I got a valuable lesson the other evening on how my private thoughts, the ones that I am convinced no one else knows about, actually affect other people. My wife, Meenal and I were out in the afternoon and evening, visiting friends in Venice, CA., which is about an hour and a half away from our home in Ventura, CA. On the drive home, though we were not going to get home until 9:30pm, I asked Meenal for a make out. For us, a make out can mean anything from touching and cuddling to penetrative sex. She looked at the clock, confirmed her understanding of what time we would get home, and to my delight, said “yes, I would love that”. Usually after an afternoon and evening out and a long drive home arriving that hour at night, we would just get ready for bed and perhaps snuggle a little before falling asleep. However, over the last two months, our sex has heated up – I’ll write more on what’s underneath this another time. I could feel my anticipation and excitement build as we got closer to home. It’s not that we have not had sex in a while, but rather that I am just taken by what shows up in our sex in terms of passion, in terms of self-discovery, in terms of learning about my wife even after being together for 30 years.
As you can imagine, by the time we got home, I was excited and ready for our make out. I quickly brushed my teeth and took my pants off and lay in bed in my underwear and a T-shirt, waiting for my hot wife to come to bed. She went to the closet and started taking off her clothes and my excitement built. Then she started putting on her night dress. I made some comment like “You don’t need to do that”, but she kept going. She then went to the bathroom and I heard her brushing her teeth…but wait, she was taking a lot longer than I thought she would. Then I heard the Waterpik start up, then she spent time doing what she normally does to get ready to go to sleep. By this time, I was starting to have some thoughts about what she was doing and why she was taking so long and why she needed to do all of that for our make out. On and on my mind went, like a rabid dog in search of a bone. Of course, I didn’t say anything – how could I. I would ruin the mood if I started saying what was really on my mind.
She finally came to bed and we started touching and lightly kissing each other. About two minutes into it, as I was starting to feel heat building, she stopped and said that she was thinking of something that she needed to do tomorrow and she needed to take something out so she did not forget. She got up and went into the living room. That just fed my rabid dog and I started having thoughts about whether this was ever going to happen, whether she really wanted to have a make out, whether she knew what a bucket of cold water this was on my heat.
After a minute she came back and sat on the bed. Just as I was about to touch her, she said that she was feeling defensive about going out to the living room. I suddenly felt nervous – like I was a kid that was caught with my hand in a cookie jar. I also had a momentary thought that this was not going to end well because when someone is feeling defensive, they are not feeling safe to let their sex out. So I acknowledged her, “So I hear you are feeling defensive”, trying to use my well-honed communication practices to hide what was really going on – all form and no substance. She said “Yes, and actually I was feeling a little defensive when I was in the bathroom getting ready to come to bed.” Now I started feeling a tingle in my stomach – like I had been discovered for sure. In the past I would have put up my impenetrable shield and said something like “Huh, I wonder why you were feeling defensive, what’s up with for you?” Like I had no part in this, like it was all her shit coming up. I would have played the good partner and attempted to help her process it, thinking I was doing my job. That night, I chose a different path – I said the thing that needed to be said. “It’s because your spidey sense is finely tuned and you were picking up that I was having all sorts of judgmental thoughts about how long you were taking in the bathroom and that you stopped and went out to take care of stuff for tomorrow.” Even as I write this, I can feel a sense of relief, the kind of relief that I get when I take a heavy load off my back. I was willing to sit in my discomfort of revealing myself to her in all of my shitty-ness. She then asked me why I hadn’t said anything before. It was then that I realized that my shitty thoughts had triggered a layer of shame – my inner critic was judging my judgments of her as being wrong. So I fessed up and told her about how I had shamed myself for having those thoughts by using my voice of reason “she’s just doing what she needs to in getting ready for our make out” or “she’s just getting this off her mind so she can be fully with me in bed.”
Well, apparently my vulnerability was a big turn on for her and we had the hottest sex we have had in a long time. It all makes perfect sense to me in the clear light of day, but in that moment when I had those shitty thoughts, it felt so much safer and better to protect her from them by keeping them private.
So my question to myself now is how do I continue to share my private thoughts about others, in a way that I can stay in connection and resonance, thereby increasing intimacy with everyone I know.