With divorce rates hovering at nearly 50 percent, it's time to reexamine the "rules" of marriage!
Everyone knows that once you get married, there are certain expectations you're supposed to follow. Expectations that make men feel like they have signed their lives away, and make women think that they'll never have to worry about being betrayed or alone. Once you're married there are "rules" such as, "You can't cheat.", "You can't flirt.", "You must love and be attracted only to your partner." What most people don't realize is that following those rules goes against the grain of our human experience.
People are often complaining that marriage is hard work. Marriage is actually not hard work. What's hard is pretending, avoiding, or refusing to feel the way you actually do. It's hard work to tell yourself over and over "I shouldn't be attracted to that woman.". It's emotionally and physically draining to push down your sexual energy when it's rising! We have become a people living a kind of sexual bondage as it relates to marriage. The rules of matrimony are meant to keep men and women from doing anything that would hurt or upset their partners. But with divorce rates nearing fifty percent, people are getting hurt regardless.
These marital promises of loyalty and trust quickly fall by the wayside. Spouses are cheating, they're flirting, and they are attracted to people who are not their partners. They either just learn to do it in Vegas during "girls weekend" or they do it secretly at work. All the time hiding from their partners how they're feeling. All the while feeling guilty for breaking the "rules".
Maybe marriage has become hard work because we are insisting on acting in ways we were never meant to!! As humans, we are sexual beings-- we are created through a sexual act, we are born into a world of sensation, we are given tremendous sexual libido, and then we work hard not to feel any of it!! We try to manage our sexuality. We want to control it in an attempt to control any emotional upheaval that might go along with it.
What we don't realize is that all this managing and controlling creates the very thing we are trying to avoid--Pain. The pain does not exist because people are sexual and flirting, but because they have to lie about it. They have to hide these acts from their partners, and they have to carry the weight of guilt and shame for breaking the rules. Marriage is hard work because we are working hard to follow rules which do not apply to us!
Consider a new approach. One that honors how you feel. One that supports you in being honest and free.
Here are four bold changes that create a marriage filled with intimacy, connection, pleasure and trust:
Be completely, unequivocably, one hundred percent honest with your partner. This means letting them know what and who you are attracted to. Let them know if you feel sexual around another person. Just because you feel something, doesn't mean you have to act on it. The feeling of attraction is pleasurable, so why wouldn't we simply enjoy it? The argument that feeling such things might lead to a world of sexual chaos and debauchery falls flat....we already live in such a world.
Stop trying to avoid hurting your partner. People have feelings. They're supposed to have feelings. As humans, we sometimes feel scared, angry, and sad. If you hide the fact that you love the way a certain guy smells because you don't want to make your partner jealous, you've just robbed him of an important piece of information. He might feel jealous... but he might also want to wear whatever cologne that guy is wearing!! Or take a shower just before you come home from work!" Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel, and let your partner feel whatever they feel.
Create a relationship structure that you can actually live by. Don't make promises you can't keep and don't enter into agreements that make you feel like you are giving up a piece of yourself. How about marriage vows based in reality...something along the lines of "I promise to love you, until I don't." Or even better, "I love you right now. I want you right now! I don't know what the future brings, but I'm ecstatic that I'm with you in this moment." All marriages end, either through break up or death. The point is to enjoy it until it does.
Reveal to your partner any past indiscretions, and clean up any current problems as soon as you recognize them. Keeping secrets destroys the connection in a marriage. We all make mistakes. Hiding those mistakes keeps them in our consciousness. They lurk in the back of our mind, egoic proof that we screwed up...proof that we aren't one hundred percent lovable. Instead, bring your mistakes to the forefront, divulge them to your partner, and deal with them so you can let them go. This is a form of true love.