Good sex and marriage are not mutually exclusive.
"Hold me down harder, so you're overpowering me and I can't move. Like this," I showed Aaron, trying to pin my hands under his arms as he lay awkwardly on top of me.
"It's uncomfortable," he complained.
"Oh, come on. Now rip off my shirt!" I ordered him. "Can you be more aggressive?"
"Can you be more castrating?" he asked, slipping off my sweater so gently you'd think I was a china doll about to break.
"Now grab my breasts and say something mean," I instructed.
"You're a controlling shrew," he said calmly, obeying me so half-heartedly I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe friends who'd called me a control freak were right. It appeared that I was now 100 percent in control of my own sexual domination.
My husband refused to act like he was raping me. Nor would he want to tie me up, restrain me, spank me, or force me into any form of submission, except to pick up his dry cleaning, which I was always forgetting.
Aaron was tall, handsome, brilliant, funny—everything I wanted in a lover except reckless. Indeed, the kinkiest thing about him was his luxuriant Jewish boy's 'fro; I loved to run my fingers through his curls. He was raised to be a suburban gentleman in the conservative 1950's and went to college in the liberated 70's—which may explain why he wasn't bitch-slapping me while pretending he was a pimp and I was his hooker, or playing the principal punishing the naughty schoolgirl sent to his office, or acting like a kidnapper tying up his naked, quivering victim. Instead, he put his ardor into his work while making sweet, calm, comfortable love to his wife once every week or two. Or three. Okay, a few years into our marriage, we sometimes went an entire month without even a quickie.
This was a far cry from our lewd long-distance courtship, where I'd fly to L.A. in tight jeans, braless under my T-shirt, and he'd throw me to the carpet as soon as I walked into his apartment, or take me in the hot tub on his roof (where we once got caught by the building's manager). The West Coast earthquakes we lived through were an apt metaphor for how I'd initially felt fooling around with him, as in "Oh, baby, the earth moved." The first year he was aggressive, and I was happy to be tamed.
Of course, we couldn't maintain the thrill of our bi-coastal relationship forever. Eventually, we got engaged, married, and moved in together. At 35, I was pleasantly shocked that a strong, intense, career-driven woman like me could actually get a great husband. Soon paying off an expensive mortgage, dealing with infertility, and mourning the death of a few close relatives intruded on our fun escapades. So when the sexual status quo became less-than-hot-and-salacious, I cut us some slack.
While my mate was working late and away on business trips, I'd get my rocks off by imagining a mysterious naked couple acting out semi-violent fetishes. Once the aggressive male I was envisioning turned into the British film star Clive Own (around the time of Closer, where he stole every scene by playing an angry manipulative scoundrel). The disobedient French maid he was disciplining became the tennis player Anna Kournikova, whose cheesecake bikini pictures I'd seen in the National Inquirer. I'd also paged through Penthouse and surf porn sites on the web. When Aaron got home, I offered to enact any lascivious scenario that might appeal to him: a private wet T-shirt contest with me as the only contestant and him as the judge? Hand job with scented motion lotion? Trying it doggy style? Titty f**king? I even asked if he was interested in giving me a "pearl necklace." So he didn't think I wanted him to buy me jewelry, I explained I'd read online that the phrase was a euphemism for a man ejaculating onto a woman's neck. "Great, now I'm married to a porn addict," he said, going into his den to check email.
Mild, metrosexual men have never done it for me. Maybe it was because my father grew up a Lower East Side street kid who, my mother used to brag, would have been a gangster had she not put him through medical school in the Midwest. Her favorite photograph of him is when he was 16, wearing a black leather jacket, smoking an unfiltered cigarette and looking handsome and menacing. I wondered if she'd cursed me to a life of cads. Then there were my three big, tough brothers, known for yelling "switch to tackle" before landing on top of me in the middle of a touch football game on our lawn. Not surprisingly, I turned into a loudmouth tomboy unafraid to compete with the guys and stick up for myself. When I introduced my junior high best friend, Claire, to a sweet fellow student who'd asked me out, she whispered, "Are you kidding? You have more testosterone than he does."
At 15, I met David, a wife-beater-wearing, Marlboro-smoking, self-styled James Dean. He was obnoxious and aggressive—even anti-romantic—calling me an "old sea hag," with "violent eyes" and "breeder's hips." When we made out, he rubbed his hands all over me and said his father owned a meat-packing plant where he worked in the summertime, so he was used to slinging sides of beef. Bored by polite West Bloomfield boys who'd ask permission before kissing me, I was a goner. The fact that we were at a B'nai Brith camp convention where I was president of my chapter, and he was a straight A pre-med student from a well-off Ontario family, was incidental. He correctly surmised that since I was such a powerful type-A personality used to being in charge, I needed an arena where I could loosen up and let someone else call the shots. Six turbulent years later it ended in (predictable) disaster after he slept with not one but two of my close girlfriends.
Brad, my first gentile (and