Sting was sitting on Oprah’s couch talking about sex. It was 2003 and I was thirty years old. He waxed poetic about his hours-long lovemaking sessions. The woman in the audience swooned while I scoffed from the safety of my living room. I can remember thinking he sounded like a celebrity weirdo with too much time on his hands. Or that he was lying. 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 knew it like I knew my own hand. Clumsy and random sexual advances preceded a brief, me-focused flurry of activity. I’d wrap up by rewarding myself with a nap. No wonder my wife so often resisted my sexual advances. Rejection didn’t play well with the picture I had painted of myself as the irresistible alpha male. How could she be resisting someone who is irresistible? I’d make sure she understood there was something wrong with her. Then I’d try the same thing again a week later.
At thirty years old I was having sex like the guys I watched on my buddy’s dad’s porno tapes when I was seventeen 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 thirty (or fifty) that you did at seventeen you are not a great 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 want her to know that I will always be her biggest cheerleader and supporter. I look her in the eyes and tell her how much I love her. I listen to her like she’s the only person on earth when she shares her thoughts with me. It’s in doing those things together that love is made.
My path to creating a life of significance is based around cultivating vulnerability. Vulnerability is having the courage to look at yourself in the face and be honest, and without judgement, about who you see staring back at you. It’s so damn hard that most people never do it. What a shame. Being vulnerable has opened my eyes to what is possible as a lover.
Vulnerability has allowed me to accept that where I am right now is perfect. 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 can just hear the feedback and get on with doing what’s good for her. For the high achievers, I’ll call this results-based love making.
Vulnerability is an all or nothing proposition and 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.
The most important thing for me today is intimacy. I lost it when Cindy was struck down with bipolar disorder and it was devastating. After we separated I went through a brief period as a single man. The loneliest times were in the moments right after having sex with someone new. It was then that I realized 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 lay with her where I feel like we’re one person. Consciously creating that closeness has improved everything in my relationship with my wife.
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 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.
The enlightened man understands that vulnerability creates intimacy. He understands that making love is spiritual, emotional and physical.
I’m vulnerable enough at forty-three to admit that I’ve only just started on this journey. I’m not Sting and nor do I need to be. I’m on a voyage of discovery with my amazing and beautiful wife at my side. What lessons await me tomorrow?