I have sex every day. I am not saying this because I think I have achieved some master level of sex but because I believe sex is important in our daily lives. It is no less important than the other things we do on a daily basis to achieve optimal health. We brush our teeth, watch what we eat, try to exercise on a regular basis…why should sex be any different.
I know what some of you are thinking: “Yeah, but I hate to exercise, sometimes cheat and have a big piece of cake or a pint of ice cream and more often than not I forget to floss.” Yes, sometimes all the things we know are good for us can seem to be more items to add to our never ending TO DO list.
I remember how I would fall into bed exhausted from a long day of work, kids and domestic duties and when my first husband would roll over and touch me, I would secretly cringe because I knew he wanted to have sex.
Back then I viewed sex not so much as a powerful restorer, but as an obligation—something I was doing for my husband outside of myself. It was just another item to add to my list. It is interesting how I cringe now when I read about how I used to feel about something so vibrant and life giving, not just life giving in the literal sense but emotionally as well.
I had so much to learn about the intricacies of sex. I had been raised to view sex from a mostly religious platform. Yes, you were allowed to enjoy sex with your husband, but the whole purpose of sex was to have babies and keep your husband satisfied. The part about a woman’s pleasure sort of got lost in the cracks.
My first marriage was about finding my orgasm, which by the way I never did, at least not through sex. I learned how to pleasure myself when I was younger, on accident mind you, but I did not realize that I was “masturbating,” and I never made the connection between touching myself and my husband touching me in the same way. I was so young and naive that it is hard for me not to feel sympathy for my younger self.
I was a mother of four but completely ignorant about my own sexuality. I could have sex to produce babies, but sex for pleasure eluded me. I became disengaged from sex and almost numb to the act. I had to. It was either stay numb or continue to cry to my doctor, convinced there was something horribly wrong with me. I thought sex was supposed to be this incredible act shared between a married couple, yet I felt nothing but self doubt, self loathing, and no desire to engage in this depressing act. Sex was not the the primary reason for the demise of my marriage but it definitely played a role.
My second marriage, though not the best relationship, did offer a different vantage point in the way I viewed my sexuality. I went from believing there was something wrong with me to realizing there was nothing wrong with me in regard to the act of sex but in the way I had viewed sex.
All of a sudden I was thrust into a relationship in which sex was about exploration and discovery. I was encouraged to experiment with my body and my senses and bring my sexuality out into the open. Sex was not just something done under the sheets with the lights off, but an out in the open, hello, see me, look at me, watch me experience.
Although I was encouraged by my second husband to be sexual, this newfound sexuality brought on jealousy and started working against me. The more sexual we were with each other, the more jealousy it created. It became a double edged sword. A sword which eventually shredded the marriage to bits.
After my second marriage, I was convinced that I was probably going to be single for the second half of my life. I wanted a relationship but could not imagine how I was going to find someone who would be able to truly love me for me. I was not even sure if I knew how to love myself. I seemed to be forever searching for the missing piece but always coming up just a tad short. Maybe it really was not possible to “have it all.”
What happened next changed my view of having it all. It was a revelation about what can happen when you finally see all the years of learning, struggling and soul searching materialize. The best part was that it came from the most unlikely of places—a place so foreign to me that I did not even know its definition—it came from swinging.
I reconnected with an old high school classmate after my divorce. I saw a picture he had posted on Facebook, one he had taken years earlier of a hummingbird feeding its chicks. The picture was so elusive, I felt compelled to comment. He responded, and within no time, an online dialog was flowing. The chats soon led to a phone conversation followed by a flight across several states a few days later.
This high school classmate was John. He and I had not seen each other for over 30 years, yet we had evolved into a perfect match. Here I was, this midwestern girl who had never ventured far from home, falling for a man who moved away as soon as the diploma was in his hand. He and I had lived completely different lives. I stayed home and raised a plethora of kids; he traveled the world and said yes to the adventurous side of living. I was safe, yet unfulfilled; he was not afraid of risk and had a peace I yearned for.
In spite of what appeared to be vast differences, we each offered what the other was searching for. John wanted to find stability in a relationship and I wanted to say yes without fear. What I did not realize was the impact his lifestyle was going to have on my life.
John owned swinger clubs and participated in the lifestyle. I grew up entrenched in the traditional monogamous dogma. I found swinging to be incredibly interesting, and I loved the whole concept of being in a relationship where jealousy was not encouraged but being true to who you are, was. John gently nudged me forward into the swinging arena. I was somewhat skeptical of this level of trust, honesty and intimacy, particularly as the lifestyle was completely outside of what I grew up believing was “normal.”
I quickly learned that swinging is about incorporating every aspect of who you are and using those attributes to their fullest potential. If you want trust, swinging takes trust to unfathomable levels. If you want honesty, swinging unearths a deeper understanding of truth. If you want to find your sexuality, swinging gives you permission to explore while enveloped in safety.
As a matter of fact, the more walls you tear down through swinging, the more secure you feel with your partner and the more authentic your love becomes. Swinging moves the relationship away from obligation to authenticity, and this authenticity began to alter my view.
No longer was I coming from a disconnected place in my sexuality. I was being encouraged to connect the dots. If I gained satisfaction through a sexual act, whether with my spouse or another partner, this satisfaction was viewed as a benefit to the relationship.
The act of sex was taking on a completely different definition. It was an avenue to discovering more about myself. Each experience brought a wealth of information, sometimes bringing me to tears and sometimes enveloping me in a deep sense of power and confidence. Sex became more than intercourse—it was a journey.
For the first time in my life, sex no longer defined what was lacking in me, but what was being created. This metamorphosis was not just happening to me, but to both of us.
Each time John and I shared an interaction, whether with each other or with other people, we learned something new. We stretched our senses. We closed our eyes, felt, touched and breathed. We saw the fountain of youth-like responses our bodies exhibited each time we interacted with each other.
This is a serum so valuable and so restorative that we felt as though we had stumbled onto the holy grail. Sex was not just about having intercourse, it was about interconnecting.
John and I have built a life full of all types of relationships, friendships and interactions with others that are more intimate than I have ever experienced in my life. This intimacy has become an integral part of my day, one which I can recharge and recalibrate. This intimacy is the key to finding your vulnerability and in turn unlocking yourself.
John and Jackie Melfi are married swingers and in an open relationship. They were featured in an ABC News Nightline special report “Getting ‘Naughty in N’Awlins’: Inside a New Orleans Swingers Convention” and are the force behind the industry famous colette swingers clubs in Dallas, New Orleans, Houston, and Austin and the award-winning blog Openlove101.com with over 20 years of combined experience in open relationships and coaching thousands of couples.