The age at which singles marry continues to get older. A generation ago men and women married in their mid-twenties. Today it’s pushing mid-thirties. But who blames today’s commitment-phobic singles for breaking into hives when they think of tying the knot? They peruse a marital landscape that for many is a barren wasteland of lovelessness and divorce and conclude that getting a cat is a safer bet.
Of course, half of all couples divorce and those who do stay together generally seem so bored, their life so predictably monotonous, that only children can glue them together. Studies show that about ninety percent of married couples use their weekly date night to go to a movie, which is amazing when you think about it. The entire week they’ve had to deal with paying bills and ferrying the kids to ballet. On the one night a week where they can actually catch up as man and woman, they’d rather immerse themselves in a Hollywood fantasy than really connect to one another. If they were to go out for a drink and chat, there would either be silence or they’d end up discussing the neighbors, and the long gaps in the conversation would expose the barrenness of their relationship.
We often use expressions like ‘settling down’ when it comes to marriage. The implication being that singlehood is one big party, whereas marriage is having one foot in the grave. Sacha Guitry once said, “Marriage is whereby a woman exchanges the attention of many men for the inattention of one.” Sadly, this may be the fear that keeps a lot of women today single. Ultimately, monogamy seems to be just a few letters away from monotony.
Happily, it doesn’t have to be this way. The real reason that so many couples descend into the hell of marital predictability is the absence of any real novelty. After all, how exciting can it be to speak to come home to the same person and make love to the same body every night? But that’s the case only if you have the wrong definition of novelty.
We all love new things. We read the News, not the Olds. But in our quest for endless novelty, we usually pursue it laterally. You get tired of where you live so you move to a new city. You get bored with your job so you quit and work at a new firm. You could travel, spending much of your year planning your vacation or you might escape to the mall every Sunday afternoon. In essence, horizontal renewal is where you get bored of the routine of everyday life so you invent distractions that break the routine.
The problem however, as I explain in my new book The Kosher Sutra, is that horizontal renewal is insatiable. We deal with the boredom of life by adding new travel destinations, new sexual partners, and new possessions, which poorly compensates for what is in essence our own inner emptiness. We can pour all the new experiences in the world into that gaping hole but we will never feel filled up because it’s a bottomless pit. We are not really changing anything about ourselves. We’re just adding external bells and whistles which quickly become boring thereby forcing us to begin all over again.
A recent study found that the pleasure-factor derived from purchasing a new car lasts only about two weeks. If that’s the case – and people really love their cars – then how long can the pleasure-factor from a new relationship last before it starts getting stale? There is good news: In reality men and women are not only thrill-seekers but intimacy-seekers, and not just adrenaline junkies but creatures of the heart. The solution is vertical renewal, where you counter boredom by penetrating the deeper layers of life to uncover the hidden aspects of your soul mate.
It is possible and rewarding to treat marriage as an endless vertical adventure, forever peering more deeply into the infinite soul of the person you love. It’s a place where you never become bored and the relationship never grows old.
Here are some easy ways to bring vertical renewal into your life.
1. Stop Going on Movie Dates
Go out and have a drink instead. Don’t talk about the neighbors or Hollywood celebrities. Talk about each other. Ask questions about feelings. For example, don’t ask “Have you spoken to your parents lately,” but “When you were young, did you parents make you feel special or did you feel like you had to earn their love?”
2. Realize that each us has deep sexual reservoirs – especially women. It’s a common cycle in marriages.
He loses interest sexually. She senses his boredom and pushes him further away. The key to moving past this obstacle is a husband’s understanding that if he will just look deeper, he’ll find a wife with vivid sexual fantasies. He’ll find a wife who is wholly attuned to the attraction that men have for her. She is a deep ocean of sexuality, and he’s been snorkeling instead of exploring the beautiful reefs below. So, make the effort. Discovery is a huge part of eroticism and discovery precipitates the novelty men naturally crave.
3. When you find yourself getting bored in a relationship, rather than bowing out, discuss it.
It could well be that the emptiness is coming from you and you’ll just take it with you into your next relationship. Tell your significant other that you feel a need for the two of you to be less complacent and more adventurous. Get out and do things that are more natural and less contrived. Stop going to shopping malls together and start taking hikes. Watch less TV together and go for long bike rides. Get out there into the world, and bring your relationship with you.