Beca Lewis Allen
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We live in a world—a universe (multiverse?) I think—of paradoxes. Paradoxes cannot be eliminated, but they can be traversed. One of the paradoxes that seems to flummox us and cause all kinds of moral utterances when it comes to intimate marriage (or near-marriage) relationships is the taken versus the taker paradox—and that paradox is a lot more than just sexual interactions.
What we seem to have set up at the moment is finding out who’s generally in control. There seem to be a lot of cultures who espouse the male as the control agent, with perhaps a nod that it may be the female who is really running the show. Whatever the case, control issues are trouble when they are out of sync. Control is really about riding both the moment and the larger rhythm. If we are to rise to that kind of control, as opposed to the notion that there is an alpha leader and a beta follower and never the twain shall interchange, then we would take a quantum leap in practicing the art of interrelating—a mutuality of giving and taking. So, combine control with reciprocity and move beyond the one-alpha-leader and one-beta-follower roles, and we’ve got a higher-order taker/taken paradox.
Here’s how I see an evolved taken/taker paradox applied: The man knows how and when to take, the woman knows how and when to be taken—nice. However, the woman must also know how and when to take, just as the man must know how and when to be taken. And, they must do so in a state of awareness that no matter who is the taker or who is the taken, the process is not about who is ultimately in control, it is about traversing the taken versus the taker paradox rather than each assuming one permanent role on just one side of the paradox.
One must realize that to be a taker is generally different for men than it is for women (yeah, yeah, don’t go to the Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus routine just yet). And yep, being taken is also very different for men than for women. Generally speaking (I can’t speak specifically so all of this is accented by “generally speaking”), the meanings vary depending upon gender. It appears that men are more vulnerable overall than women over the long haul. Yes, men can be very strong for short times, but their forte of the two genders is not so stalwart. Men tend to be connected to how-it-all-works reality, apparently willing to shrug and forget about how women work. Their problem is their way is the way. Women, on the other hand, not only live longer and die less violently, but they tend to be more oriented towards interpersonal connections, a how-to-make-us-better-via-interpersonal-relations reality. Their problem is their way is the way. And yet another problem is that as one ages, the roles can reverse themselves. Fun stuff, eh?
It’s no wonder there appear to only be a few who know something about assuming multiple roles when it comes to the same relationship along with the dynamic changes as one ages. Yes, if there is a medical problem with one or the other in an intimate married relationship, roles can and will reverse. But those situations are not about wellness and choice, they are about being ill and having to take a different role. What we’re talking about are not forced issues like a medical illness, we’re talking about wellness behavior.
How about if we give up the one-roll scenario and go for being well-versed in the required roles of the taken vs. taker paradox? Think what kind of intimate, married relationship we might have if we didn’t labor under some one-role dictatorship? We might actually have real marriage. Think how healthy we would breathe. Think how much stress would fall off us. And, gulp, think how much fun we’d have.
Hmmm, maybe that’s the really hard part.