When I reached the doors of Dr. Jess’ Talking Sex night, Nathalie met me with, “We’re 20 years older than everyone else here”. I decided that Nathalie was probably exaggerating, and she was: we were only 18 years older. Our icebreaker was to speak to two women we didn’t know at the event based on – get this – liking each others’ shoes! I was wearing a pair of thrifted pink slip on shoes to go with my jean skirt, and was relieved when a 20-something in 4 inch heels and tight black cocktail dress spoke to me anyway. “They look comfortable,” she said placidly.
Nathalie and I had commented to each other that Dr. Jess’ talk would have been different had the crowd been older or geared to women with children, and it probably would have been. But what I learned from that night is that all of us, whatever age or strata we find ourselves in, have deeply-felt concerns and questions around sex. The young women asked: What if I started out as the crazy girl in bed but now sometimes just want to make love? What do I do when I want to try something new in bed and he laughs it off? What if there’s love but our sex life is unfulfilling because he’s not interested… won’t this just get worse with time?
Real concerns of real people, and that’s why I was impressed when Dr. Jess said to the dressed-up women in the room: Hot sex is what makes you and your partner satisfied. If that’s missionary once a week in the dark, and you both feel good about it, that’s hot sex. She proceeded to talk and offer tips and techniques because this comment is not exactly one size fits all, but just by saying it and other comments like it, I thought she helped keep the night from becoming a live version of a Cosmo article.
There was lots to take from the talk (and I did pay attention to the demos and slides), but I find it’s this element of real I come back to the most. Because when I think about it, many of the things that sustain my relationship with my spouse are, when itemized to the outside world, quite prosaic. They work, though. Here are a few positions we fall back on, to make some space for ourselves as a couple amidst the mayhem and magic of our lives.
1. We like to eat dinner together, just the two of us, at a restaurant. Also known as a date night, I suppose, but date nights can be almost anything, and we almost always prefer to eat and talk. We never seem to do these as regularly as we’re supposed to (weekly), but we do make them happen. They feel like regular deposits into a long-term investment.
2. We sit on our front porch and talk. We live in a neighbourhood where if you do this, you will see other people walk by and recognize some faces and have a sense of place. We’ve watched a number of rainstorms this way. Nothing. Better.
3. We take a walk together and talk. Sometimes we bike ride, which is more fun, but it’s harder to talk on bikes in the city, so walking is better for connection/conversation.
4. Sleep. Giving each other the opportunity to take a much-needed nap can shift everything. As I read once somewhere, sleep is the silent remedy. It was true eight years ago when we had our first son, and it’s true now.
5. We play Scrabble. The time to play is scarce, so when we get to, it’s a treat. It also feels exclusive, as I don’t play with anyone else. In university, my roommate said that Scrabble saved her parents’ marriage: on the verge of separating, they vowed to sit together every night no matter what and play a game – and it got them through. At 19 years old, this made only so much sense to me, and gratefully it’s not why my husband and I play. But Scrabble’s a good game with good company, and obviously has power in it, and I love to play with my husband.
This is a selected list; sometimes there’s a bit more glamour in our lives than what’s noted above. But we’re big on simple pleasures, and this list is solid. Tried and true. Real.
What do you do to stay connected to your love?