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.