So recently there has been much ado about sex – eyeball popping, jump off the bestseller lists, mainstream reading, mass appeal, out of the closet/nightstand/lockbox sex story talk. If you haven’t read the 50 Shades series, or aren’t aware of its existence, you may have had your head under a rock – or perhaps with any luck, under the covers.
So you can imagine my chagrin when we were searching through photos to prepare a slide show marking #champagne25 that we will share with guests at our upcoming vow reaffirmation ceremony…and this popped on to the screen. G says, “yes”. I say, “ummm…no”. For the love of all that’s holy, it’s a GREY tie!
But it set me to thinking. I mean, this shot is taken by our daughter as we were horsing around during clean-up after our annual Christmas Eve bash. There was absolutely nothing even remotely erotic about it, as you can see by the expression on our faces. And of course, G is no billionaire with a private jet, and lacks said damaged psyche (at least in THAT way). But you don’t get through 25 years together without some chemistry, ya know?
So I thought I’d share some of the realities, that physical intimacy with a lifetime mate is filled with nuances, changes, shades if you will. And stark realities. Of course when we started out we were smitten, smouldering with passion, thrilled to have a marriage license giving permission for “relations”, for Pete’s sake. We were young, healthy, intrigued, and unfettered (figuratively speaking).
But having sex with a survivor of sexual abuse is not a cakewalk. It takes grit. It changes the dance. It’s a minefield at times.
And having sex with a night owl when you are a morning person means someone would rather be sleeping, at least some of the time.
Having sex with each other because a thermometer says that it should be today, should you wish to conceive, is not for the faint of heart – especially after three years of this type of gruelling demand. Having your love look at your tense, tear-filled eyes, take your hand, and say to you “let’s just be friends”, so that the pressure for passion is removed and the combined effort toward a mutual goal is good enough? That lasts a lifetime.
The liberation of having sex just because you can, and you actually want to, as your hormones are raging and your body is changing and you feel the thrill of new life inside you? Exhilarating. And not so bad for the fella who is suddenly having to fend you off either.
But trying to find sensuality in the middle of persistent morning sickness, high risk pregnancies, exhaustion, a chronically insistent bladder, a body that feels like a baby beluga, and when you can’t possibly imagine what could ever be attractive about any of it? Tougher.
We won’t even talk about that period where one of you is waiting for the six-week post-birth all clear and the other is like, as if…
Then comes the in-between years that seem so long when you are in them. “shhhh….the baby will hear us !!!” Or, “shhh…I think I hear the baby!” ”Is the door closed?” and later when little feet very independently pitter-patter in at all given times, and can open door knobs… “Right! Nice lock on the door. It clicks so loud you might want to just take out a public service announcement”.
This does not include the exhaustion, getting up at night for sick kids, worry, job stress, impossible scheduling that makes everything on your list seem more important than the perks. And when we got caught in the pressures of family living we would find it easy to drift apart little by little, losing our emotional intimacy, and making physical intimacy seem like a hurdle instead of a joy.
Sometimes our codes got scrambled, badly. Like, when I gave that look that really meant, “are you freaking kidding me that you forgot to switch the laundry?!” and his brain received, “all systems are go, Houston”. Or when I thought I was using the airplane orange flag signal system indicating interest and apparently was not in any way making myself clear. The language of intimacy, unique to each couple, and filled with so many shades that shift over time – it sometimes gets lost in translation.
Then there are teenagers. Well, they are just awake all the time. Or around. And my mother lives with us now and lives on the main floor in a granny suite that is RIGHT UNDER OUR ROOM. Get your head around that development…
And then there is just the getting older – hair leaving heads and showing up other places it really doesn’t need to be, waistlines widening, joints creaking a bit, leg cramps, fatigue, snoring and other idiosyncrasies. And just forces of habit that mean risking falling into a rut. A danger zone.
But you know what doesn’t change? Eyes. Windows to the soul people. And smiles, laughing smiles or secret smiles that hold a whole history in them. And hands. Hands that have held each other, and babies, and worked together, and soothed, and comforted, and excited, and just known. That knowing is a beautiful thing. In all its shades.
You see, at least 50 Shades of reality.