I guess I should backtrack at this point and explain how the ex conflict resolved itself.... Yes, we came to an agreement finally! I think I shared that in our final counseling session a couple of weeks ago, he agreed to respond to my email proposal that he talk to the ex every three or four months.
Now, I knew this wasn't going to be an acceptable offer... maybe that makes me an inexperienced negotiator. I was thinking that you propose what you ideally want even if it's off the chart of what you think they'll accept, and then they make a counter offer and maybe you go back and forth a couple of times.
Anyway, I think my initial offer was probably a bit too extreme, and he said later he felt like I was basically proposing he cut off all communication. So, after our session, he avoided responding for a few days, then came back with an email that said some reassuring and affirming things about his feelings and commitment to me, as well as offers of transparency (telling me about any contact) and talking to me before making any commitments (to help with something or whatever). He suggested, however, that communication frequency stay as is and fade gradually over time.
People, including my brother, advised that I might just accept this, but you know how sometimes you just know you can't tolerate something? Like you feel it physically - that it's just not right and you emotionally can't handle it? Well, that's how I felt. From my perspective, I had forgiven a lot in the past and "put up with" the anxiety around his ongoing connection to her more than I should have had to. I wanted him to prove that he could and would compromise to help me feel safe. So when he didn't give anything on the frequency, I balked and pulled back for a few days.
During this time, I did some serious reflection, including seeing a counselor once on my own to both get some empathy around the situation, but also gain more clarity about my own issues. I realized that I was trying to deny that he had deep care and concern for his ex-wife because that felt threatening. Well, as we all know, denying something does not make it untrue. So, I came to an uneasy acceptance of that, which felt like an important step.
Also, I acknowledged that I have never had a relationship longer than a couple of years, nor ever been married, so my experience and ability to truly understand his situation is limited. Finally, regarding my own fears, I received more normalization about my sex drive not being perpetually set to "on"; that it's okay and very common to not be in the mood sometimes. I think because S seems most often in the mood, and because of some previous dysfunctional patterns I had in relationship, I can feel like something is "wrong" if I don't feel raring to go all the time. This new perspective takes pressure off, and I was later able to talk with him about it in a healthy way.
In any case, when we came back together last Wednesday night to discuss things, I felt pretty self-connected. Our conversation started rocky and somewhat defensive, but after a while I had an outburst about my frustration around dealing with the situation for so long and wanting a loving relationship and the ability to trust and relax, etc., and why couldn't he give a little, even to two or three weeks (in communication frequency)? At which point, he finally let go of his stance and said that he could do two or three weeks (along with the other agreements). What a freakin' relief! It felt so good to come together, and I knew at that point that we were going to be okay.
So this weekend was a celebration of sorts, I guess, and a culmination of plans we had made a long time ago. We had great conversations about our activist plans around Key.stone XL, previous relationship history, the source of our wanting to become parents, and more, as well as just having lots of flirtation and relaxed fun. One of the wineries was beautiful. We hit it on a sunny day in the early afternoon and were able to take our last wine tasting out onto the property and walk around a bit. You can't beat that feeling! *Afterwards, there might have been some making out in the car. :)
We brought Zoey again and she did great, though she continues to not eat as much while we're away. I give her regular treats to supplement. We've perfected the art of playing ball in a hotel room!
Oh, and oddly, I think I ovulated on Saturday morning (Day 9 of the cycle starting when I went off BCPs for my surgery). My temp went up a bit that day and all the way up on Sunday. I may have missed the window, since we didn't BD until Saturday night, but fingers crossed, maybe it was just on time. It would be a great story!