Boy meets girl. They feel the connection. Love crackles in the air. They are happy, spontaneous, and smiling. They feel drawn to each other—romantic dinners, incredible, connected sex with mind-blowing orgasms, midday lunches for no reason. They listen and are paying attention to the other. "Let's take this to the next level," they say a couple of years into the relationship. "Let's make this forever..." and they get married.
A few years later, things shift—slowly and naturally. A three-year-old daughter has caused her to put her career/dreams on hold—she's now a stay-at-home-mom and chasing the White Picket Fence lifestyle has helped his career blossom. But he is stressed and focused, pulling 80-hour weeks to provide a great life for his family. Bills, errands, housework, jobs, commutes and kids all take priority... and they haven't even noticed that their loving, fun, happy, adventurous lifestyle ended years before. To top it off, their sex life has either been reduced to 12 predictable minutes after the kids fall asleep, or it’s non-existent. They might not see it yet, but they are disconnected and are headed down a path to one of two places: infidelity or divorce.
This tale is all too common, and is the precise reason why websites like Ashley Madison (the "Life is short. Have an affair." website for married people looking to cheat) are all the rage... and also why Hollywood is paying close attention. A new series called Satisfaction (USA Network) is taking a bold stance on marriage, monogamy, and infidelity, and is calling out critical issues with its lead characters. A successful couple with a teenage daughter has silently (and unbeknownst to them) entered the doldrums of their 18-year marriage. On the outside, they have it all—a beautiful house, his career, her stay-at-home-mom life with flexibility, a top-notch private school for a talented daughter—and they definitely care about each other. But they are each dissatisfied, both with their own lives as well as their marriage. As is the case in many relationships, they don’t talk about it. Instead, they each look externally for a sense of fulfillment, purpose and satisfaction—both physically and mentally.
What’s uncovered in the series doesn’t only focus on the issues of monogamy (is it defunct?) and marriage (does it have an expiration date?), but also prompts important philosophical questions: What if everyone looking for the Have-It-All lifestyle is chasing all the wrong things? What if the having it all outside isn't enough to feel fulfilled inside?
Dissatisfaction Drives Satisfaction
Today’s world is built on instant gratification. Fast computers and mobile devices connect to the Internet with ever-increasing bandwidth speeds. Our Facebook pages load quickly, so we are able to see our posts instantaneously… posts punctuated by comments written by people who drive our feelings of positive self-esteem and fuel our self-image. We as a society look externally for positive feelings about ourselves. With every retweet, post, and check-in, we crave acknowledgement, self-worth, validation, and satisfaction. In a marriage where a couple has been drifting apart—preferring Reality TV to put them in catatonic state instead of connecting with and investing in their partner—it’s all but preordained that any couple would stray physically and emotionally.
It Happens Silently
Every romantic relationship has an Original Agreement, be it sexual, financial, emotional, or a combination of all three. When this original agreement isn't being fulfilled—through change, shifting priorities, or neglect—it causes the relationship to stall…or end. Over time, life can enter a place of habit and cohabitation for many couples, and that’s when things can get dreary. Spontaneity turns into Date Night, conversations are replaced by discussions about bills and kids, and sex becomes a few scheduled minutes of the same foreplay preceding another few minutes of predictable missionary position. Given this scenario, and with memories of how great things used to be, it’s human nature to seek out what makes you happy and satisfied.
I recently polled just over 1,000 women—over two-thirds of them in the same relationship for over 10 years—asking them a very straightforward question: What do women want in bed? In analyzing the responses, a whopping 92 percent answered the most important thing—ranked higher than foreplay and oral sex—is a kiss. Not just any kiss… a real kiss filled with passion… where she can feel how badly he desires her. A kiss that reminds her that she is a woman, not just a wife or mother. A kiss that lets her know that he sees her as a feminine being, and he craves her the way he did when they first met.
And in this simple answer, we can see what so many women are missing—Passion and Desire—and why they are signing up in droves for sites like Ashley Madison. They don’t want to leave the security of their marriage, but they aren’t willing to put their wants and needs on hold anymore, either.
A Recipe For Disconnection
Long-term relationships suffer from one main issue: Predictability. For some, predictable can mean security and comfort, and those aren’t bad things. But predictable also brings about routine without variance and more importantly without excitement. For those who haven’t done their own work and have transitioned to seeking/finding their value externally, this is a recipe for disaster. It’s simple math: Predictability, comfort and routine make people forget why they fell in love in the first place.
The solution to staying together can be boiled down to something simple: gratitude. Want to make your marriage work? Stay grateful and show them that you appreciate them—not for what they do, but for who they are. Without appreciation, you are headed for divorce court. The bottom line: No matter how much someone loves you, everyone has a point where they get tired of waiting to be appreciated… and that is when you will find them in the arms of someone else, with you watching from the sidelines.