How I Fell Madly In Lust With My Husband
How I Fell Madly In Lust With My Husband
How I Fell Madly In Lust With My Husband
thus taboo) bedmate, was also virile and buff; he'd hold me down in bed, talk dirty, and take what he wanted. I assumed all girls went mad for he-men. After all, every bodice-ripping R-rated movie, soap opera and Harlequin romance showed a John Wayne action hero taming the shrew. I saw myself as a tough-talking, chain-smoking femme fatale, albeit from a tony Detroit suburb.
Eventually, I wound up in Manhattan in grad school, where I hung out with a crowd of left-wing, liberal, independent career women. I feared that confessing my craving for being dominated by macho men in bed would mean I'd have to revoke my credentials as a serious, intellectual feminist, so I simply decided to keep quiet about my sexual predilections.
I'd broken off with macho David and Brad because of their insensitivity and infidelity, and I was starting to worry that the Lotharios who stimulated me most in the sack were bound to make me sick when we put our clothes back on. By my thirties, I seriously suspected that there were only two types of men to choose from: bullies who'd bewitch my body, then try to seduce my best gal pals when I wasn't looking, or sensitive souls who'd take me on nice dinner dates but put me to sleep under the sheets.
Then I met Tommy, a kind, good-looking lawyer who treated me well but was also up for a little deviant dance in the dark. Once, after my roommate Emily, a radical documentary filmmaker, overheard some minor smacking and tickling in the bedroom, she asked if Tommy was abusing me. Of course, not. We were just having fun, I reassured her. She eyed me skeptically, as if I was exhibiting signs of battered woman syndrome. But as a big-boned, 5-foot-7-inch gutter-mouthed girl with a decent right hook, I knew for certain that if any guy ever really tried to hit or touch me against my will, I would have beat the hell out of him.
Still, as more years passed, I felt increasingly ready to make a trade-off: rambunctious lovers into lying, head games and cheating for an honest, caring spouse I respected. So, at thirty-five, I wound up with a mensch who walked me down the aisle and swore he'd be faithful. That he also happened to be a big, hot, hairy, sardonic sports-obsessed man's man who easily returned my father's and brothers' male-punch hellos made the decision fairly easy.
Yet only a few years into our blessed union, my spouse seemed to find me too warm-blooded. On Saturday nights he preferred work to body wrestling me to the floor and taking me where I wanted to go. If I tried to bring it up, he'd get defensive, as if I was insulting him. But I felt too young and frisky to forfeit my physical fervor. I wasn't self-conscious about pleasing myself, but it felt sad not to be sharing my pleasure with the partner I adored.
"You have to insist that your husband fulfill your sexual fantasies," instructed my therapist, who happened to be tall, dashing and happily married himself. "Try asking him again."
"I tried, and he can't act them out," I said. "It makes him uncomfortable. Which makes me uncomfortable."
"What's wrong with a little discomfort? Fight through it," he advised.
"It's too weird and awkward," I admitted.
"Well, your alternative is to give up. So, do you plan to cheat on Aaron or just be sexually unsatisfied for the rest of your life?" he asked.
"But he's just not into it," I muttered, embarrassed enough that I'd spilled my steamiest X-rated fantasies to my therapist, who actually looked embarrassed hearing them. (Ironically my dreams about Dr. Winters involved being gently embraced by him, not man-handled. Let's analyze that.)
But I took his suggestion, raising the issue of my carnal cravings again. This time, my husband flat-out refused me, leaving me feeling totally, humiliatingly rejected. Deflated, I slunk back to my shrink and tried my old theory on him. "Isn't this the typical marriage compromise—you give up some sizzle for consistency, social acceptance and security?" I asked.
"No! That's ridiculous!" he countered. "According to the Torah, a man is obligated to please his wife sexually or he is not a good husband."
This from a WASP who was using my tribe's customs to argue with me. I went home and looked it up. He was right! A Jewish husband was mandated to make his wife feel fulfilled when she so desired. "Her food, her clothing, and her duty of marriage relations he shall not diminish." (Shmot 21:9). How funny—a reform Jewess who'd always resented rabbis and all forms of religious authority found the biggest champion of my libido in my own people's ancient laws. If they'd taught me about this in Hebrew school—instead of the Holocaust—I might have kept the Sabbath and learned to cook a brisket.
But I wondered how a woman fashioned her man into a passionate brute. You couldn't force your guy to be forceful, could you? My therapist requested some appointments alone with my husband. "Okay, let's try what you want," my mate announced when he came home from a psychotherapy session one night. I knew he was trying to compromise because he loved me. But I could tell he felt uncomfortable, even horrified that his perverted vixen of a wife had strong-armed a shrink into insisting he strong-arm me. Still, I wasn't giving up on my desires and I didn't want to look for sexual fulfillment elsewhere. Plus, I had an apparently Torah-given right to receive pleasure from my partner. So I led Aaron into our bedroom and told him what I wanted. Again. He acquiesced, passively, cracking jokes about castration and decapitation, taking me totally out of the mood.
"Shut up, don't make me laugh," I begged, explaining that he needed to deride me and take me against my will. After several minutes of orchestrating both the physical movements and the dialogue ("I want you to f**k me harder, Tarzan." and "Stop calling me beautiful, you idiot.") the whole thing began to feel too phony to get me off to anywhere. "Let's just forget it," I said, getting out of bed.
"No. Don't you dare leave! Get over here," Aaron snapped, grabbing my arm and throwing me back on the bed. He stopped joking and roared, "Okay, you stupid b*tch, now you're going to get it." He sounded enraged. I didn't know if he was genuinely pissed off or simply playing the role. But when he ripped off my jeans and slapped me, something happened. I felt nervous. Tingly. Excited. Transported. Rubbing against him, I had a major orgasm before he was even inside me. It was more intense than any "little death" I remembered with those bad boy idiots I'd gone for in my teens and twenties. Who knew you could be so erotically enraptured by your own spouse?
I was so gratified and grateful afterward that all I wanted to do was please Aaron. So, for our second act, we went all the way, the way I knew he preferred—gentle strokes, sweet nothings whispered in his ear, plenty of "I love you, babys." I wasn't bored this time. I felt so close to my husband, I didn't mind running this half of the show.
Both of us were restless sleepers who usually crashed far apart on our California King bed, but the next morning, I woke with my arms around him, kissing his warm back. Our tryst was so memorable that I made myself come in the middle of the day just thinking about it. Then I sent him an email—"Last night was so hot!"—and when he got home, we did it again! The last time we'd done it twice in twenty-four hours was back when we'd had sex for the first time. Seeing how delighted I was, and how being sexually satisfied changed our whole dynamic, he became more willing and open.
Five years after taking our wedding vows, I was shocked to fall madly, passionately in lust with my husband. I'd thought marriage meant making a choice between adoration and ardor, but it turned out both were possible in one package. Okay, it took therapy with a perceptive shrink, figuring out what rang my bell, and asking for it blatantly—several (dozen) times. But when I stopped expecting my mate to read my mind and body, and clearly verbalized what I wanted—exactly the way I wanted it—I got it.
After celebrating our 12th anniversary, Aaron and I still score several times a week. Nowadays he gets into being the dominating bully and stays in character for as long as I want him to. He was recently annoyed with me for throwing out an old ripped T-shirt. He wanted to rip it to shreds himself, he told me, with me still wearing it (I was happy to offer another with a small hole he could go to town on). A friend who plays out more brazen bedroom games with her lover told me we needed a safe word—in case it ever gets out of hand. So far "Stop it" works just fine and I only used it once—when my leg was getting a cramp. Meanwhile I've come every single time my husband and I have gone for it for the last six years, which seems quite unbelievable and astounding.
"That's way too much pressure. Stop saying it or you'll jinx it" he warns, and I happily disobey.
Susan Shapiro is the author of "Five Men Who Broke My Heart" and "Lighting Up." This essay will be published as "Fantasy Man" in the forthcoming anthology Behind the Bedroom Door: Getting It, Giving It, Loving It, Missing It.