I wasn't cheating, exactly -- but not all of my sexual pleasure came from my husband.
I was checking for lipstick on my teeth or unseemly static cling before heading to my first "Full Moon" ceremony, a willing newbie ready for the New Age, when my husband came up behind me. "You look great," Gavin said, peering over my shoulder into the mirror. His gaze was frankly appreciative of my sensuous get-up. "What time do you think you'll be home?"
Midnight, maybe 1 at the latest, I promised, pecking him on the cheek. "Have fun," he called as our apartment door closed. I'd invited Gavin to accompany me for a night of drumming and ecstatic dancing but he demurred. I knew he would. He wasn't the alternative, communal ritual type though he good-naturedly supported my explorations. 5 Words That Will Save Your Marriage
I practically ran to my car, impatient to leave buttoned up Riverdale and find transcendent oneness with other Full Moon revelers. I wasn't exactly sure what I'd find, but I knew some of the people who'd be there. I was certain this would be a big experience. I'm a big experience junkie. A friend met me at the door and together we entered Chelsea's mystic chapel-cum-art gallery. It was jammed. The "temple" vibrated with trance music and otherworldly light that made the humongous psychedelic paintings pulse. Spiritual healers of every sort lined the perimeter of the grand space laying on hands or giving readings, a pre-ecstasy bonus. I poked my friend who was knowledgeable in these matters. "Markus, I want to try one. Who do you suggest?"
Markus scanned the room and pointed to a striking, middle-aged man with a pony tail on the opposite side. "You definitely want to have him do a Tarot reading. He's absolutely the best. World famous."
I shouldered my way through the throng and waited my turn. When I sat down, the reader of renown glanced at me perfunctorily and asked for some basic information. I didn't give him much. I told him that I lived in the Bronx, was married for more than two decades and mothered two kids. I wanted divination, not a sideshow. If this guy was the real deal, he'd tell me things. Marriage Study Says If You Fight Now, You'll Fight Later
He had me to tap the Tarot deck and then he carefully laid the cards. After a minute of intense study, his brow puckered in puzzlement.
"Did you say you are in a long-term monogamous marriage?" His eyes bored into mine, searching.
"Yes. That's right. Twenty–five years with my husband."
"Well, then, who are all these men?"
The blood drained to my feet and I was sure steam poured from my ears. I was flustered to the point of incoherence, something that rarely happened to me. I tried to speak but the lodged in my throat. 3 Ways To Spot Your Future Ex-Husband
"Whoa! You are good!" I finally wheezed. "But it's not at all what you think! I am very committed to my marriage. I love my husband. I am monogamous. But, er, uh, how did you know about the men?"
He shrugged and pointed down to the matrix of wands, swords, pentangles and cups. "It's obvious. I see your husband but there are other men."
"Those men help me. They're healers. They have nothing to do with my husband or my monogamy." He looked skeptical. I felt the blush. "Would you like me to explain?"
"This I'd love to hear," he said. "I'm curious."
Figuring he probably knew anyway, I told him that I'd been sexually bored and stuck, as most people are after nearly thirty years with the same person. I admitted that I'd been a flammable mix of pent-up energy, unnamable yearning and absolute commitment to my marriage vows. I refused to cheat so I found what I considered a sensible solution. "All those other men you see in the cards are therapists, Sacred Intimates who use one-way touch to release sexual energy. They helped me find my erotic core and tap into desire. It's made me feel integrated and whole. Happy, really. My husband knows and he's fine with what I do. He's secure in our marriage. And while my kids don't know exactly what I am up to—they say I've never been easier to be around. It's true, I don't pick and nag at my children and husband anymore. Now that I am finally taking care of myself in the deepest of ways, the little things that used to bother me are now completely unimportant. That makes for a happier family! I swear—even my cooking is better!"
We stood up and shook hands. "You're a lucky woman. Your husband is an unusual man," the tarot reader said to my retreating back. Suddenly I wasn't in a New Moon state of mind. I felt defensive and angry. I snaked my way back to my friend wondering what was it about women owning their sexuality that felt threatening. Why, after so many 'liberated' years, are we still saddled with the myth that women only want emotionally connected sex; or that desire must come wrapped in love. It was old, untrue and unfair.
Tarot guy was right. My husband was amazing. My husband was tolerant. But Tarot guy only had part of the picture. He assumed, like so many others I've talked with, that if I was unhappy with my connubial sex, surely I was in an unhappy marriage. I wasn't. I loved my partner and the life we built together. But it would be pointless to deny that I felt arousal that had nothing to do with him. My sexuality was part of my core, its embedded in human nature. Based on emerging research, it's increasingly clear that women are deep wells of untapped sexual desire and energy. Was it really incomprehensible that by purposefully, intentionally connecting with that innate aspect of myself, I might be doing a good thing for my relationship and my family?
My husband got it. In fact he was and continues to be the direct beneficiary of my sexual awakening. Instead of a chronically cranky sparring partner, Gavin has a life partner who tends more towards good vibes even in bad times. And while the kids don't know what's up, they love this new version of their mother who is full of laughter and joy.
I threaded my way through the crowd, looking for my friend. I wanted to leave but then I heard the drums, rhythmic and insistent. The beat escalated and people began to move and I was riveted. College-aged kids sporting dreads and card-carrying AARP veterans danced together with abandon, lost in unselfconscious erotic energy. Women flicked their hair, licked their lips and closed their eyes. Men gyrated and salivated. It was exhilarating and I let it was off the funk of judgment. We whirled and stomped. We flew and crouched with arms up and pelvises thrusting. It was everybody's own sexual exploration, chaste and turned on.
Two sweaty hours later I headed home to the only man I'd ever slept with and he was up waiting. The minute I walked in, Gavin folded me in his arms. "Did you have a good time?"
There was no hint of disapproval or worry. Just love. If there was the wispiest doubt that he and I were still in it for the long haul, it vanished in that moment. We had successfully navigated the roiling waters of sexuality and desire that drowns so many other couples. Why tank a wonderful marriage for that. There's always a choice—leave or transform within the relationship. We chose transformation. Tarot guy hit the nail on the head. My husband is unusual.