I was reading a book recently by Dr John Gray, the author of the “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” series. In it he was describing an encounter with another woman that came on to him and how physically he was “excited” by the idea of enjoying her for the night, but his heart wouldn’t let him because of the relationship and commitment he had to his wife, whom he loved more than anything.
To his credit he declined the encounter but it triggered a whole new line of thinking in him; he realised it didn’t have any bearing on how he loved his wife, it was just purely a physical encounter that he’d like to have with someone else while he was away. Now I can absolutely relate to this and I was starting to wonder if he had stumbled upon swinging. I was getting excited; how awesome that would be for someone so well known to be talking to the general population about this lifestyle option?
I read on and he described how he had gone home to his wife and quite openly and honestly relayed to her what had happened, how excited it made him feel but that it in no way affected how deeply he loved her. He then suggested he could have discreet affairs while he was away, with her approval of course. Now as a person in a swinging relationship, I can totally relate to the duality of what he was experiencing, as well as being the first one to start this kind of conversation as it can be a nerve wracking one.
After he finished his story, she thought for a moment and quite lovingly said that he could do whatever he wanted as she would never dream of telling him what he should do, but… “I would always be comparing myself and trying to measure up. I would never feel good enough.” She also felt that it would impact her ability to stay completely “open” to him in terms of her heart. So she didn’t say no but basically said, in a completely loving way, that if he did that it would impact their relationship in negative ways.
They were both able to have this conversation in a totally non-judgmental and non-defensive way; she listened to him and allowed the conversation to be had, and he wasn’t defensive in his response to her equally honest thoughts and feelings on the idea.
From that conversation he discovered a stronger bond and fell more in love with her because he was able to express his desires totally openly and honestly and they were able to talk about it maturely. He concluded that she needed to feel special in order to truly love him on all levels, as she had done, and that her “specialness” was based on the security she had in their monogamy.
Now while reading this I was seeing both similarities in how I perceive the ultimate relationship but also saw things somewhat differently. I realised that both his education and life experience hadn’t given him another option that could have worked for both of them.
Firstly, when his wife talked about comparing herself to the other women and how she would never feel good enough if he were to go ahead with the discreet affairs, it suggested to me that she had some self-esteem issues that impacted her feelings of security within the relationship. A low self-esteem is a stumbling block for many couples who would like to swing, however those who actively seek assistance to work through those issues are then able to create a more loving relationship regardless of whether they swing or not.
Secondly, he suggested the discreet affairs so he could explore his physical desires while away, which prompted her to feel a lack of “specialness” but most swingers only swing together which maintains that feeling of specialness; it’s a shared experience that they both allow each other to have, and at the end of the day they go home with each other. Neither one is missing out on anything the other person gets to experience, so if he hadn’t suggested doing it alone where she couldn’t be involved and share it with him, it may have taken the whole conversation in a different direction.
He also described how the experience had a bonding effect because they had a completely open and honest conversation about the idea, which is exactly the same for couples who journey into the swinging lifestyle. The difference is that these open and honest conversations are had before the relationship goes down the swinging path, and then after every experience and evolution from there.
The journey into the physical aspect of swinging together takes the relationship to a whole new level because so many more of those open and honest conversations get to be had, which means more opportunities to bond with our partners. Many swingers understand that but the general population are totally unaware of the opportunity swinging presents.
In all honesty I think Dr John Gray has some phenomenal information about creating passionate relationships, however, I think he has missed out on the possible relationship building affects swinging can have and how he could have addressed both his wife’s needs plus his own. I also suspect if his wife could work on her self-esteem and he introduced an option that was a shared experience with her that he could have his cake and eat it too, just like we all do.
Quotes taken from “What your mother couldn’t tell you and your father didn’t know” by John Gray.