I can’t help noticing the discrepancy between the attention they devote to these chores and the lack of attention they bring to their sex life — as if sex operates according to a different principle. “The laundry won’t just do itself, you know,” Dominick says defensively. “And sex will?” I ask.
This is one of my favourite books. Esther writes (and speaks) about nuances with powerful clarity. She is at once intellectual, poetic, and hilarious. I find I have nothing to add and I agree with her fully. I’ve bolded and reordered these quotes so that they can flow as an except — enjoy!
“Seducing my partner? Do I still have to do that?” This reluctance is often a covert expression of an infantile wish to be loved just as we are, without any effort whatsoever on our part, because we’re so special.
All too often we associate effort with work, and discipline with pain. but there’s a different way to think of work. [Work] can be creative and life-affirming, sparking a heightened sense of vitality rather than a bone-deep exhaustion.
This infatuation with the big bang theory of sex suggests our impatience with seduction and playful eroticism, which take up too much time, require too much effort, and — most importantly — demand full consciousness of what we are doing.
For many of us, premeditated sex is suspicious. It threatens our belief that sex is subject only to the machinations of magic and chemistry. The idea that sex must be spontaneous keeps us one step removed from having to will sex, to own our desire, and to express it with intent. As long as sex is something that just happens, you don’t have to claim it. It’s ironic that in such a willful society, willfully conjuring up sex seems obvious and crass. It embarrasses us, as if we’ve been caught doing something inappropriate.
“Perhaps I only want what I can’t have.” I responded: “What makes you think you have your husband?” The grand illusion of committed love is that we think our partners are ours. In truth, their separateness is unassailable, and their mystery is forever ungraspable. As soon as we can begin to acknowledge this, sustained desire becomes a real possibility.
It took me a while to realise that spontaneity requires effort. I was in that “magic and chemistry” boat. More importantly, I realised the pleasure of planning a surprised based on bits and pieces of observations and memories. When I felt that effort is, as Esther says, creative and life-affirming, I find my relationships to be fascinating with ease. The key to changing how you feel about effort is just to will it be so — let yourself enjoy planning spontaneity.
One of the best parts of creating spontaneity is that you get to reminisce, enjoy the moment of planning, and anticipate all the different ways that moment that can turn out. There’s beauty in coincidence, but perhaps even more beauty in nudging your lives to more interesting moments.
P.S. If you don’t have time for the book (it’s long, but worthy!), then watch her 16 minute TED talk!