a successful relationship for the longest time. Despite what happened within a relationship, couples strived to stay together until death set them apart. While some couples sorted out the challenges that came their way, some chose to ignore them for the fear of facing them.
Many of these relationships despite being functional lacked passion and intimacy. It became more about attending children and daily chores. While some were happy with the simplicity and stability it provided, many were not. Even though some went ahead and had affairs outside marriage, it was easier hidden in an era prior to social media. The economic construct and patriarchy back then ensured women to be well within the fist of fear.
With more women becoming financially independent and refusing to be treated any less than men; with more and more couples feeling it’s sensible to part ways if they can’t make their marriage work; with people acknowledging love and sexuality beyond genders - relationships are no more the same, they are evolving and taking new shapes and forms.
If marriage was an institution where people sought safety and security, the present generation is not happy to settle for mere safety and security. They don’t believe in trading passion for stability or stability for passion. They see that either extreme can’t keep them happy for long in a relationship. However, they also struggle in their attempts to host these two conflicting needs under the single roof of a relationship.
While familiarity and proximity help in nurturing love and stability, the same things seem to douse the flame of desire and passion. While many observed that surrendering their autonomy to adapt to the needs of their partner helped them avoid conflicts, the same thing sucked the vigour, passion and aliveness from their relationship. While love finds comfort in closeness, desire grows in absence/distance.
Not being able to manage both under the same roof, some thought of challenging the framework of marriage and decided to experiment opening up the boundaries. While some were happy with the experiment and felt relieved, most were challenged. It revealed that there is no shortcut to nurturing a fulfilling intimate relationship, as it is always a movement in the unknown.
Intimacy is not something we can figure out. As Donald Miller wrote in his book Scary Close, “Intimacy is the one thing we all want, and must give up all control to get.” The most important lesson in navigating through the challenge thrown by an intimate relationship is to have a learner’s attitude. It may almost seem like it is the other person who is responsible, or you have done everything you can. It is true that you may have done everything you know, however, it is when you run out of tricks/knowledge – you need to be most open to learning.
It helps if you can see your intimate relationship as an opportunity to learn and discover things about yourself, rather than seeing it as a place where your ideas of love, comfort and companionship get fulfilled. You can enjoy a fulfilling intimate relationship only to the extent you are willing to learn, feel vulnerable and take responsibilty.