Is there anything more terrifying than plunging into your relationship?

Separation is usually an act we seek to AVOID in a relationship.


Most of us navigating through relationships seek togetherness, bonding, unity–not distance. And, of course, separation is one of the last stops on the road to divorce.

Advocating for separateness in relationships feels like supporting violent peace or ugly puppies or salad candy. (Happy Halloween!)

Which makes it all the more intriguing when two marriage experts throw down a convincing case that separateness is essential to thriving relationships.

Esther Perel posits that today’s relationship expectations are absurdly inflated. In modern partnerships, we expect our partner to be a sex machine, an adoring parent, an intimate friend, a chiropracter, a cook, a cleaner, a shrink, a chauffeur, concierge, general handyperson, personal shopper, daycare practitioner, errand boy, pet handler, window washer, yada yada yada.

It’s hard enough to be good at any one of those jobs, much less run the table.

The first thing, then, is to expect less.

A key corollary: the closer we are come knowing everything about our partner, to boiling life into predictable routines and habits and systems that boost efficiency and income and free time–the more boring our relationship gets. There’s no mystery, no magic, no erotic spark. Relationship electricity comes from an air of separateness, momentarily bridging the unknowable. That’s the stuff of life.

To me, it sounds an awful lot like spirituality–achieving peace requires a leap of faith into the logically confusing unknown.

And you’ve got to have difference in the first place to ultimately make that magnificent stab of connection.

It’s a fascinating, counterintutive idea. More on this in days to come.

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