Today’s blog is an excerpt of Esther Perel’s work:
In today’s modern world, expectations are extremely difficult for us to provide to one another because they are contradictory, or even in some cases incompatible. Esther Perel’s The State of Affairs states, “contained within the small circle of the wedding band are vastly contradictory ideals. We want our chosen one to offer stability, safety, predictability, and dependability… and we want that very same person to supply awe, mystery, adventure, and risk.”
So, what is the solution? How can we commit to another without losing ourselves in trying to meet these vast expectations? How can we be in a fulfilling partnership that also helps us grow as individuals?
Here’s a place to start.
We can think more clearly about our expectations from a partner. Research shows that people who have more social resources, and more people to talk to about various issues in their lives, do better in marriage. So in what areas do we want to invest with our partners, and in which areas do we need to invest in ourselves and our personal networks?*
And once we’ve had a chance to think more clearly about our expectations, how do we meet the expectations that we’ve set for ourselves and our relationships?
We can stop thinking of love, desire, and relationships as commodities. They are not. When a jacket doesn’t meet our expectations, we can easily purchase another one. The same is not true about our relationships. We have to work to make our expectations come to reality, setting expectations is only the start.
The next step is to actually go about achieving them by investing the time, patience, and space necessary with our partners. This process might not be perfect, but aside from the moment we recite them, neither are our vows.
*Two books that I recommend from guests of mine on the Sessions Clinical Education platform are:
- The All or Nothing Marriage by Eli Finkel. Eli, a psychological scientist, goes into some depth about the research behind modern marriage, focusing in particular on the increasing set of expectations behind marriage and the ideology behind the institution.
- Loving Bravely by Alexandra Solomon. Alexandra is the founder of Marriage 101, a course at Northwestern University that teaches undergraduates how to prepare for the types of relationships they want to have. Her book is a wonderfully written insight into the process of developing “relational self-awareness”, the prerequisite to being in a healthy relationship.
Original author, Esther Perel https://estherperel.com/blog/why-modern-love-is-so-damn-hard