One of my absolute favorite sections of the Sunday Times is the Modern Love Column in the Style Section. Every week a different writer writes about his/her perception of an element of love. Sometimes it’s romantic love, but it can be familial love, love for a pet, a past, a story, almost anything will do. They are very often profoundly moving and touching and often make me think quite a bit after I’ve put them down.
This Sunday, the Modern Love editor wrote the column. He wrote about the fact that over the years and 50,000 articles and letters he has sorted through, he has found that the questions which seems to loom large over all others is “how to find love” among the young and “how to keep love alive” among the ones floundering in “marital malaise.”
He then goes on to outline the various approaches to couples in committed relationships who want to bring back the romance. I’m not going to outline them here. He does a way better job describing the options than I could possibly do. (Hey, he is an editor for the Times. Me? I just dabble in vibrators!) But the article is totally worth a read, if this is a question that you think about!
Read the article first…if not my comment will make little sense…
But here’s my response:
Daniel Jones, you did a great job listing the possible responses. You really did. But what you didn’t address is that most of us don’t fit into any one box (and neither do our relationships.) So the best long term relationships I’ve seen have floated in and out of any one of these boxes. The couples are sometimes “quashers” — happily, or sometimes less happily — accepting what they do have, sometimes “restorers” deciding that it’s time to give their relationship a shot in the arm and sometimes even dissolving into borderline “sneakers” with outside flirtations, fantasizing “what ifs” and then deciding it’s just not worth it. It’s the dynamics of the shifts which give the relationship depth and help restore balance when it shift too far one way or the other.
It would be too depressing for most of us to think of the rest of our lives as totally resolved, and probably not great for a long term relationship to give up for forever on passion, hot sex and glimpses of the “great love” that took hold of our heart once-upon-a-time. But we are all well aware that it is unlikely to be long term stable and sustainable. So the real answer is “swinging.” Not the swinging of extramarital affairs, but the swinging between the categories or “boxes” that Daniel Jones outlined so beautifully.