Intimacy SOS


Jon and I recently met downtown for lunch and I couldn’t help but feel doubly sheepish; the last time we carved out time to meet midday was back in November, after I was put on the hot seat by New York City marriage and family therapist Esther Perel. And I have been meaning to write about meeting Perel since.

No, Perel isn’t my therapist. In November, on an invite from the Manic Mommies, I attended an insightful reading and discussion of her book, Mating in Captivity. During the Q&A I asked whether she had suggestions for, generally, how to connect better on a day to day basis; that our workloads and daily to do lists often left Jon and me scurrying to achieve household or e-mail tidiness after Laurel went to bed. Perel asked when I last went out to dinner with Jon. I stammered about the challenges of having anyone other than Auntie Sha-Sha put Laurel to bed. She asked whether Laurel was in day care and then asked when I last met Jon for lunch. I explained that since I left my downtown job it took more time to meet up midday and that I already felt pressed for hours in the week. Even as I scrabbled for these justifications I knew that I just needed to make the time; that finding connection with my partner was worth those couple hours (and that the household chores, fortunately and unfortunately, would always be there another day).
If this scenario sounds all too familiar, check out Perel’s book. She writes as frankly and engagingly as she speaks, arguing the importance of couples creating space to reignite dwindling (or completely defunct) home fires; that modern couples place too much pressure on their partner being everything (lover, friend, household bookkeeper, etc.), and that these constraints suffocate eroticism.

Perel’s descriptions of clinical approaches with couples (both hetero and homosexual) are fascinating and some scenarios likely will ring awfully familiar. Exhausted parents no doubt will jump right to the “Parenthood – When Three Threatens Two” chapter, where Perel describes typical situations that stymie the connection between new parents and case studies from both the perspective of the dad or mom losing their mojo. In these and other non-parenting couples cases, Perel offers perspective and suggestions on how to work on righting the intimacy ship.

Hopefully going on the record with our rather pathetic current stat of 2 lunch dates in 5 months will improve our efforts. It’s amazing how much better in step a couple can feel after a mere hour of focused time together.