A fascinating read on the state of postmodern relationships.

I am currently reading comedian Aziz Ansari’s book, Modern Romance. At 1/3 of the way through the first chapter (which follows a hilarious and spot on introductory section), I am taking so many notes that I don’t know if I could possibly do this book justice in one review. So I’m documenting the book here a couple of chapters at a time.

Of course, this assumes that the remaining 250 pages will keep me as interested, amused, and in agreement as the first 28, and that is probably quite the stretch. I hope not however, because despite the clearly secular bend of the book, the first little bit is overflowing with truth. For example, this quote from Esther Perel’s book, Mating in Captivity, which is now another book added to my increasingly long “must read” list (I sure hope it isn’t a divorce apologist tome):

So reconciling our need for security and our need for adventure into one relationship, or what we today like to call a passionate marriage, used to be a contradiction in terms. Marriage was an economic institution in which you were given a partnership for life in terms of children and social status and succession and companionship. But now we want our partner to still give us all these things, but in addition I want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and my passionate lover to boot, and we live twice as long. So we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide:

Give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one.
Give me comfort, give me edge.
Give me novelty, give me familiarity.
Give me predictability, give me surprise.
And we think it’s a given, and toys and lingerie are going to save us with that.

Like I said, interesting book, so stay tuned for periodic updates as I blog my way through it.


24 thoughts on “A fascinating read on the state of postmodern relationships.

  1. elspeth says:

    It IS intriguing. From the pdf snippet of Esther Perel’s book I just ran across this on page 17:

    For a lucky few, this is barely a challenge. These couples can
    easily integrate cleaning the garage with rubbing each other’s back.
    For them, there is no dissonance between commitment and excitement, responsibility and playfulness. They can buy a home and be naughty in it, too. They can be parents and still be lovers. In short,
    they’re able to seamlessly meld the ordinary and the uncanny. But
    for the rest of us, seeking excitement in the same relationship in
    which we establish permanence is a tall order. Unfortunately, too
    many love stories develop in such a way that we sacrifice passion so as to achieve stability.

    I honestly thought that this was the normal way of married life for every couple except those dealing with massive trauma, betrayal, or addiction.

    I am beginning to understand that this isn’t always the case (and even why) but it was truly news to me when I first ran across this as a *normal* part of marriage. We always -even after a rough bout or a trial- revert back to fun, affection, and enjoying one another.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Major Styles says:

    “So we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide.”

    Very true…little wonder that the majority of people have not found success in romantic love.

    “Give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one.”

    I picture a 24 year-old-girl saying this a young man that’s just finished playing 8 continuous hours of World of Warcraft and is ten days late on his Toyota Corolla payments.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. elspeth says:

    I picture a 24 year-old-girl saying this a young man that’s just finished playing 8 continuous hours of World of Warcraft and is ten days late on his Toyota Corolla payments.

    Of course she doesn’t exactly say this. she wants it, while not quite knowing what *it* is nor why her beau is incapable of delivering it,

    Men fall prey to this too, by the way. It manifests slightly differently, but I’ve seen it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robyn says:

    Els: “I am beginning to understand that this isn’t always the case …” I think it’s “rarely” the case with marriage. If you think about what we humans are really like … what God says we are really like, it makes it easier to understand why He wants us to be in covenant.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Elspeth says:

    I’ve been ruminating on this a bit Robyn. Gonna hash it out on the other blog. But the short answer is that husband and I stay so connected and committed to keeping short accounts because of the lessons our losses have taught us.

    We are far from perfect but we can really piss each other off, say our peace, then go straight to bed, wrap around each other, and start the next morning as if nothing happened.

    I took it for granted until the past few years when I began to learn how abnormal it is.

    I don’t think it has to be rare, though. Yes we humans suck. But God gives us the information along with the ability to choose.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hearthie says:

    I’ve been on both sides of that fence, more the good side – and it’s choice. And good example, IMO. Like you, I am baffled by people who live their marital lives without that joy. I thought they were a myth or a sad exception for the longest time. And I … well, call me names if you will, but I’m not going to try to understand it. It’s a horrible grey place, and i’m not going there. You can’t make me.

    However, I’m game to try to explain the joy of living with someone you love and fostering that love if anyone would like. 🙂 But y’all here already know. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Robyn says:

    I think sometimes “what it can be” and “what it is” are worlds apart; a lot depends on your starting points. I’ve had my bags packed on 3 different occasions … much hate involved, sad but true. Some of us just have more crap to work out. When two people get together that BOTH have a lot crap to work out …. it can get abusive between the two.

    I believe that’s why the wedding vows should read: I’ll stick around for the better that comes after the worse. I wouldn’t say we’ve lived our whole marriage without joy but there were definitely long seasons without it. We’re both blessed to have stuck it out with each other but it took us most of our 30 years to get here.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Elspeth says:

    We have had a really good time for the vast majority of our 23 years but our journey is unique I think.

    I hashed it off a bit on the other site because it has largely been the reason why we have never spent a night apart excerpt for business stuff.

    But not because we’re better. It’s because life forced us to think about a lot of things at a much younger age than most people do and our marriage benefited as a result.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. hearthie says:

    Robyn – it would be remiss of me to fail to note that our marriage has had some really really rocky bad places. Just about bags packed on one of them. And cold times.

    But they weren’t grey, “this is situation normal, suck it up”. They were … um, they were bad things. They were the result (long term or short term) of our own sets of baggage, and damfool choices and… well, doing things my/our way instead of God’s way, at the core of all of it.

    Which is, btw, one of the reasons I will NOT step off of what I know to be God’s will onto what I think might be “nicer”. I’ve been there. I’ve got the scars. God’s way is always better.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. elspeth says:

    But they weren’t grey, “this is situation normal, suck it up”.

    Like the way you put that.

    The one true “cold snap” we had, was VERY early on in our marriage and it was almost 100% (well maybe 75%) the result of my fears and insecurities. You don’t want to deal with certain things, you marry the kind of guy who can insure you don’t have to deal with certain things. And end up miserable, LOL… That was a joke, y’all. I think.

    Tamping that down and dealing rather than trying to force a man to do what he simply can. not. do. (coupled with getting real with God about me) turned that around and the following 20 years have been pretty darn good.

    But (as is often the case except in instances of grievous sin) most of the control of our own happiness and acceptance of other people is in us, not them.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Robyn says:

    Hearthie: I’m glad you’ve got your head screwed on right! It took me a long time to trust and believe God. Living in the grey was a very real experience for us. But think God knows (and delivers) the exact amount of pressure need for us to grow into the people He designed us to be.

    It takes longer for some of us because our clay is so hard in His hands. LOL … plus we keep trying to jump off the wheel!

    Elspeth: “force a man to do what he simply can. not. do. ” that’s awesome. took me many years to learn and what a sigh of relief from husband to finally be accepted for who he is.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. elspeth says:

    Okay, did a little Ester Perel recon by way of listening to a couple of her TED talks while cooking breakfast this morning.

    Turns out that she is NOT a divorce apologist. She’s an infidelity apologist. UGH.

    One insightful quote does not a wise relationship counselor make.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Robyn says:

    “One insightful quote does not a wise relationship counselor make.” It’s true, however, even a homosexual can spit out truth from time to time:

    “Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

    Els: as an aside: I’m kind of jealous of your ability (which I’ve mentioned to you before, I’m sure) cook breakfast AND concentrate on a TedTalk! I.just.don’t. possess that gene! As an aspiring writer/researcher, *it would be super-handy* (*said in my best Elle Woods voice).


  14. elspeth says:

    LOL. Everyone in my family knows that I work with more purpose and focus if I can listen to something and tune out the cacophony that characterizes life in our house- particularly in the mornings when hustle and bustle reign.

    I am not much of a multi-tasker. I’m a terrible multi-tasker actually. I don’t really even believe it’s possible. But when I’m doing something that I can do with my eyes closed, (breakfast, laundry, etc), then earbuds keep me heading in the right direction.

    Liked by 2 people

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