Wednesday, February 18, 2004

A few years back, I lived and worked for a time in a rural and mountainous part of the country. As part of my work, I got to know some ranchers, farmers, and building contractors – typical Sam Shepard types in their demeanor and outlook. One day I got to talking with a subcontractor who owned a heavy equipment and road building company and for some reason or another the conversation turned to a discussion of vasectomies. I will never forget it – the look of pain and squeamishness on the face of this rugged guy who thought nothing of moving tons of dirt with big iron equipment.

He was just recovering from the latest set of complications that he had endured as a result of a botched vasectomy. Though I don’t remember the exact conversation, I do remember his face like it I had seen it yesterday and what he told me has seared into my brain with the force of a life lesson.

The story is as follows. At the suggestion of his wife, the contractor had gotten a normal vasectomy at a local urologist and then the incision had become infected. He suffered through months of pain, infection, pus and swelling in the testicles, ultimately losing of one of his two balls. The description of the pain was brutal. The conversation ended with his cautionary advice to never ever even consider putting myself in the position to have to go through that kind of hell.

Makes you think.

Wife and I have talked about this. Of course she pointed out that he probably received a lower caliber of medical care than I could find in the local big city. And she is most probably right. But still, that is a serious image ricocheting around in my brain.

Over the past few years, Wife and I have spoken about me getting snipped. For a while she agreed as long as I would agree to put some of my sperm on ice “just in case”. I brought it up the other day and she strongly objected because she is now hoping that “love will convince me of the error of my opinions”. Yeesh. Screwed if I do, Screwed if I don’t.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

About ten months ago, when Wife and I were at a really low point, I concluded that desperate times require desperate measures. I started cruising the Salon/Nerve personals site, looking for somebody who could possibly be interested in a very discrete liaison. Understand that in my years of marriage to Wife as well as the (mercifully) briefer time married to Practice Wife (obviously practice does not make perfect), I had never fooled around or even seriously contemplated the notion. The first step down a slippery slope….

I posted a profile, without picture, stating clearly what I was looking for and then started sending out notes to women whose profiles indicated that they were married and looking for something similar. But I also sent out a note to one woman who was single but clearly looking for some serious alternative lifestyle swinging in a very discrete manner. Like most people, I have my kinks, and unlike many people, I admit them to myself when I look in the mirror so the net result is that I don’t have to spend years in therapy trying to come to grips with my inner demons. (Btw, I love straight up sex, I love everything in the kitchen is now in the bedroom sex, I love “your role play or mine” sex; it’s just the same thing day in, day out that wears me down. Who wants to eat roast chicken and potatoes every night???). Her profile was very specific with what she wanted and it was not missionary and it did not dovetail 100% with my interests, but what the heck, I sent her a note to see what would happen.

To my surprise, I received a brief note in return with some vague noncommittal interest indicated. I sent a few other notes, pointing out in case she missed it in my profile my marriage status, as well as some more attempts to reel her in. Occasionally I would get a brief response, and finally she stopped altogether.

About two months later I saw that her profile had been updated. I sent another note asking if she had found what she was looking for, and this time received a better response but still no commitment to meet.

So – I proposed the excellent idea that we start exchanging erotic emails with stories custom written for each other. My proposal was that she would control – any time she wanted to stop we would stop, if she wanted to move to the next level it would be her call, etc. Much to my surprise she agreed and asked for a bedtime story.

I spent several days working through a scenario that I though would land a bulls-eye given what little I know of her, wrote it down, emailed it off, and a day later got a note back telling me I had given her serious food for thought and lots of late night fantasy entertainment. Then commenced a several months long, completely anonymous exchange of seriously hot stories back and forth. Along with the erotic stories, we started to exchange more personal emails that became a small intimacy. It felt great, coming at a time when my marriage had really hit a low point. And then finally, BINGO, came the invitation, to meet in person.

After agreeing to meet, I finally begged off and canceled the in person get together, and we mutually agreed to stop sending the notes, with a very nice back and forth email wrap-up. We both really enjoyed sending the notes but as for getting together, one small step down a slippery slope….

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

I have several good friends and business associates who are from India. They have all moved to the US at various times in the past five to ten years and each of whom is in an arranged marriage. Some of the couples seem to have developed real love and affection for each other while others barely like each other. Based on conversations and observation, if you were to create a graph whose x axis ranged from low to high satisfaction with their marriage and the y-axis gave the numbers of couples that would be slotted at each satisfaction level, you would get Bell-curve like results that are similar to those that you would probably get from applying the same process to a group of people that were able to pick their own mates and married for love. Of course, the sample size I am using is far too small to be statistically meaningful and the group is self selected for highly educated over-achievers (after all, these are the kind of people who were able to go to university in India and then come to the US for high paying jobs), but I think one can draw some interesting conclusions from this.

For one, what’s love got to do with it? Actually nothing. A very close friend met his wife for the first time after he flew back to India from the US about a week before they got married, and only spent a few hours in supervised conversation before they tied the knot. She is a physician and he is successful financier. They clearly don’t like each other all that much, but they are dedicated parents, stand-up members of the community, take care of each other and each other’s family, and in general function as a family unit. The people I know who entered into arranged marriages experience very low (actually none) divorce rates and their children seem to be well cared for.

I state all this because I have received a number of emails from people advising me to flee the relationship. It can be inferred (correctly) from my postings that the level of love, in the romantic sense, between Wife and me is quite low. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t do a good job of taking care of our child, being involved with each other’s extended families, or supporting each other when one of us is sick or in duress. In fact we do all these things well. I have made a decision to stay in the relationship, knowing full well that I am sacrificing a good sex life, will have to endure countless minor and not-so-minor annoyances, and in general will have to put the concept of family stability ahead of some personal needs.

People in our society have become acculturated to the notion that their own personal satisfaction is the most important thing in the world. But if you make the decision to have a child (and making the decision includes the default decision when you have unprotected sex and then later say ‘OOPS!’), you should stand by your commitment to that child’s well being and suck it up for them.

At least until the child is out of the house and off to college.

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