I’m looking to burn brighter while standing next to someone who is already burning brightly themselves.
I can see her across the room. In a crowded restaurant on St. Patrick’s day (today). I can see the one woman I’d like to meet. How is it we can sense, taste, imagine so much into a person we’ve never met.
“And then she smiles and I know I’d be lost…”
It really is something beyond our comprehension, this attraction. It’s not entirely under our control. We have options and choices, but when the proverbial “chemistry” is right, everything else can fall away. Our expectations, plans, and maps can be blown away by the proper force of nature. And if you’ve experienced it, you know you can’t settle for anything less. There is no compromise in the heart. In my imaginings, this charge is what sustains us through the harder moments, that are surely to come.
In my first crush-to-marriage I was smitten by a dark and beautiful woman who challenged authority with great flair. And I was certain that I needed the fiery artist who could and would kick my ass. I learned that fiery is NOT what I needed. Turns out she had a rage inside due to early sexual abuse, that I was not prepared to defend against.
In my second marriage, I was smitten by a beautiful woman who I’d known in high school. I think now, with some perspective on things, that I let my crush obscure some relationship issues early on. Ultimately we had a good run, we have two amazing children together, and we’ve moved on. I do think that my attraction and intoxication with my 2nd wife allowed me to compromise on a few traits that are critical path for me in the future.
The Love Languages book does a great job of outlining the types of ways people feel loved. Unequivocally, mine is touch. When I enter a room and see someone I care about, I want to touch them in someway, to establish a connection. Sort of the way a dog will always greet you with a wet nose and a wagging tale.
Can express deep emotion.
Aside from anger, my ex-y had a hard time expressing emotions. We joked in therapy, as if we had done a complete role reversal, but it really wasn’t a joke. So she learned her emotional stoicism from her father. And in her love language, she felt the most connected when someone did something for her. Like a chore, or a home repair. (I’m not kidding.) This must have been the way her father coped with his emotionally damaged wife. And my ex-y learned that when things got difficult, you could always put attention on the house, or the bills, or the projections for next month.
I think that was most evident when there was a crisis. I would want to be held, snuggle, take a nap or make love. She wanted to look at the spreadsheet and try and calculate our options.
Another common issue with people who don’t express emotion very well, when she would drink, occasionally the emotions would bubble out and we’d have what I thought was a breakthrough. “Wow, if she could hold on to that idea and learn to be more like that,” I’d think. But it wasn’t a lasting effect and the epiphanies were usually only on my side.
So, back to tonight, in a crowded room I noticed my “match.” She laughed easily. She had a great smile and sparkly-curly dark locks that appeared still wet from the pre-party shower. And my projection would like to map all these wonderful things into her persona. A map, a caricature, a projection of who I want her to be.
Expressive of emotional trust and vulnerability. Love language: touch.
And a few other things thrown in:
- financially stable
- happy with their life/kids/work
- okay with their ex
- spiritually seeking
- creatively inclined
- low drama
Sure those are resume bullets, like an online dating profile. And they are merely a guide for the relationship I would like to form. And standing across the room with her friends, we knew nothing about each other. But the disturbance in the force was clear for me. There was one woman in the entire place that would work for me. And that’s something much more chemical and primal than all of these ideas of who or what I am looking for.
So I need that. The chemical buzz. The awakening. And then I need my priorities to remain in tact. TWO MUST HAVES: Emotionally expressive & Love Language of Touch. The two exact key misses I had in my relationship with the ex-y.
The Off Parent
- Book: The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
- Image: Paige Bradley’s scupture Expansion
Note: As I am writing this post an email comes in from the ex-y. She wants to know about timing on this month’s check. You see, it’s perfect. She’s doing what she does, going to the spreadsheet, for whatever is going on in her life. And often, even when we were married, my current state, or effort, or situation, does not apply. You see, I got her the last half of February’s money last week. And it’s not enough to know that I haven’t missed a payment, she’s asking for when. And she doesn’t deserve the information about my car breaking down on Saturday, and my company comptroller being on Spring Break rather than writing me my next check. She doesn’t deserve that information, and in fact, she wouldn’t care. It wasn’t about emotional commitment, or what’s going on, it’s about checking the box, balancing the excel spreadsheet, and establishing the money first. She started the email with a “thank you so much for the money, last week…” Yeah, right. It’s not personal, it’s just business. Ah, she’s a step ahead of me in this whole process, again.
I loved folding her clothes in the laundry. There was something cool about the jeans that were on such a different scale than mine. I could only imagine her beautiful legs and feet and toes as I origami-ed them into a warm fortune cookie.
The first time I remember looking into her eyes during love making and finding her bored was a year or so after my vasectomy. I was astonished. It was like looking back into my high school or college years and seeing the ho hum partner in a ho hum state of repose. I was flattened. I stopped. I didn’t want to continue in that relationship.
“Where’d you go? I wanted to ask. But I didn’t. And thus began my own folding. The more I desired her, and the more she desired less, the more I folded inward, and sublimated my physical desire for her with mental desires, masterbation, and fantasy.
I learned, I think I learned, I am learning, that it was a fatal flaw of my own, to cloak my own disappointment and unmet desire in a Buddhist repose. Yeah, I was above it all. Above the fray of the mundane arguments, above the loss of all sexual openings from the woman I was still madly and passionately in love with. I learned to go into my head. To believe that this was okay, this situation was temporary, things would eventually get better if I meditated, masterbated, and remained consistant in my love and presence.
I was wrong. I, in some ways, let her off the hook. When she was bored, and she had already had her orgasm, I should’ve asked. I probed a little, but was content to “wait” and “see” and be the master of my own desires. FUCK. What I was doing was removing the PASSION from myself as well.
I’m a bit stuck in that mode at this very moment. I talk about sex not being the goal. And while I believe that’s true, I also believe I deserve a willing and excitable sex partner. I am willing to be honest and open with my feelings, and in order to not lose sight of what those are again, I have to be willing to express my needs and also my disappointments.
So my wife was bored. My drive for my own passion, in that moment, evaporated in a flash. We’d had the “I guess I’m not going to orgasm” moments. And we’d laughed and talked through many awkward requests and challenges.
And she was B O R E D.
What I won’t settle for next is complacence. My hand is a happy host, but my heart has bigger needs. I won’t let those go unspoken ever again.
Honestly, I don’t think that moment, or my confrontation of the situation would’ve changed our trajectory. But the gradual acceptance and detachment from that loss that became more and more pronounced, that is what killed my marriage. She happened to check out a lot earlier than I did. But in some ways, I let her go, thinking that I would pick up the connection when things settled down a bit, when there was a little more money in the bank, when the kids were both in school.
NOW is it. I won’t become the fat buddha again. The belly that I work off is the isolation that I had agreed to. Do I have to be perfectly fit to find another relationship. No. But I do need to love and understand my own body, so that I can tune into the desires I have. And I have to express them so that I can learn and explore the fit with any relationship I attempt in the future.
The bored girl sophomore year in college was no big deal. Neither of us knew what to expect. My bored wife should’ve been real cause for alarm and awakening. Instead I slept and stayed up late cuddling with the internet. Computers and videos make terrible lovers.
The Off Parent
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Laugh It Off (building a resource library of funny videos and other diversions)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)