The End of Romance, the Beginning of Pleasure: in a Word, Marriage

Marriage is not the stuff of romance. I told this to one of my classes last week. One student supposed that by saying that I meant to imply that he would always be wanting other women, never fulfilled, so to speak. So I told him what G.K. Chesterton might reply to that anxiety. Here’s what Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy:

I could never mix in the common murmur of that rising generation against monogamy, because no restriction on sex seemed so odd and unexpected as sex itself…. Keeping to one woman is a small price for so much as seeing one woman. To complain that I could only be married once was like complaining that I had only been born once. It was incommensurate with the terrible excitement of which one was talking. It showed, not an exaggerated sensibility to sex, but a curious insensibility to it. A man is a fool who complains that he cannot enter Eden by five gates at once. Polygamy is a lack of the realization of sex; it is like a man plucking five pears in mere absence of mind…. Surely one might pay for extraordinary joy in ordinary morals.

My interpretation: a man should be so lost in the ecstasy of discovering all the pleasures of his own wife that he doesn’t have time to think of other women. If he can’t find a lifetime of pleasure in one woman, he will never be satisfied with any number of women: he simply doesn’t know what he’s doing.

He that findeth a wife findeth a good thing.


2 thoughts on “The End of Romance, the Beginning of Pleasure: in a Word, Marriage

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  1. Great post. My experience – I’ve been married almost 20 years -is that one’s partner becomes so absorbing that life becomes a series of wild and whacky adventures. What was black and white is now in colour, because one has met the other half of one’s perspective. It’s not so much that romance disappears as that a new adventuring begins.

    1. Completely agree and am so encouraged to hear your marriage is one of joy and discovery. By the end of romance, I simply mean the end of the excitement that comes from what is unknown about the other person and the romantic tension of wondering if the other person loves you and will still be with you tomorrow. Marriage destroys that fear-based excitement and creates the opportunity for knowledge-based love, real love.

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