I just got back from my bachelorette weekend. My girlfriends and I went up to Upstate NY and stayed in the coziest and most beautiful little house in the woods. I feel showered with love, gratitude, and celebration for my upcoming journey into marriage with the man I have loved pretty much from the second I saw him.
← this is me in a fabulously puffy 80s dress -handed on to me from another friend… the dress has made it through many 25th birthday parties back in the day and bachelorette parties more recently. I gotta admit, there is something refreshingly freeing about smashing my first piñata ever in a big bright pink flower frock;)
Over the last few months, I have been thinking a lot about what marriage means to me. Naturally that comes with an exploration of love and desire, intimacy, sex, friendship, long term partnership and how it all relates.
Over the weekend, my girls and I talked about the difference between love and desire AND how we can have both, because -personally- I surely want to experience the depth and groundedness of love as well as the highs and ecstasy that come with desire.
To get you started on this topic, I want to introduce you to Esther Perel - a woman I hope to meet in person one day! Esther Perel is the author of "Mating In Captivity" and gave a revealing, insightful, deeply inspiring, and humorous! Ted talk on The Secret To Desire In A Long-term Relationship. Watch it here:
As a relationship expert and therapist, Perel talks about the "crisis of desire" and explains why so many couples struggle with intimacy in the bedroom.
What it comes down to is that there is an inherent conflict between love and desire: love seeks grounding forces like comfort, predictability, security, and dependability whereas desire lights up when there is surprise, novelty, mystery, and adventure.
The conflict in a nutshell, Perel says, is that “what nurtures love, often stifles desire.”
While we try to be nice, responsible, smart, and caring during the day, “the erotic mind is not very politically correct,” Perel says. We end up with opposing forces nudging and pulling within us and confusing who we are… or better yet: who we think we SHOULD be.
I find this observation so very intriguing because I believe that it hints at a conflict within ourselves that has much more to do with who we give ourselves permission to be.
Are we allowing ourselves to be rich, flexible, and multi-layered in the way we express and show ourselves to the world, to our partner, and most importantly to ourselves? Or do we have a narrow and limited way in which we allow ourselves to walk on this earth and in this very life?
The truth is that we all have a need for opposites: connection and separateness, togetherness and independence, security and adventure, love and desire… BUT somehow, many of us feel that we have to choose to be one way or another: the responsible one or the playful one, the proper kind or the wild soul… you get the point.
On a similar note, psychology often talks about couples getting caught in representing different roles in the relationship: the ‘pursuer’ and the ‘distancer,’ where one partner constantly seeks more intimacy and the other feels the need to defend their privacy.
If unaddressed, these dynamics often exacerbate over time until one partner is so consumed with maintaining their individuality that they don’t know how to WANT the other anymore, while the other constantly feels rejected and not love worthy, therefore WANTING ever more. There is a conflict here because neither partner feel satisfied, seen, appreciated, or desired.
I want to encourage you today to stop waiting for your relationship to catch fire again, and to start expanding the way you allow yourself to experience the world and the way you see yourself in it. Nobody is going to free you from inhibition, inner conflict, and an passionless partnership, except yourself.
Like Perel suggests in her talk, complete the following sentences:
1) I shut myself off when…. (I feel bad in my body, lack of self-care, perfectionism, low self-esteem, feel like I don’t have the right to deserve, receive and experience pleasure….), and
2) I turn myself on when…? I wake up when… (I feel relaxed, like my body, am able to let go, feel deserving, beautiful, vibrant…)
Can you allow your imagination -the central agent of change- to flourish, to go a little wilder, to feel a little free-er?
Can you withdraw your own judgement from the desires you feel?
Can you spend more time in your body and less time in your head?
Can you spend less time debating what is right and wrong and more time just being and perceiving the moment you are in - free in your imagination, impulses, and urges?
I know that these are major, BIG questions, so don't think you need to find all the answers right away... the "answers" will likely change and grow as you evolve. I suggest you simply start to be curious about these questions. Maybe choose one of them and journal your thoughts.
If this is a topic that interests you, I also want to highly encourage you to check out Esther Perel’s upcoming virtual workshop on Love, Sex, & Power.
It starts next week on July 9th and you can get 15% off (thanks to my sweet connections ;)). Simply enter IMAGINATION at the checkout.
Here is to your imagination, to your love AND desire.