Forcing Intimacy

My best friend since high school taught me how to drive a stick shift car. I took driver’s ed for the official lesson and to pass my driving test on an automatic, but her lessons on driving a stick always stayed with me and came in handy later in life when I had to drive one regularly.

She used to tell me when shifting gears, “If you can’t find it, grind it!” Lol.

I would find myself repeating those words many times, in relation to cars and different life situations that I felt I just needed to push through.

Turns out that isn’t so good for cars and it’s not so good for relationships either. Certainly, in relationships sometimes you push through difficult times and conversations, but forcing intimacy can be a bad idea.

Maybe it works for some people. It hasn’t for me in my marriage.

My journey to polyamory in my married life began like most people who I’ve chatted with about it: my husband and I lost the intimacy and connection we used to have.

My initial approach was to “grind it” or try to force those moments. I complained about how much he worked or golfed, about never having time to ourselves, about the need to get away just the two of us…

I complained. I cried. I prayed. I forced him to go places with me and do things he clearly wasn’t interested in but it was time together!

One day, shortly after a trip we took to Santa Barbara to “get away together,” I got so angry with him, and with myself, and I just let go. That time there was so difficult for me. It felt forced. We barely spoke at lunch. He said he didn’t feel so good and we cut the trip short. I sulked the whole way home.

I didn’t understand how we got to that point in our relationship where we couldn’t even relate. That was a sad moment, but I also realized that forcing intimacy and connection wasn’t working either.

What he needed for intimacy wasn’t what I needed, and so we were bumping heads not hearts.

It took a year of dialogue and reading and talking with poly friends before we felt comfortable pursuing this path. However, since then, the time that we do spend together is filled with laughter, love, and contentment.

We still do things for each other that aren’t our favorite things to do, but that’s what family does— we show up for each other. Beyond that, we bond over the things we both enjoy and we support one another in our separate pursuits of the other interests that we don’t share. If spending the day golfing with a female companion and then spending time with her afterwards brings him joy, I feel happy that he’s happy. And the same goes for me.

It’s not all flowers and honey, there are moments of jealousy on both sides. We talk about it and work through it.

Marriage is work, and just because we’re open, it doesn’t mean the work stops. But we’re committed to being authentic and honest, which is so far from being fake and forced.

And so far, it works.

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7 thoughts on “Forcing Intimacy

  1. There is a part of me that I’m not sure i will ever quite understand regarding polyamory, yet at the same time you are so completely honest in explaining it all that it does make some sense. You know what is happening with me right now and I’m all twisted around for obvious reasons, but I applaud you and your husband for working through this together.

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    1. Yes, my husband and I regard it as more of a spectrum in that we feel some people are just inherently more monogamous whereas others are more inclined and open to love from multiple partners throughout or at certain points in their lives. I understand for many people why it’s challenging. It was challenging for me as well, particularly because of my intense Christian upbringing, but I’ll save that for another post. Thanks for hearing me out and of course I’m wishing for all the best for you! 🙏🏾

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      1. A friend of mine wondered if in a few generations marriage might be gradually something on the wane. Its tough because there is a level of stoicism for some people, of pushing through problems and holding back the true feelings. That’s where I am now, and its a realization with my therapist that there is an awful lot of it I have held back. Which was detrimental to everyone around me not to mention me most of all. I would like to hear about that upbringing in that light, as that definitely seems to mess a lot of people up. That’s not a knock on religion or religious people, but it does cause problems later in life for some. I haven’t gotten there yet in terms of reconciling it for me, but I’m sure some of that is there.

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      2. I understand all of that. Stoicism seems to be rewarded, particularly for men. Stuff your feelings and don’t express them, certainly you better not cry!! These messages are so wrong and hinder deeper connections. But it’s how we’ve been socialized and sometimes it’s to hard to reconcile what we learned as children with what we know as adults. Nevertheless, this is a life journey… not a sprint and so we pace ourselves. I admire you for facing your journey with courage and an openness to change.

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      3. And I admire you for the recognition and realizations that led to you making this decision. I totally agree with what you say. That is definitely something that happened-stuff my feelings and don’t cry indeed! I am an emotional man, I can’t help that. There are stand up and fight moments, but there are also times where you want to retreat and be moody. This is most certainly why in a broad sense I started writing my blog. I knew my photography was speaking to me in a different way. I knew I wanted to do more with it and find a way to explain how a still photograph captures the mood, the season, the weather, the atmosphere, the story together with a song. It IS my personality personified. Sometimes its goofy, sometimes its serious, sometimes its anger, sometimes its depressing. But its me. As to the pacing ourselves, that is something I am truly taking to heart with the milestone I’m about to reach. It feels like Rob 2.0 in many ways is about to start.

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