The art of swinging
December 7, 2015 § Leave a comment
My husband is not much of a talker, not when it matters. He never has been really. He went through a phase in our early days, when we were all starry eyed and filled with hopeful promises about how our marriage would endure. But then life took over, life takes over, and we fall back to our default positions – I write and he doesn’t talk.
When we got married, our vows were so carefully crafted to avoid any talk of monogamy. We both agreed that life is not meant to be shared with one, but with many. We both agreed that we should each be courageous and upfront in our desires of others, careful and respectful in our indulgence of the same, whilst at all times remaining focused on our love for one another and the overall wellbeing of our relationship.
In the spirit of this mutual shared value, we have had some adventures and some heartache. And in spite of the pain, at no time have I ever asked at what cost this open mindedness comes – until now. I had been, have been sure that I did not and would not ever believe in monogamy and that a person’s, a couple’s desperate grasp on this false sense of security was the ultimate pitfall that our marriage would avoid. So smug was I in this knowledge, thinking somehow that our car ride would surpass all others, that we would cruise past all the broken down heaps on the side of the road.
It hasn’t always been easy. I remember the first time we discussed Adam sleeping with another woman without me. I thought I would vomit, I thought I would never stop crying, I thought I made a huge mistake marrying this man. As it turns out, when it finally happened, none of those thoughts entered my mind at the time. I remember the first time I ever slept with another man without Adam. I thought I was falling in love and the idea of never seeing this kid again nearly tore me apart, nearly tore our marriage apart. And of course neither of those things eventuated. But as I said, it hasn’t always been easy.
Ageing brings with it more than just the slow surprises of wrinkles and weight gain. I am slowly finding a mellowness I could never have imagined, not complacency and not quite peace (I suspect I will never quite have peace in my lifetime), but a mellowness. A subtle softness. Not a change in the picture but a rounding of the edges. A smearing and blurring of lines once so sharp and so solid.
As much as there is to be said about the synchronicity of “opposites attracting”, as I age I am finding more and more that it is the similarities and mutual values that become the cornerstones of avoiding or seeing out conflict with your spouse. There has to be common ground. Without common ground, there is only compromise. Whilst I am in most situations an avid fan of compromise, there are some things in which common ground nor compromise can be found and this results in, well, pain.
Compromising a value such as monogamy is one such thing.
Can you ever in a marriage say to the other person that you have changed your mind? Could you ever tell them that a value you both shared when you got married is now no longer a shared value but in fact a point of difference for you? The answer is of course. The real question is could the marriage survive in the face of how the answer is found? I married Adam because I love him, because I believe him to be a good man and because I believe we ultimately want the same things in life. When we married, “the same things in life” including sleeping with other people. His desire in this respect has not changed and I don’t think will ever change – he is who he is and he is at an age where it is unlikely this will change dramatically from now until the end. Up until recently I did not think my views on this had changed either and I am hoping that this little speed bump is just that, a blip on the horizon that we will get over and forget about as we travel further down the road. But for me to be crying into my husband’s arms whilst saying I didn’t want to have sex with anyone else is perhaps more than just a speed hump. It’s more like an intersection I suppose.
On one side of the car you have a man who potentially wants to have sex with someone other than his wife once a month (once a fucking month!!! That I’ll come back to that later). Just say there’s a man who doesn’t have any appetite for monogamy. On the other side of the car is a woman who perhaps values monogamy more than she once thought or suspected she ever would. Neither one of them wants to drive and carry the other person to a place they don’t want to go. But traffic (life) is piling up behind them and they can’t just sit still forever – their marriage has to turn in one direction or the other which will unavoidably lead to one person being satisfied and one person making a compromise.
Compromise is the silent killer of relationships.