An old Playboy cartoon showed a dumpy, middle-aged couple making love, while overhead, in thought-balloons, their imaginary partners were also getting it on--a Playmate for him, Mr. Universe for her.
Does this kind of infidelity of the imagination happen much to longtime couples? Sure it does.
Is it funny? Sure, the way the whole human comedy is funny. It's also sad--even if it helps keep the home fires flickering.
To be with one person while conjuring another isn't exactly wholehearted, but it is understandable. The look of love, so easy on the first or second date, can be hard to muster on the four-thousandth. Time (once past our roaring twenties) is no flatterer, and familiarity exacts a heavy toll on the erotic imagination. That old black magic, invoked too often, tends to lose its mojo.
What's the solution?
Recapturing the Magic
How about a real-life Love Potion No. 9, a potent concoction, which, on sleeping eyelids laid, could make or man or woman madly dote.1 You would just pour out twin shots for every jaded husband and wife, have them take two brave gulps, and then watch them recapture their first-date fascination for each other.
By now you should know that I believe there is such a miracle elixir of love. And while I can't exactly give it a name or bottle it, I can offer a formula.
The first ingredient, as mentioned in the preceding chapter, is a solemn resolve on the part of the husband: to fall back in love with his wife. Back in love and back in lust.
Ingredient No. 2, also discussed at some length, is for him to stop sexually pleasuring himself. (At least for a while, if we're going to be serious here.)
The third and final ingredient is time. And probably not too much of it. Abstinence definitely makes the heart grow fonder--fairly rapidly, in fact--and has a heckuva stimulating effect on the endocrine system, to boot.
What happens next?
In my case, it was subtle at first. During the day I found myself thinking about her. You know, my wife. The girl I married. The one I slept with every night. Thinking about her smile, her voice, her shape, her warmth--the trace, as Henry Higgins remarked wistfully, of something in the air.2
The Hovering Wife
Soon it wasn't so subtle. I began thinking about her a lot. Daydreaming about her. Tripping out on tactile replays of her morning embrace, recalling the warm smell of her hair, the salty taste of her skin. She went, in the words of another song, from being gentle on my mind to being very intrusive. In fact, I was thinking about her all the time. What I wasn't thinking about, or lusting after, were glamourized images of other females. Those had vaporized.
No, it was my wife who followed me around, teasing my consciousness and other parts. After several such days, I decided to tell her what was happening. What I had been doing. What I was no longer doing. And why I had stopped doing it.
She was truly puzzled by my confession--and its motivation. She hadn't suspected that I had been masturbating. She had simply accepted that things had cooled off between us. Maybe she thought it inevitable, the way it happens with so many couples. Or that it was her fault--that she was no longer attractive.
I assured her the problem was with me, not her. I did a lot of talking, probably too much, trying to explain, for her benefit and mine, what I thought had gone wrong between us, and how I was convinced our romantic relationship could go right again. Could, in fact, be better than ever.
She was not only puzzled now, but skeptical. Clearly, words weren't going to convince her.
Here is where that third ingredient--time--had to be allowed to work its gradual magic. It took time for us to grow apart. It would take more time--yet not as much--for us to come back together.
I was patient, persistent, attentive. Like a suitor. Tiny gestures, compliments, endearments, all helped to erode her defenses. Every now and then she'd catch me looking at her in a special way, a way I hadn't looked at her for a long time. As if she was dessert.
The next time we made love, there was more tenderness, and more combustion. And, may I add, the female creature hovering in my thought-balloon was the same darling girl I was in bed with.
Love at First SightAll Over Again!
I was back in phase, as I had been when we first discovered each other, when we made love every night. It felt right. It felt fantastic.
Love and lust together again.
Perhaps. But it worked--for me, and for many other husbands I subsequently compared notes with online. (I'll get to their quotes in a moment.)
Here's my analysis of why it worked:
Men need sexual fantasy. It's the highest-octane fuel they can burn. They do idealize womanhood. They do empedestal their girlfriends. To woo and win them (and beat off all competitors).
Once I stopped siphoning off the fuel needed for the marital combustion chambers, my sexual fantasies automatically refocused on my wife. She suddenly regained the status she possessed during courtship--seductress, enchantress. The creature to be pursued and won, again and again.
Years later, on the Web, I came across this bit of advice, attributed only to a 'Clever Wife':
Keep him out of his fantasy world, and he will have no other choice but to join you in the real world of your relationship and all the intimacies he normally can escape from.
Amen to that.
Think back. Wasn't there a time when she was your fantasy figure, the centerfold of your inflamed imagination? Remember how she appeared then--a creature of infinite mystery, infinitely desirable? How you behaved in her presence?
Start behaving toward her that way again, treating her with that same homage, and the deadening scales of familiarity will dissolve, and you will see her restored to full, feminine glory.
And what if you never saw her with adoring eyes? Pretend you did and do--and you will! Empower her, put her on a pedestal, and she will become the focus of your fantasy life--as she should be...
You can read the rest of this chapter, and all the other chapters of Worshipping Your Wife, in book form. The 100-page paperbound book features all the original chapters written for this website (which began online in 2001) with a new concluding chapter, Happy-Ever-Aftering Takes Work.
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