I recently watched Esther Perel’s TED talk on the secret to desire in long-term relationships, and if you haven’t already seen it, I would actually forget reading the rest of this and going to check it out right now.
She talks about the unrealistic burden we tend to place on marriage (or long-term romantic partnerships) in a day and age where one person is suddenly expected to fill two opposing needs – our need for safety as well as our need for desire:
“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.”
She discusses the couple’s challenge to keep intimacy alive as they get further into the territory of the familiar (where, apparently, desire goes to die) and it resonated because it links to what I’ve noticed with the relationship that many millennials try to build with their careers.
Perel discusses how marriage used to be a contractual agreement – we’ll share property, we’ll share kids, we’ll share a social status. Nowadays, it has shifted: the person you marry is expected to still remain your partner in all those things, but they are also expected to be your family and fantasy and anchor and adventure all at once.
Similarly, a job used to be a long-term arrangement whereby you provided skills and your employer provided compensation for said skills – end of story. Today’s workplace seems to be much more than just a marketplace. For millennials, ‘work’ has almost taken on a spiritual obligation - it has become a place where we are meant to find meaning and redeem not only ourselves but also the world around us.
To read the rest of the piece on the Huffington Post, click here.