I recently gave a quote to Bustle on-line magazine for an article outlining times that a lack of passion in a relationship might not be a bad thing. This was an interesting angle for me to consider, since passion is so vitally important to me in every area—intimate relationships, friendships, parenting, work, play. I have an opinion about almost everything and want those around me to as well! I thrive on heated discussion and debate. I want to surround myself with people who love hard, live fully, suck the marrow right out of every minute of life! How could someone find even one benefit to a passionless relationship, let alone enough to constitute an article?
Of course it took me about four seconds of self reflection to remember that I had been actively trying to suppress this part of myself for the better part of an 18 year marriage, so now I protect this rediscovered side with everything I have!
I was raised in a house where “passion” was revered and spontaneity was the norm. Decisions were often made impromptu and as the result of gut reaction over any real consideration. It was no surprise to be woken at 2:00am for a variety of reasons, from enjoying a new fallen snow, to running across town to grocery shop at the 24-hour Pathmark, to other less nostalgic memories. My childhood revolved around my parents’ decisions about their own lives and I had to hold on tight as a passenger if I wasn’t to be left behind.
Why would anyone be surprised to hear that at 21 I ended up in an abusive, intense relationship with a man in his mid thirties? We certainly had passion, and wasn’t that the cornerstone of any real relationship? Well, at that time, I saw it as the only way to measure true love. It took me the longest 18 months of my life to realize that my situation was only getting worse by the day and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. When I finally extricated myself from that relationship, I was so terrified that I would find myself in a similar situation, that I consciously or subconsciously went to the opposite end of the spectrum and found a partner who was safe, reliable, predictable. I liked that when I was with him I was calm as well. Nothing was triggered in me—good or bad.
This was how I wanted to start a family. I could bring kids into a stable, secure world where dinner would be expected around a certain time every day, mom and dad would be there to kiss them goodnight, and should they wake in the night, one of us would be there to comfort them back to sleep. No yelling, no uncertainty, no fear. And this is what I did. It was the best decision I made up to that point in my life.
So, yes there is a time that lack of passion can be a benefit. I was able to do and have what I had only dreamed possible. I loved my husband for all that he brought to the table. He helped heal a part of me that had been so damaged. But that lack of passion came at a cost too. When the kids were small I was so wrapped up in them and they filled my needs. I got tons of physical affection; they wonderfully exhausted me by the end of every day. I was living my dream and providing a life to my children that I had always wanted for myself. I knew my marriage wasn’t ideal, but what we couldn’t fix we chose to ignore.
Of course, soon it was impossible to ignore certain things, and here is exactly where I believe our lack of initial passion came back to ultimately help end this marriage. Had we been able to remember days of passion and overwhelming desire and love when we would have done anything to make the other happy, maybe we could have found our way. We never had that foundation. Any emotion seemed to make my husband uncomfortable. He didn’t know what to do with mine, nor did he understand this void I needed to fill. I’d talk for hours trying to explain. We went to individual and joint counseling, read self help books, took weekends away together. I still had never been so lonely or so depressed. I’d cry myself to sleep, and he would hold me, never once asking what was wrong, and in the morning we’d start over like everything was fine.
Was it simply passion our marriage was missing? Well, no, but that was a large component of a slightly more complicated situation. I just knew that for me life without passion was life without energy, and really a life that is not being lived fully. Passion is not always reckless or destructive, as I may have believed growing up. It can be incredibly positive, motivating, and more effective than any drug. Though yes, lack of passion in a relationship can serve a purpose for some, I’ve been there, done that. I never want to give it up again, and hope I never have to.