Opening Up Letting Go Ch. 04byGrumpyGamby©
**Originally, I placed this chapter in Non consent/reluctance. But in hindsight, I think it best belongs here.
The Agreement is Binding
"Jack! You have got to be kidding me! You can't be serious about this?" My lovely wife Tina was wrapped in a towel, scowling at the new clothing I had purchased for her.
"But you look good in blue. Makes your blue eyes glow, kind of spooky actually." I knew damn right well what her objection was but hell if I was going to give in.
"I love the skirt and the blouse, but I can't wear a garter under that skirt and I sure can't go braless with that blouse and you do realize those shoes are likely to break my ankle!" Tina fingered the skirt and looked between it and me, as if the skirt would rise up and agree with her.
"Explain." I took on my authoritative executive management posture as I tried to keep a straight face.
Tina prepared for her verbal assault on my fashion idiocy as she took a few deep breaths and tucked the towel tighter around her chest.
"This is a pencil skirt; it is designed to hug the body from the waist down to just above the knee." She smoothed her hands from her waist down to her knees in an obvious demonstration of what she meant. I thought it looked sexy as hell. "To complicate the design, this pencil skirt is made of satin, satin Jack! The body forms the satin not the satin forming the body." She placed her hand inside the skirt and pulled the fabric, stretching it over her hand. It showed each ridge in the knuckles of her hand. "It is designed to show a smooth line and in order for this skirt to show a smooth line I would have to wear control top pantyhose and a slip. I couldn't even wear panties under the pantyhose because the elastic around my butt would show, glaringly! If I wear that garter belt connecting the stockings under that skirt, both will be so obvious I might as well wear the garter belt outside the skirt!"
She paused and I thought she was through berating me as she began to turn back to the bathroom. But before she could complete the turn she halted and faced me again.
"Satin Jack, you can't mar the clean lines of a satin skirt with the clear bulge of garter belts and elastic clips hanging front and back on each hip!" She took a deep breath and shook her head. Then she held up the blouse next. "This is fine gauge polyester rayon blend which makes it easy to launder but very gauzy, so gauzy that you have to wear a bra that has no lace so as not to detract from the clean silhouette it makes. Me going braless in this blouse! Putting aside the fact that wiggling and jiggling will be scandalous, if I get cold..."
"Your fabulous nipples will stick out like light beacons. Yes and your point is?" I imagined her fabulous nipples sticking out as if they were begging to the world 'Somebody please play with us!' I didn't bother to hide my grin; nor a certain tenting in my trousers.
But Tina was undaunted and she cruised into full out "Lecture the Idiot" mode.
"Now let's address the high heels. They are lovely, no question. But my feet will be screaming at me if I need to walk more than a few paces, or have to stand more than a few minutes." She held the shoes and fondled them lovingly. I could tell she really liked them and wanted to wear them. "They need to come up with a line of men's clothing that tortures the male body the way a woman's body gets manipulated." She pouted.
"Never happening. Men rule the world and we like to look at women. Women like to be admired so it works out all the way around."
"But what if a woman doesn't want to be admired? I mean in this way. When a woman dresses like this she is emphatically stating she wants men to openly admire, suggestively glare; drool at her! What happens when the admiration gets out of hand? How is a man supposed to see a woman dressed in this outfit and not assume he's been granted tacit permission for suggestive comments, leering and groping? Any woman wearing this is opening herself to..."
"Do I need to go over our agreement again? You need to trust me and not try to control the situation. You will be with me, your husband. I want to show off my wife. By arguing with me you are telling me you don't trust me to keep you safe, and you don't trust that I will prevent anything bad from happening. You're trying to control this situation because you're afraid."
"I'm not afraid something bad will happen, I do trust you and I'm not trying to control. I'm sick of you accusing me of trying to control things when I'm not!" Tina took a deep breath, "I would be happy to wear this for you here at home but not in public." Like hell she wasn't trying to take control. She still couldn't see how her hiding was the same thing as controlling the situation. "I can't Jack, I can't wear this out. What will people think? I can't face that it's too humiliating. I will wear this at home whenever you like but please don't ask me to wear this out?"
"Tina, would you listen to yourself? 'What will people think?' Here's what people will think. Every woman in the pub will be jealous as hell wishing she could look half as good. Every man there will ogle you then glance at me wondering how this old fart got such a hot ass woman to marry him."
"Stop saying that. You're not an old fart. You're a horny fart but not an old fart." She walked toward me as if she was going to embrace me.
I held her at arms length insisting she attend my lecture. "Every married man is gonna wonder how to get his wife to dress like you and then wonder if his wife could possibly look as good. And please don't insult my intelligence by insisting that flaunting your good looks and luscious body is being slutty. But you know what? Who cares if you are dressed slutty? You're married to me, you'll be with me. No one's going to think you're fair game for touchy-feely when you're with me!" She looked like she wanted to believe me so I pulled out my ace in the hole. "You want to be a normal, healthy, forty-five year old woman? Remind yourself; what is normal? How do you define normal?"
I left her to think on her own and went down to the kitchen to make myself a drink. I had hoped I was still on the right side of pushing her out of her comfort zone. I had to keep her moving forward, learning to be open to new experiences, learning to take risks. She wanted her past experiences to be wiped out leaving no residual effect. She wanted to be normal and she came up with her own definition of normal. "The absence of fearful behavior when there is no real reason to be afraid." She has that very slogan hanging over the bathroom sink.
I sat at the kitchen table, sipped my drink, and allowed my thoughts to drift back. An incongruous smile appeared on my face as I remembered eight years ago when Tina had a "breakdown." I wanted to be supportive and agreed to attend couples therapy with her. The second time I went was also the last time. It was during that session that Tina confessed her fear of being vulnerable. I was then treated to a humiliating educational confession, namely that; Tina had never had an orgasm. She had faked it and pretended since day one. Her fear of being vulnerable made it impossible for her to become aroused enough to climax. I had been the only person in her life to make her feel safe enough to become interested in sex, but I wasn't safe enough to overcome her fear. I got her willing to be in the mood, but not in the mood.
I sat in the therapist's office stunned; slapped in the face; kicked in the balls. I had just been thoroughly emasculated. The bitch had lied to me for all those years! She hid from me and turned away from me. Always had an excuse; always had something else to do, never was interested. I had practically given up on sex thinking it would save my marriage from constant strife. Then I find I never had a marriage to save. I was so stunned and enraged I couldn't think straight.
The counselor suggested I have some counseling individually, "to prepare myself and learn the difference between guilt, blame, and shame. How to deal with rage might also come in handy." she quipped. I had no sense of humor at that moment. I refused her offer. So she recommended instead that I do some serious learning on my own and handed me a very long list of seemingly unrelated books. I looked at the list and asked her to point out her two most recommended. She circled five. I went to the book store and ordered one. For a year that book sat in my desk drawer before I could bring myself to read it.
During that year, I remained angry that Tina had so completely deceived me, hidden from me her lack of arousal, her lack of orgasm. I had no idea how to deal with that revelation from Tina. I had been congratulating myself on being a good husband by being understanding and supportive of all that Tina had been through. Then to find out she had been lying to me and hiding the truth from me, it was more than I could even begin to comprehend. I decided I would never touch her again.
I wanted to walk out on our marriage. It had been a farce and it needed to end. But first, I needed to know if I had been part of the reason she feared sex. I visited prostitutes and had a few one night stands, none of which were very satisfying but served to reduce my anger. I lavished attention on strange women just to know I could garner a response, give an orgasm. I got the responses I needed, but I remained empty inside no matter how many orgasms I gave. Finally I pulled out that book that had been languishing in my desk and read the entire thing in one sitting.
I got up from the table and added more soda to my drink. I wondered what Tina was doing upstairs, why it was taking her so long to get dressed? I sipped some more from my drink and thought back even further to our honeymoon. What fools we had been. What I would give to go back in time and do it over, do it differently. That was the first time I heard the phrase, sexual trauma.
It was the third night of our honeymoon and she didn't want me to touch her. She begged and pleaded with me to be understanding. She said she had tried to tell me before but couldn't. She said she loved me more than anything but this thing would crop up from time to time and I shouldn't take it as a rejection.
Then she gave me the all the details, how old she had been, how often it happened, what was done to her, what she was forced to do, who he was, who knew, how it ended. I didn't ask questions. She didn't appear to be emotional as if she was lost in a horrible memory. In fact she appeared to be very calm and unaffected like Sergeant Joe Friday, "Just the facts Ma'am." Several times I wanted to ask her to stop, I couldn't hear any more. I felt sick listening. I wanted to go out and kill. But I dismissed my thoughts and focused on figuring out what the hell I was supposed to say or do in response to her narrative.
My motto was 'when in doubt, do nothing.' I believed, at the ripe age of 27, that doing nothing was almost always better than doing the wrong thing. And if you're prone to doing the wrong thing, doing nothing was always the wiser course. I made some sympathetic noises and rubbed her shoulder. She got out of bed and refilled both our water glasses. Then she climbed back into bed cuddled up to me and fell asleep. I lay there most of the night and all sorts of murderous plots danced through my mind. I liked imagining I was the hero.
Sometime near dawn the thought occurred to me that hitting the nude beaches in Jamaica was not likely to be something she would agree to. I therefore concluded the wisest course would be to not suggest bare bottomed bathing. I also concluded I needed to give her space, sexually, and wait for her to approach me again when she was ready. By the end of our two week honeymoon we had had sex maybe three times and my balls were ready to explode.
Tina got pregnant 5 months after we got married. Not what we planned but what the hell. Tina gave birth to twin boys following a labor that left me desperate to never set foot in a hospital again. Not what we planned for, but what the hell. Our sex life went from dismal to dire and stayed that way for the next twelve years. We had focused on parenting and careers, keeping up with the Jones's, and putting on a show of marital delight. We had stayed together to raise the boys, for economic security, and because it was easier than separating.
The few times Tina would consent to sex, she did seem to enjoy it. Afterward she wouldn't permit me to roll away from her; she'd wrap her body around me and snuggle all night. It always felt like she was clinging to a life raft. But the following days she would become a complete bitch, never offering a reason. Her past was never far from my mind. I had believed I must tolerate her moods and forgive them. I loved her but she was damaged, so I had to protect her and save her by letting her moods run the relationship.
I had allowed her excuses, bowed down to her whim and tolerated her mood. I never once challenged her other than superficially. I wore the savior's cap and my role was to protect not to push. There were many reasons not to push the issue of her moods and the lack of sex. I failed to see that I absolutely should have pushed those issues. My fear of doing the wrong thing became as debilitating to our relationship as her fear of vulnerability.
After I read the first book that the counselor had suggested, I went to the book store and ordered the other four. I made arrangements to meet with that counselor on my own a few times so I could discuss the implications of my new understanding of my real role. I was no longer going to be her savior, nor her protector, but her husband. A husband who loved sex, wanted sex regularly and is entitled to open negotiations for more satisfying sex. I was terrified. I wasn't sure if she was ready, and yet I knew her readiness was not my issue.
"But I'm not ready! I can't, I just can't!" She had cried and tried to get me to go back to the placating role of her savior.
"This is important to me and I have a right to a sex life with my wife. I am sorry for what happened to you but I didn't do it. I'm sorry for the collective wrong doings of men throughout history but I didn't do that either. For our whole marriage I've been paying for the crimes of other men by backing off and giving space and giving time and forgiving over and over again and I won't do it anymore. Take a month and make a decision. I'm not expecting a wanton sex goddess, but I do expect honesty. I do expect you to learn to trust me, and I expect you to be willing to be a wife."
"Or what?" She fumed. This was the Tina that I had become most familiar with. Make a demand that scared her and be prepared to cover your balls as you run. "What happens the next time you want sex and I don't? Does this mean the deal's off? Does this mean that overnight I'm supposed to be a whore in the bedroom?" She jabbed at my chest and over-enunciated each syllable as she screamed. "Does this mean I have no right to refuse? Are you expecting me to spread my legs whenever I get your signal to obey? How dare you!" She spit out the words like they were lethal bullets. I had backed her into a corner and she came out fighting.
I remained silent and waited for her to run out of steam.
"Answer me Jack! Or what? What happens to me when I fail to live up to your expectations?" Her breath hitched and she wrapped her arms around her waist. "Does this mean our marriage is over if I keep failing to have orgasms? Does this mean you walk out if I can't do certain things? Exactly how am I supposed to know..." She covered her face in her hands and flopped to the floor as she burst into tears and cried like I'd never seen her cry before and have not seen since. The sight of her misery broke my heart. She became a little girl right in front of me.
I remained silent and still and waited for her to decide. That was one of the hardest things I had ever done.
"I hate this! I. Hate. Being. Broken!" She screamed and hugged herself. Then she sniffed and stood up to face me. "I hate being fucked up. I hate that I can't please you or, or b, be like a normal woman. I hate that I'm so afraid. I hate that I'm thirty-five years old and the shit from... years and years ago still holds me prisoner! I hate that I'm missing out on what other people take for granted." She wiped her eyes and spoke in a whisper; "I want to be normal. I want to be a normal woman and a normal wife!"
"Then do it." I handed her another tissue, kissed her forehead, then turned around and left her standing in the kitchen. I was no longer her savior, her priest, her doctor or her counselor. I had finally become her husband; the man who wanted a wife.
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