How I Feel About Claire

I love this woman I’m married to. Is she 100% of everything I need? No. No one is. But she is really good for me in so many ways. It’s up to me to take care of myself and fulfill my needs, not her.

However, I do need to respect her. Fulfilling my own needs may be my responsibility, but that does not mean I get to do whatever I want. It means I need to state clearly what I need. To work through it on my own and with my wife. To ask her for things I want to change, and respect her wishes.

If we get to an impasse then it may lead to a separation. With patience, kindness, honesty, and education I do hope it never comes to that.

Part of this process is also building trust. By bringing things out in the open, and stating my needs and desires it builds trust even as it may highlight our differences.

We have a shared life together. A wonderful shared life. For the first time in our lives together I can openly state what I want. We can discuss those things. We can discuss the things my wife wants. We can learn together about ourselves and each other. It may not go in the same direction everytime yet I hope we can support each other, and stay committed no matter how it turns out.

Claire is a wonderful woman. She’s really trying to learn and be open. It’s very hard for her, but she’s making progress. She is much more sexual than she used to be. It seems to be benefitting her too, which is good. Breaking out of her shell. She is working on her own friendships. She is working on parenting together better. She is working on spending time with me building memories. I want those things too.

It’s funny, when we were in counseling date nights came up. We both made a concerted effort, and have done them regularly. However she just wanted to go to a restaurant and talk. Not a bad idea as we don’t get to do that much, but I wanted to be fun again. To build memories. She was hesitant at first, but we’ve done a few now and she loves it. The activities do bind us closer together. It brings a different level of energy than just sitting and talking.

Overall Claire is doing alright. I’m hopeful. I’m working to remain hopeful and patient. I just ask of her that we keep moving forward, and continue putting good faith efforts into things. I hope that someday she can understand that I can love another woman, and still love Claire fully. Maybe more than I have before because she will finally be allowing me to be my full self.

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How I feel about Polyamory

We are slowly continuing this journey toward polyamory. Or maybe just open marriage. Dust off the old model for marriage, and try something slightly different.

How is Claire dealing with it all? Better than expected. We are an adaptive species after all. Almost all the concepts are new to her, but rather than losing her shit she is trying to engage and learn. The idea of another person physically engaged in sex with either of us still makes her queasy, but lighter aspects of it do not.

For instance, she told me she is interested in going to bars and flirting with other people while we watch each other from across the room. Introducing the element of “the third” as Perell would say. But actual kissing or physical affection would be too much. It’s a step. Actually it is a nice idea, and I would do that with her for her. However I’m much too introverted for that to work for me. Plus I’m a guy who hasn’t dated in 20 years. I wouldn’t have the first idea of how to flirt with a woman at a bar. That isn’t how I operate.

Claire also started reading some racy novels involving polyamorous relationships. I think that’s a big deal. Simply exposure to a new idea can be a good thing. It doesn’t change anything right now, but it might change her on a base level to be more accepting of alternative situations.

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When I think of what would work, I actually think of a few different situations. The first being my relationship with my wife.

Primary

Claire is first and the most important. I do love her very much. We have built a great life together. We support each other well. We parent together well. On a family functioning basis we are an amazing couple.

The primary mission is to strengthen this relationship. Communicate then over communicate. Respect each other and our respective needs and desires. Recognize we cannot be everything to each other. Also reinforce daily our commitment to our marriage. No matter who we are sleeping with we can be committed to our marriage and living our lives successfully and happy together.

Secondary

Yet there are things missing in the primary relationship. Two things mainly. One is the kinky sex. I’ve talked about this before, but the secondary partner I would want to be a play partner. There must be an intense sexual connection with matching kinks.

Two would be an intense mental connection that Meredith and I had. The more I don’t have that, the more I desire it. In fact the kinky sex often flows from this intense mental connection. It is the core piece that I feel is missing in the primary. What that also means is that this person will be a core part of my life. Not just a side piece from time to time, but I need them as a friend first and lover second.

It would be preferable if this person were also married, and we were both secondary. This relationship will clearly be a challenge to handle for all the reasons having a second partner would entail. Communication and expectations will have to be known and accepted by all. A lot of communication.

It is up to me to meet my needs, and I think this is a great way to do that. It entails an enormous amount of risk and trust from Claire. I want this relationship to enhance my primary relationship rather than detract from it. I feel very positive about the idea, and want to approach it cautiously and methodically.

One thing I know for sure is that the emotions will be intense at the beginning. I will need to navigate those carefully to make sure I stay present with Claire and my family. After awhile I understand the intensity of the feelings often wear down to more manageable levels.

Lastly, having one ongoing secondary relationship is important to me. I don’t enjoy the thought of chasing strange every night. I want a long term relationship that we can build from. I know people who open there marriages for a variety of reasons, but mine would be for the friendship first.

Tertiary

Another aspect I’ve considered are tertiary relationships. To me these would be more casual and shorter term. More of an extended friendship with increased bonding, but no real long term prospects.

I often think of one of my co-workers who is going through divorce. She hasn’t been with a man for about a year since her husband left her. We are very close, but not in a way that would risk my marriage. Generally we are not each other’s types. Yet we are more or less attracted to each other, and we are close friends. It would be nice if it were socially acceptable to grab a bottle of wine, have dinner, and share a night with her. To be there with her and for her. It would bond us close together when she could really use it. Yet it would not be a long term commitment. Frankly she’s not in a position for a long term commitment.

That type of sexual bonding I think would be really amazing to be able to share. Clearly no risk to my marriage. Yet also not chasing strange at a bar. Just two people sharing an intimate moment in a string of friendly moments. For my coworker it would bond us closer together, and we would always have that connection even though the sex would end. Just part of a larger network of lovers and close friends.

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Open marriage continues to be on my radar. It answers the questions that have been plaguing me for decades. It is natural. More natural than monogamy. It will take more generations to be able to ever accept such a thing in society, but I can start small now with my own relationships discreetly.

The keywords being love and respect. We should be more open to loving and respecting those around us. With love often follows sex. And even if it is only lust I don’t think it’s wrong to follow it as long as you are open, honest and respectful.

Are We Monogamous?

I’ve been reading a book that questions the concept that humans are naturally monogamous beings. It puts to word many thoughts I’ve had. Just simply on the surface if monogamy is such a natural state for human beings then why are we so bad at it?

In nature there are monogamous species. Fewer than you think, but many none the less. You know what those species don’t need? A government or church telling them to be monogamous. They are that way naturally. In fact their physical features often reflect it. In purely monogamous primates the males and females are often the same size. Purely polygenous primates tend to have males roughly twice the size of females. There are many other physical features, including genitalia which indicate sexual social structure.

Humans do not tend to follow patterns that support monogamy. We are a very social animal. Sex is a very social act. In gorillas for example they have sex 12 times on average per pregnancy. Humans are over a thousand. It’s a social activity.

Yet we have been attempting to force monogamy for several millennia. Badly. Look at the rate of infidelity. Look at the divorce rates. Look at how hard it is to even define marriage across cultures. Monogamy is not a given for humans. It is not a done deal.

We are very social animals, and we create cultures which we adapt to. Our current culture is supportive of monogamy, but it is not that way in every culture or across time. We are adaptive to our culture, but that does not mean our biology is suited to the culture.

Exploration

Although I am still holding out final judgement Claire has really turned a new leaf. She admits that a lot of these things about sexual desires and open relationships scare her. But she also admits that a lot of it is because she doesn’t know about them. Which to me is a bit of a chicken and egg question, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

We ran through a sex questionnaire together, and she didn’t totally freak out. She admitted that she has a fantasy of being essentially raped. She admits that she likes the idea of giving up control of at least one aspect of her life, but she struggles with execution. She has started masterbating on her own. She has even watched porn, and we watched one together. Something we tried several years ago that she just walked away from saying it wasn’t really something she was into. She started reading a dirty novel about a couple who had another man join them. She also said she might be fine with creating our own at home porn video. Another thing that she’s flatly refused a million times.

In total she is exploring new possibilities in her mind. She asked me questions about what I like about another person. She told me why she was scared. She told me that when she really thinks about it some of these things are not that scary and she’s not sure why she’s resisted so long and so strongly.

And we’ve had some pretty hot sex.

Now I brought up the porn example because it was such a clear discussion point. It was literally the exact same conversation years prior that ended badly and never tried again. To me we have so many examples just like that, but they are often more subtle and hard to describe accurately. This example was very clear.

Honestly I think a lightbulb has gone off with Claire. A realization that we are sexual beings, and she has not been putting effort into it. Into me. Into understanding me or even allowing us to discuss or talk about sex. She admitted that many of her reactions to things would and did lead to me feeling shame. She doesn’t want that. She feels bad that she did it. She wants us to have a good sex life, too. But she doesn’t even know what that is for her.

I do feel this week for the first time she is really trying sexually for herself. Not just blaming me for being different. Some of the fantasies I told her about I’ve only told one other person. I want her to know these are important and difficult for me to discuss. I need to feel that she respects me, and that I can trust her. Due to ways our sexual differences were handled in the past it’s very hard for me to trust her.

Discussing non-monogamy

The last couple of weeks Claire and I have been dealing with what monogamy means. It’s everything to Claire. It seems she defines her life around her sexual relationship. Which is odd considering the sex isn’t that great.

When we discuss it she immediately jumps to the worst case scenario. We are going to get horrible diseases, there will be illegitimate children, and there will be no time for us. Which will lead to complete unhappiness – we may as well just get divorced now.

It’s hard for me to tell her that actually we are a bit odd being a couple that had only ever had sex together until recently. Most people we know, that we consider friends or family have had lots of sexual partners, none of them have horrible diseases, and are generally happy now.

It’s also hard to show her that monogamous marriage isn’t all it’s sold as. The failure rate is high. Even the ones that don’t fail at monogamy usually have some skeletons in the closet. It’s hard to explain to her how strong this sexual desire can be. Why it is such an important force in my life and in human nature generally. There are cultures where infidelity is punishable by death and it still happens!

We went to see the therapist and start talking about it. She got to say what was important to her. She got to say what scared her. I got to say what I think, and she was able to ask questions about it. I think it made an inkling of a difference, but we are still a ways off. I mean the crazy part is that we are talking about it. That’s progress.

Feedback Loop

I was reading articles about other people’s experiences living in marriages where only one person is kinky. One particular couple had a very unique perspective that caught my attention. A term they used that describes something I’ve been struggling to find the words for.

In this couple the wife is kinky. She likes some rough things. Being slapped, spit on, verbally humiliated, etc. Her husband is just not into it, but it’s more than that. Even during non-kinky sex they struggle. This is where it caught my attention.

What they said is that they do not have a well formed sexual feedback loop together. It just doesn’t work. The sex can be awkward. They still have sex because they feel it’s important for their relational intimacy, but they know it’s not going to be great. The intimacy is more important, and they love each other and their relationship. Because sex is not the only part of a marriage.

At some point they started having another woman join them for sex. They both said it was amazing. Somehow this woman completed the feedback loop. While she was with them they had amazing sex together. Several months later she moved to another continent, and they were right back to their old broken feedback loop.

This feedback loop problem is exactly what Claire and I struggle with and the term/concept I’ve been struggling to find. We have ok sex. Some days better than others, but never great.

Meredith and I had a perfect feedback loop. Words were often not required, we were so tuned into each other. The feeling that experience generated in my brain was incredible. To have such an instantaneous and understood feedback loop.

Unfortunately it made the contrast with Claire more acute. However, I have come to accept where we are. I love Claire. I would love her even without sex. I will always love her. Much like this other couple though, we have a weak sexual feedback loop, but it is worth it for the intimate connection sex provides.

Claire and I will not have some person join us to make the loop better. That is not in the cards. I don’t know that we need to be too concerned about it. Frankly I do enjoy sex with Claire, and I think we should spend more time focused on what we both want out of our sexual relationship together and non-sexual.

The flip side is that I do need someone else I can spend time with to satisfy my kinky side. Someone with a stronger feedback loop, and more aligned kinks. I think asking for all of this in one person is too much. Especially now that we have children. Better to have a play partner on the side which will free up my own frustrations with sex. Claire and I will then be free to be ourselves without me always feeling let down afterward, and her always feeling like she isn’t good enough.

It’s hard for me when Claire and I have sex. Even when it’s really good. Because there is so much I want to do that we can’t do, and I always end up feeling exasperated saying to myself “Is this it? Forever?” That thought pattern puts a black mark on what should be a good thing.

Claire struggle too, because she feels that she needs to be everything or I’m going to leave her. She is so caught up on what the church is telling her I don’t know if she can even hear me. She certainly doesn’t want to hear me.

It’s a struggle. Feedback loop is an important concept. It’s the part of sex I’m missing with Claire.

The End of Monogamy

We had quite a counseling session yesterday. Claire has been reading Esther Perel’s books. Finally. I actually started smiling as she was talking to the therapist. When asked why I was smiling I said “I’m really glad Claire is finally reading these books. The ideas and concepts she is coming across are ones I’ve wanted to talk with her about for some time, but I knew they wouldn’t go well until she had an understanding of what I’m talking about. It helps that she is hearing the ideas first from a trusted source rather than me.”

Claire listed of a number of concepts she is learning. Including that in heterosexual marriages we tend to assume rather than ask what each person thinks defines the rules of our relationship.

Which led to her asking me how I would define monogamy for our relationship. To be honest I was not totally prepared for this, but the therapist already knew I wanted an open relationship. I guess this is it. Time to spill the beans.

It took quite a while for me to get to the point because it’s not as simple as “I want to have sex with other people.” It’s more subtle about relationships and what defines the limits. Eventually though we got to what she wanted to hear. That I want a more open marriage.

It broke her heart. I knew it would. That’s why it has taken three years and an affair to finally tell her.

On the drive home we talked more about it. I went into more detail and she asked a few more questions, but wasn’t really engaged. She kept saying that “we could talk about it, but I need to know that this isn’t something she wants.” Which she repeated many times. Thereby making it impossible to actually talk about. I told her that is all I wanted to do right now is to talk about. The idea is very exciting to me, and I think it has positive benefits for our marriage. Then she went back to the same line and added “I feel like you’re just going to hound me about it until I agree.” Shutting down conversation again.

I asked her how we are supposed to be able to talk about things if that is all she hears? I’m not telling her that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not telling her take it or leave it. I simply want to talk about it and learn together. She has no interest in learning about this. Her mind is set and anything I say is simply trying to wear her down. It’s infuriating.

The next morning, however, went very well. We slept in. The kids slept in. We woke up and had sex without even saying good morning. It was nice. Then she told me how she had been so horny lately.

After she was showered and dressed she started kissing me, and told me that even the thought of me fucking another woman really turned her on. Bingo. I said, “I noticed that before. We can work with that.” She just walked away with a sly smile. She did not deny it. I also don’t think she has really accepted her little fetish.

The taboo subject is open and on the table now. It scares the shit out of Claire, but when you get into her sexuality, she rather enjoys the thought. Is a start.