Over the years, Ted and I were given many tools that helped smooth things out in our relationship. We developed better communication skills; we learned the importance of "skin time"—when we would lie together quietly, skin to skin, and have it not be about performing. I discovered that Ted abhorred being presented with faits accomplis, so I tried vigilantly to avoid presenting them. But, sadly, I learned that this was easier said than done. It was easy to consult and discuss things before doing them when the things were relatively insignificant and external, like moving a painting, changing dinnertime, buying a new saddle. But when later in the marriage they were decisions of critical importance to me—having to do with spiritual faith or with spending time with Vanessa when she was about to give birth—I would simply arrange to do what I felt I needed to do. I was accustomed to not having my feelings and needs respected by the men in my life, and I feared that if I opened up such decisions for discussion, I would be bullied out of them or they would be denied me outright—or love would be taken away. (As it turned out, my fears were well-founded.) Those times were very infrequent, but they ended up playing a role in the dissolution of our marriage.
While it was Ted's dalliance that brought us into the therapists' offices, I decided that in addition to our couples counseling, I wanted to work separately on my own issues. I sensed that my relationship with Ted, with all its challenges, was my opportunity to heal, and because I so wanted the marriage to work, I was willing to do the needed work on myself. Ted never did the same. Still, given how he was raised, it is extraordinary that he was willing to do as much as he did.
Copyright © 2005 by Jane Fonda. From the book My Life So Far by Jane Fonda, published by Random House, an imprint of Random House Publishing, Inc. Reprinted with permission.