Sting was sitting on Oprah's couch talking about sex. It was 2003 and I was 30 years old. He waxed poetic about his hourslong lovemaking sessions. The women in the audience swooned. I scoffed from the safety of my living room. His message was so at odds with what I understood making love to be that I dismissed him immediately. I labeled him a celebrity weirdo with too much time on his hands. It never crossed my mind that the lessons he shared would make me a better husband and lover.
I was the proud master of one sex routine. The "One and Done." I'd decide it was "time" and proceed to make clumsy and insistent sexual advances. This was the opening act for a (very) brief, me-focused eruption of frenzied physicality. When I was done, I rewarded myself with the nap I thought I deserved.
No wonder my wife unceremoniously shut down my sexual advances so often. I struggled mightily with this rejection. It didn't fit with the image I'd created in my mind — the one in which I was an irresistible alpha male. How was it possible to resist someone who was irresistible? Clearly there was something wrong with her and I wasn't afraid to point it out. I'd try the same thing a week later hoping for a different result.
At 30 years old, my idea of making love was what I had seen in my friend's dad's porno tapes when I was 17 years old. I mean, hell, those guys were in porn, right? They must know what they are doing. Men, here's some food for thought: If you're doing the same things at 30 that you did at 17, you are not a great lover. You are tragically shortchanging your relationship. You owe it to yourself and your partner to do better.
My path to creating a life of significance is now based around cultivating vulnerability. Vulnerability is having the courage to look yourself in the face and be honest — without judgment — about who you see staring back at you. It's so damn scary that most people never do it. What a shame. Being vulnerable has opened my eyes to what is possible as a lover.
I've learned that making love is so much more than the physical act of having sex. Making love is actively creating the love you share with your spouse. I've finally allowed myself to be vulnerable with my wife, which has created the space for her to be vulnerable with me. I tell her when I'm scared, and I ask for her help. I look her in the eyes and tell her how much I love her and I say it from my soul. I listen to her like she's the only person on earth when she shares her deepest thoughts with me. It's in doing those things together that love is made.
Vulnerability has allowed me to accept where I am right now without judgment. It doesn't mean I have to be here tomorrow. We can now talk openly and freely about how to best please each other. She can tell me what is working for her and what isn't in a way that's honest and forthright. I hear her open feedback and get on with doing what's good for her. Every time is different, which means every time is a chance for me to know her a little better. As we learn more about ourselves and each other, we become better lovers to each other.
Vulnerability is a journey of discovery. I've finally chosen to be vulnerable with my wife. It took every moment before this one to get to right now. I spent many years being scared and hiding behind the walls I had created. Now, I tell her when I haven't had a good day at work or when I feel insecure and scared. Having the courage to share everything with my wife has made me a better lover. It's also made me a better husband and friend.
I understand now that it's intimacy that is truly important. Intimacy is the emotional closeness that comes from sharing all of yourself with another human being. My first wife was struck down with bipolar disorder and tragically committed suicide. During those trying years, I often felt like I had lost the woman I loved. Before bipolar disorder destroyed my wife, it destroyed the intimacy in our relationship. I spent many dark moments alone, pondering just how much I had lost.
Intimacy means feeling so close to someone that your soul is intertwined with theirs. It feels expansive and limitless and beautiful. There are moments when I lie with my wife now when I feel like we're one person. Consciously creating that closeness has improved everything in my relationship with my wife. I call it active authenticity. It means making choices that support total honesty. She deserves nothing less.
Intimacy is addictive. Now that we've cultivated it, I never want to lose it. It feels too damn good. I've become willing to move at a much slower and more deliberate pace because it extends our most intimate moments. I can please my wife while expecting nothing physical in return. I don't always need it because I am receiving so much from her already. She is sharing her body, heart, and soul with me. She trusts me to take care of her.
The enlightened man understands that vulnerability creates intimacy. He understands that making love is spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical.
I'm vulnerable enough at 43 to admit that I've only just started on this journey. I'm not Sting, nor do I need to be. I'm on a voyage of discovery with my amazing and beautiful wife at my side. I can't wait to see what lessons await me tomorrow.
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