One of the online courses I teach is Sociology of the Family. In the discussion area for that class the students have been debating whether or not it is possible for a single monogamous relationship to meet a couple's emotional needs throughout the life course and if it is realistic to expect such a relationship to remain passionate over many years. The opinions expressed have been all over the map. Some have said YES, that by making the right choices a relationship can continue to grow in power and intimacy. Others have insisted NO, that familiarity will wear the passion out over time.
This was my response:
After a quarter century of marriage I am madly, passionately, crazy in love with my husband. I look at him and I get weak in the knees. Yes, we have the comfortable security of a long term relationship. But we also have that catch in your throat, heat in the loins PASSION raging strong. I know it's possible. I'm living proof.
I know all too well that long term monogamous marriage is a huge challenge that can get derailed by a million and one things if you let it. But if both partners are willing to do the work it takes, the pay off is well worth it. This is a second marriage for both of us so we both know all too well what happens when the relationship is taken for granted or if either partner is more concerned with self than with the union.
Our happiness together is NOT a product of exclusively shiny circumstances. Our marriage has definitely had some big challenges - merging kids from both our first marriages into one family, dealing with the death of a child, an extended period of unemployment, moving eight different times due to corporate mergers, health crisis, you name it! We aren't blissful because it has been easy. We are best friends savoring our lives together because we have learned to operate as a supportive team during the tough times as well as the celebrations.
Life is messy and families are complicated. But YES, marital satisfaction is possible over the long haul. It's one of the greatest blessings of my life.