It's a Living. Part I: David's Saga. Episode 14: The Marriage
In the previous episode of our fictional saga, David and Susan settled into life in Sage River, doing their jobs remotely. Less stressed, they were able to work on their parenting skills.
Next, they turned to their marriage. Sitting by the fire, Susan began. "You know, we've become more like roommates than anything else."
"I just care more about work than you do. We only have a certain number of heartbeats. I believe life is best-led when we spend as many of them as possible contributing, being productive."
"That's just too Calvinist for me. I need to leave room for pleasure. If I work nonstop like you, I'll burn out."
"I did have two heart attacks, you'll recall."
"Well, shouldn't that have been a wake-up call?"
"It was, for a couple weeks, but then you somehow forget. Or you think, "Better a short but very productive life than a long and happy but less contributory one. I mean, I could be happy spending all day hiking with the dog, watching comedies, eating, having sex..."
"That's one thing we don't have."
"I don't know if it's just that my sex drive is lower than yours or that I'd simply rather be working."
"That scares me, David."
"Whatever the reason, that's who I am. You know it, I know it. We've tried everything: positions, fantasies, how-to books, toys, porn, sex therapist: 'Communicate your needs better, make date nights, light candles.' Same advice you get in Redbook but none of it works for us. Remember when we walked out of the therapist's office, you said, "For our 150 bucks, we'd probably get more benefit from retail therapy?"
"So what do we do?"
"What we are doing: accepting each other as-is. I've read a ton that says that mismatched sex drive is the most difficult sex problem to cure. We've worked hard at it for a decade and all it has done is made our relationship worse. I think we're wisest to follow The Serenity Prayer: accept what you can't change."
"That is a tough one to accept, David."
"Is there really only one definition of marriage? One definition of love?... Susan, do you love me?"
"I'm not sure what love is anymore."
"You know I love you and what that means for me is that I'm always glad to see you, be around you, do the things we enjoy doing together. And we have the memories of our years together. It gives our relationship substance. Isn't that enough?"
After a long silence, Susan changed the topic to common ground. "So, Mr. Only-So-Many Heartbeats, now that we're settled in Sage Valley, shouldn't we be doing some volunteer work?"
"Good point but what would make the biggest difference?"
The next episode will be published on the next business day.