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a problem for our times

I clicked on one of those videos that pops up on your YouTube homepage.

It was a TED talk on how to cope in a sexless marriage; what happens when one doesn't have the same libido as the other partner and how to deal with the frustration and hurt feelings that inevitably follow. It reminded me how intrinsically complicated human relationships are.

In fact I don’t believe there is anything more steeped in mystery than a couple trying to wade through life with a coherent vision that allows for their marital longevity. At least I cannot claim any personal understanding.

This woman, who professed a certain expertise in dealing with marriages that were faltering saw her parents' disintegrate after 23 years of never fighting; her mother surprised the family one day by saying she wasn't happy and wanted a divorce. The TED talk audience was told that this had helped her decide her life calling where she could deal with these marital problems of communication and had a certain success rate with these entanglements of emotion. However, as I listened I remained skeptical throughout.

I continue to think these problems are false modern day creations about how people expect life to go.

Even without the emotions and irrationality that are an inherent part of humanity, life is complicated enough on its own. We are thrown curve balls of illness, job loss, natural disasters which threaten to overthrow our sanity at times. To that we add expectation about what a partner should be doing for us and our demands for love and attention.

Except we enter relationships already damaged by our infancy and the things we have witnessed. We have been coloured by our familial experience and then we meet another who has lived a different set of circumstances and expect that they will understand us. If one reflects on it that way it is almost comical.

The concept of a soulmate is a false creation of late 20th century middle-class existence from people who had stopped worrying about how to struggle to put food on the table to feed their children. It was only exacerbated as we moved into the more narcissistic society that we live in today where our attention spans shrivel away and personal wants take a back seat to very little else.

Those couples from a bygone era had more basic needs which necessitated convergence borne out of their shared challenge. They had more important things to think about than how many times a month one had sex. It's not that intercourse is bad, far from it, it's just that it's focus became disproportionate in our modern culture as a gauge for marital health and a measure of grounds for its dissolution.

Those people also likely found a grounding in a shared faith in a God who they hoped would provide answers to the prayers they mouthed silently as they drifted off to sleep.

As I reflected on this I found I could not continue to watch the rest of the video.


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