Good sex and marriage aren't mutually exclusive.
"Hold me down harder, so you're overpowering me and I can't move. Like this," I showed Aaron, trying to pin my hands under his arms as he lay awkwardly on top of me.
"It's uncomfortable," he complained.
"Oh, come on. Now rip off my shirt!" I ordered him. "Can you be more aggressive?"
"Can you be more castrating?" he asked, slipping off my sweater so gently you'd think I was a china doll about to break.
"Now grab my breasts and say something mean," I instructed.
"You're a controlling shrew," he said calmly, obeying me so half-heartedly I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe friends who'd called me a control freak were right. It appeared that I was now 100 percent in control of my own sexual domination.
My husband refused to act like he was raping me. Nor would he want to tie me up, restrain me, spank me, or force me into any form of submission, except to pick up his dry cleaning, which I was always forgetting.
Aaron was tall, handsome, brilliant, funny — everything I wanted in a lover, except reckless. Indeed, the kinkiest thing about him was his luxuriant Jewish boy 'fro. He was raised to be a suburban gentleman in the conservative 1950s and went to college in the liberated 1970s, which may explain why he wasn't bitch-slapping me while pretending he was a pimp and I was his hooker, or acting like a kidnapper tying up his naked, quivering victim.
Instead, he put his ardor into his work while making sweet, calm, comfortable love to his wife once every week or two. Or three. OK, a few years into our marriage, we sometimes went an entire month without even a quickie.
This was a far cry from our lewd long-distance courtship, where I'd fly to L.A. in tight jeans, braless, and he'd throw me to the carpet as soon as I walked into his apartment, or take me in the hot tub on his roof. The first year he was aggressive, and I was happy to be tamed.
Of course, we couldn't maintain the thrill of our bi-coastal relationship forever. Eventually, we got engaged, married, and moved in together. At 35, I was pleasantly shocked that a strong, intense, career-driven woman like me could actually get a great husband.
Soon, paying off an expensive mortgage, dealing with infertility, and mourning the death of a few close relatives intruded on our fun escapades. So when the sexual status quo became less-than-hot-and-salacious, I cut us some slack.
While my mate was working late and away on business trips, I'd get my rocks off by imagining a mysterious naked couple acting out semi-violent fetishes. Once, the aggressive male I was envisioning turned into the British film star Clive Owen. The disobedient French maid he was disciplining became the tennis player Anna Kournikova.
I'd also paged through Penthouse and surfed porn sites on the web. When Aaron got home, I offered to enact any lascivious scenario that might appeal to him: a private wet T-shirt contest with me as the only contestant and him as the judge? Hand job with scented motion lotion? Trying it doggy style? Titty f*cking? I even asked if he was interested in giving me a "pearl necklace."
So he didn't think I wanted him to buy me jewelry, I explained I'd read online that the phrase was a euphemism for a man ejaculating onto a woman's neck. "Great, now I'm married to a porn addict," he said, going into his den to check email.
Mild, metrosexual men have never done it for me. 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.
Still, as more years passed, I felt increasingly ready to make a trade-off: rambunctious lovers lying, head games and cheating traded for an honest, caring spouse I respected. So at 35, I wound up with a man who walked me down the aisle and swore he'd be faithful.
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.
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 isn't a good husband."
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.
"OK, 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. So I led Aaron into our bedroom and told him what I wanted. 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, 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, "OK, 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.
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.
I wasn't bored this time; I felt so close to my husband, I didn't mind running this half of the show.
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, and when he got home, we did it again. The last time we'd done it twice in 24 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.
When I stopped expecting my mate to read my mind and body, and clearly verbalized what I wanted, I got it.