Monday, March 17, 2008

I Got What I Wanted

Four months before my 50th birthday, I discovered that my husband of 28 years had been having an affair. I was crushed. For several months afterwards, I was split on whether to reconcile and "save" our marriage or leave. I just couldn't commit one way or the other.

I had a conference I was speaking at in New York. Inspired by the movie "The Wedding Date," I found an escort agency in New York and arranged for an "escort," preferably over 35, for the second night of my stay, after I completed my speaking obligation. My goal was simple. I needed to know that I could be naked in front of a man other than my husband and enjoy the experience. I'm attractive, but I have the stretch marks of four pregnancies, breasts slightly less than perky, and, despite daily workouts, thighs that jiggle. He called beforehand, offering to make dinner reservations, but I offered room service instead. I was nervous when he arrived, but he was very comfortable and relaxed. We agreed to have dinner later, and I started to undress but he stopped me. He undressed me, and then helped me undress him. If my body was anything less than desirable, I never felt it. He coaxed me onto the bed and, starting with my earlobes, kissed and stroked his way down, softly describing each body part as he touched it. He would arrange my hands and fingers and then kiss over and through them. We never did have dinner. Instead, we made love twice, he went down on me twice, and I went down on him once. We spooned and slept in between. In the morning, we showered and shampooed each other's hair. (I mention that only because it was amazing.) Afterwards, we had a somewhat erotic toweling off session, he dressed, and we talked for a couple of minutes. I asked him for an honest appraisal of my body. He was candid, but he closed with this: "What really makes a woman sexy is that she participates and actively enjoys, not just sex, but life. You are going to be just fine." He asked me if I would like him to come back that night. No. I got what I wanted. It wasn't romantic, but I wasn't looking for romance. It turned out to be the best $2,000 I ever spent--that includes a $500 tip.

What followed was unexpected. For the first time in years, I felt truly sexy and desirable. That night, I went out with a group of friends to a series of blues clubs. What followed became a running joke. Drinks were sent to the table for me. Men, primarily in their late 30s, hit on me. Even a member of our own group tried to talk me into a lesson on body shots.

More surprisingly, I went home to my marriage. Knowing that I had other choices and that I wasn't acting out of fear, I was able to commit to a reconciliation. I had to discreetly teach my husband several of the tricks I had learned, but I never told him. It is still tough at times, but I would never have been able, really, to return to my marriage without having taken this step.