Monday, February 21, 2005

More about dreaming

I want to clarify that this whole notion of taking time off has nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of love I have for my husband. It's somehow completely separate in my mind. It's more like I want to take a vacation so that I'll miss him and want him back. But I still love him as much as ever, and I still know I want to be with him the rest of my life. That doesn't change. And he understands, bless him.

Yeah, it's just that there is this experience I want to have - or I feel like I missed out on or whatever. When I was dating I was not who I am today. And the woman today wants to get a first kiss. Or just a date. Those butterflies. They come swarming in the night into my gut, and if I've dreamed about someone I see the next day, then they come back.

Being the ridiculously honest and open person that I am, I shared my dream with the star of the show. I have done this two other times. And a curious thing always happens: the other person always just assume that there's no way I could actually be serious about wanting to do this thing. I thought I had a shot with my one close friend who's not religious, but no, even he was morality man. Which is great, I'm glad that I choose to be intimate and vulnerable with such upstanding men. But there's also a little part of me that says, "Hey! I'm the married one. If I am looking past that, why can't you?" And I figure the answer is because they don't actually find me attractive enough to look past it. And that hurts a little.

I know it's all nuts and I shouldn't think about these things at all. How totally inappropriate for a seminarian to harbor thoughts of infidelity. But it's not like I want to have an affair! I don't even want sex. I simply want the chance to try kissing another person (or perhaps hugging passionately???). And you know what? I want to be the one who says no. Who says that was a wonderful experience and I'm so glad I had it, but I know I want to be with J forever. If I could find a person who had the same understanding, a no-commitment innocent makeout session...just a chance for me, for once, to be the one who stands up for my marriage.

Because I keep having these thoughts because I never get to be the one to end them. So the guy doesn't take me seriously and I chastise myself and I feel awkward for a while then get over it. But necessarily the thought will return with another new friend because the thing that caused them has not been fulfilled. So if it was fulfilled, and I got to decide for myself that I choose J, then would they go away forever?

Plus wouldn't it be cool if someone else actually felt this way about me? Now the psychosis comes out. I want someone else to feel this way. I love how it feels to have a crush, but I love even more being crushed on. And baby, you'd get a little bit, even though you wouldn't get me in the end.

Hmmmm....any takers?
: )


ShellyP said...

Most people don't think about this stuff before they get married, but this would be a perfect pre-marriage topic. Now that you're in it, you have to remember the part of your vows that you promised to God and your husband to forsake all others. Had it been discussed beforehand maybe non-traditional agreements could have been made.

As for now, you're playing with fire. How do you know you'll be able to stop when you need to? Or worse, how do you know you can make the other person stop when you want to?

Stasi said...

This is exactly the attitude that leads to sexual repression and neuroses in Christians. God forbid we ever have a fantasy or a feeling, and if we do, we should repent immediately - NEVER tell anybody else! Because that can lead to people realizing they are not alone, which can lead to horrible things like honesty and openness and all of us admitting we're human.

One of the worst things about marriage between Christians, and this is probably why we have a higher divorce rate than non-Christians, is that people have this mindset that you never, ever can get out of it, and you never, ever can be impure, even in thought, even in desire, perhaps even in your dreams. Well I just don't think that's realistic. There are degrees of forsaking, and not all of them are sinful.

In this forum, I share what I really feel in order to help somebody out there feel like she or he is not alone.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly how you feel. As a Christian man whose been married for almost 10 years, I feel the same way. I love my wife and I have 2 kids to boot. But it sure has been a long time since I've felt my heart beat a little faster and I've often thought about what it might be like to have a short term relationship (although, as a man, I do want sex).

Perhaps what keeps me from such a relationship is that I think about how inconvenient such a relationship would be. Not only do you have to keep it a secret (because its "taboo") but then when folks find out, its really hard to get up and go to Church the next morning. Damn.

ShellyP said...

Don't think I was trying to knock your openness. I believe that what two people decide their marriage should be is up to them. You can even change your vows. I just believe both should agree and know (preferably beforehand) exactly what kind of relationship they're getting into. It's only fair.

If the tables were turned how would you really feel?

Stasi said...

Okay, I see what you mean. No, that's why I'm especially weird, because I totally talk to my husband about all of this stuff. I have found that I am less tempted to actually do anything if I talk through my feelings with him. If I hide them, that's dangerous. And he tells me the same. We've both had crushes on other people since we've been married - and frequently we approve of each other's, as we can each see why the other would be turned on by that person.

Marriage is a truly funny thing. And big thank you to Mr. Anonymous - you made my day. It's so great to learn you're not alone.

Paul Wilczynski said...

I think the whole key to what you're feeling is your openness and
honesty with your spouse.

I believe that nothing you could do, if your spouse understands and supports you, could be construed as infidelity or unfaithfulness. Most spouses, of course, aren't able to deal with the thought of anything happening that involves someone outside of the married couple. In rare instances, the individuals who are married are so secure with their relationship that they don't need to fear losing the other. Those individuals are often capable of "allowing" the other (in the sense of "giving their blessing") to openly feel and experience what they need to feel and experience.

And that's a wonderful thing.

Phil said...

This makes me sad because it seems like the first step towards the end of your marriage. Your marriage is too precious to even play with things like this.
In James it says "But people are tempted when they are drawn away and trapped by their own evil desires. Then their evil desires conceive and give birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death."
Is this being repressive or just being wise? I'm not being jugmental, I just know how fragile marriages are. What you've got is better than anything out there.

Stasi said...

I disagree. This isn't the first step to the end of a marriage - it's the first step to working on saving it. What if a person spends the rest of his or her life thinking about "what might have been?" THAT is going to cause a marriage to fail. Marriages are fragile, yes, but I believe that's most true when people are not open about how they are feeling, even when their feelings are outside the respected "norms" of marriage.

My marriage is too precious for me to spend it unhappy and unsatisfied. Isn't it better for both of us if I choose to be in the relationship, instead of staying perpetually "stuck" there?

What I've got is not better than anything out there, because what I've got is a marriage in which I harbor a desire for something other than my husband. I want a marriage in which I have chosen that I want to desire only my husband. That is better than anything out there.

seeker said...

I have to say up front that I am not married, never have been. But I have had serious relationships.

When I dream about someone that surprises me that my dream put them into that particular context, I usually figure out that the person is a symbol - for something or someone else.

It strikes me, from my single-hood, that possibly what your dream is telling you is that you want to rediscover the person that you originally fell in love with. You've said that you've been married 7 years, you've both worked, you're now involved in a very intense course of study. Maybe what you are really long for is that early excitement with your husband - not with someone different.

I guess, maybe, what I'm trying to say is that maybe your dream is calling you back to the husband you knew in the early days. Go out on some dates, see movies, go to the art museum, take long walks, etc. Does this make any sense or am I just blathering away here?

Stasi said...

Well, duh, of course I would like to have the initial feelings back with my husband, first and foremost. But things change when you've been with one person for a long time. We do all of those things: go to movies, dinner, museums, long walks, endless conversations. But no matter how many dating scenarios you try to recreate, the reality is that something fundamentally has changed - ideally has grown - while you have grown more deeply attached to each other over many years. It is well nigh impossible to get back original dating feelings because you simply can't recreate them. They were there and brought you together in the first place, but they served their purpose and now you've moved on.

Of course what you have in marriage grows to be deeper and more intimate and ultimately much more rewarding than anything while dating. But, that doesn't mean that our teenage crush desires go away! That's all I am saying. You can analyze this up the wazoo and try to shrink my brain and give me dire warnings of hell and brimstone. But what I am saying is true. And that's been confirmed by the married people who have responded.

Phil said...

You know, no one has given you dire warnings of hell and brimstone. This seems to be your stock attitude towards anyone expressing a traditional Christian opinion to you. You seem to be very open to people who agree with the conclusions you have already reached. As I said before, this makes me sad, because I think you are making a mistake.

Stasi said...

Sorry, I assumed "you're playing with fire" and "sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death" were kind of damning statements. It seems to be rather preachy to begin making such dramatic pronouncements when I was simply expressing something that is in my heart.

I am not looking for people to always agree, but I would like them to listen to and respect my struggle instead of simply writing it off as sinful. The struggle itself is not sinful - I don't believe the desires themselves are sinful either, despite what James may say.

I answered what you said before, Phil, by expressing my take on things (not by just disagreeing with your "traditional Christian" response). The gist of that response and this most recent one is that YES, I want my husband most of all. And I'm trying to find a way to remove these "evil desires" from my life.

But can't you see how hard it is for your fellow believers, to say nothing of nonbelievers, when a struggle is happening and all you can do is prooftext at them? To quote James at me, or pity me, does not help me solve my problem. And to proclaim this "the first step towards the end of your marriage" is really unfair when you don't know my marriage's history or current situation.

I guess I just feel like you're giving me stock answers instead of really reading what the situation is for me. We cannot always presume that our answers are right for everyone else's life.

Phil said...

So, if I quote the bible I'm being "preachy". I don't understand this - you are a Christian and so the Bible has some part to play in our thinking. I'll tell exactly how I was feeling - I was feeling sad, like I said, because I honestly felt that if you went down that track you would be putting your marriage in danger. This is not a stock answer, just honestly what I think. It's interesting that you interpret the James passage as damning. I never saw that in it. Perhaps it's because I've never been in a fundamentalist church and didn't grow up in a church going family. It just seems to me to be speaking about the way things are - you plant one kind of seed and it grows up to be that kind of plant.
You are absolutely right of course, the struggle is not sin ( and actually nobody said it was), but the act of unfaithfulness would have been. It's not patronising to say so. It's also not patronising that I've been praying for you and your situation. I don't think I have all the answers at all. Can't you assume that behind these comments are good motives rather than assume the opposite.

Stasi said...

It is amazing how much our formative Christian experience shapes the way we interpret the theological messages from those around us.

It should give those of us who are planning to pastor others great pause.