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

Posts tagged “love language

the art of holding hands

[from the collection nyc m]

how our fingers entwine says a lot about the state of our connection
someone who doesn’t hold hands well… not an option
if you know your love language is touch
the hands will be a bit tell for you
is there a mutual reaching out
does she touch back or pull away slightly
is there a grabbiness or playful flexibility in her
it tells a lot more about her than you know
and when you find the match
another empathic soul stretching for god
and the love found between two people
as a prayer and song of thanksgiving
the hands will constantly be seeking a join
a comfort and calm in the casual wrap
the playful hand within a hand
the single finger grip
or entwined one by one
it’s almost a roadmap for love-making
this holding of hands
between two people
who cannot physically get any closer
yet desire
some entry point, some warm wire of communication
that only a hand-in-hand can provide
plenty of love transfers over the air, the eyes, the sounds and words
but the touch of a warm hand, cold hand, dry or moist hand
gives entry
feedback
clarity
to the connection
and expression of another’s
sensual desire

6-25-15

off-lovewatches


We Said, “Til Death Do Us Part” and You’re Not Dead Yet

OFF-heartcenteredI’ve failed at marriage twice. I don’t want to fail at it again. So, do I get married, EVER, again?

Somedays you wish your ex was dead. Then you remember your kids and how sad they would be and the visitation schedule that does give you nights and days to your own devices and potential dating/relating/loving again. It would be a huge blow to everyone.

Of course, the divorce was a huge blow as well. And somedays you wonder, WTF? Why did we have to get divorced? If we were still joining our financial strengths and not paying for two houses… Okay, that ship has sailed, but there is research that says often the divorced couple looks back, five years later, and says, “No things are not better now that I’m divorced.” The permanent solution to the transient problems of marriage, money, parenting, sex, and compatible love languages, is not always the best choice.

On the other hand, if I had stayed in my marriage, if I had won the fight and she had agreed to work on some of “my” issues rather than just the crisis of the moment and my problems, well… Again, probably I’d still be in a sexless marriage with a woman who was unhappy most of the time.

How did she become so unhappy? Was I the cause of her depression and anger? I sure tried all the things I knew to make things better.

How did she become so unhappy? Was I the cause of her depression and anger? I sure tried all the things I knew to make things better. More money in the bank. Less complaining about sex. Less demands for physical closeness. Cleaner house. And nothing worked. We talked about it once (see: Are You Having Sex, Because I’m Not) and it didn’t really make things better. In fact, she was mad at me for buying the book on reawakening your marriage. It was as if I was accusing her of the problem. I wasn’t. I was trying to figure out OUR part in the loss of passion. I never did get an answer.

I mean, I got these answers:

  • I’m tired
  • There are too many chores
  • The kids are in the next room
  • Not until the dishes and laundry are done
  • You’re not asking me the right way
  • I’m tired at night after the kids go to sleep
  • I’m not a morning person
  • That’s not a very romantic proposition
  • No I don’t want a massage
  • I don’t like naps in the afternoon on a weekend
  • I need to work
  • The lawn needs to be mowed

And after a while, I think anyone begins to get discouraged. And perhaps, to her, it felt like a war. Like an invasion of her privacy, even in my asking. But the feeling to me was of being put in some sort of glass box. I could see her. I could adore her. I could try to reach out to her, but it was often rejected soundly, and with anger. What’s there to be angry about? I mean, we’re in this together, right?

I remember reading some of David Deida’s work on polarity between men and women. In his writing he recommends that the man and woman really work to enhance their polarity. The man works to become more manly, more masculine, more of the romantic poet home from the war to ravage his beauty. The woman’s job is become more vivacious, more sexy, more desirable. And the heightening of these roles, brings up the heat and the chemistry for more passionate love-making, and even, spiritual sex. Ah, yes, how I wanted David to come have a chat with us, and see if he could offer some advice.

One of the concepts that I really liked in his work was that of not settling for the tired and depressed housewife. No. I wanted and was okay in asking for my wife to be energetic and juicy-alive. She could work to return to the vixen I fell in love with. And if she did that, I would do my part to do even more chivalrous male shit, and keep the home fires burning. Again, that didn’t happen.

Dammit. I’m not happy about this. I wasn’t happy about it then, and there are still parts of it, that chap my hide. Why didn’t she listen when I said we need to work on our sex life? Why did she put up defensive shields around touch and closeness, as a rule?

So what makes a non-emotional person fall in love with an emotional one? What makes a passionate poetic man go bonkers for a woman who was more comfortable running profit/loss scenarios?

I was coming home to a battlefield rather than a home. And in the closing year of our marriage, it was worse than ever. And I began to squawk for my wife to come back. I kept asking for her to stop working on a Saturday, and go with me and the kids to the pool. I kept trying alternative ways of asking for closeness. But even the non-sexual closeness had become painful to her in some way.

Obviously, I can see now, she was already gone. She had been leaving the marriage long before she asked for the divorce. My attempts and requests for more more more, were no longer falling on a receptive heart. She had put up the defenses and was working to cover her options. When I did confront her about going to see an attorney, and she said she had. I didn’t ask how long she had been consulting about her divorce plans. And of course, it doesn’t really matter, because the intentional exit of her passionate feminine energy had been going on for a while. Maybe even longer than I can imagine.

So what makes a non-emotional person fall in love with an emotional one? What makes a passionate poetic man go bonkers for a woman who was more comfortable running profit/loss scenarios? Beauty, yes, but something else as well. There were certain strengths she had that I found attractive. There were business-like decisions and plans that she was an expert at. And in our parenting roles, she excelled in proposing the “plan.”

And she was beautiful. She still is beautiful. She is still my physical type. But she was not from my same planet. And her love language profile was almost opposite from mine. Where I craved touch as my single most powerful indicator of love, her priorities and passions were more piqued by “acts of service.” The “do something for me” love language. And I can see that now. How even a burnt out lightbulb to her was a failure on my part. Why did I not see it and change it without her having to ask me?

Her joke, a line from a book, I think, was, “Another in a long series of disappointments.”

I guess in the end that’s what broke her spirit. She had been disappointed too many times in my fulfillment of her love language preference. And she was ready to pack up and look for her fulfillment somewhere else.

Of course I don’t ever REALLY wish she were dead. But in some ways, our disconnect was like a death for both of us. I just took a lot longer to catch up to how much pain I was in.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: paint brushed heart, PhotoSteve101, creative commons usage


Getting Angry, Reaching Forgiveness, and Moving On After Divorce

OFF-happy-sadIt’s been four years and counting since my divorce began. It was finalized in August, but by this time I had left the house for the last time. And while many things have remained the same, and the relationship with my ex is centered around the kids now, and not so much about our relationship, there are still things that can trigger a painful memory, or feeling of loss. Today was one of those times, when dropping the kids bags off at my old house, and seeing a book on the kitchen counter was enough to spark a bit of WTF?

The book, Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships, made me laugh at first. Then made me say, WTF? Then sort of made me feel bad for my ex who must be trying this time to form a healthy relationship with her 2+ year boyfriend. But the book sort of ticked me off. I’m not exactly sure why. But the basic reaction was, “YEAH, that’s a good one!”

But after the knee jerk jerkishness passed I was a bit saddened by the idea.

  1. That my ex would buy and read this book now, rather than when it could’ve had an impact on her marriage
  2. That my ex must be struggling with how to light up the passion with her bf
  3. She must be hopeful of marriage, and getting it right this time.
  4. And if she’d stayed IN this marriage, we would be working together to keep things passionate. As it was, I was the only one who seemed to think there was a problem.

How can I still be bitter about her decision to exit our marriage? Well, it’s easy when you see the impact it has had on our kids and their ideas of stability and family. Sure, perhaps their perspectives are now more in alignment with reality, things change, love fades, and even divorce can rearrange things for the better, eventually, but it’s gonna hurt real bad first.

Something had been lost. Through the toil and tear of our relationship and the struggle of life, we had (she had) begun to shut down her passion.

Okay, so that’s not a lot. And I’d have to say I am more grateful today that I am no longer in a passion-starved marriage. I am enjoying the first benefits of singlehood again, and feeling fairly strong about my capabilities as a lover, potential mate, and even husband again. IF that’s where we go. I am certainly also learning to question my need for that marriage. Today, I’m even asking questions about monogamy. I mean, what’s the point? Couldn’t we get a lot more energy and excitement by changing partners every once in a while?

Of course, that’s not the way it worked for me. That’s not the way I was wired. Today, I don’t know. But I was fully committed to my marriage, and this woman now reading a book called Passionate Marriage. I was never doubting my desire or steadfast resolve. However, the truth is, I was unhappy.

They say the sign of a codependant relationship is how powerfully you wait and work for the other person to change. It doesn’t work out. Some of the things I was beginning to howl about:

  • Lack of affection
  • Lack of touch of any kind
  • Lack of sex
  • Lack of financial partnership in the earning part of the business we had together

I learned, towards the end, when I withdrew my overbearing touch-love-joy energy from the relationship there was nothing left. There was zero energy coming back. And when the vacuum was created, what I hoped would happen, she would wake up to the loss of playful affection and come back with some energy and affection of her own, didn’t happen at all. All that happened was the void of any feeling in our marriage was so clear, that even though I fought FOR the marriage over the next several months, I also knew I would not settle for anything less than a rejuvenated and passionate wife.

I have to thank my ex-wife for the release. My own desires and unmet needs were causing me great pain. And that pain was probably not going to be met by her.

Something had been lost. Through the toil and tear of our relationship and the struggle of life, we had (she had) begun to shut down her passion. And while things in our relationship began with a lot of passion and touch and yes, sex, it was virtually a one-way street during the last year of our marriage. I was always asking, and always providing the way and the caress and the casual kisses. She was doing something else, had different priorities, was withdrawing emotionally from our marriage.

As a divorced and emotionally available single parent here are a few of the things I am finding again

  • Affection (If they don’t dig you, don’t do it. If they can’t hold you and comfort you, don’t do it.)
  • The Love Language of Touch (Sure you can be with someone of a different language, but it’s always going to be a compromise.)
  • Sex that is open and fun (Healthy sex is an amazing thing. A woman who knows what she likes is another level beyond that. A woman who can teach me some things, and WOW.)
  • Financial partnering doesn’t come into play for a while, but it might in the long-run
  • Pure friendship (Do you like being with the person? Do they engage your mind and your imagination?)
  • Comparing notes on the experience of single parenting
  • Desirability (There are women out there who find me attractive, who are not looking for rail-thin men in their 30’s or even 40’s. (I’m 51!)
  • Mature women are more emotionally available, and more sexually open, and birth control is a non-issue. (Woohoo!)

And with all those wonderful aspects of my new lease on life, I have to thank my ex-wife for the release. My own desires and unmet needs were causing me great pain. And that pain was probably not going to be met by her, unless she changed dramatically. And whatever caused her to change in the first place, was probably not a quick fix, and certainly not something a book or counseling session was going to alleviate.

And with that, today, I give thanks to my ex-wife for actually having the balls to ask for a divorce. I would’ve limped along limp for the next several years, maybe forever, imagining, “This is as good as it gets.”

Well, it’s not. Things do get better. And the process of forgiveness and release is a continuous one. You don’t wake up one day and you’re healed, done, finished with your ex-partner. If you have kids, that road is going to go on for a long time. And you will need the other parent from time to time and the best way to become a good co-parent is to heal yourself and move on. You will have good days, and fuck you days, but as long as you keep returning to the process of release and move on, you will continue up the spiral of healing that leads to your next life. The post-divorce life that holds great riches.

Good luck.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: happy, sad, mad, glad, kate ter haar, creative commons usage


Sex is Fun: Should You Settle for Apathetic Sex?

sex is fun[Disclaimer: This post is not about my experiences with any women, past, present or future. All examples/stories are fictitious and made up in my twisted little mind.]

Sex should be fun. And after divorce, for whatever reason you got divorced, you’ve got a new lease on your sex life. What might have become routine or mundane sex can now be awakened again. Sex can be exhilarating again. Touching someone for the first time, should be a thrill. And perhaps in your marriage, touching your partner became a bit of a chore, or (for me) a navigation through a conditional minefield that often resulted in a fight rather than sex.

FIRST LAW OF DATING AFTER DIVORCE: Don’t take your show on the road until you’ve gotten through the bitterness, anger, and sadness of your divorce.

If you know your love language is TOUCH, you’ve got to get this straight: sex is one of the ways we feel connected, loved, included. Sex isn’t the only way. We’re the one’s always reaching out to brush our partner’s back as we pass through a room. It IS more about touch than sex, but if sex goes off the table, so goes the healthy feelings of love for the Touch-person. I am a touch person. My wife is a “do things for me” person. And while we made it long enough to have two wonderful kids, we couldn’t navigate the end game of love and sex beyond the parenting duties. Some things became more important than sex. The term TTFS became a joke for a while, but then it became a curse. (TTFS: too tired for sex.)

Well, if that’s where you find yourself, entering the new kingdom of adult sex, welcome. We’ve got a lot of things to learn and a lot of new potential partners to meet. Again, it’s not all about sex, but a lot of it is about sex. At least initially, sex is what drives us men so hard to seek a partner. It’s kinda hard-wired. Like our animal DNA trying to find a way to spread in any means possible.

Of course, adult, post-divorce sex, for me has nothing to do with procreation and everything to do with … Well, we’re still exploring what the goals are in my self-talk, but we do agree that sex should be fun. Sex as a chore, or sex without joy isn’t sex at all. It’s something else. It’s what we don’t want. Yuck.

So where are we? We’re recently out of a long-term relationship. (4-years for me today) We’re starving for touch. (Me, a touch-focused person.) And we’ve done a lot of work at healing ourselves post-divorce. (If you haven’t done your “work” to get through your divorce sadness and anger, you’re likely to act out, or repeat the same situation again. Do the work. Get yourself healthy before you get back in the game of love and sex.) So what are our options?

  1. Meeting people at social gatherings (churches, athletic events, school events, bars, live music clubs)
  2. Meeting people through friends (I don’t know why, but people don’t think of introducing their single friends very much.
  3. Meeting people through networking (old friends, high-school sweethearts, Facebook connections, reunions)
  4. Meeting people through the net (Online dating, online dating, online hookups, online sex, hookup apps)
  5. Not meeting people and staying home watching movies or porn. (ACK! This can work for a bit, but you need to get back out there if you’re going to get your needs met.

FIRST LAW OF DATING AFTER DIVORCE: Don’t take your show on the road until you’ve gotten through the bitterness, anger, and sadness of your divorce.

Most of those options are fine, but only #4 gives you any real power to take the matter into your own hands. So let’s look at the couple of types of online dating sites available and discuss the pros and cons of each.

Plain old Dating Sites (This group has your best potential of resulting in a relationship, if that’s what you want.)

  • OK Cupid – one of the big daddy’s of online dating. It’s free, there are a lot of potential mates, and their questions are deep and extensive. Sometimes you can learn way too much before you ever meet the person, using OKC.
  • eHarmony – the “we know best” dating site. I hated it because there was no browsing. eH sets you up with matches. And those are the only people you can contact or even look at. No thanks.
  • Match.com – sort of like OK Cupid but you pay to get on. What I’ve noticed recently is there are a lot more women in my age group and women in my tribe on Match. You will know what I’m talking about when you spend anytime on these sites.
  • Plenty-of-Fish – Another big free site. I set up a profile years ago, but didn’t find any initial hits when I started.

Of all of these, I have been happy with OKC (my only relationship was initiated on OKC) and Match.com. You’ll find what you like and what you don’t. And there are tons more. See what floats your boat.

Sex with experienced partners is a blast. Get this, they are probably hungry for sex too. But don’t jump in to fast, sex with a less-than-stable person can really mess up your simple life.

Hookup Sites (Um, these are mostly spam sites with people trying to generate money through porn or pay-per-view video sex chat. Not my cup of tea. But you might be curious, so check them out.

  • Adult Friend Finder (The motherload of “Maybe get laid tonight” sites) Free to join, pay to make contact. But make sure you spend a bit of time looking before you pay. You’ll notice most of the profiles are way to good to be true, and they’re not. 20-yo hotties do not look for men 40 – 60 yo. Nope. They are going to ask you to view their private show, or private set of pictures, or something… “You don’t need a credit card or anything to join, come see me there…” Nope, don’t do it. Ever. It’s bullshit.
  • Fling (there are a billion of these spin-offs and half the ads on AFF are to other dating/hookup-tonight sites.) These are all spam-tastic sites. They will start mailing you 10 – 15 matches an hour. Women willing to hookup with you today. BUT you’ll have to pay for the privilege of reading their email, where they will invite you to view their pictures on…
  • Tender (the App that seems to have caught on in the younger groups) Use your Facebook friends and friends of friends to find attractive potentials and if they find you attractive too you can communicate. It’s never worked for me, keeps timing out when it tries to establish my Facebook connection. Oh well.

There are tons of new sites and apps daily for whatever kink you’re into. But most of them are revenue generators and could care less if YOU get lucky. And most of the profiles are either fake or made by professional performers who would like to perform for you in some way or another.

Cheating Sites

  • AshleyMadison (Yep, there’s a dating site for people in committed relationships who want some on the side) If you’re cool with the idea, go for it. You’re going to pay to read any emails from anyone. And you’ll be emailed to death with “Likes” and “Collect $ Emails” from lots of women. But you pay to get access to chat, or email, or often to even see a single picture. Um, yeah, forget about it.

I’m sure there are other cheating sites, and probably cheating apps, but that’s way off the path in my book. If you want to hookup for a night do it. If you’re married or in a committed relationship and have that urge, take matters into your own hands and forget about it. It’s not worth it.

Apathetic sex is what got me here. When sex became more of a chore than a joy our marriage was winding down. The two were inextricably entwined in my book.

Okay, so let’s say you’ve found some matches on the legit dating sites, you’ve had a few dates, and …

Sex with experienced partners is a blast. Get this, they are probably hungry for sex too. But don’t jump in to fast, sex with a less-than-stable person can really mess up your simple life. The stories I’ve heard… Not good. So don’t jump in the sack too fast, even if you want to, it’s best to get a picture of the potential partner over a few dates and even a few disappointments. You’ll learn a lot. And maybe even start to have a real attraction to the person rather than just the sex appeal. But on to the sex.

Yes please. With partners your own age (and new women, who you’ve never slept with, who are not your partner over the last 11 years, who are excited and as revved up about sex as you are) you may be in for a treat. These folks SHOULD know what they want. They should have ideas about sex and pleasure and connecting. And if you’re lucky you’ll both be amazed and fascinated with the passion and power of having sex with someone new. I’m sure it’s a drug. I’m also sure people get addicted to the rush of new sex, new love, new partners. I don’t think that’s me, but it is a thrill either way, to see a new body disrobed and ready before you.

Hopefully, you have some idea of what makes you tick as well. And if the dance party goes well, perhaps you make it on to the post-coital date where you really begin to evaluate the person as a potential mate. Or not. That mate-thing is up to you. I know a friend who’s into sex with as many partners as possible. When the commitment things comes up, he’s gone. Not my idea of intimacy, but he seems satisfied with his high.

Apathetic sex is what got me here. When sex became more of a chore than a joy our marriage was winding down. The two were inextricably entwined in my book. My ex, with a different love language, was happy with infrequent sex. I was dying.

I’m not dying now. I’m not drowning in sex juices either. That’s not my way. I think I’m a serial monogamist. If that involves dating, or coupling, or marriage, I have no idea. And the good thing is, I don’t have to decide until I have to decide. I haven’t gotten close to marriage, but I have had one girlfriend. And whatever that means, I’m open to having another. [BTW: this is not an advertisement for me or my dating profile. (grin)]

Good sex to you all out there. Do what feels good. Walk away from what hurts or seems inappropriate. With divorce on the rise, we’re growing in numbers, and that’s good for all of us.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: egypt sex, creative commons usage


Easier To Be Quiet

the off parent - being quiet

I know it would be easier for everyone if I would just shut up about my divorce. We’ve rehashed all the problems, all my perceived injustices, all the ways I’ve been wronged. I know I keep telling the same story, over and over. I know, I hear you.

And I won’t shut up. Sorry.

The beautiful thing about anger, that I did not know until I had unleashed some of it… Anger is healing and powerful.

In my marriage I learned to cope. I learned to nurture myself in the absence of love. I self-regulated and made due with less and less affection. But the education, the pattern that I learned about what love looked like didn’t begin with my ex-y. Nope, I learned how to be disinterested and disconnected from my parents, just as you probably did. I mean, they were the only examples we had. And boy did I learn how not to do a marriage. But of course, my images and imaginings were done by the time I was 8. It was all over by then, for my mom and dad. And everything else I thought I knew, I made up.

We are not ready for the changes of marriage. And we are certainly in no way prepared for parenting. It changes everything.

In my marriage, the changes were too much. We lost touch with one another and learned to be quiet even when we should be shouting at the top of our lungs, “This is hurting me.”

Anger was a form of control in my family of origin. My father would rule his house with rage and yelling. And we would hide, tremble, and obey. But this is no way to behave. But what it did to our range of acceptable emotions, was to limit our own access to anger. What it did for me was teach me to be agreeable, at all cost. To even lie if it meant I could avoid a fight.

But in a healthy relationship we need to fight. We need to have access to our full-range of emotion. And when I started getting angry about what wasn’t working, I learned that it was okay. Of course, my ex-y would’ve loved me to stay in the submissive mode, I started to draw boundaries for the first time in my marriage. I started expressing what wasn’t working. I started to express my anger at being ignored emotionally and physically. And I demanded a change.

Of course the change I was hoping for would’ve come in the form of realigning our marriage, and what I got was an exit request. But I was no longer willing to just be quiet.

So sure, I could shut up about the divorce, the depression, and the anger. And it would be a whole lot easier on all of us. But the beautiful thing about anger, that I did not know until I had unleashed some of it… Anger is healing and powerful.

Anger does not have to be abusive or rageful. Anger can be a consistent request for love and affection. Anger can be a demand for the other partner in a relationship to wake up and relearn how to express joy. Anger gave me back my balls, so I could express what I really needed in my marriage.

I am still embracing my ability to ask for what I need, to seek truth and connectedness, and to find another person who expresses themselves easily through physical affection.

Try as I might, I was not able to call my ex-y back into love with me. Perhaps things had gone to far by the time I started fighting for my rights as a lover and husband. Perhaps my attempts to ravage my beautiful wife were no longer welcome. But I did not give up. I did not back down. I was no longer willing to masterbate alone all the time and wonder why she never had a sexual impulse. There I said it. I wanted to have sex and for some reason she didn’t.

And it wasn’t the typical dude grabbing at his woman daily for gratification. It was not a rutting sex I was after. I genuinely needed to feel skin-on-skin contact. I needed to affirm my warmth and closeness with my lover. I needed to be a lover and to reignite the lover in her.

I lost that negotiation. And ultimately I lost my marriage and the full-access to my kids. Bummer. But I was not willing to just be quiet and bear the coldness and aloneness that my marriage had become. And while she ultimately was the person who asked for a divorce, I was the one who had finally begun speaking up. And even in the face of her divorce request, I was certain I was fighting for my marriage. I wasn’t. I was fighting for what I wanted my marriage to return to, or what I’d hoped my marriage would become.

It’s not easier to be quiet, actually. It’s devastating not to speak your truth and be embraced. It’s debilitating to ask again and again for affection and be given all number of reasons that it’s not the right moment, or that I didn’t ask in the right way. I was starving to death while lying next to the one person who could nourish me.

Well, fortunately I learned my lesson. And I am still embracing my ability to ask for what I need, to seek truth and connectedness, and to find another person who expresses themselves easily through physical affection. It’s simple when you both crave the same Love Language. It’s a stretch and a negotiation if you don’t. But it’s never easier, in the long run, to be quiet.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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+++ for a moment of comic relief


You Know They’re Watching You, Right?

Dear Ex-Wife,

more attention to her phone then our kids

Our kids keep telling me things that concern me. The top of the list is “she never picks up” referring to your newly distant approach to receiving phone calls from your kids. Not my calls, I could care less about me, ignore me all you want. But the kids SEE YOU GLUED TO YOUR PHONE. They see you texting and talking with everyone, they see you interrupt conversations to check your phone. So when you “don’t pick up” they get the message. Something is more important than them. Wait? What?

Is something more important than a phone call from your kids?

+++

A friend, the other day on Facebook, took some time to give me a moment of insight into what she thought was going on with the ex-y and her angry behavior. The concepts she shared have stuck with me.

  • She did not understand your language. She did not get you.
  • She knows what she has done and she is ashamed of her behavior. Anger is a way for her to cover that up for herself.
  • Your kids will eventually get the truth about what happened. And they will see how you fought repeatedly for your marriage. She knows this will come back around.

So is this blog like a loaded weapon pointed at my ex-y’s dignity? Even with the anonymity, is she threatened by my blogging? I can see how this material, mostly The Hard Stuff, is impossible for her to imagine. I’m also assuming she doesn’t read me, though she does know about this blog.

So to her, The Off Parent is like a loose tooth and a time bomb all at the same time. I don’t have any plans to unleash this material on her or the kids. But… and I guess this is a big one, I imagine at some point in the distant future, my kids will read the book, or the poetry, or whatever this material turns into. But didn’t Bob Dylan’s kids know he wrote Idiot Wind about their mother?

As adults we explore our past and our parents in new ways. I am not writing this to my ex-wife or my kids. This is a testament of my own journey, my own reconciliation with myself. And while the content has shifted away from divorce and onto “what’s next” I am always jarred back to reality when some of the crazy divorce stuff happens.

Already I know this is petty, but…

daughter is sick

Sure, she might have been in the shower. But this woman is glued to her phone. And all I was looking for was an update on our daughter, who had an injury last night. This passive aggressive shit has got to go. 37 minutes for a check-in? Am I being petty? Oh well. Frustrating.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Stages of Attractiveness In Approaching Potential Partners

Range of Attractiveness to Me

I noticed the other day, while walking, that I could sense body attractiveness about 50 feet away. Clearly the first indicator of a tail wag, in my dog senses. And, I think, an indicator of my flexible desire, on the physical shape only. The ex-y actually got too skinny for my taste at one point. I liked her a little less hard. But I was fine with her though all of her variations, from dating, to pregnancy, to post-pregnancy, to too skinny for my tastes. She fell within my range of desirability. What I now have to figure out, is do I fall within that range as well, for someone else?

So from a distance I can sense rather quickly if the approaching woman would be attractive to me. Interesting. As we get closer other clues begin to enter my calculations. Hair color, clothing, skin color, even before I can make out the features of her face.

And finally the face, gives all the final input on the purely physical level: smile or frown, bright eyes, theoretical age, and something else… Magic. There is something beyond our calculations, something that takes all of them into consideration, but leaves them behind when the “magic” is present. I don’t know what it is, or how to describe it, but it comes into play once I can recognize her face.

I was longing for more, even when married, and the happy pockets would carry me through the droughts, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted holding. She wanted better spreadsheets and better chore allocation.

Somewhere deep in my core wiring, my brain and heart are calculating, “Could I long to look into this face for the next 20 years?” It’s as simple as that, and as complex as all of my hard wiring, past relationship, modeling, experience, and fantasies all wrapped up in a few seconds and judged: YES, NO, MAYBE. But it’s the maybes that get dropped from the mix unless they have some extraordinary … No… Wait… A MAYBE is really a NO in the long run.

From this little exercise I know, I have a type, but the type is more flexible than rigid. I have a storm of sensory inputs when walking towards a woman on the jogging trail, and within a few feet of passing, I know if she’s a YES for me. Amazing.

Of course, there are so many other factors that would go into a Relationship. But I believe the initial blush of desire is a good indicator. And as GF #1 once asked me, “Have you ever known that burning desire to develop over time, if it wasn’t present in the beginning?” Um, no, I haven’t.

Therefore, I know I’m seeking magic. It is the magic that kept me hopeful in my marriage, even when things seemed hopeless. It was that desire to be along-side forever, that kept me so strongly in the game. My love of the ex-y allowed me to suffer untold pains and rejections with hopefulness and flexibility. “I can do better. I can be better.”

In our case, there was no repair that could be made between our different Love Language needs, and over time it made her so furious, she had to seek her love elsewhere. Me, I was longing for more, even when married, and the happy pockets would carry me through the droughts, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted holding. She wanted better spreadsheets and better chore allocation.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Relationship Chemistry or Heat? Are We Losing Charge or Building Up Energy?

OFF-greengirl

It’s a fine distinction, but I’m trying to understand the current pressure I’m feeling. There is an uncomfortableness that I’m starting to be aware of. When I am imagining is that my energy and desire is spinning up in some sort of charging capacity, that I am energized and looking for a connection to light up. The opposite might be true. Perhaps I am losing the glow and confidence of the connection with GF 1 and I’m starting to wind down and believe less in myself and the trajectory of patience and calm.

I confess, today I started a new OKCupid profile, with new pictures and a very simplified description and “seeking” outline. It was triggered partially by a conversation I was having with one of the two women on my current radar scope.

I was telling her, maybe trying to convince myself at the same time, how patient I was and how happy I was at building the friendship part before testing the kissing and beyond aspects. And then I listened to her response.

For a moment I imagined she was telling me why she was still looking on OKCupid. I don’t think that’s what she said, but what I heard was, I’m just not that sure I’m that into you, and I’m more comfortable getting to know you “over the next 400 dates before we move things forward. I don’t want to make another mistake.” She laughed as she said the “400” was just a joke.

She does not have the awareness of wanting to be loved. She’s just fine, take it or leave it, with being touched and affectionate with someone. Me, for example.

Then something remarkable happened. I took her to a party she was making an appearance at, I offered to accompany her there… And a woman there, again that ONE WOMAN IN THE CROWD, was so stunningly sensuous and alluring that I could’ve imagined trying one of those stupid stunts, “Hi, you are so beautiful, I’d like to …” But I didn’t. But I wanted to.

And something in my reptilian brain connected with that sensuous power and looked back at this beautiful and intelligent woman I was standing with, and I registered a miss. I don’t mind patience and pacing. In fact, my recent events have me quoting the idea rather frequently. But when I saw this woman, and I watched her speak to another woman, I was fascinated by her attraction.

What I seemed to connect with was the pull towards her, towards something, the idea of her. And what I realized with this woman I was with, I was really having to do a lot of talking about why the sexual pull or uncontrollable passion was a thing that could be dipped into at will, between two caring and trusting adults.

Huh?

But there’s something missing with this woman.

She does not have the awareness of wanting to be loved. She’s just fine, take it or leave it, with being touched and affectionate with someone. Me, for example. It’s okay with her that we’re not really touching. I’m putting out my hand and guiding her in crowds occasionally, I’m touching her arm when I want to make a point about physical contact. But the “resonance” that I’m looking for is not happening. It’s not a cerebral thing. And the more I find I’m talking up a blue streak about how “taking it slow” is fine with me, the more I feel like I’m beginning to build up excuses for why she isn’t CRAVING anything.

I guess, I am beginning to understand that I am craving. I am hungry for touch. The kissing girl was an example of how open I am to letting the passion take hold. And while she was the wrong woman, there was a part of her that ignited my passion and she responded back with passion.

This woman is not not responding. But her responses are about calculations and “what she might be looking for.” I don’t know what it takes to light someone up, but if it’s not happening, it might not ever happen.

If we are two honest and centered adults, perhaps it’s possible to enter into a relationship and exit the relationship without anyone getting hurt.

I’ll pause here and take a breath. I’m not abandoning either of these aloof superstar women. (Uh oh, that’s a phrase that echos GF 1’s statement that I’m drawn to emotionally unavailable women.) But at the same time, I’m feeling the need to put the sail back in the air. And if the woman in the party today, were present at a function where I was not accompanied by a “date” I am sure I would’ve been compelled to make an introduction. Without the pressure of the pickup line, of course, but with a clear, across-the-room-attraction confidence that she just might have been looking for.

I have been very direct with this woman. I have told her several times where I stand. And today I found myself making the case, for an idea that came to me last night, again after an extended discussion about why-how-and-if we were heading towards a relationship.

I want it to be easy. If we are two honest and centered adults, perhaps it’s possible to enter into a relationship and exit the relationship without anyone getting hurt.

What I explained to this woman over breakfast was, “I’m certain that we will be friends for a long time to come, regardless of where this relationship stuff goes. And if you were to call me in six months to accompany you to a party or some other function, I would gladly go. Because I enjoy spending time with you, and we seem to have a mutual compatibility. My recent experience leads me to believe, that we could add “kissing” in at any time, to see how that fit.”

At some point you need to jump in and test the waters. Another point I made, “What if you spent all this time to “know” someone and when you finally got around to making love it was awful? That would really suck.”

We laughed.

I want heat. I want chemistry that becomes unavoidable. If this woman is so in control of her emotions and physical needs that she can be with me for hours and hours without finally wanting to cross the threshold of touch or kissing, well… Perhaps her love language is something else. Probably. (bummer)

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: green girls, vogue magazine, creative commons usage


Waiting On Repairs

waiting for me to change the lightbulbIf something is broken, or a lightbulb is out, just fix it. Waiting on repairs as a measure of commitment or caring is a double-edged sword.

There are many ways to parse the “repair” in this title.

A repair is the type of statement offered by one of the two people in a disagreement that is supposed to form a bridge back to wholeness. A repair is a minor chore that involves fixing something. A repair is when the cable is out and you’ve got to schedule time to meet the repairman during the work day, so you can get your tv or high-speed internet working again.

There are always a few small repairs awaiting attention in any relationship or house. But when used as a measure or a gauge of the health of a relationship, there is often the aggrieved party and the oblivious party. Or, in the case of marriage, the party who is irritated by the burnt out lightbulb or weeds in the yard, and the party who is generally happy, or oblivious of such tragedies.

In our case, I was aware that there was a bulb out in the hall. But it didn’t bother me and the other two worked fine to illuminate the paths of my loved ones. To the ex-y the bulb was an example of my inattention to her. Why didn’t I care enough to want her, or my kids, to have three working lights in the hall? Why, if I knew it bothered her, didn’t I just fix the fucking light?

Wait. What?

I became more aware of the resentment in these little details as time went on and the veneer began to wear thin on the relationship. A dying or overgrown yard was an indication of how I was neglecting her, or showing my lack of love and respect for my entire family. I still get a sad chuckle out of the thought, once voiced in the flurry of an argument, that went something like this:

“If you saw the fucking light bulb was out, why didn’t you fix it?”

“If you were bummed out about the light bulb, why didn’t you just replace it?”

“It’s as if you just don’t care. You’re fine with the whole place going to shit.”

“Um, no. I just wasn’t aware that the lightbulb was that big of a deal. And if it was bugging me it would take less than a minute to fix it.”

“So why didn’t you replace it?”

“It wasn’t bugging me.

“Did you notice it was burned out?”

“Of course.”

“Well why didn’t you fucking fix it?”

“Um. If it was bugging the crap out of you, why didn’t YOU fix it?”

“You just don’t fucking care. About me, or anything.”

“No. I wasn’t aware that the lightbulb was that big a deal.”

“It’s not the lightbulb, it’s everything. It’s always like this.”

+++

At some point you either dig in your heels and say to yourself, “I’m never changing the fucking lightbulb.” Or, “She can fix the fucking lightbulb herself.” And even when you know the unmowed lawn is bugging her, you don’t mow it. Not out of spite, but because it’s 2 hours in the middle of your potentially productive weekend, and it’s not that big of a deal. Even when you know she’s seething.

I wonder what it was like when she realized  when it dawned on her, that she was going to have to fix the fucking lightbulb herself? Or when she decided she needed to learn how to mow the fucking lawn herself on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Or when she realized, just in the last three months, that working a real full-time job was hell. And that all of those years I was hoofin it off to the cube farm, she might have had a tiny bit more sympathy on a weekend when I just wanted to chill, or nap, or play with the kids.

I remember a point in our final breakdown when I asked her, “How do you think we’re going to be able to afford two houses in this school district?” She wasn’t thinking about me. She could care less if I got to stay near my kids, or near their school. Of course she’d been the one “volunteering” at the elementary school. Because we could afford to have her working part-time or “consulting.”

And looking over the tax return together, the last joint tax return we ever filed, she was pretty self-righteous about the fact that her contribution to the income for the year had actually be a negative. “Do you think financial stress had anything to do with our breakup?” I might have asked her. But I didn’t.

Today we struggle along, affording two houses in the affluent district where we pay for good schools for our kids minds and souls. And I’ve scaled way back and down. I’m happy. I’m not complaining.

But the “honey do” repair on her house, that is now going on six months in its gross state of disrepair, does give me a tiny bit of satisfaction. I met her boyfriend accidentally one afternoon when I was dropping the kids back at her house.

They were tearing the front, mostly ornamental decks, off the front of the house. I shook this sort of pudgy and academic man’s hand, amazed at the lack of his Carry-Grant-ness.

“Yes, they were going to charge us $3,500 to fix the decks,” he said, with some joy. “But I knew we could do it ourselves for less.”

WOW. My first thought was, “Dang, $3,500 seems pretty cheap compared to the number of weekends it is going to take to do it yourself.” She was standing there, satisfied with his statement. She was fixing up the house to sell it. He was saying “us.”

And I realized at that moment that she had found a lover who spoke her love language. All this time we had just been slightly mismatched in what kinds of things represented “being loved” to us. She wanted someone who did things for her. “Do something to help me and I feel loved.”

I’m sure my love language is touch. “Give me a hug or a snuggle and I will feel loved.”

So there we were, the three of us, and it was like an “ah ha” went off in my head. “She’s found her honey do.”

Of course, now, six months later, I’m thinking, “Yeah, how’s that working for you?”

The torn up decks make me a little sad for my kids. They must know it looks like crap to have the front of the house torn up and unfinished. (How’s that $3,500 looking, now?) But I can’t control or change that. So I keep it to myself. But there is some inner smile going on, as I think of his saying, “They were going to charge us $3,500.”

I think it’s best to not be waiting on repairs, in any of the potential situations. If the disagreement is heated, it’s okay to be the first one to go for the repair. “I’m sorry. You are right. I fucked up.”

In the case of my repair I would be looking for a hug or acknowledgement that we were still connected physically  For the ex-y she’d be looking for me to replace burnt out lightbulbs with more consistency and timeliness. I know it sounds trivial, but I don’t think it is. I think it is part of what makes her feel loved. And in this repair I often failed. As we were awash in disagreement, I failed on purpose.

“Fuck if I’m going to change that lightbulb,” I thought. “She’ll either do it herself, or get madder than hell. But I’m not going to be manipulated by her control issues. Both of us can change the lightbulb. If it’s bugging you/her then fix it. Don’t sit around bitching about me not fixing it.”

She got mad. She stayed mad. I guess there were always things that needed repair in her world and she was waiting on me to do them.

Of course, today she doesn’t have that luxury. Or that torture, depending on your perspective. Neither do I.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

 the story continues…

image: creative commons useage: #4 lightbulb moment

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The Next Chapter to Write: Picture a Girl…

I’m looking to burn brighter while standing next to someone who is already burning brightly themselves.

the woman I want is ...

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.

Touch.

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.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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 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.

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Sex in the Marriage: Condition Grounded But Determined to Try

creative commons usage

I am guessing this is going to sound cliché. But clichés are there because they are based on repeatedly being shown as truths. What do you think about this statement?

After the heat wore off. After the kids were born. After the work of keeping up a house and mortgage payment became real. Sex became more and more infrequent.

We went through some interesting therapy sessions and ideas about how to reconnect sexually.

  • I wasn’t asking the right way
  • I was asking too much
  • I always asked at the wrong time
  • There was always something that needed to be done, before we could have sex
  • I didn’t help around the house enough
  • I needed to try seducing rather than asking, touch rather than request

Ultimately, once the sexual shift had happened there was only one period of relief.

I had just gotten a vasectomy. (A good sign, anyway, that we were doing it at all, so we would even want to keep having sex. It was kind of a right of passage from fathering to fucking.

She was already contemplating her departure, and those thoughts were crowding out the passion and love for me.

And the weeks following the surgery, after the swelling and pain had gone away, we had a sexual renaissance. You see, when you have a vaz there is a period afterwards where you are required to have 30 ejaculations before you can get tested for viable sperm. And if it’s all clear after that, you can begin nekkid sex without risk.

The ex-y even admitted to having an achievement complex, and we joked about her wanting the 30 gold stars in 45 days. And sure enough, the wind would blow and she was into getting me off. Perhaps it relieved the pressure on her to participate if it was about my orgasm and not making love.

We did it in the shower. She did me orally, manually, and seemingly with ease and enjoyment. Later we would look back on these weeks as “when it was good again.” At least, that’s what I remember saying about it. I certainly see it as the last hurrah of our marriage.

And then the goal was achieved. I was certified sperm free. And the sexual fire fizzled and went out. Almost as if a switch had been thrown. I couldn’t ask right, or provide enough house support (me or a maid) or money in the bank. There was ALWAYS something preventing us from doing it. I wanted to figure out how to have another vasectomy, or something. But nothing I tried worked.

Then, right at the end, when I had my moment of truth, I asked her. Well, it came out kind of sideways. I had bought a book “Your Sex-Starved Marriage” and she found it under the bed. It was as if she had found porn or something. She was angry. Of course I was accusing her of being the problem, that’s why I got the book. But she had plenty of ammo as to why it wasn’t all her.

She blamed it on stress, overwork, chores, things. But in reality she was no longer IN the marriage with me. She was already contemplating her departure, and those thoughts were crowding out the passion and love for me. Rather than demand closeness and touch, I withdrew into my own self-care miasma. But I sublimated my anger and desire. I compromised and let her slip further away from me. She was too far gone. And when I was finally angry it was a bit too late.

How does that phrase go? “You cannot prepare for love and war at the same time.”

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: creative commons usage: nude and captured