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Courtship to Marriage: A Tricky Transaction

Aphrodite’s Nightie

Others say that it was Hera who tricked Zeus into the bonds of marriage. Knowing men as she did, Hera paid a little visit to Aphrodite, the ravishing goddess of love. She borrowed a magical nightie that made her look like Aphrodite. This gladdened Zeus’ heart and laced his fantasy with the thrilling thought that he, of all men, was going to be getting it on with Aphrodite herself. What more do men want than to be with a willing woman who is unabashedly sexual and aggressive in her desire for him?

They say that the honeymoon lasted 300 years. But that is undoubtedly more wish than fact. Actually, the morning after, Zeus awakened to the realization that it was willful Hera and not willing Aphrodite whom he had married. Hera, the goddess of the household and childbearing, had practical ideas about marriage — “It is not a perpetual sexual honeymoon, honey. The nightie is out, flannels are in.” Hera, proud and ill-tempered, rolls out an agenda of duties to be performed by her mate.

Why do men stay with women who disappoint them sexually? It is said that the hope of regaining another night with the nightie is what kept Zeus married to Hera. In his eyes, she was the most desirous as well as the most frustrating of women and, thus, the one whom he was most bound to love. For mere mortal men, perhaps their self-esteem is tied up in reawakening the sexual goddess within. Perhaps they can’t stand the idea that they didn’t see what was coming. Perhaps they are playing out a drama that has been going on between men and women in their family for generations. Or perhaps, privately, they agree that once married, a couple should give up sex and get on with business. Whatever the reason, men beware! When men marry only for sex, they are bound to be disappointed. Unless your Hera agrees that intimacy and sexual play can and should be part of married life, you will find yourself forever, like Zeus, feeling deprived.

To some extent, all new relationships are part fantasy. Both men and women try to accommodate each other’s desires during courtship so as to attract and win those they find attractive. Most people also have private and sometimes painful issues that they play out in their relationships until they learn to do things differently. Trouble develops when the courting couple doesn’t trust that they can show each other their real and private selves and still be loved. Desperate for love and fearing being seen, they continue the charade into marriage. When this happens, they, like Zeus and Hera, can end up feeling betrayed and disappointed. In a successful courtship, the couple takes the time to develop trust and intimacy based on who they each really are, not on who they think the other wants them to be.

Courtship to Marriage: A Tricky Transaction

Robert Stone

APA Reference
Stone, R. (2020). Courtship to Marriage: A Tricky Transaction. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.