22. meanwhile in real life (what open looks like for us)Posted: November 20, 2012
Sex with my husband had dramatically improved. Satisfying my needs through other partners alleviated the pressure for him to perform. I was no longer fixated on counting orgasms, spicing things up, reinventing myself. T had sparked my sexual awakening. Johnson had given me friendship and fun. Mr. Universe turned out to be the King of Swing Town. These lovers sated my hunger for freedom, for adventure. They fanned the fire in me and with that fire tended, simple pleasure became enough for my husband and me. I didn’t have to climax to feel good. I loved kissing. I loved being touched. And this enabled my husband to regain his footing, to not worry about erections, or stamina, or any of the baggage that had darkened our bedroom for years. As the bond between us was restored we found our way back to a playful place. And picked up a few new tricks. He does this thing with his fingers, tongue, and mouth when he goes down on me and I’m instantly shattered every time. I attribute this not to technique, but to the fact that he loves me more than anyone else in the world.
T had sent me a series of nasty emails after we broke-up. Johnson and I weren’t dating anymore, but had become close friends. And though Mr. Universe was a great in bed I found his shyness challenging. I wanted badly to talk these things out with my touchstone of fifteen years, my moral compass, my husband, but our agreement had been: Don’t ask don’t tell, but if asked tell the truth. He didn’t want to hear sex stories (I wouldn’t want to hear them about him either), but not talking about any of it made me feel like I was living with a veil of shame over me. We weren’t out to our friends. I made that mistake once and went scrambling back into the closet under their scrutiny. But this duality at home wasn’t working for me and I finally brought it up for renegotiation. He agreed to try hearing about these people not as my lovers, but simply as the friends and acquaintances that they were. Real characters who were part of my real story. (Some of our original agreements included no cuddling, no lying around naked, no laughing together, no massages by candlelight, no seeking advice, no talking about our family – in other words, NO intimacy, no falling in love. “But I like falling in love!” I’d insist. “It’s what I do! I fall in love utterly and completely for entire hours at a time and then it’s over. Just like a play!”) The new agreement ended up working for both of us. Eventually, all on his own my husband started asking how things were going with Johnson and the new girlfriend, if I felt any more comfortable with the shy Mr. Universe, if T had tried to contact me lately. Many of these discussions reminded us where we were strongest as a couple – honesty, communication, problem-solving. It helped build trust between us.
To lessen my husband’s anxiety, my dates were always piggy-backed onto activities that would already take me out of the house – work meetings, the gym, therapy sessions. I’d simply let him know that I was going out afterward and that would suffice. Most of the time he’d be asleep when I got home so I was able to shower and go about my business without any awkwardness. He’s one of those gifted people who doesn’t fret himself to sleep; he snores within thirty seconds of hitting the pillow. Afterward, I’d slip into bed, nestle my feet under his warm legs, and his heavy arm would unconsciously drape around me. Home. Always home. With him.
Every open marriage runs the risk of partners being lured away by others, but frankly, I can’t fathom it. In all my life, all the people I’ve known, I’ve never met a single other person as good-hearted and loving as my husband, and there’s certainly nobody else who gets me the way he does. While I’m easily aroused I’m also highly selective. I’ve discovered (via Ass Man) that I prefer meaningful connection (whether that connection lasts a year or a few hours is beside the point). My poly-pace is naturally slow, which gives us plenty of time to figure out what works and doesn’t work for us. This is the place we arrived at after two years and the three (four, if you count Ass Man) lovers who helped me discover who I am as a sexual being in an open(ish)/monogamish marriage.
Some of my readers (mostly men) have emailed wanting me to talk about what Open really looks like in my marriage. They’ve specifically asked how it works and how my husband has dealt with all of it.
This post was for you, Friends.