- Normalization of Jealousy -- In a therapy session last week, DW told me she was jealous of the time I spend with my male friends, doing fun things that I could be doing with my family. "I want you to do that stuff with your family, and with me." My response? "I get that you love me and want to spend time together. If you look at the stuff we do together, most of it's fun. But, really, I am not responsible for your feelings of jealousy. You have nothing to be jealous of." See what I did there? I actually fell into this trap. I conflated jealousy and love, as if the expression of jealousy is a natural by-product of romantic love. It isn't. Jealousy is a by-product of lack of self-esteem and of a lack of gratitude for the blessings in one's life. I need to remember this the next time I encounter jealousy in any fashion.
- Love Intensely Enough, and Incompatibility Goes Away -- DW and I are living proof that this doesn't work. I am madly in love with her, but it doesn't erase how sexually incompatible we are. My sexual makeup overwhelms DW, and while I love being sexual with her, DW's sexual palette eventually bores me. No amount of love for each other is going to be enough to erase that reality.
- Meet 100% of Needs, or Be Labeled Inadequate or Needy -- I occasionally battle these feelings, but for the most part, I love the idea of DW satisfying her needs independently from me. I'd go so far as to say that if she had the need to satisfy a sexual need with another man, then I'd be OK with it so long as we discussed it up front and both understood why she felt this way. I might struggle with it initially, but I can't ask the same of her if I'm not willing to do the same.
- Love Intensely Enough so No One Else is Attractive -- This is utter bullshit. I remember my first wife would rip me a new one if she caught me so much as glancing at another woman. My response was always something like, "Being married doesn't rob me of my eyesight. If I see an attractive woman, I'm going to look." The truth is, we are going to see people throughout our lives who are attractive to us. Beauty is everywhere, including in people. Indulge beauty, always.
- Commitment is Synonymous with Exclusivity -- I've proven this isn't true for over nine years. Nothing more to be said about it.
- Marriage/Children are Natural Outgrowths of Commitment -- Enough people have kids outside of committed relationships to render this untrue. Marriage and children and committed relationships are mutually exclusive, though they can easily and frequently intersect.
- Insecurity is Your Partner's Responsibility Rather Than Your Own -- Utter rubbish.
- Your Value to a Partner Rises and Falls with How Much Time and Energy Spent on You, and That Value Must Trump All Else -- If we enter into committed relationships looking to be completed by our partners, then of course we are going to think that if our partners spend less time nurturing us and building us up, we are going to feel less valuable to them. But really, we can't and shouldn't enter into committed relationships unless we're already complete. What better reason to become involved with another person than because together we're greater than we are as individuals? In other words, we enter as complete people, with as few needs of the other as possible, and build something bigger. Further, my direct experience tells me that whenever a couple's attention is dominated by talking about and maintaining couplehood, it's a recipe for boredom and early break-up.
- Your Self-Value Depends on How Your Partner Values You -- This sort of relates to the previous bullet point. When we are complete people we don't need validation as much as when we're searching for some other person to complete us. I think this comes with time, to be honest. When I was young, fitting in and being included in an in-group was all-consuming. Once I hit a certain age, however, I really did stop caring that much about how people viewed me. There will never be a shortage of people who think I'm an asshole, just and there will never be a shortage of people who think I'm the coolest person ever. It just doesn't matter if I am comfortable in my own skin. Even in a committed relationship, your partner's opinions of you have nothing to do with you, but everything to do with your partner. You're not responsible for their opinions, or their feelings, or the baggage they bring to the relationship. You control what you control: trust and support. With trust and support, love flourishes and attraction thrives. Without them, you've really got nothing, don't you?
My reality today is that, even if DW discovered that she liked everything sexual that I liked and wanted to do it, except for penetrative sex, I'd want to have sex with other women. If she liked it all and wanted penetration as well, I'd want to have sex with other women, whether in threesomes with DW or on my own, of a combination of both.
This is what needs to come out or else I actually will be a hypocrite.
OK that was over 1,200 words, but still worth it.