Passion and domesticity

Upset frustrated and bored couple lying in bed having no sex

One of the greatest challenges couples face in our contemporary age is the presumption of sexual excitement. When the romance wanes, marriages are at risk – but what’s a couple to do when passion is in decline?

We’re all in favour of a vibrant and passionate sex life for couples however it’s not always easy to sustain the passion when domestic responsibilities make spontaneity and novelty an endangered species.

It was, for example, relatively easy to create the romance as newlyweds when everything we did was new and exciting. Simple things, like cooking our own meals after work, in our very basic rental kitchen was a daily highlight as we had both lived with our families up until the wedding. Every dinner, no matter how bland the food, was in effect a date night!

Soon work demands, babies and endless housework transformed those dinner dates into endurance marathons and romance was the last thing on our minds. We learnt early on, and have had to relearn many times since, that romance is something that needs active cultivation or it will quickly go ‘missing in action’.

A lot of couples assume that because passion and romance in their early years appeared to happen so spontaneously that it must be something over which they have little or no control. Like the weather, they believe that they are subjects of their passion, not masters of it.

In truth, while the romance and passion may have appeared to be spontaneous, it wasn’t effortless. When we reflect on our early years, we recall that we spent literally hours planning for our time together. We dreamed about seeing each other again, we wrote love letters (it was the days before mobile phones, text messages and social media!), we planned little treats and surprises for each other, and we greeted each other with urgency and longing.

In short, we invested huge amounts of time and energy in communicating our love and desire. No wonder it was such a wonderfully passionate period!

While it’s natural for our erotic desire to wax and wane in the different seasons of our life together, it’s important to remember that it’s not completely beyond our control. The passion we enjoy together is directly related to the investment we make in our relationship. And this holds true for every stage of marriage.

One of the essential keys in this quest is a spirit of curiosity. We should never assume to completely know everything there is to know about the other. Yet how often do we slip into this dangerous thinking! It is especially deadly in the context of a disagreement when we assume we know the other’s motivations (presumed to be selfish), needs (presumed to be unrealistic) and desires (presumed to be demanding). Our spouse often doesn’t get a chance to be anything other than what we presuppose them to be!

Rather, when we foster a spirit of curiosity, it allows us to hold the other in our imaginations lightly and reverently. It creates space in our relationship for the other to surprise us or simply be different to what we expected. It creates space for new discoveries and adventures.

The key to life-long passion is the element of mystery. As the author Marcel Proust noted, “Mystery is not about travelling to new places but it is with looking with new eyes”. Look with curious eyes on your beloved and you will banish the monotony of domesticity to unleash your marital passion!

Francine & Byron Pirola

Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links. For Media Enquiries Please Contact us here

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  1. patrick sibly on November 3, 2017 at 6:44 am

    Thank you,
    That makes complete sense,

  2. patrick sibly on March 4, 2017 at 6:39 am

    Dear Francine and Byron,
    Thank you for your wonderful website.
    I’d like to critique your article in a very positive way: I loved it and thank you for such a clearly expressed and beautiful insight.

    I believe that there is a better word than “curious” to express your sentiment. Yes I completely agree with the values you have expressed; I believe that is that couples need to learn more about one another, that as couples, our joy is: “directly related to the investment we make in our relationship.”

    Rather I am saying that the word “curious” has, in our culture come to assume a meaning that it originally did not and there is another word more consistent with your beautiful message.

    The Oxford online dictionary defines ‘curious’ as [‘an eagerness to learn or know something:
    ‘she was curious to know what had happened’].

    Saint Thomas Aquinas included curiousity as being among the ‘vices’; a habit of thinking that lends itself to self centredness and a lack of freedom and a character trait that reduces ones capacity for love. Curiosity is wanting to ‘know’ information about a subject or person, sometimes impatiently. It is perhaps the habit of children in early development too; they have a natural appetite to know. It can in the adult relationship take the shape of a habit of instant self-gratification that lends itself to gossip and unrealistic demands upon the other.

    The opposite of curiousity according to Saint Thomas, is the ‘virtue’ of ‘studiousness’. While curiousity is more about having a greedy appetite for knowledge, ‘studiousness’ on the other hand is about investing time to study the other person’s ways, to listen attentively, to ask questions, carefully consider answers, respond and observe and consider the reactions and responses of the other. I suppose that a woman must be carefully studied because she is a mystery all of her own….and that this is enjoyable, yet demanding work.

    I believe that ‘studiousness’ is what you are talking about. Learning, adventure and discovering the unfathomable mystery of the other. What do you think? Have I hit the nail on the head or am I missing the point.

    Patrick Sibly
    BAS.Agriculture (Uni Melb.)
    MA Bioethics JPII Melb.
    Grad. Cert. Higher Ed. (ACU)

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