Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

love

Divorce and the Goodbye Monday Blues

OFF-2016-mud

Divorce is about goodbyes. Goodbyes you never thought you’d be saying. Instead of everyday, like I imagined, I only see my kids 10 out of the 30 days in an average month. That’s a lot of time without their smiling faces. And when you’re the off parent, it’s a lot of time alone.

In the spaces between being dad I learned to reinvest in myself. I healed from my sadness and divorce by writing, exercising, and living through it.

Today I’m in a much better place with it, but it’s never easy. I miss them. And I’m amazed when days go by without even a text or Snapchat. But they’re teenagers and doing their own thing. I get it. Still, it’s a heartbreaking situation for someone who’s emotionally open and connected. I suppose there a people who are more business like about it, but I’m a card-carrying member of the attachment parenting movement, and perhaps the attachment is just as strong both ways.

I’ve been a divorced dad for almost seven years and I’m still going through empty nest syndrome. Perhaps this is one of the gifts of divorce, the real empty nest won’t be so hard for me, since I’ve been 2/3 empty already. But the gift is a painful one.

On Monday mornings, at the end of my four-day run with the kids, I drop them off at school and then return to my old house and drop off their bags. Early on in the divorce this was hugely depressing. Everything about it brought back the pain. My old house. Dropping them at school knowing I wouldn’t see them for several days. And that one day thing on the off week is pretty hard too, but drop off Mondays were really a bitch.

Just this past Monday I had a moment of sadness and overwhelm. There were a lot of other pressures that converged on this particular Monday, but something about the drop off really struck a deep chord of pain in me. There’s no explaining it. I used to get sad sometimes dropping them off at day care when I was going to see them that same night. I miss my kids. I like to hear about their day (what they’ll tell me) and their ambitions for whatever. Being around them in their daily activities is a joy.

Today, I’m glad I have the time to devote to all the messy loveliness of being in a relationship again. I’m engaged to be married and very happy about life.

The only tonic to this sad dance is picking up your own life and moving on. In the spaces between being dad I learned to reinvest in myself. I healed from my sadness and divorce by writing, exercising, and living through it. And I continue to work on myself outside of my relationships, doing the emotional excavation to understand my sadness.

I was asked by a friend the other day what was the hardest part of divorce, losing my primary relationship or losing my kids? Kids. It wasn’t even close. Maybe that’s still some of the anger of the divorce talking, but I could imagine myself without my ex-wife, I could not imagine my life without my kids. It’s not that I’m living for or through them. But your love for your kids is something unlike any other relationship. There’s no explaining this to someone without kids. It simply doesn’t compute.

Today, I’m glad I have the time to devote to all the messy loveliness of being in a relationship again. I’m engaged to be married and very happy about life.

Do I still get tripped up on drop off Mondays? Yep. It’s part of the ebb and flow of life as a divorced parent. One day things seem okay and the next day the universe is split in two: time with your kids and time without them. I’ll take what I can get and do the best I can in that time. The rest is up to me.

Respectfully,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

< back to Single Parenting

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image: kids at play, creative commons usage


alone for the day

montreal-alone

[from strange horizons poems]

even the cold here is love
you are as close as bye
maybe sleeping
maybe leading a room of sleepers
maybe i’m dreaming this
you
us
how would i know
what point in time would waking deliver?
no one can translate the french
i don’t need words
only sounds
and this perfect glass of water
to remember
our triumphant
hello
just over a year ago

has the dream continued to rise all this time?
and the love
continued unabated and strong

how can i comprehend
this warmth you have wrapped around me?
and these dreams
made real

2-25-16


i can only tell you how much i love you in two languages

montreal-stairwell

[from strange horizons poems]

it’s not enough
i know this
words don’t contain enough life, love, living…
they are just here
on the page
crying out to be with you
in you
feeling what it feels like to be next to you
i would give this second
and every one after it
to find my way back to your side
at this moment
you are moments away
and still
i can tell something is missing
as if a part of me
is strapped on your back
in your backpack
as you rush up the escalator
and into your day job
meetings

i will hold
this space
this empty joy
alone
until you return
and give me
back the piece
or at least rejoin
my heart
together
with
you

2-25-16


loving you in many distant cities

montreal-a

[from strange horizons poems]

as we rush apart
finding our niche
and comfort
to prepare a kiss
a pressed hand
a longing from across the room
i see
and miss you
immediately
knowing you are mine
here
and just a heartbeat away
and still i crave
your laugh
and sparkle
returning
soon
returning
forever
returning
joy

2-25-16


Who Is The Off Parent

I am The Off Parent

He is learning to be a single dad.

He is trying to be a better man.

He is happy and mad all at once.

He is divorced and recovering himself from the wreckage that was created.

He is depressed but working on it.

He is overweight and under appreciated.

He is trying again.

He is not to be fucked with.

He is looking out for the best interest of his kids, sometimes even before himself.

He is sad about how things went down.

He is hiding out from time to time when things get hard.

He is a gift.

He is telling his story to the furthest depth he can.

He is openly admitting he is wrong and makes mistakes.

He is taking a fearless moral inventory.

He is alive and well.

He is the best dad he can be.

He is never giving up on having a cordial and sane relationship with his ex-wife, even when she frequently makes it difficult.

He is starving for more time with his kids.

He is an engaged father to an incredible son.

He is a dad who believes father-daughter relationships set the tone for his daughter’s future relationships.

He is not afraid to dance or make mistakes.

He is laughing.

He is here now, writing these words, hoping that you take away some ideas and moments of hope.

He believes in you and your struggle to be a parent, both men and women.

He loves moms.

He supports dads.

He holds his children as long as they will stand still.

He knows the children will leave the nest, and there are not enough hours between now and then to satisfy his expressions of love.

He loves a new woman.

He is hopeful for whatever comes next.

He believes his ex-wife is a loving and strong mother. She’s 50% of the reason the kids are cool.

He believes he was the better half in the divorce.

He believes child support should be mutual and 50/50.

He believes the court system is stacked against dads from the beginning. He also believes this rigid rule is changing.

He supports your healing and wellbeing.

He is doing this for you.

He is writing this because he can’t stop.

He professes deep and unending love to others all the time.

He says, “I love you” all the time.

He is the best dad on the planet.

He is becoming a better parent every day.

He is a believer in dreams and true love.

He is a poet.

He requires no permission or appreciation.

He loves himself.

He knows how to show happiness.

He can tell you what love tastes like.

He is here.

He is you.

He is all of us.

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

< back to Single Parenting

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mvd2.0

off-hearttree

off-hearttree

[from strange horizons poems]

something about your heart doesn’t make sense
a desire beyond all desires
a part of your soul you don’t understand
but are drawn to
the thrill, the chase, the capture,
the loss, the love, the sadness
it’s all in there at the beginning
and if you spot the one you’re looking for
no amount of distress or baggage
will keep you from
giving it your best shot
communicating freely
loving wildly
being reckless
bold

don’t hold back when the winds of love arrive
the storm approaches and you can lean in
or run with the dust and rain

ours is the way of brave things
kisses like arrows of fate and joy and excess
piercing the veil
of loneliness
hope
and
desire

the poetry of desire has created the maelstrom
a belief in myself
in my power to call in what the universe demands
of lovers
and answering the call
who am i to hesitate
when the time opens up and says forever
i am good to go
perhaps for a year
perhaps for a lifetime
i have only lived this far
i do not know
but i feel

you have awakened the life in me
of potential and possibilities
lying together
side by side
strokes and cuddles
smiles
and groans
as we seek the hand
push back against the night
with laughter
longing
and
full
fill
ment
of
the
we

2-5-16


Little Ghosts Still Flutter My Heart

OFF-header-mary

OFF-header-mary

The depression was a killer. (As depression is actually a killer.) But in my case, it was almost too hard to manage. Somehow, I managed. My fiance said during one of our walks up a very steep hill, “You’re either going to make it up the hill, or die.” It was a pretty good metaphor for depression. Even when the hill feels insurmountable, you have a couple of choices: deal with it as best you can, call 911, jump off the nearest radio tower.

I don’t talk to anyone or tell them where I’m going, or what’s wrong. I simply leave and hide. It’s a terrible coping mechanism for an adult.

I can recall that when I was between 5 and 7 years old, I used to have fantasies about the very high radio towers that were near our house. When I was feeling particularly bad about my parents divorce, or my perceived shun of a cute girl at school, I imagined myself plummeting from the top of one of the towers. How sad everyone was going to be. How if they had known they would’ve loved me like they should. How if my parents had really cared about me they would’ve stayed together and my father would’ve stopped drinking. That’s not how it happened. Fortunately that’s not how I chose to deal with it either.

One of the ways, in my young, sad, and confused times, I dealt with being overwhelmed with sadness was by climbing up the forested hill in my back hard and building rock and stick forts. I would construct a shelter, sharpen sticks for weapons, and typically freeze my ass off. I’m not sure why it is always winter in my forted memories, but perhaps that’s more mythology than truth. I’m sure I had many overwhelming moments (dad yelling) in the heat of the summer as well, but for some reason in my mythical fort I am also freezing.

As an adult, I sometimes find myself behaving like this young boy. I isolate just as I did in my fort. I don’t talk to anyone or tell them where I’m going, or what’s wrong. I simply leave and hide. It’s a terrible coping mechanism for an adult, but when my brain has begun to shut down and get hopeless, my thoughts quickly turn to how I can kill all my plans and stay in bed. This probably sounds very weird and juvenile to anyone who hasn’t dealt with depression, but something happens, and the “rise and shine” of life becomes “duck and cover.”

As the most stabilizing force in my life, this woman leaned in, continued to tell me she loved me, and continued to ask me to go walking, every – single – day.

And this isolation technique didn’t work any better as a small child. I would hide, cry, defend against my feelings, alone in the stone fort. I would wait for the yelling to die down, perhaps a car to speed off, or darkness and quiet to descend before I went back into the house. In the past few months I was dead set on getting out of all obligations beyond work, feeding myself, and feeding my kids and getting them to school when they were with me. But a beautiful thing happened and continued to happen.

My fiance stayed beside me. She asked me to go on walks, to play tennis, to eat good food. She carried on conversations between us when I was in STFU mode. And to her credit, she took nights and time off for her own rejuvenation. But she never abandoned me. In my little boy brain, that can emerge during depression, I was abandoned by my dad with his anger and drinking, and ultimately when he left the house in my parents divorce. In my small mind, I was also abandoned by my mom who didn’t come rescue me up in my rock fort. So I’m looking for signs of being abandoned during these down periods. And this loving woman, and still-new relationship, stayed solid. I tried to tell her what was going on. I tried to include her in some of the decisions I was making about meds and strategies. And she hung in there.

As the most stabilizing force in my life, this woman leaned in, continued to tell me she loved me, and continued to ask me to go walking, every – single – day.

I remember a conversation with my therapist at one point, “No one else is willing to spend that much time with you being with you. She must really care about you.” The logic held. The relationship weathered a massive structural change, and we continued to work, love, and play together as best we could.

I’m pretty sure it’s the hope I am currently running on that allows me to smile at this ghost rather than get afraid.

Now on the other side of this event, the two of us are starting to sort through more of the details and stories behind what was going on. We are celebrating the emerging laughter and ideas that are beginning to come out of my mouth. And through it all she never stopped kissing me, or asking for me to join her on trips, walks, “adventures.” And I kept saying, “Of course,” even when I meant, “No fking way!” And 95% of the time I got up and out of my pit and went for a walk up the torturous hills behind a spry woman who was leaping and chattering ahead of me.

Even as I am coming out of it, I can still feel some of the residual effects of the last few months. There’s an anxiety that pops up, often at night before bed, that worries about some future event. “What if it returns? And comes back right now, just as I’m getting some of my joy back?”

For these little flutters I’m stopping and recognizing them. I am almost waving at the anxious flutter to acknowledge my current state of mind, and the careful balance that will keep me from slipping back down. I say a few Serenity Prayers and a few gratitude prayers of thanks, and then I move on. I’m pretty sure it’s the hope I am currently running on that allows me to smile at this ghost rather than get afraid.

For me depression is a lot about getting afraid and then continuing to listen to the fear more than the present. I’ve used some mantras during my walks that have seemed to push me up the hills with more energy and joy. “Further, Stronger, Healthier, and Happier.”

That’s how I move up the hills even when I don’t want to. There’s something to be gained from all this hard work. I can’t always get there, but with my ally, I am given the opportunity to show up even when I want to run away. I have to keep showing up.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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may i be gentle always

off-tiffany[from the collection nyc m]

may i be gentle always with you
as i cradle your hand in mine
to support your living dreams
and dreams yet unborn
enthusiasms come and go
i stay steady as a sunbeam
warming at the touch
giving you a lift
stroke
glass of water
kiss

7-7-15


I Want To Thank You for the Divorce

OFF-breakfastinbed-2015

It’s already sounding snarky to me, but I have to give thanks to the mother of my children for releasing me from a marriage that had grown unbalanced and unhappy. She pulled the trigger and set the separation in motion long before I was willing or able to admit we were done. But we were. Kind of.

I was not done, but I was very unhappy. As an eternal optimist I trained myself over the course of our marriage to sublimate the desire for sex or the desire for joy. I was a good husband and a good provider. But I was not good at just going through the motions. We described the last year of our marriage as “living like roommates.” I was unhappy about this, she was more matter-of-fact. Things weren’t living up to her satisfaction, why would she continue to have intimate relations with someone she no longer loved.

As I took matters into my own hands and forgave her for some loss of libido, I was also beginning to feel a bit hopeless about my ability to remain centered and happy. Of course, I was already way off-balance, but I didn’t know this. I thought I was being the honorable and stable one. What I was being was stoic and stubborn. I should’ve called for a time out or a pow wow long before we reached the D stage. But I didn’t.

I’ve learned I’m what’s called “conflict adverse.” If I can avoid a fight I will. I will hide certain facts (like a speeding ticket or bounced check) in order to not “get into it.” But this sort of behavior, even as small as it was, was maddening to my then-wife. She had trust and security issues. And any minor infraction of this “trust issue” as it became known in our counseling sessions was met with cynicism and “you will never change.”

In therapy we seemed to focus on me and my issues. She kept bring us back to some crisis of trust. Over and over.

The problem was our relationship while built on the desire to have kids was not strong enough to build and rebuild once the kids reached school age. While I was always pursuing my creative crafts (writing, music, blogging) my then-wife had put most of her artistic ambitions in the closet, right behind the vacuum cleaner. She became more obsessed with the cleanliness of the living room and less interested in the connectedness of our relationship. How could someone you love be okay with going a month without sex? I was astounded and hurt that we had reached such a distant state. I asked for therapy, and contributed actively to the rebuilding idea, but something was not working.

In therapy we seemed to focus on me and my issues. I suppose, due to my bouts of depression, I allowed this to happen, even when the issues, in my eyes, were more emotional. She kept bring us back to some crisis of trust. Over and over. A little thing, a receipt from a restaurant that I forgot to report on my company expense report for reimbursement could become a “thing.” And the issues continued to grab the lion share of our therapy sessions. Meanwhile we were sleeping in different beds about 90% of the time and my suggestions at intimacy were rejected by habit.

As our emotional life was being crushed we were counseling about “trust issues” and my “mental health.” Of course, my depressions had been awful, and I have nothing but respect for this woman who stood by me through the worst of it. I also began to believe that she might never return to her happy state. She might never joyfully suggest sex or show up in the hallway in matching bra and panties. She was somewhere else emotionally. She was packing her bags as she was hammering me about my next job and when the new insurance would kick in from the new job.

She’s laughed with me at the stupid complications my ex-wife has injected into my life through litigation. We laugh a lot.

Today, almost six years later, I can say, I am very happy and very sexual in my new relationship. And while we’ve got our work ahead, I have to acknowledge that something is very different about how we relate to each other. For one thing we BOTH really like sex, and we BOTH seek out that connection. (Who knew that the best sex was ahead?) AND we seem to have both gotten our emotional and psychological issues mapped out enough to related on a very open and honest level.

She’s seen me depressed. She didn’t freak out or run away. She’s seen my financial status vacillate from AWESOME to BROKE and back. And she’s laughed with me at the stupid complications my ex-wife has injected into my life through litigation. We laugh a lot.

And on my part, I’ve seen things in her that were a bit different from what I imagined. I had developed the idea that only a mother would have the skills and empathy to understand my own kids. What I didn’t know at that time, was how complete this woman could be with her life and her choices and how she could WANT my kids in her life, even if she didn’t have any kids of her own. In fact, the non-kid aspect made our early courtship a lot easier as we merely coordinated around MY kid schedule.

Today, I can openly give thanks to my ex-wife for giving me the opportunity to seek and find a different kind of love. And I look forward to build a new life around and with my kids and this wonderful new partner.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: breakfast in bed, nyc, 2015, cc the author, creative commons usage


along the beach

uber-mlovesj-sand[from strange horizons poems]

as her hand entwines with mine
i can see and taste the future joy
as an unending laugh
or ecstatic embrace
even as the sand is coarse beneath my feet
i know the softness of her love
the way she has cracked open my
everything
even things I did not know
have split open in loving her
the salt of her skin
the heat of the sun
still radiating from her chest
as she arcs into me
with

one

clear

yes

all in the clasp of her fingers
the squeeze and tickle
home i feel
beside her
inside
and outside
and along side
her
and her big heart
worn in plain view
with a quirky smile
and sparkling mischievous eyes

she has captured me back
taken some dream
and brought my little boy to life
and she holds tightly
and pulls us along the beach
faster
more joy
more love
more sun

if it feels like too much
at some moment
i pause
she stands steadfast
manifesting all she promises
adoring with intention
to be here
be present
and bask in some mutual
glow

this is everything
this moment
begins with each breath
as we walk together down the beach
once lost and alone
now full and close under the solstice moon


walking in nyc

off-ringhands

[from the collection nyc m]

and in the million faces passing
there are beautiful women
and how different
how joyous i am to see them
not for hunger
but for confirmation
that my love
the very love
holding my hands
is the love of my life
there is such a difference
when a man is hungry
vs
satiated
satisfied
and humbled by the love
that transcends beautiful faces
and the calm
in my heart
now
relaxing in the warmth
afterglow
that never ends

6-23-15


into the heart of the sun

OFF-tinymartha[from the collection nyc m]

if i were more excited
more alive
more in love
i’m not sure
i could remain on the planet
any longer
i’m fairly sure
that one more epiphany
a word choice or sound
might do the trick
i think
as i imagine how i’d go
it would be
as if in a hot air balloon
with no balloon
and no sound or flashes of fire
i would float
above this majestic mess
and continue on my way
until the air ran out
or the sun
sucked me in to its heart
with a smile and a song
even in losing everything
even you
i would know love
peace
and joy beyond measure
that’s how i feel
everyday i wake up next to
my
most amazing
girl

6-22-15


splendored

[from the collection nyc m]

and what if i were to tell you
to actually let. you. know.
for sure
that love
in all it’s many splendored splinters
is true
that it’s still possible in your life
no matter
no time
no hurt
has taken away your potential to love
we ache for the oporutnity
to pour ourselves into another person
and sometimes we forget
we have that person but we miss
we slip into something
other than
adoration
but even then
even now
in this second
you can turn it around
you you you
can take a breath
make a change
and keep yourself
angled in the right direction

it’s not easy
i’m not trying to kid
or sell you a load
but i am here
to at least deliver the good news
love has struck
right here
right in this very moment
and you are now witness
to a great moment
a longing beyond ages
a fracture that felt unrepairable
two people
wandering wondering questioning
and in
a
split
sec.
ond.

finding something so
pro. found.
deep.
clear and present
that the time stretched and compressed all at once
and we knew
knew
just knew

everything since that moment has been a confirmation
a testing without testing
a smile and tickle
a laugh and launch toward what we had almost imagined
unattainable
but we never gave up
not completely
never lost sight
and
in this second
right here
i can only tell you
that the love of my life
took 52 years to show up
to deliver me
from sadness and aloneness
to
this
fine
moment
completed
whole
and
happy

6-21-15


love times five

OFF-love-times-five

[from the collection nyc m]

word and hand
finger and smile
you are here
and all the world
is rushing by
oblivious to the transformation
taking place
right here
between us
underneath the daytime stars
in and around
strawberry fields
of joy
this

moment

is the last

moment

we will spend
this far away
as we surge forward
into
a new
relationship
status
a
new celebration
for our friends
of what we’ve known
since
the week
we first kissed

6-21-15


the girl the girl the girl

off-thegirl[from strange horizons poems]

what if the girl arrived
what if the girl the girl the girl arrived
here and now
to let you know you were alive
to give you energy and rushes of blood to the head
and what if
she said
she would never leave
and she meant every word
to the point where you started believing too
and she listened to your poems
smiled
and said nothing
but her eyes burned with the understanding
the romantic expression
captured in her hunger and joyful gaze
even as she’s drifting off to sleep
now, this very now, right beside you
and the tap tap tap
of these words
and this poem
is music within some dream she is weaving
here beside me
and far away
and here, arrived
confirmed
loved

what if the girl has arrived
really arrived

here

she

is

6-15-15


entwine and twirl

off-santafefire

from strange horizons poems]

i want to fill your mouth with words
and your mind and blood with dangerous thoughts
passion run amok, the burning desire to rub again
into the feeling, the heat, the joy
a love poem that echos your name
will be what wakes you up every morning
in your arms i am powerless to stop the flood
the song, the symphony, the dreams
the now and here are alight with our laughter
and i only have to dip my hand in the flowing stream
of us
and the poems write themselves
this is what *we* feels like
an unhenging of doubht
an upending of sorrow
and the burning energy
at 3am
calling us to entwine and twirl

5-23-15

image: snowing, hernan pinera, creative commons usage


in her little toe i find an expression of love

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 10.02.42 PM[from strange horizons poems]

what if what if what if
the hardest part about this whole thing
this whole world wide living loving thing
is actually finding someone to love
someone to really pour yourself into
a flexible person who bends when rough patches arrive
comes at problems with joy and energy
to be joined in
not always understood or reasoned out
but just joined
and what if what if what if she is here
and this quest has been fulfilled in this moment
what then
what joy could burst forth
what symphony awaits
as we warm up our instruments
tune and retune
stretch and press into the heart
and then drop it all
to be together
close
skin

pause

repeat


v 2 m

v-2-m
i am certain i didn’t know
going into this new year
that by valentine’s day
you would be embedded
emboldening me towards love
and hope and dreaming
only of you
i had no idea
where
i have no idea
what’s next
and for now
that is thrilling
fearlessly seeking someone
with all my skills
diving in
and breathing deep
of what we might become
here at month
one
of
becoming
us
1-13-15

a grasp at a dream

OFF-shootingstar

[from strange horizons poems]

some amazing thing is happening
i believe love would be the name
for what is happening
love is too early
too soon
but when, if, love
then who’s to say
what’s soon or what’s
magnificent
an easy
flight
from here
to her
an
infinite step
towards a star
a grasp
at a dream
dreaming
us

2-6-15

image: night blossoms and shooting star festival, izu navi, creative commons usage


if you are her

OFF-handinwater

let’s say
for example
that i’ve written
i want to pour my love into a lover
i’m not speaking metaphorically here
i’m talking about
time
effort
joy
action

i electrify with the sound of you
and carbonate with imagined smiles
if you can contain all this
stand in the flame
if love poems don’t terrify
and delusions of grandeur
are also in your dna
i wonder
if we’ve found something

fluid and open
skipping along the flight path
towards
what we cannot yet know
what we dare to dream about
yet leave unspoken

let’s just imagine that i’ve spoken
some of it
i know not of what i speak
i’m imagining
fantasizing
but if you are you
and here is now
let me set alight the maps
and look into the fog of the future
fearless and emboldened
grabbing your hand
racing the rain away
that has followed so many attempts

if you are
her
here
and ready

2-4-15

image: hand in water, walt stoneburner, creative commons usage


just imagine

off-runners

[from strange horizons poems]

just imagine for a moment
that i have offered maps
stratagems
keys to my heart
all across the internet
i have simply written the instruction manual
for myself

imagine a woman
smart, single, desirous
coming across this tangle of tantalizing verbiage
sketches out an overlay
puts her plan into action
swiftly establishes contact
and mutual attraction
adding intellect and a racy pair of legs

she would have the entire plan
pre-wired for success
all that would be required
would be that spark
some flash of brilliance
and she had the idea for that as well

imagine the mutual surprise
when her arrival sets off a jolly chain of events
a delicious amount of banter and carrying on
along with a touch of honest
emotional
sharing

click
like that it’s a match
it’s a hit
there’s a piercing spotlight
illuminating the road ahead
no longer apart
but some new connected path
and the laughter
on both sides of the bed
at all times of day
rings in the new year
with a satisfying
“yes”

1-19-15

image: running, yoann jezequel, creative commons usage


Sexy Sex and the Other Two Kinds of Romantic Relationship

OFF-blurdance

I’ve been thinking a lot about sex lately. Maybe it’s an “absence makes the heart grow fonder” sort of thing, or a retrospective retelling. I’m not sure it matters which. But in my meanderings someone suggested I listen to this TED talk about sex and desire. She seemed to think I might find some answers to things I’d been writing about. Boy, was she right.

The secret to desire in a long-term relationship | Ester Perel

Did you go watch the video? It’s amazing. And if you didn’t, or you simply don’t have the time right now,  here are my quick notes. Paraphrases from Ester Perel’s talk on desire.

+++ notes +++

“Sex isn’t something to do, sex is place you go, together and in yourself.”

In her studies she asked what made a long-term partner attractive again. Here are the typical responses.

  • when they are away (when we can gain some distance from our mate we can re-see them)
  • when they are being radiant – holding court, in their element
  • when they make us laugh, or surprise us (seeing our mate decked out for a party)

There is a big difference between needing someone and desiring them.
“There is no neediness in desire, no care taking.”

Partners who seem to have vital sex lives later in their relationship also share several traits.

  • they know how to bring back erotic desire (and they work at it)
  • committed sex is premeditated sex (you have to make time and plans)
  • willful
  • focused
  • patient
  • and present

And finally, there are three kinds of love:

  • lust
  • romantic love
  • attachment to a long-term partner

And humans have the capacity to love many people at once, in various permutations of these types of love. And somewhere in between that “attachment” and the “lust” we lose the magic.

+++ end notes +++

Okay, so to apply this new logic to my principle quests here, would be the next logical step for me. How in my marriage did my wife’s “lust” get lost in the “attachment” trap? What parts of our relationship became about survival and not about joy? And why, with a willing partner, did she choose to continue shutting down our sexual connection?

In my marriage, as she headed into a passionless place, I was trying to do everything I could think of to get her back in the mood.

These questions parallel a conversation I’ve been having with a psychologist who deals with couples and sex and divorce. And she wrote a post that caused me to ask her a direct question about my marriage and the loss of our sexual connection. Here’s what she said.

“There are only two healthy choices I see: either work on marriage, including deep look at how you perpetuate the dynamic where a wife doesn’t want sex at all (which is pretty rare- only 11% of marriages sexless which I think def is 10 times or less per year but have to look up), or move on.” Dr. Psych Mom on Facebook.

There was a choice, at some point, that my then-wife made. She chose to believe and inhabit the pattern of exhaustion, loss, overwhelm, depression, anger. And in focusing on those aspects of her own life, she failed to see what was right in front of her. A willing and lustful partner, who also happened to be a long-term attachment. We are all independently responsible for our own happiness. There was nothing I could do, though I tried, to alleviate my wife’s stress, worry, and low-libido.

Again, there’s all this talk recently about how women’s desire begins to degrade over the course of a long-term relationship. Duh! It’s the same for both parties. Sure, sex with a nubile young stranger could be just the tonic your sex life needs, but in a monogamous relationship those things are not longer available outside of fantasy and pornography. Sure does get the heart racing a bit. So women, are now able to admit, “hey our sexual attraction diminishes over time, even if the guy is awesome and loving and supportive.”

She had already exited once via an emotional affair, perhaps now she was planning how to reignite the lust with someone else. A very painful and selfish way to go about rebooting your passion, but those were her choices, and at some point, I had to go along with the decision.

In my marriage, as she headed into a passionless place, I was trying to do everything I could think of to get her back in the mood.  Even if I did all the chores on the list, even if I was making plenty of money, even if she got a good night’s sleep… It didnt’ matter. She was making a choice away from the marriage, sex was just an early warning indicator. It wasn’t about the sex. It was about her.

Long-term monogomy takes work. It takes a willingness in both partners to work on keeping things open, honest, and a bit spicy. When one partner begins to check-out or begins denying the flow between you, there is very little a solo-enthusiast can do to reconnect the lust. Perhaps it is like a faucet. At some point she was turned off by me. The stress, the financial trouble, the extra weight I put on while stressing out at the big corporate job. But that corporate job was the thing that gave her so much flexibility and freedom in her work choices. It was killing me, but it was the thing that gave her security.

I can’t put myself in her head. And today, even the words she said or wrote, seem to indicate she was indeed overwhelmed herself. The “attachment” part of our relationship had overwhelmed and overrun the lust part, for her. I say, that, because I was always willing to spark things up for her, whatever or whenever she wanted. But once we had kids, I can count those moments on one hand. She argued often that it was the chores that made her tired. And my lack of responsibility, or how I could ignore a burned out lightbulb for weeks. But something else was in-motion.

While I was one of those people who believed in continuing the pursuit of sexual connection, she was no longer willing to go along with the program. She had exited once, several years earlier, via an emotional affair, perhaps now she was planning how to reignite the lust with someone else. A very painful and selfish way to go about rebooting your passion, but those were her choices, and at some point, I had to go along with the decision.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

This post really began here:  It’s the Quiet Time, the Alone Time, the Empty Spaces

back to The Hard Stuff

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image: dance, dino ahmad ali, creative commons usage


physics between us

off-physics

[from strange horizons poems]

i’m keeping an eye out
and ear to the ground
putting my love on the air
crafting words and notes
running harder
eating less
hoping bigger than ever
and yet…

somewhere out there
she is feeling deeply
smiling happily in spite of it all
imagining romance will eventually return
hoping for the best
being mindful of her body and spirit
in a content place

like a positive and negative electron
we are already bound in our spiral
while our trajectories are unknown
their eventual intersection
is a matter of physical law
and time
plus energy

there is no waiting
there is action and motion
momentum and improvements
aspirations and accomplishments
joy and the awareness
of another’s love

it could be close
it could be far
the eventuality is certain
the anticipation is delicious
if i can remember
to strive less
enjoy more
and be
happy
alone

12-18-14

image: particle physics, kevin dooley, creative commons usage


shooting arrows at the moon

off-arrowsatthemoon

[from strange horizons poems]

i have work to do
and i’m thinking about women again
the absence of them, actually
in my life
in the romantic sense
i’ve got sister, daughter, niece, and mom
and not a single bosom to lay my head
this time of year
it’s a problem
or at least a hardship
of course, it is no different than last year
except i’d just come off a deep jag
with a beautiful young mom
who had a penchant for silences
and filling them with music videos
fancy meals and drugs
i couldn’t sustain
the celebration
long enough to understand or feel
how our connection might evolve
into a higher…
wait!
a more solid…
no!
it wasn’t about that
let’s be honest
she was 11 years younger
she was beautiful
she was willing
is there any further explanation needed
still
i would do with her comfort today
tonight, rather
and yet, i wait and hunger
with intention
it *is* the evolution i’m seeking
a transformation of some sort
of me
of my trajectory
and flights of fancy
my arrow is aimed at the moon
and i will settle for nothing less
than overwhelming joy

12-14-14

image: goldion moon, johnathan leung, creative commons usage