A few days ago Cate was telling me about a man she had read about who wasn't holding hands with his wife anymore because he didn't want to be emotionally close anymore. I was struck by how juvenile a behavior that would be. Surely there are better ways to communicate for people who have gotten passed the age of happy meals. "Come on, use your words."
Beyond that, it is amazing to me that someone who has gotten to the point where holding hands feels like the wrong thing to do is willing to remain in that relationship, accepting the status quo of love not being part of the equation anymore. I've been with Cate for 15 years and I can't imagine going even a week without showing her my affection. I mean, you can have issues in your relationship that get in the way of things being total bliss. But to not even want to hold hands with your spouse because you've accepted defeat? Why are you still there? Are you really trying or are you just wallowing in your own lack of drive and passion?
And thinking about that I wondered about all those couples I see everywhere, at the grocery store, at the mall, or even at cinemas and restaurants. So many of them are not holding hands. In fact, couples holding hands are a minority, aren't they? And thinking about that I worried, is that why so many of them aren't holding hands, because they've given up? Because the charm and pleasure of holding hands when you're a teenager has been replaced by nothing?
I like to think that if you want to feel like a million bucks, you have to dress like a million bucks or act like a million bucks. If holding hands is a symbol of showing affection when you're young, then by all means show your affection that way when you're older too! Chances are it will make you feel what it did when you were young.
Cate and I hold hands all the time! Well, not all the time, but you know, very often. In the car, while we're shopping, it's almost as though for us, time has had no effect. Holding Cate's hand still feels as fun and meaningful for me today as it did when we started dating nearly two decades ago. I like the feel of her soft hand in mine, how warm it is and how she holds mine with just the right amount of strength, not too hard and not too loose.
Today we were waiting in line at the grocery store. We were exchanging some silly banter or teasing each other. At some point I was looking at her with a smile and I put my arm around her. And then we kissed, simply, full on the lips, right in between a cart and another lady.
It was just a natural thing for me, but right after I did that I remember wondering if people had the impression that we were newly together and still in the phase of infatuated love.
I don't understand why we don't see couples doing this in public more often. And please don't tell me that it's the dread of the PDA. That flies when you're 12 years-old, but when you're an adult, kissing the person you've chosen to be your partner, presumably for life, is just a proclamation of your status. And if anything, publicly letting other people know that you love this person is the very least you can do to show your affection. Nothing is proven by showing affection only in private or awkward moments. Make it count. Just do it, now, wherever you are.
And then later Cate and I were talking about David Schnarch's ideas about relationships and how many of the couples he sees haven't had sex in years! That to me is unthinkable. Cate and I have gone for some amount of time without sex at different times over the years, for various reasons or difficulties, but years? No way. I think the longest we have gone is about two months, and only because I was away for that long.
How can you live with someone and just accept that sex is not part of the deal anymore? How can you go for years and years and years without having sex with the person you chose? How much resentment, fear or pain do you have to have to not be able to have sex with your spouse? And how do you not explode, either from sexual frustration or emotional anger? I simply can't imagine it. I guess what I'm wondering is, why do you even bother remaining married? I couldn't live even for a few months like this. I would say, you know what, we're going to put our cards on the table and we're going to counselling, or whatever needs to happen because this is unacceptable.
This is a shame because, when we're young, who doesn't dream of meeting someone and falling in love? And once you're older and you haven't had sex in years, what has changed? Love and sex are the one true thing that humans have always aspired to across cultures and centuries. It is astounding to me that some people are capable of making such a hard deal with themselves and shelter themselves from physical pleasure of affection.
This afternoon Cate told me about a survey about sex in relationships on Dr. Schnarch's web site. She was puzzled by how high a score she had. So I took the survey too and I scored very similarly to her. And we thought it was a bit odd because even though we are very open-minded and sex is an important part of our life, we have never really considered ourselves to be in the top-tier of people in terms of satisfaction with our sex life. We feel that we have much to learn and much to experience, if only because we have had periods over the years where sex wasn't easy. I mean, everybody does. But at least we still had sex. And we didn't give up. And today we're still growing. And just for that we score high on the survey.
That puts things into perspective for Cate and I, but at the same time I can't help but think that the low expectations in the survey reflect how little people realize how much they can benefit from a good sex life, and how profound and intense it can be.
To me it's simple. It's all about being happy. Wouldn't you be happier kissing your wife while waiting in line at the grocery store than not kissing her?