We’d been living together for eleven months, Kat and I. We had Kat’s 5-year-old son 85% of the time. We also had my 5-year-old daughter about 40% of the time. All of us in a 700 square foot, two bedroom, one bathroom apartment, which we also used for my office and for Kat’s office. It was definitely snug!
Our relationship was great. We laughed a lot. We enjoyed each other’s company. We went to plays and musicals and bought CDs and home appliances together. Our parenting styles were very compatible. Sometimes Kat arranged care for her son to enable us to travel together. We spent a week in England and three weeks in Australia, for my work. We vacationed in Puerto Vallarta. We took a week-long Parent Effectiveness Training together.
And we talked, real talk, sharing our hopes, deepest fears and greatest joys. Talk about politics and economics. Talk about child rearing. Talk about our four former spouses (two each). Talk about our individual relationship histories. Talk about the state of the American Musical Theater. Talk about current events. Talk about the trials and tribulations of living on the left coast of this continent. Talk about our spiritual beliefs and our sexual fantasies. Talk about whatever we were afraid to talk about.
And we made love -more and better than I’d ever known. For the first time in my life I felt comfortable making love. Finally, after more than 30 years of feeling sexually dysfunctional, I was living my fantasy love-life.
Eleven months together, living and working practically on top of each other, and we had developed a relationship rhythm – a predictable ebb and flow of our togetherness. And it seemed that our rhythm had a lot to do with our lovemaking. We’d make love, and for the next day or two I’d feel more emotionally connected, as if we were more in tune with each other. Sometimes we’d make love 2 or 3 times in a week, and that emotional connection would feel rock-steady. Sometimes we’d go a week or more without making love, and I’d feel us drift farther apart.
And we talked about this relationship rhythm. And we both recognized that this drifting in and out of connection might actually be a clever way for our sub-conscious minds to avoid deeper intimacy with each other. Perhaps there was a level of connection, a depth of intimacy available to us that we were, in fact, avoiding.
One day I got into a conversation with one of my co-workers about sex and marriage. She was talking about the lack of communication between her and her first husband. As I remember it, she talked about his expectation that they have sexual intercourse every night, regardless of how they were feeling about each other. I think she was telling me how uncomfortable it was to be so physically intimate at those times when there was no emotional intimacy. But all that really stayed with me was “sexual intercourse every night.”
I’ve never had sex every day. Not in either of my two marriages. Not with any of my girlfriends. Not when I was in my first sexually active time (in college). Never. Sometimes with some partners we might go two or three days in a row, but even that was pretty rare. And in both my marriages sex was infrequent. I didn’t know what I wanted or how to ask for it and, in my opinion, neither did my partners.
So Kat and I created an exercise. A course of action intended to explore that which we might be avoiding. We agreed to have sex every day for the month of September. No excuses. No putting it off on Monday with the promise of twice on Tuesday. No escape clause or backdoor. We agreed that “sex” did not necessarily mean intercourse. Our definition was whatever activity we both agreed was sex. And we both agreed that holding hands or staring deeply into your beloved’s eyes might be someone’s definition of sex, but it wasn’t ours. We didn’t need to define “sex.” We were pretty confident we’d know it when we were doing it.
The universe gave us a bit of encouragement—it was actually possible for us to be together everyday for the next thirty days. So we began.
For a day or two it was fun and exciting. We’d wait until the kids were at school then take a break from our work and have sweet, languorous lovemaking. Then the weekend came. No school. Now we had to wait for the kids to be in bed, asleep. You might think this was not a big deal but Kat’s son had sleep “issues” and was often awake way into the night. And after 4 or 5 daily sex episodes, maintaining desire, late at night, when we were both tired, was definitely an act of will. And we willed it.
By week three it was definitely getting challenging. It was hard to find time, every day, for intimate touch. We were busy, tired, overwhelmed. We would lie in bed, late at night, talking about our resistance, our fatigue, our lack of interest. We would discuss whether or not to just stop, quit, give up.
Then we put our naked bodies together and, often to our surprise, our bodies would respond. It was as if our bodies hungered for the physical intimacy whether our minds knew it or not. Our lovemaking got “softer”, quieter, more meditative. Instead of having sex in order to come, I was having sex in order to be joined. Sometimes coming was involved, sometimes not. It felt as if I was learning how to have sex be about us, our team, our two-ness, instead of it being about me and my experience and her and her experience. It’s hard to find the right words to describe this. I felt we were moving from pseudo-connection into a more genuine connection.
In the final days we missed a day, then another. Then a month was over.
We had had sex 28 out of 30 days. I had learned more about what I wanted, what I needed, what I expected, what I was willing to give. Our bond felt deeper. I felt more connected to my partner and more at home in my body. I felt sexy. Sex hadn’t become routine or boring. I learned that even when I thought I wasn’t in the mood, once my body was aroused, the mood followed. I began to see value in resisting my resistance. I was happy and more at peace with everything. It felt like I had done a major piece of therapy, without all the processing and analyzing. I felt like I was living at or near my potential, not as a peak experience, but rather as a way of life.