Conversation: Channeling Iliasm
Thursday night, a long day at the office, and an evening meeting. But in between I decide to get a beer and a burger at a place on the harbor. The bar was quiet, and I thought I'd eat quietly alone and read. But my waitress was chatty and bored, and after placing my order, sat down with me. Uninvited, but not unwelcome. She noticed the ring on my finger and asked how long I'd been married. More than 30 years. These conversations might go in several directions, but this one I knew by heart, as her story began to come out.
She was 20, engaged to a guy she'd been with for three years. I was in my mid-fifties, a married guy in a suit, a "safe" person to talk to. The predictable questions for the long married: how does this happen? What pearls of wisdom can I offer someone just about to embark on this journey of marriage and love and sex and hope and ideals?
Not much I'm afraid, I thought, but at least for once, with this stranger at least, can we speak the truth? So I said, "the most important thing, and the hardest thing to figure out when you're in love, is whether you are sexually compatible." There, I said it. My girlfriend and I have often lamented, why didn't our mothers and fathers and friends tell us that if we are sexual people, then finding another truly sexual person is actually really important? Or if we are asexual, you'd better find another asexual to marry, please don’t **** up a sexual person by marrying them? That sexual compatibility might actually be in the top 10, top 5, maybe top 2 reasons to marry someone? Oh well, no one told us, but I thought maybe I would tell this young woman.
She was surprised by my answer, but quickly opened up and asked many questions. Some I could answer from my own experience, but for many, I tried to channel the wisdom of my ILIASM brothers and sisters.
She knew that the feelings of "love" were intense but she understood that that may fade, so what do people do then? How do you sustain a relationship? The she asked "When do people "lose it" when it comes to sex and love?"
I had to laugh at this one -- the assumption that all people "lose it." No, I said, some lose it, some do not. For some sex and intimacy are as important as eating and breathing. For others, it may have never really been there, or maybe it left them. I told her that her assumption that people "lose it" as they get older isn't right. I told her I was having the best sex of my life in my 50's, and I wouldn't trade my 20's for it. (I wasn't fully forthright here, and I'm sure she assumed that that sex was with my wife, who I didn't reveal as sexless).
She was surprised that sex in middle and older age still exists, but then I really shocked her I'm afraid.
I told her that sexlessness happens to both men and women. She was amazed -- in her experience men were always horny, always wanting sex. I assured her that I have heard from many women on good authority that in fact, men may be or become sexless, and that their women find that very frustrating. Working in a bar, and I'm sure being the ob
She hasn't seen or experienced that yet in life. And why should she? At 20, did anyone on ILIASM really know what we were getting into? Could any of us have truly seen and understood that we were entering into sexless marriages?
But she asked, as we all do, why would someone not want to have sex with their husband/wife? That I don't know, I said, and from talking to others, that's the big question no one can seem to answer, not even the people who lose it themselves. At this point I was silenced. I don't know why, I can't tell her why, all I can say, I said, is to try to be honest with yourself and your husband. You may grow together, you may grow apart, you both may continue to love sex together, you may not. if you grow apart sexually, can you adapt your marriage to accommodate your different needs, or do you need to split?
At that point, I think we both felt a little too much information had been exchanged. She got up and brought my check. I paid, tipped her well, and left. I was a little sad: she was young and just beginning this journey. But I did feel I had struck a small blow for the Sexless Liberation Front, if at least one person might have some consciousness about what may be happening in her life. I hope she doesn't join the ranks of the ILIASM at some point, but if she does, I think she'll have had a brief introduction. And we'll welcome her if it happens.