It's Closeness, Not Absence That Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Ralph Hogan, along with his wife of 30 years, Janet, is the co-founder of Botanica Weddings. He is as passionate about the institution of marriage as he is about creating the venues that celebrate it. When he’s not sitting on top of his beloved backhoe carving out mountains, he can be found with his trusty Mac tapping out his latest insight on what it means to live happily ever after, from his uniquely male, take no prisoners, perspective. The next major lesson we learnt was again initially fuelled by my insecurities, but it quickly became something we both realized we had to do something about. The unpalatable fact that if we didn’t find ways to actively grow together by sharing not just new experiences but also intellectual pursuits, we would eventually find ourselves on divergent paths, and perhaps on one of those paths meet someone who seemed to be more attuned to our new interests.

I regard the saying “The family that plays together, stays together” as really a coy way of stating the simple truth about sexual fidelity.

The more emotional distance, the more frequent or lengthy separations between a man and a woman, the more likelihood that one or the other will eventually ‘grow away’ from their mate, or seek to section off some part of their previously shared life, usually by engineering, deliberately or otherwise, a secret liaison with someone else.

Don’t ever pay any attention to the marriage guidance ‘guru’ who maintains that developing separate identities and areas of independence outside a relationship makes it stronger.

Within a relationship perhaps, outside of it, never.

These marital adventurists are simply re-branding their own inability to commit completely to another human being, as some grand personality attribute.

Ironically, most of the people I know who sprout such urban myths are well on track for their second or third divorce. And while we’re on that subject, don't ever encourage, or accept, that your mate blur the line between strictly platonic and "subconsciously erotic" with members of the other sex - and don’t even consider any form of ménage a trois. (Even if you are half French like me!)

It may seem enlightened but that’s just your ego finding a cool sounding excuse for being a commitment phobic, creepy narcissist. You can of course find a compelling argument to justify whatever position you want justified in life on the internet, but I am always amazed by the sheer conceit of people who bully their partners into accepting that it’s their ‘right’ to have an ‘open’ marriage. And they usually do so when it is too late for their partner to walk away from a relationship they have become emotionally dependent upon - or too scared to lose someone they love - but would be better off without.

And remember too, that even when you are three-sheets-to-the-wind, it’s still no excuse to play up. Such is the power of that sane little voice within, we always know when we are flirting and heading into dangerous territory - no matter how wasted we might be at the time

Despite being part of the original "Free Love" Generation, I now have a much more conservative view about “open relationships”. I know that they are a very poor substitute for monogamous ones. And they can also have very dire consequences.

Many years ago I had a very dear friend who encouraged the introverted wife he adored to be more "sociable" with other men. When she fell in love with one of his friends, he was so devastated by what he'd done, he ended his own life.

Whatever you do, do it together, or at least always actively share in your partner’s interests. I have always worked very closely with Janet, but according to most of our well-intentioned friends back in our advertising days, this “co-dependent folly” would most definitely end up destroying our relationship.

Today, Jan and I have evolved to be way more different from each other than when we first met, yet at the same time we are much closer. And I can't think of one of these more autonomous or “liberated” friends whose marriage didn't end up on the rocks.

Absence may be great to remind us of how much we physically desire our lover, but it’s closeness, not absence, which really makes the heart grow fonder.