Here are the first words that come to mind that I remember about “Mating in Captivity” by Esther Perel:

Lust and love. Safety and risk. Trust and curiosity. Boredom and novelty. Monogamy and polyamory. Familiarity and excitement.

Picking up dirty laundry and sex binge weekends. 24 hours in pajamas and wild nights out for months. Three children and rock climbing. Unpaid bills and erotic lingerie.

If you associate the first words in the above sentences with marriage and the second with dating or hookups, welcome aboard.

You are one of the millions of humans who struggle with the mess of modern-day relationships. 

Mating in Captivity or Singlehood in Freedom: Our Broken View of Love

It is impossible never to have come across Esther Perel’s “Mating in Captivity”. It is a widely popular book, highly acclaimed by leading newspaper book clubs and bestseller lists.

The book is a bestseller because it touches upon an important aspect of modern life. In modern marriage, the expectations from marriage have grown. Spouses no longer see each other as mere partners in the economics of a household and family. 

Two Most Common Reasons You Place High Hopes on Romance and Marriage

Nowadays, we want a lot more from a partner, mainly for two reasons:

  • Mainstream media brainwashing with the romanticized idealism of “happily ever after”
  • Our own incapability to love as adults because we simply don’t know how to.

We love as we have been taught in our families.

Most adults, with rare exceptions, keep aspects of their small child personality when they show up as adult partners in a relationship.

But regardless of the distorted stories about love we have been told or accepted, the hookup culture, the inability to articulate what we want unless we text message,  true love has a bit of that magical quality.

This magical quality is difficult to describe. Yet, we know that it maintains bits of romanticism and the deserving small child inside. 

Most problems in marriages or long-term  “serious” relationships come out from one of both partner’s inability to:

  • Comprehend themselves and the other, and
  • Manage and communicate their needs, wishes, and desires.  

“Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence” is a book about all of this.

How to Rekindle a Stale Relationship or Marriage by Reading “Mating in Captivity”

A huge part of the issues modern couples struggle with is down to pointing the mirror to the partner rather than turning it inwards for self-reflection.

We expect from the partner to be our everything. We give them an impossible task which no one can fulfill. We want them to tick all the boxes in our expectation minds. We want them to act in a way, and when they don’t, we take that for a fault of character. 

Mating in Captivity book review old couple
Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

We all have our ingrained narrative of how to love. No two people are the same in this respect.

Partners in marriage often share a crime. They both have a dysfunctional bonding pattern (or attachment style) which attracts the other and glues to them like a fly to honey.

Sometimes, marriage failure is due to accepting societal spousal roles without questioning whether they fit in the person you are.

There is plenty to be said about the skyrocketing divorce rates and the declining marriage wows that marked the noughties and beyond. Happiness seems to remain an illusory quality for many marriages that involve an affair and fail in overcoming it. 

How to Survive the Betrayal of the Affair (If You Can)

What Esther Perel is talking about in “Mating in Captivity” is not the subject of serial affairs. She talks about a more complex problem: the affair that rocks an otherwise stable marriage.

For some people, when the excitement of the novelty wears out, the easiest way to look for fun is outside of their marriage.

Having an affair seems like a wonderful solution. There is someone new who can stir your juices, look at you with awe, excite you to look forward to meeting them. At the same time, they can overwhelm you with guilt. 

9 Love Insights to Develop Excitement and Save Your Marriage

An affair is not the only exit. Here is what other exits I took for myself and what you can from this book: 

1. You can develop excitement within marriage.

You just need to get creative. 

2. When your partner has an affair it is never about you.

It is never about you in the similar sense that nothing that anyone else does is about you. People have a subjective worldview and are driven by selfish reasons. Selfish doesn’t necessarily have to mean bad in this context. It can simply be related to the personal, the self. But in a way, it can mean selfish in the “bad way”, too, because it doesn’t take care of the relationship as a whole. An affair is a betrayal to the relationship more than it is a betrayal to the betrayed.  

3. The more we know someone, or think we know someone, the less attracted we are to them.

There is always something new you can discover about your partner. Change the context to change the outcome.

4. You can bring in novelty into our relationship or marriage.

Do this by doing something new yourself or for yourself.

5. The new thing that sparks erotic novelty doesn’t have to be sexual. 

We wrongly associate affairs with sexuality. This is not the case. Sexuality is a byproduct of essential live energy and vitality that gets lost in marriage.

6. Your relationship is a whole made of two parts.

You don’t need to change the other for someone else to revive the relationship. 

7. Not all relationships are meant to last.

Sometimes the affair is the final red flag for the love that is long over. 

8. You don’t need to feel obligated and continue the relationship after an affair.

But it will do you an immense amount of good to know what went wrong and use those insights into a new relationship. 

9. Some relationships have overcome the trauma of an affair.

They are those that have grown stronger. It is possible. 

Why You Should Get Esther Perel’s “Mating in Captivity”

Anything kept stale, stagnant, and without new energy – withers.

It is so easy to do that when you get into the role of a long-term partner, parent, or breadwinner in a marriage. Recollect the initial excitement and look at our partner with new eyes.

Nurture the excitement within by getting out of your comfort zone. In turn, you will ignite the fires in the relationship.

This book is is a rare find for modern companions who want to rekindle the same love all over again, and many times in the future. 

Get this book if you are:

  • Struggling to keep your marriage alive
  • Want to redeem marriage trust after an affair
  • You are on the verge of committing affair and in a desperate need of a quick solution

It is one of the best investments into marriage and life you can make. 

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