My wife and I had a great weekend. One of our kids was sick so we spent the entire weekend at home and I think that we needed that quiet relaxation time. Sunday was an especially good day. We had a nice cuddle session. I allowed my hand to rest on different parts of her body. After a few minutes I moved it somewhere else. She really liked that. There was no goal to it. When my hand eventually arrived at her right breast (above the heart) she put her own hand on top of it to signal that she wanted it to stay there for a while. Even after our son came and jumped in our bed she kept it there.
Later in the day we had a series of short conversations.
First we were talking about a play group that she had gone to with our son. He enjoyed it very much, but my wife said it was tedious to listen to the other moms have inane conversations. They talked about stuff they bought, and TV shows and other things that she does not care about. She went quiet for a moment and then said "I kind of want to conect with other women. Sometimes I think it would ge good to be popular. But, I just cannot relate with them. Why is that?"
I said "I do not have a tight social group either because I do not need it. I feel no need to try and make myself fit into a particular social group. If they are doing something I am interested in then I will join, otherwise I am happy to be on the sidelines." My wife said "yeah, that is the way I feel too." Then she grinned and told me that her massage therapist thinks we are the most grounded couple he knows. He says "you guys do your own thing. You don't follow trends. That is cool." Then she looked me in the eyes and said "besides, we have each other. Who else do we need?"
Later in the afternoon I was feeling bored. I plopped down on the couch and my wife looked at me over her book. She said "Can't think of anything to do?" I said "actually, I was thinking it would be nie to make love to you." I said it with a grin because I knew it was not an appropriate time. The kids were running around the house. She laughed and said "Hmmmm, I thought of that last night. It was nine o'clock and I thought this is it. This is the time that we should be having sex. The kids are asleep. There will not be a better time. But I was really sore, and really tired so I just went to bed."
I said "that was the right choice. You should only do it when you actually want to do it." She put her book down and said "so ... a few months ago you were hounding me about a schedule for sex. Do you not feel that way any more?" I replied that earlier in the year I thought that a schedule was what we needed because I was anxious about the availability of sex. The schedule was more about soothing my anxiety then it was about anything else. I no longer think that a schedule is the right way to go. It might work sometimes, but there will be days when the scheduled time arrives and you don't feel like doing it, but you feel like you have to do it. That kind of thing leads to resentment. She said "In the past I have resented you very much for pushing a sex agenda when I did not want it." I laughed and said "I know you resented it. I could tell when you did not want to be there. Scheduled sex works for some people. It will not work for us."
Later in the day she brought me a newspaper article that she had saved. It was about the death of romance in modern marriages. The author was lamenting that so much of what people call romance these days is scripted. You go out for dinner on Valentine's day and your anniversary. You have sex on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You find a love note every morning beside the coffee. The author felt that true spontantous expressions of love were a rare thing in the modern world. The author was calling for more of what he called "true intimacy".
As I was reading it my mind was saying "yeah yeah, this is good. Tell her you agree that intimacy is the key to a happy marriage." However, when I opened my mouth, a very different message came out.
I said "Intimacy is great, but it is not the most important element in a happy marriage. The number one thing that makes a relationship work is authenticity. The most satisfying relationships are the ones in which you feel that you can relax and just be your honest self. You are comfortable to say what you actually think and what you actually feel. You do not play a role for the benefit of the other person, and you do not ask them to play a role for you. If you have to play a role then it will always bother you that this relationship requires you to be something other than your authentic self in order for it to work."
My wife nodded and said "acting wears thin after a while."
I said "this is why scheduled sex will not work for us. You don't want to pretend to be interested in sex when you are really not. I don't want you to act for my benefit either. Besides, you do not act very well. I know full well when you do or do not want to be making love. I also know when you are speaking your mind and when you are toning it down for my benefit."
She laughed and said "I just can't fake it can I?"
We talked for quite a while after that about the need to be authentic. I will sum it up in these points:
- We will only have sex when we both want to do it. No schedules. I know this runs counter to pretty much every book every written on building intimacy and I do not care. I have considered this particular point very, very carefully and no matter how I try to sell it to myself, scheduled sex feels wrong. I have choosen to follow my own inner guidance on this one.
- If one of us is angry or upset at the other person then it needs to be outed. Earlier in our marriage I tended to shrink from such talks, but that is no longer the case. In the past few months we have aired every beef and we are much happier as a result. Litle things get sorted out and thus, they do not become big things. No emotional energy is left unresolved to fester and grow over time.
- We agreed to not play roles in our marriage. If we cannot be our authentic selves in this, our most intimate relationship, then where can we be authentic? We may play roles in order to work in society, but we will be 100% authentic with each other ... warts and all. It will take practice because this runs counter to social conditioning, but we will get there.
I was very pleased by how this all went. I can feel that layer upon layer of confusion and tension has been coming out of our relationship over the past few months. We are coming into right relationship with each other in the truest sense. This will bcome a relationship in which we express out truest selves at the deepest levels and we both feel accepted and appreciated for who we really are.
Some may argue that by throwing out all notions of scheduled intimacy I have put the whole thing in her hands and perhaps slowed the sexual healing process considerably. I am choosing to have faith here. My wife is working through some inner levels of resistance with respect to letting go of her own defences and opening to true intimacy. True intimacy requires that you be unguarded. She does not know how to be really unguarded, but she is learning. It will go easier for her if she feels that she has conrol of her own growth process. So, I have made it clear to her that there will be no pressure. She can take baby steps if she needs to.
However, I do not really think t will be an issue.
This morning I woke up before the alarm. She was already awake. She rolled into cuddle position without any prompting and I slipped my arm up under her shirt. We both became very relaxed. Everything is going exactly as it should. There is no need to force anything. She and I both want to go to the same place, and we will get there in a way that is perfect for us.
Onward and upward.