I promised I wouldn’t write about it until it was over. Some things are too sensitive and personal even for me. For us.
But it is over. Thank God.
Every couple has gone through that agonizing dry spell as you wonder if the sexual attraction has dried up and gone away for ever. Many couples can’t speak about it. The huge elephant in the room which might indicate the end of your relationship as you know it. Condemned to years of living under the same roof to raise the children who were borne of a magical attraction you thought would last forever.
I made excuses. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, hormones. It all seemed perfectly plausible. And yet I was seriously worried even if he wasn’t. Love and happiness was ours. A blissful yet essentially sexless existence. I called my friends for advice, worked on my self esteem which was struggling with stretch marked post-pregnancy body issues, and after a couple months confronted it head on with him.
‘It’s normal.’ he said. ‘Give yourself some time, you’ve just had a baby.’
‘When is it okay to be worried?’ I said. ‘A year? Two years?’
‘Why don’t we see how things go when you’ve finished breastfeeding?’ he said.
‘I’m afraid you’re going to leave me. I feel the countdown starting. What if we don’t get our mojo back?’
‘I’m not going to leave you’ he said. ‘I love you.’
‘You say that now. It’s only been 3 months without sex.’ I said. Wait til it’s been 3 years.’
His face mirrored my own. Abject fear. Sex is important and as sure as eggs are eggs, a sexless relationship will lose its intimacy.
When you’re in an open relationship you can of course get ‘it’ elsewhere. But it’s totally counter productive to make up for a lack in your relationship with someone else. You need to be complete in your relationship and if you have others, they add value …their purpose is not to fill a void. In fact, using others to fill a void is pretty unfair; to everyone.
So we considered relationship therapy …but our relationship seemed fine. Apart from the fact that my post-pregnancy sex drive was zero. Zilch. Nothing. Then we decided to try tantric exercises in the hope that it might possibly unblock something. It involved screaming ‘no’ and beating a pillow.
Come on then, are you ready? said my boyfriend sitting next to his pillow.
I feel stupid. Do you? I said
Well maybe we’ll feel less stupid with trance music on. This song lasts exactly 5 minutes which is the amount of time we’re supposed to scream ‘no’ and beat the pillow. I feel less stupid screaming ‘no’ for 5 minutes to the beat of the music.
Maybe by the end of 21 days we’ll be able to do it without the music. I said.
We’d already tested whether you could hear it outside when we screamed because we didn’t want to scare the neighbours. As I read through the instructions, I reminded him.
‘This is supposed to release anger and unleash your ‘prana‘ force, unblocking the first root chakra.’
If you’d have told me 10 years or even 5 years ago, that I would be actually saying those words, I would have laughed in your face. Chakra was like something you ate at an Indian restaurant as a starter. But I would have done far more than feeling foolish to save our relationship.
‘It says, after beating the pillow, you have to sit and allow guidance to come from above.’ I said ‘Or from wherever it comes.’
To my ex-mainstream mind, it sounded like a load of bollocks. And yet after the beating, my mind said to me
‘You have to start again. You have to break up what you have with your boyfriend and start again with him.’
I was confused. Was it possible to start our relationship from scratch when we already had two children?
When we shared the guidance afterwards, I was scared of telling him what I had heard. Breaking up is never easy. As it turned out he was equally afraid.
‘I don’t want to tell you what my guidance was.’ he said.
‘Cause I didn’t get any.’ he said. ‘If there’s a higher power it’s not speaking to me.’
As I ploughed through the days after, the words rang in my ears. You need to start again. Our relationship – as beautiful as it was – had stemmed from a place of need. A place of rescue. We’d got together as a result of our previous dysfunctional relationships through the paradigm of polyamory. Ours had been a game changing relationship. That rare beast in polyamory which blows the original dynamic out of the water. And it had been magical. Amazing. White knight and princess stuff.
But need is an unhealthy motivator in the long run as far as emotionally intimate relationships are concerned. If our relationship was to start again it would have to be from a place of free and conscious choice. Did we still want to be with each other? Whilst we would never abandon our roles as co-parents, did our relationship still serve a romantic and sexual purpose ? Did I want it to?
Polyamory encourages you to explore and embrace the reality of what your relationship is meant to be. Relationships aren’t static because people are not static. They do change, whatever proverbs might dictate. What our relationship was in the past is not what it is now. There’ll be no clinging to the past or remaining in denial if your lover is able at any moment to find another. You are forced to deal with your emotions or die trying to suppress them.
I already knew theoretically for example, that I had a fear of abandonment which needed resolving and that stemmed from my adoption. A paradigm of monogamy would have shielded me from abandonment with ‘rules’ that constructed the illusion of safety. But just because I didn’t feel the fear didn’t mean it wasn’t there. Needling at my temples, casting shadows on my relationship. Monogamy would have been the band-aid for the core wound. Unhealed and festering; because with my fear of abandonment came a fear of intimacy. I couldn’t let myself be intimate with those closest to me, just in case they left me. The thing was, theoretically polyamorous, we had been practically monogamous for some time because of our babies.
And so I discovered, that having broken up once 3 years before, I had put up barriers to intimacy and had never really taken them down. I had always struggled during that time with my fears that he would leave me and those fears, albeit protected by monogamy, after a legitimate sexless period during pregnancy and after birth had developed into a vicious circle of paranoia which injected my low self esteem with yet more fuel.
Less sex >>>Feeds fear of abandonment >>> Feeds fear of intimacy = Less sex
But because we had been behaving monogamously, I hadn’t known where the wound was. Just as soon as we re-opened our relationship on a practical level, we were forced to communicate in a startlingly honest way. In the way we used to and I found the wound. We talked. We made ourselves vulnerable. We connected. A blissful, sex-ful existence. So here we are.
5 years. 2 children. And desperately in love with each other.
Category: Adulthood & Relationships