A shift in perspective: be generous

The other morning, B and I were talking and he mentioned something about our lack of a recent sex life. (I’m on my period again–I got 16 whole days without bleeding, a record since December.) We were talking in a light tone as we were getting ready for the day. I said again how being on my period makes me not in the mood, and he said something along the lines of how we all have to do things we don’t want to do.

I was startled. “Not in a sexual relationship!” I said. We left it at that, but as I went on my morning walk, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I felt like I was under pressure to provide for all his sexual wants and needs, and that I shouldn’t be. Just because he has a wife doesn’t mean that B should never give himself an orgasm. My bringing myself to orgasm happens regularly in our relationship. Often with B there holding and kissing me, usually after we’ve had sex wherein I didn’t get all the way to orgasm. I’m good with this. I like it. It takes the pressure off B trying to do it all himself with a few directions or repositioning of his fingers from me. But we don’t often switch roles. I’d love it if I could kiss and snuggle him while he does things exactly the way he likes them to his own body.

That day I typed all these thoughts out. The spouse shouldn’t be completely responsible for the other’s entire sexual satisfaction. We should both be able to masturbate if we’re wanting or needing more orgasms. With or without the other person participating. We’ve always had different libidos and should be able to say no without feeling guilt or pressure.

When I showed my writing to him that night, he got really upset. Felt like I was making a power play waiting until we were ready to go to bed to mention it. Felt like he was being painted as a villain. Felt like I got to say everything I felt and that it was one sided, without giving him a chance to say anything. And that he’s always the one making compromises, not me.

I told him writing it down has always been the way I think and communicate best, and that yes it was one sided because those were my thoughts, and I wanted to hear his. I told him I hadn’t wanted to spring it on him as soon as he came in the door, but that he was right I shouldn’t have waited until we were going to sleep and I was sorry.

He was sorry if he’d made it sound like he expected me to do something I didn’t want to do sexually. I was silently amazed that my apology elicited one from him, who had been so upset just moments before. We had a really good conversation. It’s a bit sad that it had to start off as an argument for us to really talk about intimate things, but I really did feel closer to him and a lot better afterward. He says he’s inherited moodiness and reticence from his parents, the worst of each. =)

But here’s the important part. He explained that there’s a big spectrum between not wanting to do something, and being willing to do it for your partner. That morning he’d meant being willing to do something for your partner, even if you weren’t in the mood yourself. And that I understood.

What about doing something that’s just for your partner? he asked me.

I do, I said. Whenever I give you oral or manual stimulation that’s just for you.

You don’t ever want to do it?

Hey, I thought in my head. I can’t win! I’m trying to remind him that I do give him attention sometimes, and then he’s sad that I don’t want to do it enough! I assured him that I do like turning him on. He just wants it to happen more often, which I understand.

We were back to him wanting it and feeling rebuffed and my not offering it enough. I’d written about using condoms for these activities to contain the mess and to add lubrication, so we talked aloud about it too. I don’t really want to deal with him coming on me. My hand, sure. But my stomach or thighs, clothes, or sheets…I’d just rather not deal with that (I’ve definitely kept my mouth/face away so far too, at the moment it counts.) He noted that I seem to care more about bodily fluids and messes than he does. Evidently yes. We’ve located our container of condoms. A blow job with a condom is better than almost none at all.

He’d said again how I’m always the one in control of when we have sex and that he feels like he has to hop to it and perform when I give the go ahead because it’s his only chance (See above with the condom thing, for instance. Yes, I realize I’m putting perameters on that too.) I’ve written about that before here, and how I don’t really know what to do about it because I don’t know how to make myself be in the mood. Also, this whole birth control thing with its ridiculous amount of bleeding makes me feel like I have to grab the chance when it presents itself, too! We talked about him giving himself orgasms if he needs more than I’m giving him. But I think he wants me to want to give him more. Maybe it’s even less about the number of his orgasms and more about our relationship as a couple.

The next day I thought through our conversation and realized something. He’s right. It would be nice for me to be willing to do more for my spouse. My spouse, who has a higher libido than I do and who gets rebuffed and waits for my whims way more often than he gets a hand job. Why has it taken this so long to sink in? Why have I been so stingy with the sexual pleasure I can give him, when he would obviously really appreciate it? (And maybe even sleep better and be less stressed.) I don’t really know.

Maybe it’s all part of learning to live with another person after being so long solo. Part of learning to be a spouse. A spouse who is sensitive to her partner’s desires and who can recognize that his more robust libido is just as valid as my tame one. Even if I’m not feeling frisky, I can offer my husband more than a few caresses. Chances are, I’ll start enjoying seeing the enjoyment he’s getting. He wants to feel wanted and desired. He is. And I can show it more. He wants to know that I want to make him feel good, not that I’m holding our sex life over his head. This part of our life can be more equal. I can be a more generous partner, and that will make our partnership even better.

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March in Review

Fitness

Total pounds lost: 1

Pounds to go: 12

Handcycled: 4 times. 17.75 miles total.

Weekday walks of more than a mile at once: at least 11.

Days vegan: 25.

Personal Life

Bleeding days: 17

Sex: more than 3!

Sigh. This whole trying to get fit thing is rough. I lost four pounds in January, exactly where I should have been for healthy, maintainable weight loss. Then gained most of it back. Then lost a couple. Then went on vacation for the first week of March and gained a couple (not vegan for most of that week). Then lost them. THEN lost two more. And felt awesome, and like I was finally making progress, with a total of five pounds gone. That’s huge for someone my size. I even made sure the scale read the same two evenings in a row to assure myself it wasn’t a fluke. A couple days later the two pounds were back. With no discernible changes from me. Seriously, what the heck? I felt like, why bother? When I really try, I don’t see any real results, so why keep being so strict with myself. Why keep putting a damper on B’s suggestions for dessert or having a meal out? Why not just enjoy life and stop beating myself up over every single pound.

And this is where I’m stuck. I know that I’m at a healthy weight for my height, etc. I also know that losing ten pounds could only help me. I know that I feel good and strong and accomplished when I stick to my goals and eat well. I also know that I feel a sense of defiant pleasure and relief when I give in and just enjoy my meal, probably with second helpings, and my portion of a dark chocolate bar, unrealistic beauty ideals be damned! My one dessert a week plan is out the window.

But I can tell when I’m eating too much for how much I’m burning. When I compare that to how I feel when I eat less, I prefer the way I feel when I eat less. But in the moment, when I just want a couple more bites, it’s so hard. The answer, of course, is to get more exercise. Just burn more calories and you’ll be able to eat those few extra bites and still feel good. So not easy. So not easy, when the act of moving is difficult.

I keep hearing the phrase, “sitting is the new smoking.” I’ve been reading for years how bad our desk-job lifestyle is for us. And I know it. I do. And yet I spend most of my time sitting in front a computer, like everyone else. So I cleared off the top of my dresser and put my laptop there to use as a standing desk. I tried this once before several months ago and felt exhausted after five minutes. Also, it’s less fun to watch YT videos standing up. It just is. (Probably a good thing.) This time, I stuck with it and did everything I normally would have done sitting down, standing up, including reading a book. My feet ached at the end of the day, and my knees felt worse the following day. But I knew it was better for me overall. I’m working on my standing posture in pilates. I tend to put strain on my lower back (the s curve is pretty prominent at the lower spine). I don’t have very much ability to tilt my pelvis back until it’s in a neutral position. So I work on this. And I work on keeping strength in my outer hips and not locking my knees but not letting them bend too much. And keeping my shoulders relaxed and not letting my ribs shift to one side. While I stand here and type this.

And even with only three weeks at home in March, we went out hand cycling four times. Not that that’s great, but it’s not bad. So I feel like I am trying. I am trying to incorporate healthier habits and more physical activity into my generally sedentary days. And even so, I’m not making any progress.

And in my personal life? I had two periods making seventeen bleeding days out of thirty-one. (Including my whole vacation.) But also eleven *consecutive* days without bleeding. It feels like so long since I’ve had that. Maybe December. Such a feeling of freedom. We’ve managed to achieve our more typical sex life, and that feels awesome. My advances have even been turned down a couple times because B was tired. Feels good to be able to offer it and not say no all the time. Except of course I’m slightly crampy and expect my period to reappear every second. Still, better.

I know this minutiae over the same five pounds gained and lost is ridiculous and uninteresting. It feels ridiculous and uninteresting to me, too. I was hoping with my resolve and record keeping here that it would help. It hasn’t. We’ll see. Maybe April will be better.