It was so common for us now. The husband watched a movie so loudly that the whole neighborhood could hear, and I was sitting in the other room listening to a podcast. I had just finished listening to Esther Perel’s ‘Erotic Intelligence’ talk (her work is phenomenal, totally check her out - after reading this article of course) and from that talk, realized that I wasn’t happy with my marriage.
Surely this is not what the fairytales, loves poems, romantic comedies, and love novels meant by living happily ever after?
Before I got married, I innately knew that a thriving marriage would take time, energy and resources. No-one ever told me this, nor was it modelled to me (especially not by Disney), I just knew it and was prepared to do it. And despite this, 14 years later, I was living my parents’ bland, mundane, boring, sexually absent marriage.
Stupidly this came to me as a complete surprise. When the husband and I got together, we were two peas in a pod. People admired and often complimented us on our relationship. It was fun, alive, vibrant and hot. We just got each other and were blissfully happy to be fully in each other’s space for years. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you when that slipped away.
I remember my mother telling me as an inquisitive teenager that when a couple meets, their flame for each other is like a wild furnace and as time goes on, it simmers to a smaller, steady flame. Looking at my own marriage and at the long-term couples around me, I realized that this was how it went. Somehow, we all accepted our relationship plateauing and us living like flat mates.
And it’s not that we’re particularly unhappy. Things are fine really. But there’s no pizazz, no excitement, no sexual tension (the husband even offers me his head instead of his mouth when kissing him goodbye – “what am I your mother here?”). I had at least another 40 years with this man and I was not making do with a kiss on the head for that time. I had to do something.
Like any woman in a crisis, I turned to my friends for help. I often go on tangents and love sharing it with the girls. This time however I was not met with the usually engaged discussion. Instead, I was told, “You have a great husband Petra, appreciate what you have. The grass is not always greener on the other side Petra. I caution you not to take your marriage for granted.” Well excuse me for wanting more than a predictable sitcom marriage! Obviously, they weren’t going to be any help so I went off in a huff to find couples that were still experiencing an erotic (as a life force not by the narrow definition of sex) and vibrant marriage.
Fortunately, I host my own podcast called The Red Hot Truth so I put the call out for long term passionate couples to interview. Other than relationship and dating coaches, I got no response. I was not deterred and continued to search until I found two women who had both been married for over 20 years and had revived their marriages which they are both now thoroughly enjoying (in all the delicious ways you can imagine). To listen to the interviews, head to www.theredhottruth.com.
So why am I telling you all of this?
I’m sharing my intimates with you because I know that you like me are hungry for the truth. It’s time for us to have open, meaningful, bold conversations about relationships. It’s not easy, it can be painful, raw and way beyond our comfort zones. But it is so necessary if we are to live a full and vibrant life.
I’m faced with the questions of how do I re-imagine myself? How do I re-invent myself? How do I bring an energy, a vitality, an aliveness back into my marriage, into my life? Getting the answers is what I fear most. It requires me to open myself up, to revisit and heal deep wounds, and to explore my relationship to sex. I’m afraid to be vulnerable, to let down the barriers that I strategically placed around myself. I have to face my own truth, and I’m scared.
Many around me feel the same and use what Terry Real terms “stable ambiguity,” to hide from doing the deep self work that’s required to have thriving relationships. In this state, people avoid both loneliness and commitment by using dating and social media apps to get their connection fix while maintaining their ‘freedom’.
You know what I’m talking about, accepting a party invitation online and not showing up in person; sending thousands of texts and never calling; being available when it’s convenient to you; sitting at the dinner table while on the phone. All of this takes a toll on our emotional health which we’d recognize if we’d just put the phone down for 5 minutes. Do you dare to take the risk?
My Russian friend once asked me (imagine a heavy Russian accent), “What quality of life do you want Petra?” I’ve decided that I want to live an erotic life full of intimate relationships, wild adventures and even wilder sex. And if I have to get down and dirty with my emotions to experience that, I’m going put my big girl panties on and dive right in (ok that’s an exaggeration, I’ll go in one the at a time.
I invite you to do the same because at the end of the day, you create your happily ever after.
Relationship Interviews at www.theredhottruth.com