I believe in passionate marriages, even as more and more books come out in support of the idea that monogamy is nothing but a political structure, I beg to differ. Done right, making love to the same person for decades can be an exploration of depth and surprise that is literally mind blowing. I know this is not the norm in our culture but I also feel it is important to bear witness to the wonder of love that works.
I love David Schnarch’s evolving treatise on this topic because it looks at the hard work of relating in a realistic and straightforward approach. Unlike many writer/therapists he uses the couples who don’t succeed as role models as much as those who do. What’s more, is that he is able to do that without judgment. His approach which he has coined Crucible Therapy is different from conventional therapy in that it emphasizes individual personal growth rather than communication skills or compromise/ negotiation as the goal of therapy.
He calls relationships “people growing machines” and this he believes is what makes a relationship passionate over time. He builds the foundation of his newest book, Intimacy and Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship around what he calls the Four Points of Balance in a relationship. All of the dynamics in the relationship from its daily functioning to it’s sexual capacity is based on the couple’s ability to successfully differentiate from each other.
The first point of balance in intimate relationships is the development of the Solid Flexible self. He defines this quality as the ability to be clear about who you are and what you’re about, especially in the face of someone else demanding you conform to their expectations. This is where real independence is born, when each partner in the couple has the clarity and courage to be themselves and not be giving up themselves or what they love for the other person. This tendency in couples of becoming more like each other is actually what kills the passion in a long term relationship. Allowing real differences to live between you is where passion is born.