Lust and compromise do not make marriage

“Unrealistic lust is a great place to kick off” a relationship.

That’s the counsel the advice columnist for the liberal English newspaper The Guardian gives to a woman who doesn’t know whether to move in with a boyfriend who won’t even say that he loves her.

Save “duty sex” for later, Mariella Frostrup continues.

“The desire for a fellow human being is about as real an expression of human nature as you can get. There is little sense, at the start of a relationship, in compromising on something so fundamental to harmonious cohabitation. A pragmatic approach to a long-term relationship may be sensible, but only when that sense of compromise toward a greater goal is evenly distributed and shared rather than dictated by one partner.”

Kicking off with unrealistic lust leaves young women anxious about moving in with men who don’t want to marry them, but the good of sexual indulgence is not to be questioned. Otherwise Frostrup, like all her peers, believes in “compromise.” It’s the one marital virtue she recognizes.

Which makes sense since she has, as far as I an tell, no clear idea of marriage, other than as a more intense and legal version of living together that some people choose because it makes them happy at the time. If you have no ideal to aim for, no form to fit, no rules to live by, you can only compromise when you disagree.

A marriage becomes a ship with two captains who enjoy sailing together, at least for now. When they disagree about the course to take they chart a course halfway between the ones they each want. It’s good enough if all you want to do is sail together and don’t want to get anywhere. If they can’t compromise on their course, one or the other can abandon ship. Continue reading

  • David Mills, former executive editor of First Things, is a senior editor of The Stream, editorial director for Ethika Politika, and columnist for several Catholic publications.
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