My dear friend and compatriot Bill Schacht (MS, LCSW), in his Franklin, Wisconsin, series “Great Relationship Sense,” has coined the phrase ‘Joyful Monogamy.’ (www.GreatRelationshipSense.com.)
When we take a moment and think through what’s behind that phrase, what stands out is a progressive and marriage-supporting theme that monogamy can be and should be joyful, and need not—as we’ve been acculturated to believe—lose its luster and fade into the distance the longer we’re together.
In my own upcoming new book, Naked Date, I share the same theme with Bill’s Great Relationship Sense seminars—that is, that what we’ve been taught about monogamy isn’t true and doesn’t serve us: that marriage, over time, will dull in desire. Why should it?
I once read a translated Chinese text on marriage and sex that said that what we’re after in marital sex is prowess—meaning, the more time-in we have with our partner, so said the text, the more expertise and prowess we gain with his or her body and being. The theme was that after the course of many years of having sex together, we would gain such expertise together that we could never imagine another person touching us with anywhere near the prowess and pleasure that our partner offers. Meaning, sex over time offers a deepening of experience, if we will show up for it.
In other words, it was the exact opposite theme of what we are taught. Even our film and television images support the thought that once we’re in our family lives, we’ll sleep in separate beds, barely ever kiss or hug, and won’t engage in lavish hours of intimacy.
Bill Schact’s work, and mine, asks the same question: Why should that be true? Why are we accepting sexless or near-sexless marriages when we could be engaging in a lifelong experience of joyful discovery with each other’s bodies and spirits?
My bent on this is simple: of all the things we need our marriages to be in a year why not have it be a sensually rich experience as well?
The obvious question, then, is ‘Well, how do we get that experience of lush and rich monogamy in our marriages? How do we build the regular sense of fulfillment that we’re really looking for into our love relationship’?’
In part two of this blog, we’ll continue to talk about this theme and answer that ‘How” question. For now, we need one, all-important reframing of our thought process, and it’s this: we have to give up thinking that the hot part of our love affair was when we were dating or newly married and begin to be willing to engage in some long-term, adult loving.