DEAR NATALIE: My husband and I have been together since we were in high school. We followed a typical path of going to college, getting married, buying a house, and having two beautiful kids who are now ages eight and 10. Our marriage is perfectly pleasant and I’m grateful to have a rock-solid partner to raise my children and do the hard life stuff with, but it’s not electric, and I’m wanting more from our sex life. I guess the monotony is normal, but I can’t help but think about what I’m missing out on by having only been with the same person for pretty much my entire life. We moved to a conservative suburb because of the school district, but have open-minded friends (a couple of whom may be swingers) that live in the nearby city. How can I talk to him about opening things up? How can I remember that I’m still hot, even if I feel stuck in the high school sweetheart mom zone? –BRING BACK THE SPARK
DEAR BRING BACK THE SPARK: Before you start tossing your keys in a bowl, take a step back here. You may think you want to go from zero to 60 in under a second, but how does your husband feel about all of this? Have you discussed with him where you are emotionally and sexually? Does he feel the same or is he content as is? Baby steps might be a better path forward than mentioning swinging out the gate. If you think the passion has waned, why not look into ways to spice it up between the two of you first? If you aren’t comfortable verbalizing your feelings, you could write them down and then swap them with each other to see where there are points of intersection, to begin with. He may feel the same way but has been afraid to tell you. No one wants to feel as if they haven’t fulfilled their partner sexually, so tread lightly. Share what your interests are. If you don’t know them, take some time to research. Have fun with that part together! Then, if after doing some exploration things still aren’t where you want them to be, consider a therapist that specializes in sexual health. They may be able to illuminate the path in new ways so that you can have a happy and fulfilling sex life. I think it is great that you want to work on this aspect of your marriage. What we water is what blooms.
DEAR NATALIE: My son graduated from high school last year and decided to take time off before going to college. He’s an incredible actor and wants to pursue it as a career. He works at a bar now and is getting involved with local theater companies. He says he doesn’t want to go into debt going to school, so he’s not rushing into the process. I get that the price of college is totally unreasonable and nerve-wracking to commit to. Because I don’t work in the theater world, I don’t have enough experience with the industry to know about a college track versus a DIY track. I want to support him, but I don’t want him to get stuck working in bars forever and let his talent get put on the back burner. Also, it makes me so angry that if cost were not an issue, who knows where he could be right now? The position this generation is in is completely unfair and I feel helpless. How can I advise him? How can I trust that he’ll end up where he needs to be, wherever that is?
–I BELIEVE IN HIM
DEAR I BELIEVE IN HIM: There’s nothing wrong with pursuing a dream and paying the bills while you work towards your goals. There could be an argument here for having a backup plan. Why doesn’t he continue to pursue acting, but also take some courses at a community college (which costs less than a traditional university) so that if he wants to build up a second career, he has some credentials to do so? There are a lot of ways to make a living in this world, and I would also encourage him to work on his social media presence if he hasn’t started doing so. People are being discovered on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, and having a social media presence makes you more appealing in the theatrical world, as well. Taking a three-prong approach may take more time and energy, but if he has to hustle (and who doesn’t these days?) it might as well be toward his larger dream.
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