Marriage is often thought of as having little to do with eroticism.1
I met my husband while bartending in Oakland. He applied to be the new chef. Tattooed knuckles. Chubby cheeks. Full beard. Unexpected waddle. A real heartthrob. He asked to speak with the kitchen manager. He and I wouldn’t speak again for 3 months.
I said to my coworker, “I’m going to marry that man one day,” (and also a lot of other things that at the time weren’t considered sexual harassment because it was early aughts’ type women’s liberation and we were always objectifying men, objectifying ourselves before anyone else could objectify us).
It was all true though. I wanted to objectify him. Even more, I wanted him to objectify me. I wanted to be something that could belong to him. While at the same time I wanted to be something he could easily throw away.
I went home and ate rainbow Rice Krispie treat edibles, chewed a Valium, watched Frankie and Johnny (1991, the year I was born, a sign) featuring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer. The IMDB description reads: Johnny has just been released from prison and gets a job in a café beside waitress Frankie. Frankie is a bit of a loner, but Johnny is determined their romance will blossom.2
I imagined myself as Pfeiffer, my not-yet-husband as Pacino. I masturbated manifesting it into existence. Masturbate. Cry. Valium. Netflix. Repeat.
“You looked so crazy good in your filthy Gold’s Gym t-shirt and greasy hair today that I decided I’m going to tear my spleen out and blend it w/fernet to give to you as a gift.” – paper sext from me to my not-yet-husband circa 2012
I was a late bloomer. This is true in more ways than one.
One of them being that I was a millennial with a flip-phone until 2014. This meant sexting was hard (t9 word and all), but not impossible.
The thing about being a late bloomer is that it’s never too late to convert religions.
You can do it in the hospital on your death bed.
On the wall above my desk is a postcard with a Ben Fama quote on it, Prayer is whatever you say on your knees
I don’t believe in god but,
maybe I can get behind prayer
No gods, no masters.
Can I still be a feminist
if I worship my husband’s cock
if he once slapped me so hard as I came that he burst a capillary in my eye
if I wear a dog collar for him
if he confiscates the lube and commands I get wet for him (and I do, because, duh, he’s my
god master husband)
“Using a time augmenting spell, I am actually currently inside of you. We are both coming.” – paper sext from my not-yet-husband to me circa 2012
My husband once told me that sexually successful couples talk to one another about their sex-life. This was after years of having sexted one another. I now think we have accumulated more hours of talking about sex than having sex.
Historically speaking (read: pre-2020), most of the (sexual) maintenance of our relationship happened over text message which we used to send to one another from our places of employment. In those days it would be hours between when the text messages were sent and when we would see each other. Sometimes (often) our texts were too graphic and embarrassing to write here (like I want to scoop your cum off my chest and slurp it while you rub your soft dick between my feet). Other times they were tender, like I love feeling your balls shrivel in my palm when you come in my mouth. (Is this marital maintenance or just 21st century foreplay?)
Sometimes (often) we would fall asleep in bed before carrying out said sexual script as sent via text messages during working hours.
“Habit dulls intensity and marriage implies habit.” 3
Last year I thought my husband would leave me. I did a bad thing. I confessed. I spent three nights sleeping on a futon downstairs and chain-smoking cigarettes even though I quit 5 years earlier. On Wednesdays we went to couples’ therapy which took place on the futon in front of my laptop. Our therapist appeared in a zoom box and we could see ourselves in the box beside him. He talked about overeaters anonymous and I guess at least it was comforting to know we were all addicts.
Outside of therapy we didn’t talk much about what I’d done.
Our therapist pointed out how much we’d done to each other.
I wondered how much a marriage could withstand – we are both masochists – our desire to get close to something dangerous means maybe our marriage will last forever.
“Pleasure is so close to ruinous waste that we refer to the moment of climax as a ‘little death.’” 4
The week before my husband agreed to go to couples’ therapy, we do not sext. We hardly talk. Mostly he does not look at me, but he comes in me at least once a day and I am wet all the time. Once, I orgasm the second he enters me and I feel like a teenage boy.
We go on a trip with his family (which is now my family).
Our 12-year-old sits on a beach beneath tall redwoods and talks to their uncle.
I paddle the kayak out and turn into a beachy marsh that is hidden from our family. I pull his swim trunks down and am surprised to find him already hard – how many times have I worked you in my mouth until you were erect?
I like your dick in my throat, the way it gags me, involuntary tears running down my eyes, the sense of losing oxygen, the way it all blurs my vision and the world becomes formless. Gravel cuts through the skin of my knees. It feels like you are ripping the hair from my head.
It is nice to be just a body.
“Habit, on the other hand, is able to deepen the experiences that impatience scorns to bother with.” 5
A couple weeks after I’ve confessed to my husband about all (most) my transgressions, I fly to Arizona. I stay with my father who loves Fox news and Coors Light. He is having surgery and things still feel close to deteriorating with my marriage. Life doesn’t stop for marriage – that is part of what makes it so hard. The timing is bad – leaving my husband so soon after telling him what I’ve done – our therapy still new and everything feels urgent the way it did when we first met.
One night, my dad watches nine hours of football with his fiancé and I lock myself in the small guest room and take off all my clothes. My husband has just discovered an encrypted messaging app (whatever that means).
We take turns sending videos of each other masturbating. I get a close-up of me fingering myself so he can hear how wet I am. I suck my slick fingers. I choke myself and pretend it’s the weight of his heavy forearm and not my thin hand on my throat. I come over and over again. The next day I am sore and swollen and every time I move I am forced to think of sex(ting) with my husband.
Months later, when he is talking to me again without having to look away, I will send him a screenshot I took of my phone’s photo gallery. It has, with its computer mind, created albums and organized photos based on perceived emotions. The album cover it has chosen is a screenshot of me in Arizona, topless, moments before I came and the album title is “surprised.”
We laugh. It becomes a joke
I can’t wait to surprise you tonight
I’m dying for you to surprise me, daddy
It is the kind of joke that hurts a little because of where it was conceived.
“Love is based on a desire to live in anguish in the presence of an object of such high worth that the heart cannot bear to contemplate losing it. The fever of the senses is not a desire to die. Nor is love the desire to lose but the desire to live in fear of possible loss, with the beloved holding the lover on the very threshold of a swoon. At that price alone can we feel the violence of rapture before the beloved.” 6
My husband is talking to me again.
Our therapist has “graduated” us.
Life is ok. Sex is great. There could always be more, but I know I’m the greedy type.
I think, everything happens for a reason, right?
I imagine if things had gone differently. What it would be like to be alone. Turning thirty this year. What it would mean to be single after having spent my entire 20s with one man. There are millions of times that we could have given up – our therapist told us as much.
Sometimes I think I would be fine. Doesn’t everyone wonder about starting over?
Other times, most the time, I think it would be the purest form of masochism – to give up, to start over, like ripping an organ out of my own body and expecting not to die.
“What is the difference between me and somebody who stays in a marriage. . . isn’t it so much harder to keep one together than to let one die?” 7
The other morning, I asked my husband, “What do you like about making me come?” I think we were eating cereal or maybe drinking coffee. It was a Monday morning, early still because the setting is fuzzy in my memory.
He said, “Making you come is like holding a firework.”
The whole time I’d been thinking about what my own answer might be – why I like making him come.
He didn’t ask.
making my husband come is the only time I feel adored – powerful – the sole source of a man’s pleasure, like he needs me to stay alive
- Bataille, Georges, Erotism: Death and Sensuality, 109
- Frankie & Johnny (1991) - IMDb
- Bataille, Georges, Erotism: Death and Sensuality, 111
- Bataille, Georges, Erotism: Death and Sensuality, 170
- Bataille, Georges, Erotism: Death and Sensuality, 111
- Bataille, Georges, Erotism: Death and Sensuality, 242
- Renata Aron, Nina, Good Morning, Destroyer of Men's Souls, 134