At the thoughtful recommendation of a reader, I’m beginning to read “The Thrill of the Chaste”…I forget who it’s by and, frankly, I’m feeling a little lazy just now (so you can look it up for yourselves).
While I’m far from in love with the book, there is something about the notion of going back to chastity, back to a simpler time…
I recall high school days of boys driving up, knocking on the door, politely — if not painfully — chatting up my parents, and dropping me off at the end of the night. Holding hands in a movie theatre or necking in the car were thrilling, and were far from taken for granted.
Sometimes I think it’s true that, these days, we get too caught up in the sex. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s absolutely wonderful and I enjoy sharing physical intimacy with someone special…but I can also see how difficult it might be to look beyond the sex to all the other qualities that impact a couple’s daily life together. Heck, I think it may have blinded me in the past.
I’ve always thought of sex as a barometer — an indicator of the health of a relationship. In the early stages, of course it’s hot and heavy. But a truer test of the long-term potential of a relationship is how it holds up when the flu is passed around a household, keeping parents up with children, juggling clean-up responsibilities between day jobs, until one spouse goes down and then, inevitably, the other and sex, for a good two-week interval or more, is less than a distant thought. How we treat each other during those ugly, smelly, sleep-deprived times might show us more about compatibility than our sexual chemistry.
More than that, daily life, when there are no reasons for our sympathies to be heightened, amidst the day-to-day irritants of leaving a toilet seat up or towel on the floor or using a particular tone or running late to school, work and extra-curricular activities, how do we love and support each other then? These are the real questions, the real juice of a relationship that may, at times, be obscured by great sexual chemistry.
So it’s tempting, at times, to look back and wonder whether it was easier to know what a relationship was truly made of, whether it truly had staying power, before getting physically involved. Yet sexually active or chaste, I think I’m old enough and wise enough to take my time, make better choices and let the answers reveal themselves to me.