Most of my students are adult women.

There’s a recurring topic during the lessons.

Finding and maintaining a relationship that makes us feel alive.

The obstacles seem daunting and legion.

Some of the examples the women give.

A partner that’s emotionally distant.

Financial worries destroying the peace at home.

Inlaws from hell.

The death of the sexual flame.

Lack of mutual interests.

Ex-boyfriends turning up suddenly offering what they didn’t want to offer before.

Not seeing each other.

Husband obsessed with a hobby.

Illness.

Cultural differences.

Different ideas about how to spend their free time.

Attraction to third parties.

Being used as a trophee and not as a living human being with feelings, worries, aspirations, desires, concerns, beliefs, …

Being pushed into the role of the guy in the relationship. By this they mean that they as the woman, have to take charge of things and also prop up their guy’s weak self-confidence.

Most relationships I know, especially here in Slovakia, are lop-sided. That means the burden is on the woman. The man will make money, the woman too, but the man seems to think making money is all that is required of him, and because that is such a drag, the woman has to support him emotionally at all times.

Almost all the women complain about investing more in the relationship than they are getting back. Most want to spend more time with their partners, not less. In the west this is often different, there I know plenty of women who are fine with seeing their boyfriend only from time to time, not every day. Perhaps Slovak women tend to want to do everything together with their partner. For the examples I know the best way to keep a Slovak woman happy is to take her on lots or trips. They don’t have to be to faraway lands, and they don’t have to be adventurous, just trips. They don’t seem to do much on those trips, but the women are clearly very excited about it. Maybe Slovak women are like dogs. Play with them, take them for long walks, pet them, give them regularity, and they will be superhumanly loyal, dedicated, nurturing, attuned to your mood swings, and always ready to do something active. And they are always ready for sex if you provide the basic requirements. Dogs are wonderful animals, so please don’t take this comparison as an other harsh way to criticize Slovak women.

If they weren’t so possessive Slovak women would be all be the ideal woman.

Unfortunately, again like dogs, they are quite tenacious when it comes to territorial pissings. You can get all the fruit of their generosity and their loyalty, emotional support, discipline, hard-working nature, but in return you are theirs and theirs alone. This can feel oppressive, restrictive, and it certainly can make you feel like your world shrinking. As my good friend Abram Muller always says, he finds it hard to meet up with married Slovak men. They can’t get away from their wives. My roommate from college who lives a couple hundred meters away from my door needs to ask permission from his Slovak girlfriend to see me. You can count on it that I stop asking someone to meet up with me if he needs verbal and/or written approval to meet up with him. And no, I don’t want to meet up as couples, when I want to see him, I want to see him, not her. Guys are different when their women are present. The range of topics becomes limited and what one really wants to say can’t be said. I never meet up with male friends AND their women if I can avoid it. I prefer to meet women without their guys as well. The nature of romantic relationships doesn’t allow for much authenticity and when I meet a friend the top priority for me is authenticity. I want to hear exactly what is on a friend’s mind. The last person people are completely honest and open to is their romantic partner. To keep love going you need to bend the truth, leave out details. I try to always say what I really think and see and there’s no way around it: it angers her.

It’s better not to say I like one student’s breast and hair. It’s better not to say that one other student is always smiling at me. It’s better not to say that I have turned my life into a small money factory and almost nothing else anymore. It’s better not to bore, frighten, burden, annoy her with all my worries, insecurities, anger, frustration, nostalgia, sadness for what might have been, negativity, feelings of doom and loss of hope. But when you live together with someone, pretend all day that you are fine, it’s hard to keep that theatre going when you arrive home. I’m not fine and at least at home I want to let that sadness out. I realize this puts a giant burden on her. I also recognize that other men do this too. That my father did it for most of his life with my mum. To use your partner as an emotional bandage and almost nothing else.

I’m not sure if happy couples exist. I am sure efficient couples exist. Couples that are efficient economic entities. It seems that this is the best to hope for in our culture: a man and a woman managing to rule over their small family kingdom in relative harmony, not happiness, but at least harmony. The price they pay for that is the dead of passion, having to kill interest in people and activities outside of that tiny family realm.

You pay for security with your sense of aliveness.

At times it makes me want to scream: is this all there is to life?

And when I say these things, I’m selfish, spoilt, negative, am also being accused of WANTING to be negative, wanting to be depressed.

Perhaps all those things are true.

Whenever I say something positive she wants to record it, because it happens so rarely.

I think where most couples fail is that they expect things to stay exciting. The only way to accomplish eternal relationship excitement is to change partners every year or at least every two years.

What most people forget is that being a couple is just one of nature’s models to make us have babies. Multiplying seems to be the only driving force behind this mind-blowing phenomenon that we call living entities.

There’s your goal as a couple, create babies, the rest is background noise.

My hope has always been that it could be about more than creating babies. Perhaps a couple can also create a company together, or an institution or manage some project that makes the world a more loving place.

Given our unforgiving economic model this is very unlikely to happen for most couples.

You have to choose. Excitement and novelty, and variety, but also risk, the risk of solitude, rejection, losing people, risking having none of the goods things on this side of the coin, on the one hand, and security, dampened spirits, dulled senses, safety, familiarity, stability on the other side of the coin.

Most of us choose to pay for safety with our vibrancy.

This choice plus our choice as to how to make our money in this corrupt society are the toughest choices we face.

The quest for a relationship that makes us feel alive over the longterm might be a clear indication of not understanding how relationships function.

The best you can do is to prioritize your partner’s well-being over your own and hope that this partner does the same. It’s probably the only way to make it work in relative contentment.

If one prioritizes one’s own well-being one shouldn’t even try to be in a relationship. A relationship can’t be about one’s self, it has to be about something bigger, bigger even than the relationship itself.

It should be a quest not for happiness, but for something that ask us to rise above ourselves.

Unless of course you want to go from exciting beginning to exciting beginning. It’s called serial monogamy and it’s not without its perks.

Choose wisely.

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