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If you've ever been on a diet then you know what it is to desire. It's not until you can't have carbs that your powerful and consuming longing for bagels makes itself known. French philosopher Francois Rabelais knew this five hundred years ago when he wrote, "We always long for the forbidden things, and desire what is denied us." This tendency for wanting what we can't have is a fairly a common human trait, while wanting what we already have seems illogical. Yet that is precisely what we must have in order to sustain a long-term relationship. It's not enough to love the one you're with. You must also want them.
At the beginning of my marriage I was both wildly in love and terribly naïve about what that meant. In theory it meant that everything would be easy, happy and blissfully wonderful. We would start a family and I would Morticia Addams my way through childbirth on Monday and be back in a size four by Friday. I didn't put much thought into what I would do with my life because there would be no "I", only "we." In theory his love would fulfill me in every sense.
It should come as no surprise to you that reality was quite a shock for me.
There are three lies I grew up believing that contributed to this reality shock. The first is that your partner will fulfill your life. I call this the fallacy of the glass slipper. The notion that the slipper fits, you're in love and your prince is going to take you to happily every after has undoubtedly wreaked havoc on relationships everywhere. One person will not complete you. I know and I'm sorry, but Jerry Maguire was a liar. My husband is my favorite person in this world, but if I depended on him to fulfill me we would both be constantly unsatisfied.
The notion that if you love someone desire will always be there was the hardest lie to uncover. -- Michele Redmon
The second lie is that opposites attract. This is not to say that opposites don't attract, but that they don't often stay attracted without any commonalities. To a certain extent my husband and I are opposites, however I realize that in order to keep the intimacy and sense of adventure in our marriage we both have to do things not because we want to but because we know our partner does. I may not like the outdoors, but my husband does, so we go camping and I fumble around the tent, swat at bugs, swear like a sailor and we laugh. A lot. He definitely doesn't love Marie Antoinette but he'll patiently walk with me through the art museum to see replicas of her wigs and take covert pictures of the displays that don't allow cameras.
The third lie is that romantic love's implicit promise is effortless lust. The notion that if you love someone desire will always be there was the hardest lie to uncover. I'm not going to say that you have to work for desire, because work has such unsexy connotations, but I'll say that desire must be sustained with conscious effort. This effort has nothing to do with how much you love your partner, but is an acknowledgment that life often interferes with the ideal. More than lighting candles, creating an environment wherein desire can flourish begins with how you see yourself. To be confident and comfortable in your own skin is absolutely necessary for passion to thrive.
Ultimately, desire perseveres when you want it to. All relationships go through phases of attraction but when all is said and done who wouldn't want a good bagel?
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