Two Ways Couples Who Bounced Back Made It Happen
By Esther Perel - For several years, I've been contacting couples I've treated to find out more about the long-term impact of the infidelity that brought them to therapy. What were the useful shock absorbers that sustained the couple? Did they think that therapy had helped? I identified three basic patterns in the way couples reorganize themselves after an infidelity.
How Boomers Shaped Millennial Romance
Couples therapist Esther Perel has been recognized as one of the world’s most original and insightful thinkers about couples, sexuality, and the peculiar paradoxes besetting modern marriage in the Western world. In this clip from her Networker Symposium keynote, she talks about the complicated and contradictory needs that are shaping Millennial marriage and commitment today.
What Does It Mean to Be a “Real” Man Today?
By Esther Perel - Feminism has given women a new narrative, but it hasn’t offered men a particularly new one that they can identify with. Ultimately, the lives of women will not change until the lives of men come along. What can therapists contribute to the current conversation about our gender politics and the meaning of masculinity and femininity today?
Why Does Parenthood Deliver Such a Fatal Blow to Intimacy?
By Esther Perel - The transition from two to three is one of the most profound challenges a couple will ever face. Family life flourishes in an atmosphere of comfort and consistency. Yet unpredictability, spontaneity, and risk are precisely where eroticism resides. Eros is a force that doesn't like to be constrained. When it settles into repetition, habit, or rules, it touches its death.
Esther Perel on Redefining Marriage After an Affair
For several years, I've been contacting couples I've treated to find out more about the long-term impact of the infidelity that brought them to therapy. With those couples who've remained together in the intervening years, I offered a free, follow-up interview to discuss how they regard the infidelity retrospectively, and how they integrated the experience into the ongoing narrative of their relationship. Specificities notwithstanding, I identified three basic patterns in the way couples reorganize themselves after an infidelity---they never really get past the affair, they pull themselves up by the bootstraps and let it go, or they leave it far behind.
Relationship Advice from Sex Therapist Esther Perel
America seems to be a goal-oriented society that prefers explicit meanings, candor, and "plain speech" to ambiguity and allusion. But ironically, some of America's best features, when carried too punctiliously into the bedroom, can result in very boring sex. I often suggest an alternative with my clients: "There's so much direct talk already in the everyday conversations couples have with each other," I tell them. "If you want to create more passion in your relationship, why don't you play a little more with the natural ambiguity of gesture and words, and the rich nuances inherent in communication."
Esther Perel on Maintaining the Romantic Spark After Children
Sex makes babies. So it is ironic that the child, the embodiment of the couple's love, so often threatens the very romance that brought that child into being. Sex, which sets the entire enterprise in motion, is often abandoned once children enter the picture. But the brave and determined couple who maintains an erotic connection is, above all, the couple who values it. When they sense desire in crisis, they become industrious, and make intentional, diligent attempts to resuscitate. They know that it's not children who extinguish the flame of desire: it's adults who fail to keep the spark alive.
Scott Stossel on Coping with Anxiety in Today's World
Given the “record levels of anxiety” we seem to be seeing around the world, surely we must today be living in the most anxious age ever. How can this be? Economic disruption and recent global recession notwithstanding, we live in an age of unprecedented material affluence. Life expectancies in the developed world are long and growing. But perhaps the price of progress and improvements in material prosperity has been an increase in the average allotment of anxiety.
The Challenge of Preserving Individuality in Marriage
With all the common elements inherent in most marriages—a shared living space, shared finances, and by some accounts, shared behaviors and mannerisms—it can be easy to view married partners in terms of how they act together rather than separately.
Reconciling Sensuality and Domesticity
America, in matters of sex as in much else, seems to be a goal-oriented society that prefers explicit meanings, candor, and "plain speech" to ambiguity and allusion. In America, this predilection for clarity and unvarnished directness, often associated with honesty and openness, is encouraged by many therapists in their clients: "If you want to make love to your wife/ husband, why don't you say it clearly? And tell him/her exactly what you want." But I often suggest an alternative with my clients: "There's so much direct talk already in the everyday conversations couples have with each other," I tell them. "If you want to create more passion in your relationship, why don't you play a little more with the natural ambiguity of gesture and words, and the rich nuances inherent in communication."