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Mating In Captivity

Esther Perel

DH Lawrence
All men are in captivity,
active with captive activity,
and the best won't breed, though they don't know why.

The great cage of our domesticity
kills sex in a man, the simplicity
of desire is distorted and twisted awry.

And so, with bitter perversity,
gritting against the great adversity,
they young ones copulate, hate it, and want to cry.

Sex is a state of grace.
In a cage it can't take place.
Break the cage then, start in and try.

We all have a fundamental need for security, which is what propels us to committed relationships. But we have an equally strong need for adventure and excitement.

Huge expectations on a lover - expect one person to provide sense of meaning and continuity that once came from whole family and community. At same time expect our committed relationships to be romantic as well as emotionally and sexually fulfilling.

Some believe that sex has to be spontaneous, so they never have it at all. Some think seduction is too much work in settled relationship. Some think intimacy means knowing everything about partner, and then wonder where the mystery goes.

Romantics seek life with passion, and every time desire wanes they conclude that love has gone. Realists the opposite extreme - fear passion because makes people do stupid things. Expect passion to die and be replaced by mutual respect and companionship.

Today unmatched freedom and individualism. Encouraged to seek personal fulfilment and sexual gratification, and break free of traditional restraints. But although the trad restraints limited our freedom, they also gave a vital sense of belonging.

Love promises relief from loneliness but it also heightens our dependence on one person. But life is uncertain, and nothing is set in concrete.

Modern day split over sex. Porn everywhere on net, yet debate as to whether should provide sex ed for kids. State intervention on abortion, homosexuality and adultery. We promote abstinence with fear tactics and threaten straying pols with impeachment. America's sexual conservatism is rooted in the Puritan tradition, with its deep suspicion of pleasure. And yet, in Europe, teens start having sex on average 2 years later than in US, and teen births eight times less.

"If someone asked me, 'What would you rather do, mop the floor or make love to your husband>', of course I'd pick sex. But IRL? I push him away and grab the mop." And goes deeper - on one hand the wife complains about all the housework she's obliged to do, but irresistibly drawn to cleanliness, as if order can bring peace.

"With two kids I feel like I'm on mother duty 24/7. If I have any time left I just want it for myself. When my husband approaches me, it feels like one more person wanting something from me. And I don't have anything left to give." and the husband "I feel like I'm running a daycare center with someone I used to date."

If one person really misses sex but can't engage the other, a downward spiral set in motion. 'marriage without love leads to love without marriage', or they leave (sometimes waiting for the kids to grow up), or they grow so bitter and resentful that you wish they'd leave.

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