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Lions Roar : January 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN jANUAry 2010 24 fluid and phone numbers. That being the case, choose carefully with whom you have sex. Promiscuity is leaving pieces of your- self all over the place in careless hands. how important do you think sex is in a relationship? it’s really important to me. but one of the dangerous expectations people frequently have going into marriage is that their sex life af- ter twenty years together should be what it was after twenty days. That’s a huge burden to put on two people. i had somebody ask me recently, “do you still have hot, animalistic sex with your husband?” and i said, “in new Jersey, animal sex is illegal!” but the bigger point is that i won’t inflict on him the requirement that he provide that for decades on end. That said, if passion is gone completely, that’s a problem, unless it isn’t. i have a friend who’s seventy. she mar- ried a man fifteen years younger than her and they’ve been married for thirty-five years now. Though it started off as this enormously passionate sexual relationship, she says, “we’ve kind of dried up in that way, but we’ve expanded in others. we express our love in other ways.” i think that’s fine, as long as it’s okay with both parties. The problem is when somebody is filled with longing and frustration and the other person has no desire left. how important is it for a couple to be on the same spiritual path? it’s probably better than them being on radically different spiri- tual paths. however, i’ve seen successful marriages where one member of the couple is taking spirituality more seriously. my own husband is supportively uninterested in my spiritual path. he agrees with everything i pursue, he just doesn’t want to do it himself. That’s not a problem. i think if i were younger and had an urge to merge, i doubt that we would have a life together, since he isn’t interested in going on meditation retreats. but he doesn’t have to be me and, in fact, it’s better that he isn’t, be- cause it provides a necessary balance. my spiritual growth is my own responsibility. if i told him i had to get up every day at four o’clock and meditate, he wouldn’t stop me. i just prefer to stay in bed. That’s not something he’s doing to me. in what way is marriage a spiritual union? marriage is a wonderful practice ground for becoming a better person. where better to hone patience, goodness, tolerance, kind- ness, and passion than with a person who knows you well enough to push your buttons? i think that’s something that goes missing in spiritual teachings, which call into question whether you can Shambhala Sun audio: elizabeth gilbert talks with the Sun’s andrea Miller at www.shambhalasun.com. Sex is neither good nor bad. It’s tofu— it takes on whatever flavor you add to it.