Love is a process. That is the message that stuck with us after reading the novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover and watching the film Kinsey. Throughout Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the main character, the aristocratic Connie Chatterley, spends her time in relations with three different men, finally settling with the third after gaining more experience about what love is and how it can be expressed.
In Kinsey, the main character, the scientist Alfred Kinsey, presents the country with a new outlook on sex, encouraging and educating people on different ways of expression. Kinsey’s actions within the movie agree with our focus, that the physical side of a relationship matters in the larger picture of love and that love can undergo dramatic changes over time.
Connie Chatterley and Alfred Kinsey’s stories illustrate how love is a process with many facets. These facets include experiences in the physical and emotional sides of relationships, experiences with past lovers and their effect on the present, cheating, and sex as passion of the moment or steady habit.
Love: From Habit to Passion to Habit
Love making, in any form, can change from the passion of the moment to steady habit over the course of time. As presented by D. H. Lawrence in his afterword to Lady Chatterley’s Lover, at times “the act tends to be mechanical” (338). Lawrence described how we can lose interest when sex becomes just another chore instead of viewing it as a passion-filled act between two lovers. From the thrill and satisfaction of losing your virginity to relying on multiple partners outside of your marriage to sustain interest, love can be seen in different forms overtime.
With love as process, partners will learn over time what their relationship needs in order to thrive. Whether in the passion of the moment through sex, or through other ways, love between two people needs to be an active endeavor, not something that becomes mechanical and dull in which all forms of the expression of love are lost.
This article Does Having More Sex – Like Brazilian Health Officials Recommend – Actually Improve Your Health describes the effects of love as an active endeavor. Within the piece Dr. Ian Kerner, a certified clinical sexologist, proclaims, “Sex also strengthens the immune system, help you have a better relationship with your partner, and make you feel more connected with your partner….” From health to connection, sex does matter.
When asking the class if they believed if it would have been possible for Clifford, a paraplegic, to keep Connie interested in him despite them not being able to have sex, the overall response was yes, he could have, but only if he did not also treat her poorly at times. There was a point where Clifford also became disinterested in Connie. However, the class believed that if he had tried, it would have been possible. We also believe that if he gave her more attention and provided some form of physical intimacy to her, then her interest in other men might have decreased significantly.
In this Miller Light commercial, “Why Do You Love Me,” the man showers much more attention on the beer than on his beautiful partner. As humor often does, this clip captures a slice of human reality.
With love being a process comes the possibility of one partner being cheated on. In Lady Chatterley’s Lover Connie cheating on her husband Clifford with two different men. She has a short fling with Michaelis, whom she disliked profoundly later on, and Michaelis struggles to understand her lack of interest in him even though they slept together. Mellors, the estate groundskeeper, comes to love Connie for both her physical and emotional sides first being interested only in their love-making. In Kinsey, the ground-breaking sex professor cheats on his wife with his male apprentice Clyde Martin. In each work, a different perspective is developed on the importance of cheating in a relationship.
In the case of Connie and her husband Clifford, they believed that “people can be what they like and feel what they like and do what they like, strictly privately, so long as [both spouses] keep the form of life intact” (Lawrence 197). In other words, they both think that it is okay to be involved with other people in different ways because, as Clifford says, “I doubt, once you’ve really cared, if you can ever really care again” (260). The idea here is that neither believes that once you are married and are in love with one person that you can ever be pulled away from that by another. Cheating is not cheating because you still love your spouse.
Cheating also occurs in Kinsey when he cheats on his wife with his male apprentice. His wife is crushed, and becomes angry and hysterical because she does not understand how her husband can think that it is fine to cheat on her, his wife whom he loves, with another person in any way.
Kinsey does not hesitate to tell her that he views sex as a purely physical and natural action, and that infidelity is okay as long as he loves her deeply. This viewpoint of sex as a purely physical act backfires when his wife has sex with the very same apprentice that he was with earlier. In this case, at first there was a misunderstanding of what their relationship constituted, but after both sides agreed that having other sex partners was okay, their love was not affected.
This video clip from the movie Kinsey portrays a part of the cheating triangle between Dr. Kinsey, his wife, and the apprentice. This comes as the cheating starts.
Still, the Kinsey’s mantra that sex is only physical did not apply for their colleagues, who shared multiple sexual partners with each others’ wives. One wife fell in love with her husband’s friend after they slept together, thus displaying why sex is more than just a physical act because emotional connections are difficult to avoid.
In the modern world, this more tolerant view of cheating in marriage is not normal – most people view cheating as very negative. Although cheating might be relatively common, the public mostly hears about it through the media. In current events, Tiger Woods is an example of a man who cheated on his wife, and the press attacked him. Similarly, a public scandal erupted over Sandra Bullock’s relationship with her husband Jesse James, and how he recently cheated on her. James has said repeatedly that he still loves Sandra; Bullock has filed for divorce.
When the differing circumstances about cheating were brought up in our presentation, the class seemed to think that “cheating” might be acceptable as long as both partners agree to it. They seemed to be under the impression that it would not be that bad especially since it is only cheating physically, assuming that you truly love your partner. They all also said that it would be pretty much unforgivable if your partner cheated on you emotionally, because that might be harder for a relationship to overcome.
We would have to agree with the class in this respect. All relationships are different, and if both members are okay with it, there is nothing really wrong with cheating physically, because the view would supposedly be that it really means nothing. We do however think that the action still definitely speaks against the integrity of the marriage vows. Promises are made with wedding vows, particularly the promise of staying true and faithful, and marriage comes to mean something symbolically to a relationship. Still, for someone like Connie, caught in a relationship where love has fled, through “cheating” she found a physical and emotional connection with Mellors, and fell in love with him.
For a steady relationship to exist, both partners need to play an active role in continuing to satisfy the other partner’s physical and emotional needs. We believe that by adhering to both of these aspects, partners can be on the right track to forming and maintain a long-lasting and healthy relationship.
Figuring It Out
In tying everything together, we saw the joint concepts of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Kinsey as being the most successful together. Kinsey’s showing the world the different ways people are sexually as well as Lady Chatterley’s Lover’s illustration of the dynamics of relationships as people find love are both ways of teaching people about the different ways of looking at love and the processes which will eventually land you with your partner. Love is a complex process that requires the balancing of physical and emotional sides of a relationship. It takes effort to learn from past experiences and apply them in the present, whether within the same relationship or a different one, and this can bring a partner one step closer to finding the love they desire.