This topic has come up in my mind many times but today after paging through a magazine at the hair studio I decided I am driven to address it today!
The magazine featured an ad for a TV show running on USA network called Satisfaction. The photo shows a couple sitting in bed, separate and still , looking ahead with bored looks on their faces. The tag line reads something like “ Are you willing to risk your marriage for it?” or something like that.
I have not watched the show so possibly my reaction is over the top, but as those of us who are adult children of divorce know, nothing ever is the same for us. Our reactions and perceptions are forever changed once our parents divorce in our adult years!
My reaction was to become angry . I wanted to answer that question in the minds of each person who sees the show’s ad. I want to scream “NO, your marriage is not worth risking for the feeling of sexual satisfaction that may come from a different relationship!!”. After reading the description of the show, there was added angst as the story line includes the marriage partners looking for satisfaction by paying an escort.
Should you think I am suggesting that satisfaction in a marriage is not important, that is not the case. I am just wondering why the show is not exploring a different question instead. Something like “ What are you willing to do to find it again in your marriage?” I admit that the drama and funny situations and suspense may not keep one glued to the set in my kind of show, but mine would include showing a couple who is willing to selflessly consider how to please each other sexually and in all other ways ( from satisfaction in emotional closeness, and satisfaction in shared goals and satisfaction in spiritual connectedness, etc).
I have been married for over 25 years and I can tell you that satisfaction in a sexual relationship is dependant on their being satisfaction in many other areas of a marriage first. Where there is emotional, relational, spiritual, and intellectual satisfaction mutually, there can be physical enjoyment that transcends the acts involved in sex. That was God’s design . Why should we settle for looking for that with someone else in relationship, or in a purely physical contract where money is exchanged.
So , how does this fit with ACODs and their experience?
If you are reading this , you are probably 20-50 years old as an adult. You have probably had your own sexual experiences in some shape or form . You probably remember when you learned that your parents also had those type of experiences , with each other , that resulted in YOU! Most people I have talked to had a hard time with that concept once they learned how that all works. The thought of your parents in a sexual relationship usually makes most of us squeamish, but the idea that they have a healthy relationship makes us feel secure. Most of choose not to let our imaginations go there when it comes to our parents, but we feel warmed and happy when we see a spontaneous kiss or gentle hug or a tender look between the people whose love was a catalyst to our creation.
In my case , when I learned my father was having an affair, at an older age, I have to admit this question of sexual satisfaction ruminated in my mind. As acods who know our parents divorced because of a “new person” in one or both of our parents lives, we have to deal with the fact that one or both parents were so dissatisfied in some or many aspects of their marriage, that they went looking elsewhere or took the bait when it was offered.
Affairs can satisfy emotional, intellectual, and many other parts of us. As adult children of divorce it is hard for us to think that our parent is choosing to become closer to someone else than our other parent. It is hard to accept that our leaving parent can let go of the many connections they have to the past with us and our other parent. We wonder how they can share their joys and sorrows with someone we don’t know . This eats at the core of our being. We become almost nauseated when we consider the physical relationship. Something so sacred has been dragged through the mud. We see selfishness. We see immaturity. Again, our leaving parent may see new satisfaction but we see loss.
As an adult child of divorce who was grappling with this, I initially felt that something was taken away from my own sexual relationship with my husband. It had nothing to do with us, but the images I tried to keep out of my mind of my leaving parent. For a while my sexuality was affected. The enjoyment was not there all the time for me. Thoughts of my parents physical love being gone bothered me and made me angry. The satisfaction was not there. Actually that loss of satisfaction has gone in cycles as I have married, bore children, raised children, experienced ill health, and busy schedules , and again as I made my way through the first few years of being an acod. But thankfully the physical satisfaction or loss of it is not how I determine the value of my relationship with my husband. And it is good that he does not think that way either .
Many times through the years we have found ourselves proverbially sitting in bed, staring into space, looking bored. If asked “Are you willing to risk your marriage to find sexual satisfaction outside of this marriage?” we would shout a resounding “NO!”. We know that way more is risked when we look elsewhere.
Instead we have asked ourselves when in that spot, “What are you willing to do to restore satisfaction to your marriage?” And then we start answering by realizing that our sexual relationship will only be as good as our overall relationship. We want the emotional , relational, spiritual, intellectual parts to be so strong , that should illness, or old age, or stress keep us from physical closeness, our marriage will stand strong regardless. And then we answer more specifically what we can do to spice things up.
If you are an adult child who is determining your own sexual mores , and now you have more to deal with because of a parent’s affair and subsequent divorce of your parents, learn how to think in a healthy way about sex. Boundaries keep good things in and bad things out, just like a fence. Even if you are dating, pursue much satisfaction in your dating relationship before the physical component ever enters the equation. Ideally, commitment in marriage before sex will keep things in perspective and show selflessness and honor to each other.
Dealing with our parents sexuality is not always comfortable , even when they are happily married, and when the quest for satisfaction has led to divorce, we feel the loss and have to deal with it.
Recently I was struggling with what topic to write about next. Well, advertising experts will tell you that “sex sells” ….. Maybe one day we will see an advertisement for a TV show that is selling healthy, valued, good sex within the bounds and bonds of marriage . That is what I am “selling” today on my blog. I have seen the alternative and I think I have the better deal for the whole family!!!!!!