What is love? I mean, what is the difference between fleeting love and a long-term relationship? Why do things shoot down the hole sometimes? Is long-term love little more than a pledge to stand by someone, obligation to your children?
My older brother and I talked about monogamy this summer and I told him that it wasn’t about lust and passion and all that blood-pumping adrenaline that exists at first. It’s about partnership and committment and respect.
But what about the committment? Don’t thousands of people stand before their beloved, their family, their friends, their God every year and vow “Forever.” Don’t hundreds of people sign divorce papers every year.
What is committment? A mutual promise you won’t break. Children. Trust. Hope. Vulnerability.
That’s the thing that gets me, you see, the vulnerability. I used to be so good at getting mad. I’d throw shit against the wall, fall to the floor and sob for as long as I needed to. I was passionate, in every single aspect in my life. Lately, I find myself more practical than anything, choking back the tears I just may need to shed in order to not let anyone know that there’s something inside bothering me that I can’t quite put my finger on.
People need to feel wanted. And yes, by their family, as a husband and a father. But sexually, too. People need to feel desired. He said to me. And then he told me that he gets flirted with by more women at work than by me. (And that felt like a cold punch to the chest.) I laid in bed last night, tears rolling down my cheeks as he drifted off to sleep beside me, and I thought of those women. We had talked about attraction. Monogamy isn’t about never being attracted to another person, life is full of sexual energy. I’ve had these rational thoughts of my own over the years, you see, and I can’t honestly say that in the seven years we’ve been together, I’ve never been attracted to another person. But I can say that I don’t remember the last person I met that made me feel anything remotely close to desire.
Objectively speaking, attraction happens. You are smart and don’t put yourself in overly tempting or inappropriate positions. You don’t talk to the person more than necessary and you certainly don’t encourage them. But it’s har to be objective when your task is the decidedly unsexy one of raising children. When you don’t really ever talk to other adults. When you don’t have any interactions with people of the opposite gender that may let you know that there is more than one man in this world that can see you as a woman with half-decent breasts and a nice ass. When your husband is flanked by women daily who talk about their thongs at work (innocently! he claims. Except I know -as do you- that there is precisely one reason why a woman talk to a man about her thong). It’s hard to be objective when you feel vulnerable, maybe even paranoid. What’s a crush, anyway? he asked. It’s when you are attracted to someone and you get happy and excited to see them and go out of your way to talk to them. Then, no, I don’t have a crush. And I couldn’t help but think: Why would you tell me even if you did?
You see, it’s not that I don’t trust him. I believe with all my heart that Steve would never leave me or betray me or break our trust. I know his beliefs and values. But it’s hard when I feel down and horrible about myself, to believe that those other women, those baggageless women aren’t in possession of something that I’m not aware of. Magical blowjobs or honey-flavoured tits or maybe just… perfection.
It’s hard, you see, when I’ve been feeling empty, for nigh-on two months. It’s hard to hide from the kids, and it’s hard to concentrate on school, and it’s hadr not to snap over every dropped towel or bunched up sock under the bed. It’s hard to pretend that there’s anything close to desire in my body – for anyone at all. And it’s hard feeling like a dark cloud is perpetually perched over my roof. And it’s hard on Steve, because patience wears thin.
Will you always love me, no matter what? I asked him last night.
Trust is vulnerability, you see. And vulnerability, no matter how it manages to camoflague into your life for months on end, is frightening when it rears its head – even if it’s only every once in a while.
(I realize that this was a fairly anti-climactic hiatus. But the only way for me to work through things is to write them down, read them later and then digest. So please excuse, over the next little while, a combination of sporradic posts and self-indulgence.)
(Also: I’m fine. Things aren’t really dire. I’m just blue. It’ll pass, it always passes.)