Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Taste of Sugar -- Talking to Sam

Since my last session with DW at the therapist, I've decided that it's time to lay the groundwork to dive back into the sugar bowl.  It may be weeks or months yet before I'm ready, or before DW is ready, but there's no time like now to set things in motion.

While my preference would be Mel, there is a good chance that she will be unavailable when the time comes.  She's actively looking for a new job, and is potentially ready to relocate.  About 100 miles away, in fact. Not wanting to be surprised, I also contacted Chic, who is in an arrangement already.

Sam was the only other woman left from my past with whom I had a good enough relationship to consider for the next phase -- an arrangement out in the open.  I texted her late last week; just a generic "Hey, how are you?" type of text, no details.  I wanted to see if she'd respond since she hadn't been responding much over the past six months.

Luckily, she answered back, a few days later as is her wont. We were able to exchange several texts, and I left her with this one: "Boy, do I have a story to tell you, but I can't tell it by text. Let's talk by phone?"  She agreed and we set a time to talk first thing this week.

We spoke for about half an hour yesterday afternoon, and I've learned a few new things about her. For one thing, she has all but shut down her non-profit pet rescue business.  She's been earning a living dancing at clubs (non-nude) for more than a year (which I knew about), and it was taking her out of town too often to care for her business. She has just a few fostered animals to place and then she'll shut it down for good.  Another thing is that she's looking to buy a home.  Given that I've owned a number of homes in my life, I had a little bit of guidance to offer her.  Seems the dancing gigs she's been on have paid her very well -- she cleared six figures last year! -- but the clubs don't actually pay her.  She pays the clubs a fee to perform there, and then earns tip income in cash from patrons.  After travel expenses, clothes, shoes, etc., she still makes a hefty haul.  So, she's been saving a lot since her rent is not that expensive, and now she has enough to put down on a small house or condo. She's dismayed, however, by the cost of housing in Southern California, and is actively considering moving out of state.  Bad move, I told her, since there are very few "affordable" neighborhoods that she will enjoy more than living here, where most of her work is. What she saves in housing will get eaten up in travel expenses to get here and the other major cities where she currently works.

In my mind, I was thinking that perhaps Sam was going to be another loss.  However, the third thing I learned was that she was now cutting back on the dancing gig (she only worked two nights a week anyway) and she has signed with a modeling agent.  She expects to book a fair number of jobs from that, which will not only pay her more than dancing, but will be reported income that she can use to help her qualify for a mortgage.

Then I told her my story.  She was understanding, of course. The interesting thing she said, however, was, "I don't get why wives get all upset when they find out their husbands are sleeping with other women.  I mean, every man I meet on [the sugar website] is married, and those who aren't are pathetic. Why do they get all worked up about their men having sex, especially if they're not having sex with their husbands?"  If there is a woman out there who believes that husbands ought to forgo sex indefinitely if their wives don't want it, I've yet to meet her.

This is the absolute crux of my current journey with DW. Why, when I get zero say in when to have sex, should I agree to have no sex if my wife is no longer interested in having it?  Is this part of the "for-better-for-worse" vow? Well, I call bullshit.  I know it's not terribly meaningful to many people, but in my religious tradition, while sex is DW's right (in fact I'm obligated to give her sex regularly and to watch for signs as to when she desires it and be ready to give it to her), she doesn't have full control to withhold it from me. If, for example, she withholds sex as a form of punishment (as she has done for many years), I'm permitted to divorce her without paying the substantial divorce settlement that is spelled out in our marriage contract.  And yes, we do have that marriage contract, although it's only ceremonial when there are civil laws in California that supersede it.

Anyway, when Sam had heard my story, she said she was completely open to getting together again. She hesitated somewhat when I mentioned that it was possible, though not likely, that DW would want to meet her before we got together. Sam was concerned that DW might discover Sam's public profile (she has 33,000 followers on IG and 7,000 on Twitter) and "out" her.  I explained to Sam that DW would never do that. "If we get to the point where we have an open marriage, it's just going to be open between us.  No one else in our families, none of our friends, nobody, will know about it. If she did anything to expose you, she'd only expose herself.  We'll be keeping this very quiet." That seemed to make Sam a little more comfortable, but I also said, "My wife would never meet you until you were ready, so it'd all be up to you anyway."

Sam will be leaving town for a couple of weeks, so we agreed to talk again when she gets back, mid-March.  Hopefully there will be more to talk about then.  I now have to think about how to arrange "meeting" Sam again and pretending we don't already know each other.  Shouldn't be too hard, but now I can't be too careful.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Couple Peeling Back the Onion

I should probably blog the day after our sessions so that they're fresher in my mind.  We had a very productive hour this week.  After negotiating a really tough drive, I made it there with about five minutes to spare.  DW was checking in, and I was in a bit of a pissy mood, but I took a seat in the waiting room and gave my wife a kiss as she sat next to me.  We did a little checking in, but nothing consequential.  When the therapist came out to get us, my mood hadn't yet lifted, so I had some impatience left over from my drive. At that moment our older kid texted DW about arranging a lift home from sports practice, and needed a classmate's phone number (or at least the kid's mom's number) in order to make that happen.  DW stood in the hallway sending the kid a rather detailed text, and I felt a little testy trying to get her to at least finish up in the treatment room.  I ended up going to the treatment room on my own, using a heavy-footed, long-strided walk to get her attention. Didn't work; DW slowly walked into the treatment room after I had already taken my seat, and she was still texting away. I knew I needed to let it go, but I'm an impatient man, and it wasn't easy.  Once she sat down and we could look each other in the eyes, I started to calm down.

But not right away.  As we took a couple of minutes to get centered, the therapist asked DW what she was seeing on my face. (Damn, she's perceptive, that one!).  Unfortunately, DW was absorbed in something going on in her mind and she wasn't picking up on it. In fact, I recall that there were moments during our session that I noted how detached DW seemed.  Actually, "detached" is probably the wrong word; perhaps "disconnected" is better.  She was not only disconnected from what she was feeling (at least at first), but she was disconnected from what I was feeling, particularly at that moment.  Like she has so frequently done throughout our marriage, she was so absorbed in taking care of our kid's needs that she missed or ignored what was going on with me.  In that moment I was pretty annoyed, but in hindsight there was no benefit to my being annoyed, so I'm glad that DW didn't see it; it could have wasted time digging into it.

I think the biggest thing that came out of this session was DW expressing her deep worry that, should she and I prove to be sexually incompatible, it would mean a divorce for us. I assured her that sexual incompatibility alone would not mean divorce.  And it's true: there are so many things about her that I love and want to be around, and the absence of sex isn't going to change any of that.  As we dug into the session more, she learned that I was very determined not to go back to the way things were around our sex life. "I'm a good man, and I'm very sexual, and I deserve a healthy and exciting sex life," I told her. She fully understands now that she needs to wake up and discover whether or not sex is important enough for her to make room for it in her life.  If it is, she needs to determine her desired level of participation, knowing that it may not be enough for me.  If is isn't, I said we "need to redefine what it means to be married." She was in tears a lot of the time during this hour, which made me tear up too. My tone of voice changed as I got more animated about this.  I apologized for it, however, saying, "Re-litigating this stuff is bringing back up all the resentment and sadness that I felt for all those years."  I was still in a place of acceptance around where things were with us sexually, and that wasn't going to change.  "If we never have sex again, it's OK, I'm fine, but just so you know that I can't and won't stop having sex."  She knows that other women will have to be a part of our future, if she can learn to live with my "infraction," and if she can't find the sexual desire in herself to be my sole partner.

The discussion will be ongoing for several weeks.  We haven't talked about it at all during the week, but she is clearly formulating stuff in her mind.  After the session, she made an effort to be more affectionate (non-sexually), but that petered out by the next morning.  I told her during the session, "I know now that sleep is your sex, and that's what you want more than anything."  She nodded her head, knowing I was right.

If someone asked me what my chief concern was at this point, it would be that DW would get close to the edge of discovery and back away out of fear and refuse to go any further.  If she doesn't accept my terms around sexuality, I'll have to leave.  But that may be a long way off.

Already I am planning what to do next.  I reached out to Mel, to Chic, and to Sam this week.  Mel is open to resuming our relationship, although she refused to meet DW. "I can't look her in the eye knowing that I helped to hurt her."  I understood that and said I would back her up on that.  Chic is involved with someone else who has offered her more money than I'd be willing to offer.  I saw Sam's profile while doing a brief scroll through the SD website, and sent her a text, but haven't had a reply. I don't think she'll ever respond.  I'm fine with going back and finding someone new anyway.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Life Goes On, Part 2 (Leah Edition)

This is a recent pic of Leah and her fiance, shared with the world by her mother.  As she did not play as big a part in my life as C/Hayden did, this one doesn't sting as much.

I was tempted not to doctor the photo, but I made the better choice, I think.

Wishing them well, and Life Goes On.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

When Sex is the Topic, Start Slowly

Yesterday was our first session with the therapist in two weeks, having to postpone last week due to a scheduling conflict.  Both of us were eager to go, and when I arrived, DW was sitting in the waiting room scrolling through social media on her phone. We kissed and I sat beside her and we reviewed our days with each other. I had had a productive business call just an hour before, and I wanted to share with her that the call meant a significant amount of income over the next year, perhaps a quarter of my annual income from that prospect alone.  She congratulated me and said that her day was productive and mellow.  She works with kids and that always makes her happy.  Her co-workers are like an extended family for her too, and many of her closest friends are co-workers.

The therapist called us in right on time, and we headed back to the treatment room. We were told to sit facing each other, as in previous weeks, and start to take each other in. As usual, DW struggled to maintain eye contact, but she hung in there and is getting better at it.  The therapist did an exercise with us which had us discussing memories from childhood -- I was expecting this, since it is therapy, after all -- and we shared them with each other. DW learned some new things from me, such as a memory I had of when I was probably eight years old and had a birthday party where none of my invited friends showed up.  I don't dwell on it much since it's obviously not a pleasant memory, but what was curious about my talking about it was how DW looked at it.  She said, "What did you do wrong to make your friends not show up?" As if my actions and/or my behaviors (my character flaws?) were solely the reasons they decided against coming.  The therapist asked me the right question at the right time, seeing my face change after DW's question, and I said I was disappointed in DW's question, and wasn't happy that she went straight to assume the worst about me, when "maybe they were just stupid idiots and not being considerate." That's when DW's face started to change, and she realized she'd gone to a place she was used to going with me: of blaming me first before trying to understand. I get that, because I do it too; it's a powerful defense against establishing or maintaining a true connection.

When it was her turn, DW related several stories about her dad, and the tears came. She truly misses him, and it's exacerbated by the fact that just today his grave-marker had been delivered and needed modifications.  Funny thing was, she was relating these memories, and they struck me as so vivid and real, it felt to me like he was still alive, and it didn't really hit me until she said it that he was, in fact, gone.  I told her that and thanked her for keeping him so close to her heart; it would really be a big help to the kids as they grow older and start forgetting things about him.

She also talked about how, with the grief she was feeling around her dad's passing, and the coming to terms with my infraction, it was  difficult to keep all these balls in the air -- her being a wife, a mother, a worker -- and that she felt she was not doing a good job at any of them, that she wasn't giving her best to any of them.  I interrupted her and said, "I think you're wrong about that.  Sorry to be blunt about it, but you just don't see it. You should ask the kids you take care of, or their parents, or your co-workers, or your kids, or me, how we see your handling of all these balls. You get so much praise from all of us!  What is keeping you from hearing it and from owning it?"  She nodded her head, and the tears came some more. "I think that, if you could really accept all the support you get just in the praise alone, your stress level would be far lower, and you'd have the time you needed to take care of you, and to connect more to me and this marriage." She nodded again.  She knows it's true and she knows that her continuing to dwell on what's missing from her life instead of what she has right under her nose is contributing to the disconnection, not only with me, but our kids too. Imagine the difference between her shouting from the kitchen, "Porter, I need you to help me with dinner and the kids' homework!" and walking up to me, leaning into me, and saying, "Baby, I could really use your help for a little while with dinner and helping the kids with their homework." I'd tune out the first, and jump at the second!  I'm exaggerating a bit, but my point is that focusing on our connection rather than her overwhelming "must-do's" will get more of her must-do's done and also soften things up and make our connection stickier and more wonderful.

This exercise took a great deal of the session, and there were only ten minutes left when we were done. We had both wanted to start talking about our sexual issues, but they never really came up in the time we had left.  What we did do, however, was tell the therapist that we wanted to jump right into this discussion about sexuality next week.  She said that she would continue the practice of having us connect in this way, but it would not go as long. I said, "Sexuality is why we are here, and while I appreciate the ritual around creating a safe space for us to do that, we're both fully dedicated to this process now and to getting to the truth. We'd like to spend much more time on that than on 'getting connected' with each other. We live together, and we were, in fact, connecting with each other in the waiting room."  She took that in, and it looks like we'll be jumping right in next week.

This morning, as my alarm clock rang at O-Dark-Hundred, DW reached over to me to stroke my arm. I appreciated the attempt to initiate physical contact.  As I slid over to hold her, the connection disappeared, however, as she tried to go back to sleep. I suppressed the disappointment and knew that it was early and that we'd have another chance later. But it's true that a deeper physical connection is essential to the success of our marriage. It doesn't have to be sexual, but her touch is like medicine for me, and I get a huge lift out of feeling her hands on me.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Sugar Dating Age Difference

I saw a piece on Let's Talk Sugar today that addressed Sugar Babies and the possible awkwardness of being seen in public with their Sugar Daddies, who are often much older men.  Here was the advice the writer gave:
There’s honestly no need to correlate the stares to negative thoughts. It’s so easy for us as females to think the worst, but someone could just be looking at you because you look absolutely stunning and are mesmerized by your beauty.
True! So much of what we think is happening in front of us is simply the stories in our heads. We don't know why those ladies are staring at us. It could be how happy we look together despite our age difference.

I remember one time out in public with C/Hayden when we were shopping for lingerie and sex toys. The store  employees didn't give a shit that I was 45+ and she was 20-something.  To them we were customers and we were spending money.  Ka-ching!  But I remember what led up to that day.  Our shopping day was her finally agreeing to let me buy her stuff for her birthday. It didn't occur to me right away that she didn't really want to be seen out in public with me. This was especially true because she had, at that point, been with her then-boyfriend (now-husband) for about three months.  I think in her mind it probably gave her second thoughts in case someone she knew saw us together.  I know how that feels.

Another encounter with being seen in public was Leah, who balked at being out together because she had a boyfriend at the time.  I don't know if the age difference meant anything, but certainly it's at play.

The most direct experience I had with the age difference was with Dale.  We met for lunch prior to sleeping together, and as we left the restaurant, I saw a table of middle-aged women giving us That Look. I can't believe that it's been six years since then (nearly to the day!).  Dale is now a married mother of two. Time flies!

Funny how things changed though. After Leah, there were no women who ever expressed a moment's hesitation about being seen in public with me.  Audrey and I met other couples in public places and went to a sex club together as a couple.  Granted, many of the other dates were lunches that could easily have been construed as lunch between co-workers.  Natalie, however, was a dinner date, and she gladly kissed me in public on the sidewalk while we waited for our cars.  Aussie and I spent quite a bit of time at restaurants and bars, and also kissed me in public.  So did Gemini.

I think that, as I work on healing my marriage, and finally settling our issue of sexual incompatibility so that I can enjoy sugar dating in the open, the issue of being seen out in public will become more prominent.

For now, my advice is fuck everyone else and enjoy yourself; no one really cares about who you're seen with in public.  Just be careful that you're not where people you know would see you and ask questions.  Discretion!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Postponed a Week -- No Counseling

Because of a previously-scheduled appointment for one of our kids that happened to coincide with our weekly counseling sessions, we canceled this week.  Unfortunately, DW didn't check her calendar until yesterday, or else we probably could have move the kid to another day.

I told DW that I felt bummed that we wouldn't be sitting together with the therapist. "Me too," she replied.  "It's been good for us."

The pace of our life of late has been pretty hectic, and it's taking a toll on us. Homework, sports practice and competition, travel, work.  All of that while we witness the slow dismantling of our democracy at the hands of an incompetent, "fascist, loofa-faced shit-gibbon."  Insult of the century, I have to admit.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Inching Closer

As I drove home from work to meet DW yesterday for our fourth therapy session, I decided to reach out to Mel. Can't escape the fact that I miss her and would like to see her again.  I asked her if she were still moving out of town, and she said if she found the right job she'd be leaving.  I asked her if my being available to see her again could influence her decision one way or the other, and she said she has to think of her financial needs first.  I then asked if she'd want to see me again if she decided to stay here, and she said, "Of course!" I caught her up on where things were, made no promises as there were none I could make, but assured her that if I were able to see her again, I would, and would do so in the open with DW's full knowledge.  That seemed to make her happy.  The conversation then ended as I arrived home and I told Mel I'd contact her later.

I picked up DW and we drove to the therapist's office.  We were both in a good mood and looking forward to additional work on our marriage. We passed the time getting the lay of the land around the kids (homework, schedules, etc.) and our other obligations, and followed the therapist into her office when she came out to get us.

At first we were sitting facing the therapist, but she later had us facing each other again, knees touching, when it became clear that we were talking less to each other than to her about each other.  It worked.  We started connecting more at that point.  One thing I discovered about myself is that I've been very dependent on the facts of what has happened in our relationship since we got married. Facts that help create the narrative that I've wanted and needed to help me justify redefining our relationship to include my seeking other women for sex.  "I am open with my feelings," I added, "but if we're going to move forward and rebuilt our trust, we first have to agree on reality." Both the therapist and DW agreed with that.

DW also surprised me during the session by announcing that she realized that the last time we were in counseling, five years ago, she pulled out of therapy just as we were starting to talk about sex, which is where I'd wanted to go.  She apologized to me for that, and then said she wanted to begin talking about sex now.  I felt a smile cross my face, and a feeling of validation come over me. "I was just going to say the same thing," I said, rubbing her knees.

We didn't have much time left in the session by that point, but we agreed that the next session would be about sex and sexuality.  There is so much I want to discuss in that area that I think it'll cover multiple sessions.  I think it might be wise to discuss with DW what we should cover first.

One of the things I want to explore with her is her early sexual development. I know when she lost her virginity and with whom (I've met the guy; he's a decent man who got married less than 10 years ago). When we first started dating and planning our future, I simply took it as a given that, having had a long relationship with her boyfriend, plus a few semi-long relationships after that, that DW would have a fairly decent sexual vocabulary and a fairly wide range of experience.  What I eventually learned, however, was that her skills were limited, and that her interest in and experience of sex didn't stray very far from the conventional. Once we had kids and I left the 12-step program for sex addiction, however, it became clear to me that DW and I were not a great sexual match.  But divorce was never an option for me, and as long as our kids are young and living at home, it still isn't an option.  Now I want to know who taught her about sex, and what stopped her from expanding her sexual knowledge.  Learning this would help me, either to confirm what I believed about her sexuality (asexual to limited hetero), or to gain a deeper understanding of it. Given where I think we need to go in our relationship as it pertains to sex, I should understand more before I propose the type of relationship I want and believe we need.

After the session, we drove home and began setting up for dinner. I took a few minutes while alone to text Mel again. I told her that I truly believed we were slowly getting to the point where an open marriage was a real possibility.  She asked me what would happen if DW refused?  I replied that, if DW refused to a) wake up to her own real sexuality, b) step aside while I explored mine, c) did some of both, or d) came up with her own solutions that we could both live with, then it would be e) divorce.  Mel sent back two heart emojis.  I was a little turned off by that  for some reason. I don't want her rooting for my marriage to fail, if that's what she's suggesting, and I don't want her expressing any sort of affection for me, at least not at this point, or expressing any hope that something will happen and we'll see each other again.  If I do get to see her again, the dynamic would need to be different. Having DW trusting me and being more affectionate and sexual with me would fill the emotional hole that women like C/Hayden, Jade, Leah, and Mel filled for me.  Arrangements would again be like they were early on, when I was with CC and first with C/Hayden, and with Audrey.  A simple sexual outlet. Perhaps that will be enough for Mel; hope so.