Tag Archives: marriage

my last first kiss

It’s just occurred to me that, if I’m really ready to meet my life mate and future husband, one of these fellows I meet and connect with could be my last first kiss. And when I think about it, that’s kind of an awe-inspiring realization… Would I be cool with knowing that, say for example, “Brad” (about whom I wrote in my last post) is the only man I’ll kiss for the rest of my life? I think yeah.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand just how fraught the whole concept of monogamy is. Just look at the Ashley Madison doxing scandal, with the fallen moralists, suicides and wounded spouses — it’s nothing if not a complicated issue. But I want that. I want to believe that it’s not just possible or some sort of life sentence, but that a healthy committed partnership can be fulfilling for decades — including sexually. I don’t imagine it’s easy, as I’ve never had a relationship that lasted more than a dozen years. I want it anyway. I want to believe in it anyway.

Furthermore, as much as I love the excitement and newness and exploration of a relationship in early bloom, you’ll recall I’ve written that I loved plain old perfunctory vanilla missionary married sex. I loved the efficiency as much as the intimacy, and it didn’t bother me if it was over in ten minutes, because I also love me some sleep!

That said, if there is a chance that one of the fellows I’ve already met is my last first…well, there’s only one with whom I’ve had epic make-out sessions. I mean practically high school-ish in nature…which, for me, meant lots and lots of kissing and touching with firm boundaries about where his hands or mouth were allowed. Arousal is a wonderful part of it, rather than an urgent imperative that must be immediately satisfied. It’s funny how lovely and freeing it is to have firm boundaries and, for perhaps the first time in my life, not let my libido get ahead of me.

In fact, last evening Brad took me on a picnic in a park near a creek, where we listened to the water rush over the rocks, serenaded by crickets and frogs. We sat on a blanket and snacked on veggies, crackers and cheese while sipping wine and talking. We kissed and it was as though time stood still. We’ve relaxed into these moments of discovery and, damn!, I’m having fun!

Pretty sure he is, too.


another door closes

Not that it was open, or anything…but I’ve recently learned that Chi-guy got remarried. How did I come upon this fascinating tidbit, you might ask? Facebook, of course.

It’s funny when someone who was once in your life (remembered fondly, probably because we were never more than flirtatious friends) moves on in very real way. I can’t deny feeling a twinge of emotion — not because it didn’t happen for us, though perhaps because it’s happened now for one of us. And that one wasn’t me.

I wish them well, blah, blah, blah… Truly, I hope that he’s learned to be a better man in this relationship than I observed him being when I last visited him. And her, too:  there was a distinct moment that struck me as very “I will not be ignored, Dan!” (picture Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction). Perhaps I am being unfair. And perhaps that long ago visit was exactly the catalyst they needed to get over a relationship hump and move forward.

…for that, newlyweds, you’re welcome!

Just kidding.


the process of being married

Earlier today on Huffington Post, I ran across an excerpt of You Can Be Right (Or You Can Be Married): Looking for Love in the Age of Divorce by Dana Adam Shapiro. The title of the article delivered what it was expected to, which was not of particular interest to me. That is, until I came across this gem:

“Ninety percent of the secret to being married is the commitment to the process of being married. Whatever comes your way — problems with sex, problems with money, whatever — it’s essential that you’re both committed to working out a solution where both people are represented, where the well-being of the other person is just as — if not more important — than your own. It’s an easy thing to say ideologically, but it’s really, really hard to do…”

For those of you who’ve been there — or are there — I’d love to know your thoughts on this. I, for one, completely agree. Commitment is easy, in the sense that it’s easy to commit…in that moment, when one is (or, more accurately, two are) in love. To remain actively committed — the process, as Ms. Shapiro describes it — is the challenging part. Or, as another friend put it, commitment is easy, marriage is hard.

Can marriage really be reduced to such simple colloquialisms? Since its demise, I’ve certainly reduced mine to a few simplistic phrases. I suspect we all tire of trying to explain away what didn’t work in our relationships. I only hope to one day find someone who inspires me to do the work, to commit to the process, so that I have no reason to explain away another.


chicks who cheat

People tend to react strongly to infidelity. Perhaps that’s because we’ve all had some experience — whether we’ve been betrayed or betrayed another, or know a close friend who’s been jilted. Sit around in a group of women and, eventually, a story of someone’s wayward boyfriend or husband is bound to come up.

So why is that, lately, it seems every guy I meet has been the one who’s been cheated on? Even the best looking, most intriguing of them! And what gives with chicks who cheat?

It’s so easy to imagine men as over sexed and unable to be monogamous — the media and a bit of personal experience suggest it’s rampant. However, my more recent experience suggests that women are as capable of infidelity. And probably as over sexed.

So what brings a woman to cheat? Is it the same reasons men that bring men to? Or are women’s reasons different? Sure, sexual dissatisfaction could be a reason. Sure, there are players. But I tend to believe that most people don’t set out to be unfaithful. In fact, I think many who find themselves in the midst of an affair are baffled at how they got there and completely unaware of how to get out alive. I tend to think they get there because of some vulnerability; perhaps their emotional needs were not being met. Perhaps they or their partners neglected to nurture the one relationship that should be most central.

I’d like to think that I would never cheat on a partner. I can’t imagine it. Once in an exclusive, committed relationship, it’s simply not something I’ve ever done. Even against my therapist’s advice, I remained faithful until after my ex finally moved out. But I can remember those lonely, needy, unloved feelings during the worst times in my marriage. And who can say what might have happened if someone tender, loving and caring had come along when I was at my most vulnerable? I’d like to think I’m stronger than that. I’m pretty sure I am now.

Still, as easy as it would be to judge, I can’t help but feel a certain amount of compassion (and a little pity) for those who stray, even as I empathize with their victims.


room for two

It’s been rather vexing lately to wake and find company in my bed:  namely, a ten-year-old and her stuffed friend. I was complaining about this trend to my former boyfriend recently, who remarked, “You should enjoy this while you can — it’s not going to last forever.”

True enough. I shall quit my bitching.

And then said he followed up with, “Do you even see yourself ever allowing a man to share your bed?”

I was shocked.

In a word:  YES! Good lord, of course I hope to share my bed with some fabulous man — and sooner rather than later. (He should know:  many nights I’d shared it with him.)

But it’s not just all about sharing a bed, is it? There’s much more to this love and compatibility and companionship business…which is why I intend to take my time to find the one I’m going to want in my bed for the next half a century or so. Which is longer than I’ve been alive so far and the last guy made twelve years seem like a mighty long time, so it’s a lot to contemplate. (Well, to be fair, only the last few years seemed like the misery would never end.)

At any rate, there is room in my bed for two…and preferably, for someone other than my ten-year-old to poke me in the ribs and tell me to roll over so that I stop snoring. Yes, I welcome it!

 


a whole new world of weird

It’s interesting that I feel so grounded and centered with so much weirdness around me:

Someone material to me has just made one of the most unmitigatedly, colossally poor decisions of her life:  she has allowed her ex to move back into her life and into her home. The ex is certainly narcissistic, quite possibly a psychopath, who was fired from his job for screwing an intern (in his office) who called him “Dad.” This is while married. The divorce was ugly; she has struggled to manage a large house and finances since. And she’s willing to take the philandering douchebag back… Ugh. Sadly, the woman in question is my mother. Containing the fallout will surely mean my relationship with her changes, as will the relationship she has with my children. The manipulative man formerly known as my stepfather has no place in my life.

Meanwhile, I’ve shared this news with my ex, whose response was that — if she could forgive and take him back — perhaps there was hope for us to reconcile, as well… Um, no.

Despite the drama going on around me, I’m managing my boundaries…so far, so good anyway.


end game

I know I’ve touched on this theme before:  How does a woman know that the guy who’s doing it for her now is the guy who’s going to do it for her in forty years?

There’s a part of me that goes:  Duh. She can’t. She can’t possibly know. None of us know. We can’t know the future!

And then there’s another part of me that goes:  This whole expectation that one person is going to meet our needs now and also forty years from now is ridiculous and arcane.

Finally, there’s the part of me who wants that…to love a man now and love him forty years hence, and for him to do the same.

If it sounds like there are a lot of voices in my head…well, so be it.

But like most stubborn broads, I want what I want what I want. And I’ve seen guys who are attractive and good fathers and good providers and are smart and healthy and good conversationalists. (Of course they are not perfect. No one is.) And I’ve seen elderly couples holding hands while walking on the beach. Maybe I’ve only seen that in television commercials, but so what? It’s okay if some marketing is effective — that gives me hope on both a personal and professional level.

As I’ve also mentioned before, I’m totally digging my man. I’m enjoying every minute.

I can’t see the future. I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know whether he will be a good husband or co-homeowner or parent, much less whether he’d be a good husband at eighty. I know he’s a good and loving man. And, for now, that’s enough.

 


marital efficiencies

I haven’t been getting any rest on the weekends lately. That’s because when my children are home, they’re running me ragged. And when they’re not, a certain special guy has been keeping me up at night.

We sat on a park bench one day a while back, both of us stifling yawns as we proposed big, wild ideas for the evening, of which none stood any real chance of actual implementation, because we were both far too tired. I teased him about keeping me up all night and translated that into what could be a future state, whether with me or another, in the wonderful, blissful drudgery of married life and parenting:  “All that caressing and foreplay and loving gets squeezed into the daily routine of life, with children in the next room and narrow windows of opportunity, and what we now do until all hours of the morning gets condensed into a very functional 13 minutes.”

I think that’s a pretty real example of something that happens in many marriages with children. And I don’t think it’s really such a bad thing when it does. Work lives, logistics, spit up, diapers, play dates, hobbies, the gym, sports, other activities, chauffeur duties and more enter back into a humdrum stream of days. The romance and excitement make way for everyday life. Love, which was once demonstrated with flowers and kisses, takes on new meaning, like cleaning up the toddler’s vomit.

I mean, you still have to take time for one another, keep the magic alive…but, as I’ve written before, I was totally cool with married sex…it was efficient in a very satisfying way. There are other opportunities for intimacy and loving acts and I guess my point is that sex can’t really take center stage forever in a relationship. A certain equilibrium or balance or something takes over… Life can be beautifully, exquisitely, satisfyingly routinized — almost boring — without ever getting remotely dull.

How did my guy respond to this whole train of thought? He laughed and gave me a big ol’ “Hell no!”

And does that mean I want to trade sleep for being kept up late loving and caressing? Nah, I kinda dig this stuff, too.


about the children

The other night, I held my phone out at arm’s length and snapped a photo of me and my daughter enjoying dinner out. I posted this photo on Facebook, checking in at the restaurant we frequent. Then I messaged the photo to my guy. I didn’t think twice about it.

I’ve had my guy over to my house, he’s seen photos of my children and listened to my stories about them. But that was the first time I’d sent him a photo that included one of my children. And it kicked off (again) the whole discussion about when it’s appropriate for him to meet the children. Sure, we’ve talked about it…

Early on in a relationship, most responsible women don’t introduce men to their children for several reasons, which (just off the top of my head) include these:

  • They barely know the guy and want to be sure — let’s be honest about this — that he’s not some creepy pedophile who’s going to prey on her children.
  • They don’t want their children to see a revolving door of men coming in and out of their lives.
  • They want to step into the fantasy world of dating without children.

While the first of these needs no explanation nor commentary (and I’m confident my guy is a pure soul), let’s further explore these other reasons.

I’d hate to allow my children to become attached to a man who I’m not certain will be in my life for good. Divorce, I’m sure, was hard enough and I’d hate for them to go through something like that again.

Then again, I’m pretty open with my children. I’ve talked to them about dating, and they know I have a boyfriend. We’ve talked about whether they should meet him, and they know I haven’t decided yet whether to introduce them anytime soon. You see, I think it’s important that my children know that decision-making is a process, that I don’t always or automatically know the right answer, that some things are worth deliberation and discussion. An early conversation included these observations:

Eight-year-old:  “He should like to play football and go sledding.”

Ten-year-old:  “I’m going to give him a quiz, like his favorite food and color and stuff. And preferably he won’t be blond.”

Another of our conversations went something like this:

Me:  “I’d hate for you to get attached to someone I’m seeing, because then what if we broke up?”

Eight-year-old:  “Well, maybe he could come and play with us sometimes anyway.”

Ten-year-old:  “That would be awkward.”

Conventional wisdom says that we shouldn’t introduce a man to our children until we know it’s going to grow into commitment. If not, they’ll see a “revolving door” of men and develop beliefs about that — e.g. men leave, or Mom gets tired of men and kicks them out, or some such. Furthermore, in the event that things don’t work out, I don’t want the breakup to be harder than it might otherwise be, because he’s attached to my children or they’re attached to him.

I recently read a book (by a man) who suggested the opposite is the proper approach for men. He opined that women should introduce a man to her children early on, because a man needs to see the whole package so that he can envision himself as a provider and man of the family before deciding whether to stick around.

My children are resilient and, while I want to spare them heartache and pain in every possible way, I genuinely believe they can handle meeting someone with whom I’m spending time, as long as it’s in a casual environment, their meetings are few and far between, and we keep the dialogue going. But there’s more to the decision than that:

Right now, I get to date and spend time with my guy on weekends when my children are with their father. At those times, it’s almost as though I’m young and single — it’s romantic and exciting and fun. How will that change if I introduce the children? When he comes over to pick me up for a date, will they try to persuade him (us) to stay home and play a board game instead? Would he be tempted to relent to their pressure to win them over? In other words, for purely selfish reasons, I’d like to prolong this “just the two of us” period. I’m not sure how the dynamic might change if my children meet my boyfriend, I’m only certain that it will.

So, while I’d love to include my beau in my family’s holiday activities — that would definitely give him a view to what he’d be getting in to — we’ve decided to wait to introduce him to the children until we figure out our own relationship first.


kid gloves

I feel friggin’ awesome! I love life! Yet it would be a total crock if I were to try and convince anyone that I weren’t still healing from my failed relationship. For example, I occasionally catch myself behaving in ways that suggest I’m reacting — seeking qualities that are opposite those of my ex or placing inordinate emphasis on things that might otherwise not draw my focus.

By this age, I’d say the same about the men I’ve met. Most are in some stage of healing or another…which got me thinking:  I’ve vowed that I won’t treat a man nor relationship as a project. I’ve vowed to be firm, direct and absolutely myself. I’ve vowed to be clear about my high expectations. And I’m not going to treat any man with kid gloves. So how do I maintain the balance between treating another with care vs. being careful?

And that’s when I realized that it’s all in the delivery. I can be conscious and kind, and still communicate what I want and need. Because there’s a difference between acknowledging that we may still be healing and treating each other as fragile, inferior beings.