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Welcome to the Journey from Fear to Clothing Optional Freedom. I hope that you will find the information and thoughts below helpful in your own journey in life and love and companionship with your special partner. I was specifically requested by some people on TTOL to continue to make this page available as it had helped them personally on their own body acceptance journey. So I have kept this page to be able to continue to help people who are curious and perhaps even slightly fearful about giving nude recreation a try.
Even though Regina and I separated and eventually divorced, nude recreation was not a part of the break down of our marriage. In fact, nude recreation may have helped us stay together much longer than we would have without it. Our times together in the sun and relaxing on the beaches of St. Martin and St. Barts were some of the most playful, life restoring moments in our married life of almost 30 years. Perhaps had we discovered this ability to play and relax together earlier in our married life we would not have gotten as estranged and ended up where we are now. I've been told by some friends from St. Martin that regardless of the dynamics that led us to breaking up, our experience of our journey into naturism still has aspects that have been helpful to theirs.
These pages are a composite of reflections that were posted on TTOL, Orientbeach.com and other naturist web sites over a period of two years as we ourselves made this transition and then as others asked for help in their own.
I wish you great peace and contentment in your life and I hope that these reflections are helpful.
I've been asked by many people to comment on how a minister and my then wife, a very conservative and very self-conscious spouse converted to the nudist lifestyle and I have been especially asked how she moved from her staunch opposition to nudity anywhere (even in the privacy of our own bedroom with just me) to one who came to accept and enjoy nude recreation, or as she prefers to be called "Nako". That was a word dreamed up by Buddy Hacket's son when he appeared as part of the talent on one of Bare Necessities nude cruises in the Caribbean. Friend's of ours on the trip shared that phrase with us and we have used the word ever since. Regina especially liked that word better than nudist, which she found to have too many "lewd" connotations and naturist is a term that had no contextual mean for her, so she liked "Nako". If you are wondering about our ages, at the time we made this transition I was in my early 50's and my former wife was in her mid-40's I am now in my early 60's and my former wife just turned 52.
First of all, it was a slow evolutionary process, that has involved a lot of patience, no pressure and staying firm in my own beliefs that this not something that was going to harm her in any way and that I was not asking for something that was in any way lewd, crude or sexual. I did a lot of soul searching and had to make sure that my own motivations for nude recreation were well grounded in knowledge and not just an indulgence in sexualized fantasy on my part. In fact, the more I studied the philosophy and spiritual dimensions of nudism the more convinced I became that not only was this not going to harm her that in fact it was going to be beneficial to her own emotional, spiritual and physical well-being as well as enhance and deepen our relationship. It is actually those tangible benefits of nudism that I so deeply desired that I was willing to persevere even in the face of negativity and sometimes outright anger.
I grew up in an environment of people who were a lot more comfortable with nudity. We skinny-dipped as an intergenerational family when I was a child, my parents never hid their nudity when they got dressed or bathed and we many times did tent camping together where privacy was non-existent. My wife on the other hand was not brought up the same way. There was a lot of body shame, hiding and more general up-tightness about body image in general.
This became apparent soon after we got married when I would want to keep the lights on in the bedroom and my wife would turn them off in order to just get undressed. When it was comfortable temperature wise, I went to bed nude, my wife wore nightgowns that went down to the ankles. I would walk to the bathroom nude and very early in our marriage my wife would make some comment. Over the years that has changed. After we had kids she had to learn to tolerate other people in the bathroom. She accepted my being nude around the kids, although I did not push it . She also started letting them see her nude as well.
These differences also applied to our previous experiences in swimming and beach activity too. In the few relationships I had with women prior to marriage, in all those relationships I did have, I had companions who loved to go swimming and sunbathing in the nude with me. It became a wonderful, playful and powerfully sensual part of our relationships. Some of my fondest memories from those times because when I was nude in the out of doors, experiencing the sun and wind on my skin I felt vitally alive, free and relaxed in ways that I can not explain. When I was very ill from a life-threatening condition, I found healing in nature, in the sun, often times in the nude. When I was single and loved the out of doors I often went hiking and camping in the White Mountains of NH and Maine and each trip was carefully planned to have streams, ponds or lakes nearby so I could partake in clothing free swimming and sunning. If I brought companions with me, my companions always joined me and we had some memorable moments lying naked under the sun or under the moon and stars. As a young adult if I could be naked while swimming, I was. I have always enjoyed skinny-dipping at night at our family cottage
My former wife on the other hand I don't think ever was nude in the outdoors. While I thought she had a body to be envied, she did not think so and soon after we were married she discarded her only two-piece bathing suit and replaced it with a conservative one piece.
Some time about 10 years ago I became frustrated about missing this freedom and feeling the freedom and aliveness that I used to feel when I participated in nude swimming and recreation. I started pushing the issue. I bought a Nude Guide and traveled to some of the local naturist spots. I found skinny dipping sites in the National Forest in the Berkshire mountains and I started to study the theology, philosophy and psychology of nudism and body image. I became convinced that not only was it an important part of my life, but that it could be of benefit to my children as well to grow-up in a more body positive climate. That meant I had to confront my ex-wife's almost body phobic attitudes.
Since I decided I wanted to become more involved in naturism, in order to break down some of the walls that I knew were going to be put in place I decided that I had to become educated and really informed. I had to check out the nudism scene and make sure that the reality measured up to the promise. I had to be sure that this was something that was not going to harm the love of my life or my children. So I studied.
I have read probably thousands of pages of trip reports, first time experience reports, letters to spouses, web pages, psychological research papers, body image conference reports and viewed video, resort reviews, interviews and what ever else I could get my hands on. I searched the Internet, looking for images of nude recreation, looking for what I might find if I brought my family to a naturist beach or destination. I purchased a couple of American Association Guide Books to Nude Recreation looking at various photos of naturist campgrounds and resorts to see what my kids might see if I took them there. One of my favorite naturist web sites is one called "Happy Nature" (http://www.happynature.com/). I corresponded with Isabelle whose poetry and images graced the site... I think that her attitude and her vitality were what convinced me that this was good. Something I just had to expose my family to.
I got a lot of good advice from other women I wrote to. Many counseled patience. I knew that I had already been patient, but in an avoidance way. I had to be pro-active and patient at the same time - that is harder, especially when I was facing resentful anger and stony silence.
Pro-active steps I took:
I started going nude more ... sunning in the nude at our summer cottage, swimming in the nude when people outside our family were not there, walking around the house nude.
I purchased and displayed naturist magazines and videos. I let my kids view them if they so desired.
I purchased a thong for myself.
I started going to nude beaches and invited my kids and my wife to come with me.
I printed off trip reports and poetry for my wife to read (she never did and threw them away)
I met with and talked with other naturists, including two trips to nudist resorts nearby where I met with one of the founders of Women in Nude Recreation, Billie Carlson. Billie invited my wife and I to meet with her at a local restaurant for coffee and to answer any questions. My wife refused to go, I went.
I purchased a nice bikini with suitable cover-ups for my wife, even though she had not worn one since we had kids.
Then I planned a trip to a place where I knew we would see clothing optional sunbathing practiced (thus St. Martin)
The patience part of this was to stay non-defensive when my wife would say "no way", refuse to look at the videos, read the trip report, look at photos, books, magazines. She had such a closed mind that it was incredibly frustrating. I knew that if she just met some people and experienced it for herself that everything would change, But the question remained how to get that to happen.
It was hard to stay non-defensive and not get angry. I remember one trip to Apollo Beach in Florida. I deliberately selected that beach because there is a legally nude section to it, yet it was also family-oriented and very secluded. I just asked her to accompany me on a walk down the beach so she could see it. She refused to walk 300 yards and roasted me for asking.
What finally changed things was our first trip to St. Martin. The rest of this will tell how that evolved. Eventually, after many challenges we made our way to Club Orient, a family naturist resort on the French side of the island and that trip finally created the environment and opportunity to experience naturism at its best and convinced my wife that I was not crazy or deviant.
During our times at Club Orient we have had a blast!... We have some wonderful new and very close friends. Some nudists, some not. We have talked about lots of things that had previously been off limits and we started really relaxing and playing together, something we had not done since we started our family. We also introduced naturism to our children... 2 girls and 1 boy (they were all teens at the time).
In terms of things you can do to help you and your spouse along in your journey, it is hard to predict what will work with you. Each of us are unique and your journey may be very different than ours. Here are some guidelines that I have come up with as I have thought about our journey.
First of all, remember the power of love.
Love your partner unconditionally and never stop. I reminded my wife that I have
never done anything in our 38+ years of knowing each other and almost 30 years
of marriage that was
intentionally harmful and that I promised to love and cherish her always. In
bringing up a subject that was difficult to talk about I was still continuing to
abide by that promise. (And still am, even if we are divorced).
Second, remember the power of patience. I too had a spouse who once said "Never, Never, Never, No Way" For most of our marriage my wife got undressed in the dark and hated to be seen by even me nude. In fact just seven years ago I posted a question called "reluctant spouse" on several nudist chat groups, most people counseled patience and they were correct. My wife sometimes still got tense and sometimes refused to discuss something if I brought up the subject of nudity and this was after five years of participating. So don't give up trying to get your spouse to talk. Keep looking for ways to talk about it without becoming impatient or badgering.
Third...Become educated about naturism and body image
issues. Go the American Association of Nude Recreation (http://aanr.com/index.html)
or The Naturist Society (http://www.naturistsociety.com/)
web sites and get some print outs of nudism from a female perspective... have
them available for her to read if she will. My wife refused to even do that but
that I had taken the time to do the research proved to her my sincerity, or so
she said later. I also purchased some videos from the Naturist Society on Body
Acceptance and another called Real Women Real Stories. I don't think she watched
them, my teen age daughters have and I have lent them to friends who return them
and say that they learned a lot.
When the opportunity arises and body image issues come up in conversation I shared some of the research about how North American attitudes towards body image is hurting women of all ages and body types and shared some information I have learned from reading and watching the videos myself. I think that helped too. Because I am in a helping profession, my wife has seen the ravages of people with eating disorders and knows that having a healthy body image is important. I think she has begun to see that our attitudes towards nudity contribute to that.
Fourth - Become familiar with your wife's own body image issues. My wife is very aware that her body is one that shows the wears and tears of bearing three children and does not conjure up images of Bo Derrik running on the beach. It was very hard for her to imagine that people would not stare and laugh at her. The first fear was that people would find her overweight, old and not attractive. It took her being on a nudist beach for her to start to become more realistic about her own body image ideas and discover that it did not matter. (In fact she is much better in shape and more healthy looking than many on the beach, but she had to see that for herself, no amount of my reassurances would suffice, as she thought I was prejudiced.) Another fear was that I would stop finding her attractive or develop a severe "wandering eye". After a few nights in our bungalow on the beach, her fear that I was going to lose "interest" went away.
Fifth - Appeal to Reason. In a similar discussion a few years ago on a naturism chat group, Jenny and Cheri Alexander, both women who have helped other women overcome their body fears about nudity said most women have totally irrational approaches to nudity and body image stuff. I have to say that I agree with them. Since it is irrational fears and body image stuff that is the primary obstacle for women to even consider being nude in public one of the things you need to do is to appeal to reason and not their fears. Cheri Alexander a woman who promotes naturism for women once said that appealing to reason works best even when people have highly irrational feelings and phobias to nudity. I have to say that I agree with her, appealing to reason was the only thing that finally worked for me.
When we first went to St. Martin and after seeing both topless and nude sunbathers on Cupecoy and Orient Beach we had the most important conversation of our journey into naturism. It began with my saying something like:
"I do not know you to be a closed-minded individual yet your reaction toward naturism is totally out of character, can you tell me what about this has so upset you that you have set aside one of the traits that I have admired most about you to react in this way?"
I also told her that one of the things I admired about her the most was her ability to learn, grow and make informed choices for her own life independent of what others said or did. I also told her that I was surprised that she would discard this trait and way of life for a visceral, emotional response that had no basis in reality or personal knowledge or experience... I also said that if she was willing to talk about naturism, learn a little about it and then make a decision based on that knowledge that I would respect what ever choice she made.
I also told her that when I investigated naturism I was curious about what it would feel like and how I might grow and change. When I tried it, I liked what I found and subsequently chose to not wear clothes when it is comfortable and prudent not to do so. I did not make the choice because I was worried about what others think or feel or how they might react. I had come to love naturism because it helps me feel free, relaxed and more vitally alive. I was urging her to give it a try because I was hoping that it might help her feel that way too.
I then said that she could remain "closed minded" or "cloth minded" or she could do some investigation and become a naturist like me and regardless I would still love her, honor her and cherish her just the same and all I asked was a request that she not condemn my choice as I would not condemn her for hers.
That one conversation finally opened up the opportunity for us to intelligently discuss and then experiment with naturism first hand. My wife did not choose to go nude that trip to SXM but she was willing to go to the naturist section of the beaches down there and it was those positive, non-threatening experiences and encounters with real naturists that changed her entire attitude.
Sixth - Plan a vacation where she will encounter topless and some naturist clothing optional beaches. Return to Top
When you get to one ask your partner if they would just take a walk with you over to the "nude" side so they can see what it is all about. Then suggest that you go someplace to try it, and if they feel at all uncomfortable you will immediately agree to leave. After you do then go back and talk about it.
Another suggestion from Cheri Alexander is offering your
partner a compromise to accompany you for one hour of time during which
they would be able to wear a long t-shirt possibly? In exchange for that one
hour offer them something they would really like: a choice of shopping, special
meal or movie, you cooking dinner, you taking them out for dinner, a shopping
spree, something in your budget. Also let them know that at any time they feels
uncomfortable that you would be happy to leave immediately, no questions asked.
Don't push... If there are times they wants to relax at the clothing part of the resort or beach, do that with them... demonstrating your love and commitment is more important than a few hours of nude time in the sun. Ask them if they would feel comfortable with you being nude while they remained clothed. If they would then do that with no pressure for them to get unclothed and then let the atmosphere do the talking.
I had actually tried step six twice. Once before we had traveled to a clothing optional beach far from home. .We were at the Cape Canaveral National Sea Shore and just 300 yards north of the clothing optional section called Apollo Beach. At the time my wife was not ready, she wouldn't even walk down the beach to see what was there "because she wasn't interested in being around, seeing or being with "nude people". Two years later in SXM I think that going to a "French" Beach helped and I also believe that not having the kids with us the second time helped too but mostly it was just that she had more time to think about it.
It is also important to not just talk about naturism and nudity, but it is also important to shut-up and listen. One of the most important questions to ask is what are they afraid of... and do not discount their fears, but affirm that you can understand why they might feel that way (and if you have done the step above about studying naturism you will understand it).
Another thing to be aware of, most women have great intuition and antenna's about what people are thinking. A number of years ago my wife and I joined a local nudist club. We went many times in the late afternoon to get some sun and a swim or soak in the hot tub. We made some good friends and enjoyed it. But on the weekends there is one man who is there all the time who when he looked at my wife gave her the creeps and made her feel very uncomfortable. Once she shared that with me, we did not go back on the weekends, no questions asked and no regrets. I later found out that he and his wife were swingers and that he had propositioned many of the other couples at the club. My wife just "knew" he was looking at her different. Rather than argue with her, I affirmed her feelings and together we did something that protected her from that kind of feeling.
So it is important to avoid places that will trigger a negative incident before she is comfortable enough to handle it. If your wife is anything like mine, a place like Hedonism would have been the kiss of death for my hopes for some quality nude time. I can't imagine what would have happened if somebody had propositioned her our first trip or two, it would have been the end of nudity in our lifetime!
In reflecting on the whole journey, by far the most persuasive for my wife was meeting other "naturists". This was a challenge because at first she would not even go for a cup of coffee (while clothed) with some of my friends who I met at the clothing optional beaches and clubs.
In order for us to get around other naturists and for my wife to experience authentic naturism at its best, first hand, I had to get us to a place where it was accepted and not sensationalized in any way. I studied up on naturist destinations like the Super Clubs in Jamaica and other places around the US and Europe. Someplace I read about Club Orient. It sounded like it was just the kind of place that might fit our needs. It was clothing optional, it was French where nudity was more accepted. What was also important is what it was not. It was not a Hedonism or Super Clubs kind of place where things can get kind of raunchy at times, lifestyle groups (swingers) are sometimes common and that clothing optional was not possible, where you had to be either nude or not.
I knew that if I could just get her to someplace where nudity was more relaxed and natural that the experience and the surroundings would do the rest.
So for our 20th anniversary I booked the flights, swapped the time share and started collecting recommendations for places to visit and eat. I printed off trip reports, prepared a whole three ring binder of them. In and amongst the reports I sprinkled first time nude beach reports, my wife refused to read them. I did let her know ahead of time that she might be exposed to some toplessness and nudity as we were going to a French Island, and having been to Europe with me once she was used to that. I also told her that she could participate or not depending on her own comfort, but that I was planning on giving it a try.
Then I prayed - a lot!
The magic for us took place our first vacation to St. Martin. The first day I took my wife to Cupecoy, a known and mostly safe clothing optional beach. I chose that beach as the place of "first contact" for a couple of reasons. It is smaller and more intimate than Orient. The smaller size meant that the numbers of nudists would be limited and from all reports it was truly clothing optional. She would see both nudists and clothed and topless. Just the kind of place for a first experience. I had also read about the "cliff boys" so I made sure we parked ourselves in a spot that it was unlikely that she would be greeted by somebody leering from above. After being there for a while I asked my wife if it would bother her if I went nude? I thought that it was important to get her permission, as it was a matter of trust and love. She looked around and saw topless and clothed and nude people all around the beach so I guess she thought that it wouldn't be too gross or that it must not be too weird so she sighed and said, go ahead, I did.
Soon after another couple came to the beach near us and after seeing me they both disrobed too. The husband of the couple then started reading a very technical book that had to do with my wife's profession and she noticed and asked him why he was reading it. It turned out that he was also in the same profession and they got into a long discussion about their work, all the time she was covered in a conservative one piece from neck to mid-thigh and he was totally nude. The couple at one point decided to take a picture of each other in front of the famous "Rock of Cupecoy" and I offered to take their picture together. I took one of them nude and then the wife then scampered back into a bottom and top and then grinned at my wife and asked for another that she could show to the kids back home. Later that day my wife mentioned that they were neat people and she also remarked about how "natural" it had felt for her to talk with this totally nude man and his wife. She hardly noticed that they were nude or that she was not. I think it helped a great deal that this man was a person in her own profession and that somehow validated the nudity was not for "kooks".
That afternoon we went to eat at a highly recommended beach bar and grill on Orient Beach called BooBoojams. While sitting waiting for our meal an entire French speaking family, Mom, Dad, teenage daughter, younger daughter and two little boys all come into eat. Mom and daughter were initially nude and covered up their nudity with a pareo, the males were all nude and sat on towels. They sat next to us and chattered away in French, a language my wife and I both speak fluently. The conversation was a "normal" dinner conversation just like we have with our three kids. One of the little ones spilt some juice all over themselves and the mom just whipped him down to the beach, both got nude, she dunked him clean and brought him back, both laughing. My wife remarked that was an easy way to clean up! Again my wife saw family nudity in a non-sexual and "normalized" setting.
The next day we walked down Orient Beach to eat at Papagayo's, the clothing optional restaurant at Club Orient. We were there to try to hook up with people I had corresponded with over the Internet and whom I wanted to meet. It was a tense meal... my wife was very worried and uptight about being at a "nudist" resort. We did not get nude, we did not stay long, but she had a chance to check it out.
Eventually during the remaining part of the week we went back to Club Orient beach so I could go meet up with my nudist friends. I was going nude and she could do what ever she wanted. By the time we journeyed over to Club Orient my wife had graduated from her one piece to a bikini I had purchased for her before the trip. She stayed under our umbrella reading and rarely looked around. She did not want to go for walks and she rarely talked with people. (You should have seen her a few years later, a regular beach butterfly making friends and talking with everybody, the regulars now call her the Queen of the Beach!) We finally did meet up with my friends from Michigan... they always vacation in the nude and at lunch they told some great stories about their trips and the fun they have had. They also shared that this part of their life they did not share with any other close friends or family back home... they wished they did. My ex-wife said that this experienced naturist couple from Michigan was perhaps the biggest factor in helping her make a comfortable transition from covered to topless that year and meeting and getting to know them changed her attitude about nudism in general.
We also met on the beach that week a seminary professor from a theological school in Canada and her husband who was in the medical field. I took the opportunity to get the theologian (wife) to talk about nudity and the Bible, something I too have studied, and we had a great discussion while my wife was listening in about how God created us perfect and naked and wondering why we had to cover it up. We talked about the introduction of clothes in the Bible, original goodness and original sin and shame and concluded that we have nothing to be ashamed about...
I am not sure what was the whole reason but by the end of the week my wife was comfortable being topless. I think that it was a combination of factors:
I had heard that some of the Jamaican resorts that the nude is either nude or prude... That clothing optional where one partner can be nude while the other stays covered is not possible. The above reason plus some that I shared before are why I went to St. Martin... It is French, topless is normal, families are welcome and clothing optional means nobody has to do anything they do not want to do. The best of both worlds!
Because my wife really had the choice and could take it at her own pace, my spouse of 20 years started the week with a one piece suit that went from mid thigh up to her neck she ended it with a small thong that she purchased in a local clothing store on our vacation. The thong was her idea and she bought one that came without a top. Part of what made that comfortable was seeing normal, everyday people go to a Clothing Optional beach, some choose to get nude others staying clothed and nobody cared one way or another.
My wife said that being at a Clothing Optional beach and seeing that people really don't care if you are covered from head to toe or wear nothing... she was impressed that nobody stared and nobody commented that she was not nude... (especially myself). Then when she took her top off, nobody stared either... it was a non-event and that made her feel much more comfortable
Even after that wonderful experience on St. Martin she was still insisting that she would never go totally nude. That was okay for me but then she surprised me a year later when I took her to a local nudist resort and when I got undressed and prepared our bag of food and drinks for the pool I turned around and found her in her birthday suit, grinning and telling me to close my mouth! The fact that the resort had a policy of total nudity in the pool helped that day I think. What also made her feel safe is that she knew that no cameras were allowed. That is also true about Club Orient and contributes to my wife's sense of safety. For a very long time she was uncertain about nude pictures.
Later on that summer we were at a friends cottage swimming in their lake and she complained, (quietly just to me) about the soggy feeling the bathing suit top was creating and that she couldn't wait until we got back to our island get away this winter... I knew when I heard that comment that the conversion to being comfortable with nudity had really taken place.
She also said something about my not saying "I told you so" was important, so I haven't. I have been very careful not talking about our nude vacations but she became vocal with her co-workers, some friends and even more recently my family when telling them that going to a nudist beach is not a big deal...She even showed our private photo album to some of her friends.
Through the steps above we reached place
where she tried going fully nude. Even though we divorced she has returned to
St. Martin each year since and continued to enjoy the beach au-natural.
Here is the bottom line for me. I really don't care if my partner stays fully covered or goes nude when I visit clothing optional beaches. I want them to feel comfortable and safe. I want them to be themselves, making their own choices and free to live the way they chose to live. No Pressure... no expectations.
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