Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Loving Better

Awhile ago, I heard this TED talk by Esther Perel. She talks about this question that people often think about: "How can I sustain desire in a committed relationship?"

She remarks that for the first time in our history, we want to experience long-term intimacy, not because we need to produce fourteen kids, but because we just want to enjoy the desire for our partner. However, this leads us into trouble, because what we used to get from an entire village we now expect from one person. We want security, predictability, safety, and permanence, but we also want adventure, novelty, mystery, risk, and surprise.

She talked to people all over the world and found that we are most drawn to our partners when:
-they've been away for awhile and we are reunited again
-our partner is radiant and confident
-there is surprise and fun and we laugh together

I get this.

I felt this most recently when Jeremy and I took a brief hiatus from our life in Korea in order to visit the U.S. for our summer vacation. I didn't know I needed it so much until I saw Jeremy flirting with my great-aunt. Until I saw Jeremy cutting trees in the back yard with my Dad. Until I watched Jeremy working with his hands and building a fire.

It's so easy in marriage to grow accustomed to the norm:
-alarm clock
-brush teeth
-kiss goodbye
-go to work
-come home from work
-make dinner

And even the little things like helping with household chores and making the bed blend into what is expected and hardly worth noticing. But leaving Korea and seeing him in other lights was important. I was reminded that Jeremy is really good at making people laugh.
I was reminded that Jeremy is a hard worker.
I was reminded that Jeremy is a curious learner.
I was reminded that Jeremy is intuitive and creative and fun.

Perel says that it's when we can look at our partner--this person that is so familiar--from a comfortable distance, that we can momentarily see them as somewhat mysterious and we move toward each other.

She quotes Marcel Proust, when she says,
"Mystery is not about traveling to new places.
It's about seeing with new eyes."

That's why it's important to move around once in awhile. Get lost. Try something new. Do something silly. Challenge each other. To see each other more clearly.

To love each other better.