…with some personal, occasionally-painful tangents thrown in ‘cuz it is my post and that’s the way my brain works.
Parting with my usual style, I am writing a heartfelt piece about my wife and our journey to the doorstep of swinging. This blog post was prompted by a couple recent posts: one by Mrs. Said and the other by her sister. The former was an unbelievably sweet, generous open letter to me. It was written at what feels like a high point in our life together. I wish I could link to it but that would blow our cover in this blog. The latter was a philosophical piece asking if it is true that there is The One True Love for each of us. Good question. I tend to fall on this side of that argument:
“If I Didn't Have You” by Tim Minchin
The juxtaposition between those two posts highlighted how lucky I am to be with Mrs. Said and how wide the gulf between happily partnered and unhappily solo can be.
Let me just say how much I love that word “juxtaposition.” Why is my foot asleep? Dunno. I think it was juxtaposition I was sitting in on this airplane.
For that reason, I feel conflicted writing about my love for this woman. To the reader who is between relationships or – worse yet – in a bad one, I don’t want to come off like I don’t have great sympathy for that struggle. I do. Does anyone really want to read about a relationship that is working well? We’ll see. And it doesn’t really matter because this is an open letter back to my best friend.
Do I think Mrs. Said is my one true love? Without a doubt I am ecstatic to have her as my wife. I can’t imagine being with anyone else (partially because I can barely remember being with anyone else after two decades with her). I think she could have a wonderful connection with any number of guys, though. That drives me to make efforts to ensure she feels desired, appreciated, valued, needed… But the *only* one out of billions? My logical mind says that’s a silly proposition. One of a precious few potential mates? Probably.
When she and I started talking about the topic of swinging, one resounding question kept running through my mind: Why would we risk the great thing we have going by bringing others into the relationship, if only temporarily? Good question.
Said Sex 101
Maybe a brief sexual history will prove illustrative of how we got here. We met in our early 20s each having a few years of sexual activity under our belts. One significant, intense, teenage love interest for each of us. Some recreational sex scattered around those years, but nothing noteworthy. I have now arrived at a place where I am completely comfortable with the sex we engage in, the sexual part of my being, what turns my crank, and what I have done in the past. Some of my earliest sexual experiences haunted me into my mid-20s, when the weight was lifted by telling some very trusted friends. In middle school, I was terrified of girls in any interactions beyond hanging around as friends and trying to make them laugh. When pre-teen hormones began raging, it was easier to experiment with boys. None of that was a conscious thought process; it simply played out that way. I didn’t think “hey I am really attracted to boys” or “I am gay, I wonder who is open to that.” It just seemed way easier to touch and be touched by another curious, testosterone-poisoned boy.
Ever-present in my life is the gnawing feeling that I am different in an off-putting way. I felt it 100% in middle school. Now it ranges from 1% to 50% depending on the day and how much I am staring at my own navel. That manifested itself in an unstoppable need to measure myself against other guys – literally. Let’s face it. The male genitalia are the unfortunate genesis of much male pride. Being a “grower” not a “shower” I was always pretty sure I was hung like a mouse. Twiddling my friend in his pool or blowing my next door neighbor in his basement was my way of exploring. Those experiences haunted me. My God! Am I gay? No. I am comfortable with that answer. Thanks to some great friends with whom I have been through epic struggles together, I accept that part of my sexual past and see it as nothing more than innocent experimentation.
I think I am quite a gay-friendly hetero as a result of that experience, but that was a long time coming. Growing up, I had an uncle who was a drug addict. And alcoholic. And schizophrenic. And gay. All of those labels seemed to be linked in my relatives’ minds. Hence, being gay was something to be treated as a shameful family secret.
Living in a small town in Tennessee, going to high school, wanting to fuck any – ANY – girl I saw in the halls.… That was my foremost thought throughout the day. Remember the days of spontaneous erections sitting in class? Ahhh, the hormones. In spite of wanting to screw every chick in school (or any nearby school), I still had nagging thoughts that made me wonder if I had damaged myself in those experiments with the boys next door. I knew if I had, it would be ugly. Let’s just say there weren’t annual Pride parades in my town.
A couple years after moving to the big city for college, I met Mrs. Said. She worked in a small office of around 10 people. Her boss was a lesbian. Her manager was gay. A couple other employees were gay. I simply had never been exposed to someone as open and accepting of homosexuality as Mrs. Said. I just hadn’t been around that many gay folks! It was strangely enticing when she told me her manager’s boyfriend thought I was really cute and wouldn’t mind if I changed my mind about being a breeder. I felt no sexual urge toward him, but who *doesn’t* love being admired?
Mrs. Said and I made love way before we were in love. Maybe two weeks into our courtship. God, I miss smoking a cigarette after sex. She was a great lover – and remains one to this day. Some months after our first time she opened my eyes to the pleasures of – as Ali G would say – puttin’ it in the wrongun. It felt dirty to do it. Turns out, I like dirty. [dumb&dumber] I like it a lot. [/dumb&dumber]
We explored a very satisfying vanilla sexual relationship. We were together for 11 years before we decided to try to make little Saids. Over that time, we grew incredibly close, farther apart, dangerously far apart, back together again…. The times we were farthest apart were when we spent little time together. After years of college, then grad school, then early careers, we got used to doing our own thing. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t until she decided that she really DID want to be married to me that we became close again. It is a testament to how clueless I was at the time but I was very focused on work and training for marathons and triathlons.
A couple years after the low point, we decided to try to make the aforementioned little Saids. I don’t know what got tripped in my reptilian brain but once we ‘pulled the goalie’ making love and/or fucking my wife became a much more intensely pleasurable experience. Something about having a purpose for burying myself as far as I could reach…. Was it simply because every single time I had fucked a woman before I was trying to make sure she DIDN’T get pregnant? There was something inexplicably wonderful about those sessions. Unfortunately, she got pregnant in maybe the second month of us trying. But it turns out the good mojo just kept going. I loved making love to my pregnant wife. Thank god for being average. I never worried about damaging the fetus. LOL.
I used to kid Mrs. Said by telling her that I loved making love to her during the pregnancy because it was like sleeping with another woman. How prophetic. That is a huge attraction to the swing life, of course. But I feel confident that my feelings for my primary relationship will not be diminished by swinging. Is there a finite supply of affection? Nope. Plenty to go around.
So the years rolled on. A few years ago, she told me she wanted to be tied up. I am not the dominant type, but seeing how much it turned her crank for me to blindfold her and be in total control. What a charge!! Little by little, we have become more sexually liberated, or comfortable, or adventurous. I am not sure how to describe it. But it has been working very well. Swinging is a pretty big leap, but it feels like just another step in our liberation.
In considering swinging, I have had to confront some of my deepest fears: Mrs. Said will find someone who can REALLY curl her toes. She will discover that sex with women is more than just a long-standing curiosity. That she will leave me. Are those fears well-founded? I don’t think so. I don’t feel threatened that she will find a substitute for me. We have built a wonderful life together. I couldn’t imagine having entertained the swing life early in a relationship, though.
I have never been the only close relationship for Mrs. Said – male or female – during our marriage. Just the only sexual one. She has always gotten little bits of what she needs from her girl friends and guy friends. I am comfortable that I can’t and won’t be her sole source of companionship.
After a close friend of hers came out as a lesbian some years into a marriage with kids, we talked a lot about how difficult that coming-out choice must have been. I feel confident that every single family member will come out the other end stronger and more enlightened as a result. I don’t know if it is just my personal path that colors my view, but I can’t help but feel the development of greater acceptance in society of the vast variety among humans in sexual orientation, kinks, desires, expressions…. Who cares about society? I guess the important thing is how open and accepting I have become to the weird world of sex and all its combinations and permutations.
So back to Mrs. Said and me – and swinging. What about the off chance I am wrong and she decides she doesn’t want to be with me any longer? That would suck hard. But if I am putting the right effort into our relationship and communicating well, I am confident that won’t come to pass. The best barometer for how I am doing as a husband is the dishwasher. If I am putting my dishes in the dishwasher, I love my wife more. It is the damndest thing, but it is a great appliance.
That goes for any part of my life, really. Whatever I focus on becomes larger. When I put caring, loving energy into it, I value it more. A marriage truism: If you don’t feel like you are putting in 75% of the collective effort, you probably aren’t pulling your share.
I need to go do the dishes…