"I've always known, deep in my own heart, that this past year was about me, not [my husband]."
"I don't want to actually have sex...I just want to have a sensual experience in a way that isn't going to hurt anybody. Like men get to do..."
"...that was the whole point of paying for professional massage therapy--it didn't break MY marriage vows..." (emphasis added)
"...my safe and contained, nonthreatening 'erotic' experience..."
"...long rolling orgasms that went on and on..."
"...I pay so that I don't have to travel away from my marriage..."
"...Would [my husband] understand that this was not about our marriage?"
"I needed to be with someone who understood. I wished it could be [my husband], but it wasn't..."
"...my dilemma was how to get that rush without breaking MY OWN RULES about marriage..." (emphasis added)
"Resentment about the limitations of my 'real' life was making me miserable."
"I wanted to look gorgeous for my first tryst with a pro dom."
"I am a princess after all."
Synopsis: a mid-40s nonprofit exec, suburban mom, wife has a deep sexual longing, and sets out to explore, finding increased self-confidence, better body image, and a new sexual identity as a BDSM submissive, to men other than her husband.
This book lacks detailed introspection on Madsen's motives, genuine truth about her actions and their consequences, and any real detail regarding her relationship with her husband. Her husband and family deserve backstory and context, but don't even rate a chapter, just shallow asides justifying her actions.
Madsen realizes she's bored with her constant, loyal, devoted, vanilla husband of 20 years ("Swanson TV dinner sex"), and through hollow protective rationalization sets right out for additional erotic adventure, and more. She implicitly blames her husband ("...who had flipped the Off switch on our sexual growth together...") and her sons for her boredom, lobbing broad examples of husbands who don't measure up to justify her extramarital adventures. It's somehow okay--for Madsen--that the men who, ah, digitally manipulate and repeatedly internally explore her various, ah, erotic orifices and bring her to climax after climax are gay (and some aren't). And it's okay because she's paying for it: "...I am working with trained professionals. I pay for these services. That's all..." She derides Sacred Intimacy and other euphemisms for happy-ending massage in one breath and then defends them to suit her. She professes she's not having sex with these strangers, because she's never had intercourse or oral sex with any of them. It's paper-thin rationalization, which doesn't hold up. Far more damaging is Madsen's deliberate development of close, private trust and intimacy with these strangers. She cuts her husband out, and resents having to include him.
She does not choose what is best for her marriage or her family; she chooses what is best for her. The recurring sparse and shallow negative context of her marriage and family serves as trite justification for her indulgences, but in the end it's really subterfuge, deception, dishonesty and infidelity. She has so many reasons to proceed, but takes no time to give solid reasons not to. She speaks of "vows," but her actions show no love, honor or respect to her husband.
As a husband to a 40-something wife, I keyed on the husband ("who couldn't or wouldn't meet [their wives] where they were, as they were, now..."). He is quiet, devoted, trusting, constant, tender, but also boring, sitting on the couch watching TV "looking like a mountain of unfolded laundry," or playing on the computer. Madsen attempts no consultation with her husband beforehand, so how is it she expects him to just accept it all after the journey/transformation is largely over? He was never part of any of it. Her deception and lying goes on for a year, with new lingerie, sex videos showing up, her whosis shaved for the first time ever, her coming and going without explanation, thousands of dollars spent on her sessions, and Hubby doesn't catch on. If he did, he said nothing, implying he's non-assertive, passive and weak. Later, Madsen lovingly describes the Dark Knight, a professional dominant Madsen had flown across the country to offer herself to: "This man wasn't willing to share the stage. Or me. I liked that...a man willing to say no. It turned me on..." There's no such description of Gavin, her unstated judgment being: if he were more of a man, I wouldn't have had to do this.
At one point, Madsen prepares to dish to a girlfriend on her latest sex adventure, refusing to consider that she not offer the details, as that "would be cheating on her." Madsen's honesty is crucial for the girlfriend, but not for her husband.
Madsen finally, reluctantly opens up to her husband, but apparently not fully. She picks and chooses her truth, not providing full details, trying to "...gauge the way the wind was blowing...," to modify her truth in the context of the discussion, rather than giving actual truth. Then she resents him for asking pointed questions about her infidelity, lies and deception. Then it's more resentment and anger for him not understanding her transformation, impatient with him for not immediately understanding and accepting her deceit.
In the end, apparently both husband and wife come to an unspoken agreement, neither wanting to admit or attempt to mend their failed relationship, nor willing to endure the needed breakup. She gets her new erotic life and tacit approval to live it, and still keeps her husband/meal ticket and the veneer of a family; Hubby gets a (pseudo-) wife, and his meals and laundry get done. If that works for them, fine. But where is the mutual love, trust, intimacy, respect, or a shared private life?
Bottom line: The sex with others is not it; it's about the deception and complete abrogation of trust. Madsen is destructively selfish, so easily convinced of her right to do what she wants because she's already decided to do it, and more than capable of inventing an entire book of reasons to justify the actions. The husband and family are pathetic caricatures, to make it so much easier to betray, implicitly making her unhappiness their fault so she can proceed with her plan. I can identify with the need after 20 years of marriage for something new, something hot, a spark and flame and break-the-furniture passion, but the lying and deception are inexcusable.
That says it all. It's cheating by another name. "Sexual healers" may sound nice but how are they any different than women in massage parlors who give men their "happy endings?"