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Lions Roar : January 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN jANUAry 2010 23 elizabeth gilbert’s pleasure-infused, spiritual memoir eat, Pray, love spent fifty-seven weeks in the no. 1 spot on the new york Times paperback nonfiction best- seller list and is being made into a film starring Julia Roberts. elizabeth gilbert talked with me about passion, her spiritual path, and her new book, committed: a skeptic makes Peace with marriage. Being released in January by Viking, committed is equal parts social and historical exposé of matrimony, and the intimate story of how gilbert made the transition from a dreamy romance in Bali to a solid marriage in new Jersey. Thinking about tying (or untying) the knot yourself? Read this first. – anDRea MiLLeR you’ve been married for two-and-a-half years. how’s it going? really well. we’re lucky to have a natural compatibility. i say that with fingers crossed because i know unexpected things can arise, but we have a nice time together. we are very careful with each other. What’s the most difficult aspect of marriage? any thought you have going into marriage that you’re not go- ing to sacrifice something is ignorant. depending on who you are, different things might feel painful. i have a friend who has been happily married for twenty years. she’s a terrific mom and she loves this guy but she feels this amputation, as she calls it, of monogamy. she feels there’s a part of her that died with the marriage, which isn’t to say they don’t have a sexual life together. There are just limits on what that is and what that can be. she’s willing to make the sacrifice, but it hurts. monogamy doesn’t strike me as problematic. i’m more likely to think about the loss of independence, which isn’t to say i don’t have a really supportive and encouraging husband. There are simply re- strictions i place on my comings and goings because i’m married— i’m not going to travel around the world by myself for a year, and there are moments when i feel that loss. yet you can’t expect to get anything without giving something up. it’s the beginning of ma- turity to understand that. so although marriage involves sacrifice, that’s not a deal breaker, because the rest of the deal is pretty great. What’s the greatest joy of marriage? it’s being known so intimately and being given the option to love and be loved with very few conditions. you’re not auditioning, which is how i felt about dating. i remember some- thing my husband said to me early on. we were sitting at dinner eating pizza and i had gorged myself. There was one piece left and i was wavering. i said, “god, i really shouldn’t have this because it’s not good for me. i don’t want to put on weight.” he looked at me and said, “i’ve got a really good idea. why don’t you just be yourself?” it was such a call of liberation to discover there was somebody with whom i could— without any consequences—be myself. What constitutes a healthy relationship? i know what constitutes an unhealthy relationship for my par- ticular psychological makeup. it’s anything that has the taint of infatuation; that is, where you use somebody else as your host body, where you want to disappear in them. i’ve had a tendency to fall madly in love. it’s very romantic and exciting, but it’s also degrading, devastating, and ultimately aggressive to the other person, because you’re not seeing or permitting them to be who they are. you’re insisting they fulfill this fantasy you’ve created. i think what constitutes a healthy relationship is anything that al- lows you to be the best version of yourself you can possibly be. how do you view sex? i went to a yoga conference once where somebody asked a monk, “do you think sex is good or bad?” That’s a very narrow ques- tion. many energy sources, including sex and money, are neither good nor bad. They’re tofu—they take on whatever flavor you add to them. The important thing to remember is to not make a judgment as to whether sex is good or bad, but just to know it’s extremely powerful. a person you have sex with will walk away and take a piece of you with him, and you will walk away and carry with you a piece of him. There’s an exchange that happens on an intangible level, which goes beyond the exchange of bodily QA Eat, Pray, Love – and Marry ELIZABETH GILBERT gilbert talked with me about passion, committed: a skeptic . Being released in January by What’s the greatest joy of marriage? it’s being known so intimately and being given thing my husband said to me early on. we were sitting at dinner eating pizza and i had gorged myself. PhoTobydeborahloPeZ