Friday, August 29, 2008

Carry the Torch

Back in the day, if you said he's carrying the torch for her, you meant "he's in love with her". It's a brief beautiful way to say, "there's a flame in my heart burning for that special someone."

Well it came to me yesterday, that passion and desire is a flame we carry inside our hearts. And if we live long enough, and are married long enough, we will experience a difference in the level of our sexual desire and the sexual desire of our spouse. Not so much whether or not they desire us as a person.

I mean that everyone's libido goes through ups and downs depending on lots of factors including:
  • their hormonal health (thyroid, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, dopamine, serotonin)
  • the amount of stress in their life
  • the amount of cardio exercise in their life
  • the amount of strength training in their life
  • how much they work out (working out at intense levels over a several months can cause some women to stop ovulating)
  • their emotions and attitudes about themselves
  • their emotions and attitudes about their sexuality
  • their emotions and attitudes about their spouse
  • their emotions and attitudes about their spouses' sexuality
  • how often they cultivate their eroticism by reading sexy poetry, daydreaming about past lovely memories of lovemaking, etc.
  • how often they experience and notice nonerotic pleasure
  • how well they know their own body's capacity for pleasure and know how to experience that alone or with their spouse
Lots of factors play into libido. And these are just the ones that came to mind today! There are probably more. Y'all speak up if you can think of any more factors that influence a person's level of libido. Oh yeah! Like medications! Some medications have a documented side effect of reducing the sex drive.

So back to the torch idea. Torches flicker. The flames dance and move and change.
So does desire.

And it hit me yesterday, that one of the ways we can carry the torch for our spouse is to cultivate our own desire, the flame inside of us. Even if our spouse's torch flickers and wanes. Especially then.

What does this look like?
I'll give you a possible scenario.

Say a husband goes through a verrry stressful period in his work. Maybe he's a CPA and it's tax season. Maybe he's a doctor and he's on call a lot. Maybe he's a lawyer and he's studying for the bar exam or he's got a case that's gone to trial and he's working 16 hour days. Maybe he was the innocent victim of a round of layoffs at work and he lost his job. Whatever it may be, he's under a lot of stress. And depending on his own body and personality, it may be that his desire for sex is temporarily decreased. This has happened to Delighted Husband before.

And it occured to me yesterday that if these times of lower drive come into his life again, I can carry the torch for him. I can carry the torch of desire FOR him. I can keep the flame of love and desire from going out in my marriage my keeping my own pilot light lit.

Sometimes there's a fine line between partnership and codpendence. Our own skin is a boundary that says what's inside this skin is me and what's outside this skin is not me. We each have to own our sexuality. It's part of our self. However, when you get married there's this beautiful partnership. We take on the role of steward over not only our own sexuality but also for our spouse's sexuality. It's my pleasure and responsibility and delight to meet Delighted Husband's sexual needs. It's his pleasure and responsibility and delight to meet mine. But when one of us has our libido flicker or wane because of one of the factors mentioned before, we have to keep our own sexuality alive in healthy ways. We have to carry the torch. Keep the home fires burning so we have hot coals ready to reignite the fire in our spouse.

If you live long enough and are married long enough, you will each have a turn at being the spouse with the higher libido. Delighted Husband has certainly had his turn as the higher drive spouse. So have I. Keep your own heart alive. Invite your spouse to rejoin the party.

As I write, I am thinking of my friends who have shared their stories with me. Husbands and wives whose hearts are filled with sorrow and pain because their spouse has rejected them sexually on a long term basis. My love for my friends and my awareness of the reality of their pain makes me afraid to say anything on the topic for fear that the positive tone of my post will come across as glib or dismissive. I don't want to disrespect anyone or their pain.

I will say this. When my beloved was going through a tremendous time of stress from crushing external circumstances that caused his libido to flicker and wane, keeping my own pilot light lit by rehearsing sweet memories in my mind, remaining aware of my own pleasure, pursuing my husband and seductively drawing him back into the warm erotic playground of our bond is one of the most godly things I have ever done.


Kyra said...

As I write I can't help wondering if I am one of the friends for whom you added that extra note. It wasn't needed, though appreciated.

It is a beautiful post and I think there is so much truth in it. No doubt I should keep my pilot light on for my husband. But I also can't help wondering how long one should be the one carrying the torch. What you describe is partnership, plain, true and beautiful. But it does require two people to agree to carry the torch. One gets awfully tired being the only one bearing that weight. And when it is lacking that partnership, the one who has grown weary might find the life fire sucked out of her. Or perhaps she'll get her fire from someone else.

There is no easy answer to my situation. Though there are probably answers more right (your word being godly).

But I can say wholeheartedly that I agree with what you describe and would suggest anyone who reads you to take the words to heart. I spent many, too many, years living that way (though not as eloquently described) and I will never regret doing so. For those in the early phases of that ebb and flow, they should keep that flame lit. That I cannot is a source of great pain that I would not want others to experience.

So thank you earth mama for your beautiful post. As always your words move me.

Cocotte said...

How about adding "the amount of red wine and dark chocolate you intake" to your list? LOL

My husband went through a recent medical problem that put his libido down to zero. It was difficult for me, but I supported his desire to not have sex for two weeks (there were no medical restrictions, but the stress of the situation was too much for him) until he was done with his testing and found out what the problem was. The good news is that we went gangbusters afterwards!

Anyway, I really like what you said here, SW. Couldn't agree with you more!

Sensuous Wife said...

I love you, Kyra. Yes, you were one of the friends I was thinking of.

Sensuous Wife said...

Red wine and dark chocolate, check! (laughing)

Thank you for sharing your story, Cocotte. I rejoice with you for your husband's health.

and thanks for your encouragement!