As we have spent the last six months slowly putting our lives back together, two steps forward and then a step back with every new disclosure, I have realized that we both had become incredibly complacent and lazy about our relationship. We both stopped nurturing it, and it fell apart in several ways. I am 49 not 19, but I still relied on Jto make the first move, to make me happy, and to tell me what he needed – and actually what I needed too. Jeff was my first lover, and he was older and much more experienced. Although I research almost every other aspect of my life, until the last six months I had never researched any aspect of sexuality. I loved him and I just felt lucky that I had him, and never really gave it another thought. We both agreed until fairly recently that we needed more sex, not better or different sex. Jeff had also gotten lazy – if he wanted to have sex, we found a way to have sex, without any romance or work. As we found out, this is not a good way to run a relationship. I was not following the rules when I didn’t respond the way that he was conditioned for me to respond, and I was indignant that he was not providing me with what I needed – comfort, kindness, and affection as a prelude to actual sex. With the events and issues of the last year or so, we were both so emotionally overwrought that we couldn’t share our emotional pain…which affected our communication, and we lost the connection to each other that love making can provide.
As we have started to open up to one another, I have made some very interesting discoveries. J has had items on his preferred sex list that he never asked for from me – and that had never occurred to me since he had not been at all shy about introducing me to everything else we had ever done, and I had never said no to him about anything. As a result, we have added a little variety and a little more spice to our time together. In addition, I am much more interested in sex. I don’t actually spend much time thinking about it unless he is around, and then I don’t want to think about it, I want to have it. I have found that I actually like it better than cake and find it a perfectly acceptable, even preferred, activity to a new book, which is really saying something for me. I do not really understand the change – I don’t feel like a different person, but I know that my attitude about sex is completely different. I think I have just relaxed and am willing to enjoy whatever enjoyable comes along.
J’s approach has also changed. He has come to realize that paying attention to me – kindness, care…all of the nicer emotions – nets him some pretty spectacular results. He seems to be relaxing into the idea that he can have sex whenever he wants, which sometimes means that he does not want it as often. He has some physical issues to work out, but has been to the doctor and is addressing them. He is also processing some seriously negative emotions, including guilt, shame, and embarrassment, which has a certain negative impact on his mood sometimes. Overall, however, he seems happier and more relaxed.
I do expect that we will continue to make progress, even though I know both of us will continue to have moments of angst. We will also have to work through any unrescinded lies or unrevealed truths that pop up. Sometimes I feel like he is starting to shut down and pull away again – less interested in sex, less interested in us, and more obsessed with work. Other times he seems totally in the moment, and I start to feel like I was hallucinating. For example, he went to an archaeological meeting and came back totally fascinated with the he had heard. He was unhappy because I was not equally fascinated, and frustrated because he did not have anyone to talk to about his theories. I did feel myself begin to pull back, and tried to sort out why this situation touched off such negative emotions in me, and I think that it is because his habit of becoming totally immersed in whatever he finds interesting is what led us to the place where it all came unstuck. I do not want him to be less than he is – after all, that passion for his interests is a big part of what makes him who he is. He, however, is the one who isolated himself from me, our relationship, and our home – and then felt abandoned, ignored and found someone else, even if it was only briefly. While adultery is a new and devastating facet in our relationship, I have been through the loss of interest before and spent months in therapy trying to make peace with the loss of the most important relationship in my life. Again, I am not going to pull on him to try and get his attention, or to try to keep him focused on me (or us). He has to make the choices about what will make him happy, and I have to make my own choices. As our life fell apart, and I really started thinking about our relationship, I realized that I was not happy either. I want someone who is willing to take a little interest in the things that interest me. I also want to share a life – to make mutual decisions about money, to work on creating a home we both love, and to have thirty or forty more years of shared experiences. I don’t think that we have grown so far apart that we cannot still be happy, but we both have to commit to it. I think that the outcome will entirely depend on the way he spends the time he is not working. If he is so busy that I have to fill up my life with other things, I am not going to be as willing to accommodate his schedule as I have been in the past.