Every true lover knows that the moment of greatest satisfaction comes when ecstasy is long over. And he beholds before him the flower which has blossomed beneath his touch―Don Juan DeMarco
Love is an act of the imagination. We daub our lover with our oldest longing. We paint his lips with our most noble and generous magnificence. Love photo-shops her imperfections. Love ennobles his good qualities, assigns them with mythical powers. In our love’s vow we talk, we touch, we seal our dreams with a kiss. We know that we are beautiful. We feel young again. Alive, in a way that we haven’t felt in years.
In the warm nascence of Love, we touch our holy longing. In the Mystery of barely knowing him we travel the world, design our new home, merge in our anticipation of something new, something more. As the sun rises on new beginnings, we bask in possibility. Yet according to research on neurobiology, the potent alchemy of attraction is spiked with dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Our intense emotional and physical fusion is only possible with someone we do not yet really know.
We are as changeable as chameleons, as contrary as Mary. In order to feel fully alive, we need a sprinkling of mystery. We require a dash of novelty. We need a splash of change, blended with just enough safety and continuity to ground us. Risk and Fear. Safety and Adventure. We fluctuate like clouds that shape shift across a summer sky.
When we commit to each other, marry, or cohabit, our brains produce the bonding chemicals, oxytocin and vasopressin. We want togetherness—and difference to keep things interesting. Yet in the otherness of our partner we so often respond with judgement. Or we set the bar high for an athletic leap of great expectations which breaks the legs of spiritual growth and sprains our soul’s warm desire.
Our heightened dependence on just one person makes us vulnerable. So, we stack up the sandbags against the rising waters of uncertainty. We construct a prison of predictability in our relationships and choose to stay behind narrow bars of bland neutrality. Our script of staid of assumptions goes something like this: “I always know what you’re thinking” or “he doesn’t talk about emotions,” or the stolidly dependable “she always takes care of all our finances.”
We dis-own our passion and vitality, clutch at things we feel we can control. We blinker our eyes and stop being curious. Our entire birth chart, and more specifically, the archetypes of Venus and Mars, describe the myriad ways we love embrace, or avoid, Love and Erotic Desire. In myth, Venus was not faithful. She delighted in variety, she evoked jealousy. She defied the patriarchal Greek and Roman morality. In our birth chart, she leads us down to the Underworld to experience orgies of love and humiliating loss, then urges us to emerge again, re-newed, stronger, wiser, eyes wide open.
Mars is the warrior god. And for those of us who sit behind computer screens all day, or push the vacuum cleaner across the floor, we may experience our lust for sex and violence vicariously through movies or sport, or we may morph into a Berserker when we’re stuck in traffic, sniping at our partner for leaving a wet towel on the floor when we arrive home.
Venus is in Capricorn this Valentine’s Day. Venus interpretations so often become stereotypes that don’t embrace the myriad variables of the birth chart. Some astrologers would describe a Capricorn Venus as cool and calculating, earthy and responsible. This week, Venus slips off Capricorn’s crisp classic clothing in celebration of Love. Mars is in conjunction with Uranus—February 13 and 14th— in the final degrees of Aries, an edgy, erotic combination, associated with lightening bolts and the heated rush of Desire. Within Love’s new beginnings are also endings, as desire and excitement fade into committed Love that lasts until the music dies.
Venus then conjoins both Saturn and Pluto between February 18-22 th—prompting a new direction in the dance of Love. Mars/Uranus aspects are those lightening bolts that jolt, shake, electrify us, with a love that burns.
Venus in steady Capricorn meets both Saturn and Pluto, describing the serious power struggles that inevitably ensue after the youthful romantic stage of Romeo and Juliet Love dies the scripted, inevitable death.
Risk and Fear are the Guardians at the gate of Love. We cannot be truly intimate or sexually playful when we are vigilant, guarded, or fearful. We cannot be truly intimate or sexually adventurous when we do not take a risk.
Our relationships work, for a while, within a bounded space, enclosed by children and pets, in-laws, work, social responsibility. Until they don’t. Until something happens to shatter the thin veneer of compromise.Until a raging torrent rushes through the aridity of our life. Until the brittle sacrifices implode in a shower of dust. It may be a death, a health-scare, an affair, the loss of a business, our child leaving home. The comfort of fireside companionship, the tangible solidity of the things we own, and the cadence of routine now does not feed our hunger. We go online and gorge, like starving anorexics feasting on chocolate sundae. Or in the seductive gaze of our work colleague or the children’s music teacher, we delight in the sweetness we have denied ourselves for decades. We become alive again.
Love is a creative act of the Imagination. Its realm is rarefied, intangible, briefly captured like an exquisite butterfly where it flutters to the sound of music, poetry, the wind whispering through the trees.
Intimacy waits patiently for Love’s transient rapture to disperse. Intimacy requires time, repetition and the ability to choose each other, again and again. Intimacy is a practiced dance where two dancers move across the floor, present and focused, moving as one, yet firm in our own foot work. The dance of Intimacy requires tenderness and some acceptance. It requires routine and a sense of safety. It requires trust and an ability to create an emotional connection.
Yet so often as we spin our soft cocoon of companionable safety, Eros feels swaddled. He becomes a pudgy Cupid, not a virile Lover.
Sex therapist David Schnarch writes, “We’ve reduced adults to infants and infants to a frail ghost of their resilience, reduced marriage to providing safety, security, and compensation for childhood disappointments. We remove our essential drives for autonomy and freedom.”
Psychologist Esther Perel suggests that too much closeness restricts the sense of freedom and autonomy we need for sexual pleasure. “When intimacy collapses into fusion it is not lack of closeness but too much closeness that impedes desire.” She maintains that intimacy only sometimes begets sexuality and that our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. With too much distance there can be no connection and with too much fusion (the soul mate theory) there is no one to connect with. “Increased emotional stability ironically what makes for good intimacy, does not make for good sex.”
Anais Nin wrote so poignantly, “Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we do not know how to replenish its source.” So how do we replenish Love’s source? David Schnarch writes, love and desire are “not a matter of peeling away the layers but of developing them—growing ourselves up to be mature and resourceful adults who can solve our current problems.”
Love requires an artist’s eye, a poet’s sensibility, a gourmet’s palate. The willingness to be curious, to engage in the mystery, to re-ignite the flame of Eros with the spark of our human imagination. Perhaps in the break-down of all we know is safe and sure, we discover that it is our partner who has been taking care of our marriage after all. In stretching out of our familiar roles, seeing each other with new eyes, we rebuild a relationship that has collapsed under the heavy weight of our control. We allow Love to awaken in our life. And we begin to dance again.
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