PW (my wife) and I have different needs. Yesterday our relationship boat rocked a little through a mini storm. But as we all know, when we come through a storm together, our relationship strengthens.
Yesterday afternoon we decided to meet for a couple of drinks and appetizers during happy hour. As we sat across from each other with our hands reaching across the table, she gently gripped my then stroking fingers. She clearly wanted me to stop, and just let my hand hold hers, with no stroking. I like gently stroking her. I don't know if it's my adhd, or just that I enjoy having my fingers move across her body, whether it's the palm of her hand, her arm, her knee, or wherever. I think it's because I like my own body to be caressed, stroked. I crave that tactile feeling. I'm like a dog or cat. Stroke me, and I purr.
When we got home we both sat on the sofa, closely, for a few minutes, as she worked on learning about her new phone. The longer she worked on it, the more she was getting frustrated. So to comfort her I put my hand on her shoulder. Right when I started mindlessly stroking her shoulder with my fingers, she snarled and rapidly, almost violently, brushed my hand away.
*OK, already. I get the hint.* Some "non friendly" words were exchanged. Clearly, it was not a beautiful moment.
Later, in bed, as we began our Exchange, the Episode came up. We needed to talk it out.
Me: "I love our physical touch."
She: "I do too. But I cannot take the constant stroking!"
Me: "But that's just me. I do it without even thinking.
She: "Well, it's gotta stop. Just HOLD ME. Quit the movement.
Me: "I will try. I really will. But I need it myself. You never stroke me. Out of my own need I often find myself stroking my own arm or leg!"
She and I are so different sometimes. It's aggravating, frustrating, maddening, and at good moments, laughable.
For the Yin exercise tonight we were given a choice of bonding behaviors. PW began reading them off outloud, and then smiled and chuckled when she got to the "stroking with intent to comfort" option. It was her turn to choose, so she suggested a compromise.
"OK. How about I stroke you, all over, and then for me, we spoon with no movement whatsoever."
Well, to me, that wasn't a compromise. That was a Win-Win. I lied down on the bed, face up, as PW gently stroked my arms, my legs, my head, my chest, my stomach, everywhere but the genitals. I would have been more than OK with that, too, but I didn't want to press my luck, so I did nothing but "purr." I enjoyed it so much. Then we spooned for a few moments, with my left hand around her waist. I didn't move an inch, which she appreciated.
Even though I have naturally fidgeting fingers, I am determined to break the habit. It's worth it. I have been touch-starved for so long, just having her next to me is worth the effort. Quite honestly, I never would have thought that PW would even enjoy spooning. In the past she used to complain that my natural body heat was too much for her to take. So just to spoon is wonderful.
This morning we again sat on the sofa for a few moments before our work began, watching something we had saved on the dvr. As we snuggled close, I resisted the temptation to move my fingers across her arm. As we sat in stillness, after a while I felt her fingers gently stroke my calf and foot.
Me: "Thank you, Sweet."
She: "I'm really trying to respond to your needs."
Me: "I know. And I appreciate that so much. I love you."
She: "Love you, too."
Tonight, it's Exchange number 9.