Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Marriage, Porn, Romance, and Partnership

My wife and I had a long argument about Romance novels today. Not like a fight, we rarely fight.  There was no name calling, just a lot of relatively healthy debate about what romance novels say.  I had to step out of it for a minute and ask myself what bothered me so much about it.

It’s the stereotypical female complaint about a man’s pornography.  It makes me feel inadequate. I’ll never be that rich, that mysterious, that or that romantic.  I don’t mind her reading them, I just don’t like to have it really brought to my attention. Which, of course, is how she feels about pornography.   We realized after much thought and arguing, that the real issue is the feelings of inadequacy, not the object of them.  So we talked about that some more.

Inadequate to what?  Well, to meet every possible need, of course.  This is a complicated topic.  I love my wife, desperately.  Sometimes I do wish that I could have sex with other women.  I don’t want the enormous baggage which that would bring, I don’t really want to sleep with them, I want to sleep with them is some magic universe where everything I want is somehow right and good for everyone.  Sometimes, she wants to be swept into a romance.  That doesn’t mean she really wants to deal with the non-communication, control issues, drama, and complexity. She want’s to, for a bit, live in a magic universe where everything she likes is right and good for everyone.

Neither one of us, being real, can ever meet the real, and acceptable need for the fantastic.  Sometimes I wish I could be a Jedi.  Sometimes she wishes she could be Kaylee Frye.  That’s OK and we have to accept the fact that we can never meet all of the persons needs.

And then we talked some more and asked “Why do feel we have to meet each other’s needs in the first place?”  In no other relationship to deeply concern myself with meeting the other persons needs.  Why in this spousal relationship do we feel this way?

Culture.  The world view expressed by most modern media, songs, movies, etc, is a mix of judeochristian humanist values, taking, I’m afraid, the weaknesses of both world views, and few of the strengths.  Combined with growing up in the church, we’d come to believe in our hearts that it was our job to meet the other person’s needs.

This wasn’t something we had considered intellectually until today, so if you asked me if I believed it, I might have said no, but our expectations of others often reveal what we really believe.   I was hurt that a fictional character was meeting a need for fiction, because I believed it was my job to meet every possible need my wife had.   How silly.

We realized that a lot of what we have joking called the “blessing of godlessness” in our lives since we started walking out an atheist worldview, has come from a non-cognitive dropping of this I meet your needs you meet mine theory of marriage. 

And now, we drop it purposely.  We are partners, not in meeting the other persons needs, but partnering to help them meet their own needs.  In retrospect, it seems impossible we ever considered anything else.  Of course, I can’t possible meet all my wife’s needs.  She’ can’t possibly meet mine.  No one person could ever meet all of someone else’s needs, and to attempt so would be sick. 

The freedom this brings in delightful.  We don’t have to feel guilt for not meeting the other persons needs.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments