Honeymoon

Tangent, Uncategorized

Did you know that the etymology for the word honeymoon is that “the first month of marriage is the sweetest”? There are competing theories, like that newlyweds were given enough mead (honey wine) to last a month, but for some reason this is considered false.

Whatever the case, the honeymoon is traditionally practiced in western culture and consists of a trip taken by newlyweds in order to ease the transition into married life and to foster intimacy. These days it’s a romantic holiday taken directly after the wedding to exotic locales.

The idea of taking this trip, this time to get used to your new spouse and encourage rampant intimacy, is a great way to develop feelings of love and commitment in a relationship. This would be especially needed if the marriage is arranged, which is a more likely scenario in the past than nowadays. Two young people, most likely virgins, flung together in the prime of their lives and told that they are to be forever bound together by religion and society is, by all means, overwhelming. So letting them go off for a short time for stacks of socially-approved copulation seems like a great reward. But how does this, then, translate to relationships now where it is more socially-acceptable to have been in a long-term relationship before getting married?

I watched a brilliantly presented talk about the level of desire in long-term relationships and the psychology (I suppose) involved in maintaining the same level of desire over a lifetime with a single partner. I guess this goes back to the idea of “the first month is the sweetest” where everything is new discovery, feelings, emotions, etc, and then reality sets in and the novelty wears off and the understanding descends (etc etc) that there will no longer be new discoveries; all the “firsts” have been achieved with this person.

So how do couples maintain desire for each other over the years? The talk deals with mainly sexual desire, desire as a means of creating lasting intimacy. But there are other desires to consider since humans have (supposedly) evolved past the point of being purely driven by primal urges. There is the mind to think of. What of maintaining desire for the exchange of intelligent conversation, of witty banter, of questioning and debating opinions? And, what about the desire of merely being in the same room with that person, not having to do or say anything, not even interacting? Just a silent room with two people acknowledging each other’s presence and every once in a while glancing over to move their partner’s image from peripheral to focused and exchange a look and a smile.

Desire of the mind should be considered just as important as desire of the body, though one may feel stronger than the other. And to find that one person to satisfy both can become an obsession to some. I think the danger lies in the conscious search for compatibility. Some people try so hard to find “the one” that they they sometimes miss the point of the search. First impressions are strong, but time and hardship reveals more character. To me, good relationships aren’t just gifts where you get the awesome toy right after ripping all the packaging off. Rather they’re like onions, ordinary on the outside but packed with layers of potential to create new and exciting experiences, and when you cut it in two to get right to the middle, you cry.

Esther Perel: the secret to desire in a long-term relationship – TED2013

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