Boy meets girl. They feel the connection. Love crackles in the air. They are happy, spontaneous, and smiling. They feel drawn to each other —romantic dinners, incredible, connected sex with mind-blowing orgasms, midday lunches for no reason. They listen and are paying attention to the other. "Let's take this to the next level," they say a couple of years into the relationship. "Let's make this forever ... " and they get married.
A few years later, things shift - slowly and naturally. A three-year-old daughter has caused her to put her career and dreams on hold — she's now a stay-at-home-mom and chasing the white picket fence lifestyle that has helped his career blossom. But he is stressed and focused, pulling 80-hour weeks to provide a great life for his family. Bills, errands, housework, jobs, commutes and kids all take priority, and they haven't even noticed that their loving, fun, happy, adventurous lifestyle ended years before. To top it off, their sex life has either been reduced to 12 predictable minutes after the kids fall asleep, or it’s non-existent. They might not see it yet, but they are disconnected and are headed down a path to one of two places: infidelity or divorce.
This tale is all too common, and is the precise reason why websites like Ashley Madison (the "Life is short. Have an affair." website for married people looking to cheat) are all the rage ... and also why Hollywood is paying close attention.
The new television series “Satisfaction” on USA is taking a bold stance on marriage, monogamy and infidelity by calling out these critical issues with its lead characters. A successful couple with a teenage daughter has silently entered the doldrums of their 18-year marriage. As is the case in many relationships, they don’t talk about it. Instead, they each look externally for a sense of fulfillment, purpose and satisfaction – both physically and mentally.
The show got me thinking on the issues of monogamy (is it defunct?) and marriage (does it have an expiration date?), and also an important philosophical question: What if the having it all outside isn't enough to feel fulfilled inside?
Dissatisfaction drives satisfaction
Today’s world is built on instant gratification. We as a society look externally for positive feelings about ourselves. With every retweet, post, and check-in, we crave acknowledgement, self-worth, validation, and satisfaction. In a marriage where a couple has been drifting apart, it’s all but preordained that any couple would stray physically and emotionally.
It happens silently
Over time, life can enter a place of habit and cohabitation for many couples, and that’s when things can get dreary.
I recently polled just over 1,000 women – over two-thirds of them in the same relationship for over 10 years – asking them a very straightforward question: What do women want in bed? In analyzing the responses, a whopping 92 percent answered the most important thing – ranked higher than foreplay and oral sex – is a kiss. Not just any kiss – a real kiss filled with passion, where she can feel how badly he desires her.
Here, we can see what so many women are missing – passion and desire – and why they are signing up in droves for sites like Ashley Madison. They don’t want to leave the security of their marriage, but they aren’t willing to put their wants and needs on hold anymore, either.
A recipe for disconnection
Long-term relationships suffer from one main issue: predictability. It’s simple math: Predictability, comfort and routine make people forget why they fell in love in the first place.
The solution to staying together can be boiled down to something simple: gratitude. Want to make your marriage work? Stay grateful and show them that you appreciate them—not for what they do, but for who they are. The bottom line: No matter how much someone loves you, everyone has a point where they get tired of waiting to be appreciated… and that is when you will find them in the arms of someone else, with you watching from the sidelines.
Charles' picks this week:
1. Trust is always earned. Sometimes you need a small push to think about it differently. Take a look at these quotes.
2. Looking for insights into a better marriage? Author Jenna McCarthy says you should "treat him like a dog."
3. Divorce-proof your marriage. You're welcome.
Up and down:
Up: A recent poll of 1,000 New Yorkers showed that 73 percent believe in "death do us part." However ...
Down: ... that same poll revealed that over 50 percent of those married for over five years are bored sexually.