"I would advise him to be honest about what he needs, and if she can't agree to that"
This pattern happens all the time - there are marriages going through this in your own town right now. And from what I have seen, there's usually no one at fault, it just happens. The impulse to assign blame here causes much more damage than accepting the facts and moving forward with one of the available options.
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I don't think that lying about going elsewhere for sex is the way to go though. It seems like she isn't that interested in the relationship if she's so cold about sex. There is more to this than meets the eye for sure. Couples counselling could get them to a place where either he can honestly seek sex elsewhere, or they can break up without him having to (in her eyes) take all the blame for being a cheater.
Before he cheats, he needs to go back to her and let her know he's not happy with the current situation. She has, essentially, changed the terms of their marriage on him, and she has to be made aware that that can't be done without consequences. If there is good will and good faith on both sides - if this is in fact a marriage worth saving - they'll be able to come up with something.
Dan's response opens with "If you've ruled out depression, a libido-killing reaction to birth control, a hormonal issue..." In that case, sure. She's being unfair and do what you need to. But I see no sign that any of this has been determined.
Also, maybe she's too loving to say so, but perhaps he could stand to channel some of that energy into hitting the gym, picking up some new massage skills, learning to speak French, playing the drums, making wine, or taking on some other form of interesting self-improvement.
Or, he could just take this advice as the free pass he was looking for, and cheat until he gets caught, blame her for everything, and that's that.
"Throwing the 'go ahead and cheat card' out on the table so quickly"
"I read that she went to the doctor. I read that the husband then asked her 'questions' but I get the sense the husband was not honest in his questioning and didn't explain to her what her attitude (unenthused to passive love-doll) is doing to him."
I'm in the "more is better camp" and can get kinda pissy past 5 days, but even I can see that this guy is being an asshole and making things worse. You don't ask for a free sex pass when you are still getting regular sex.
Honesty in this situation is really the only moral choice. I agree that the wife can't say "No sex from me, but also no sex from anyone else." (Again, he's not actually getting NO sex.) He needs to be honest about what conditions are not acceptable to him. To cheat and not tell her is the coward's way out. Be a man, for God's sake, grow a pair, and have that painful conversation. That's what grown-ups do--they don't sneak around trying to pull one over on the parents.
I speak as a wife who's been married for 35 years (!!!) and we'd had sex for five years before the wedding. Forty years of sex with the same guy gives me some perspective. Desire goes up; desire goes down. Sometimes you are both in perfect sync sexually; sometimes not at all. There can be stretches where you have lots of sex, and others where you can't be bothered. What does it say about the value you place on this relationship if you want to seek greener pastures the minute things get rocky? How will you ever grow as a marriage partner or a person if you can't discipline yourself to push through these hard times to find the reward that lies beyond?
And there ARE rewards! Did forty years of sex with only one person sound dull? Well, for about six months last year we just had vanilla sex, and only maybe every two weeks. Sounds like a late middle-aged couple, right? But then my husband started giving me wild kinky spankings, and I ran out and bought a strap-on, and let me tell you, it's crazy around here again. Maybe the wife just needs to find out what turns her crank. Maybe this husband could help her find that, if he stops that wandering eye of his. I've been with my husband since the 6th grade, and I don't just love him more than ever now--I love having sex with him more than ever. I'd tell this guy not to throw in the towel so soon. It may take some work and time to revitalize their relationship, but their marriage could end up being so much better than he can now imagine.
Love all the people who think he should be satisfied with the above.
I had a friend that could have written this. Everything was about how much, and in how much VARIETY he could get sex. He wanted it on the kitchen floor, in the shower, in the shed, in the backyard, in the bedroom, in his desk chair. His dick was running the show in his life. The guy had no friggin' hobbies. His libido actually finally started trending down when he started becoming physically active. Being friends with this guy, I realized that plenty of people that are over-sexed compared to their partner desperately need to go outside and burn off their energy and find a satisfying intellectual pursuit so that sex isn't their main source of recreation.
Boring job at a desk is exactly like a boring classroom. Sex is recess. But a hobby, walking the dog, training for a marathon, those can be recess too.
Craigslist has two hookup sections for men who want other men: The "M4M" section of the personals and the "Casual Encounters M4M" section where most of the closet cases go. They think the "Casual Encounters M4M" section is "safer" because they feel they don't have to admit they are gay. "Hey, it's just a casual encounter man...I'm no fag or nothin', I'm just helping a buddy out, getting off together." To that I say FUCK YOU CLOSET CASE.
It's a HUGE problem, most of it enabled by Craigstlist (where you can post anything you want - Craigslist doesn't care). Married men who identify as "straight" but cheat on their wives with other men is the new black - it's the new trend. Don't believe me? Head to Craigslist personals, check the "Casual Encounters M4M" section and do a keyword search for these terms: MWM (married white male), "discreet", "can't host", "newbie", "straight" or "str8" or the word "wife". Those are the words that will garner you the best results, the most closet cases hiding from their clueless wives. If you are a woman reading this and you are dating or married to a man, you owe it to yourself (and your health risks) to suspect him no matter how "straight" you think he is. Most women have no idea their husbands are cheating liars and closet cases.
It's really, deeply frustrating for an out gay man such as myself who finds these cheating, lying closet cases to be nothing but gutless cowards who enjoy the benefits of appearing as a "straight" hetero dad and husband, while sneaking around being "gay for a day" when they feel like it. Also, tons of businessmen visiting on trips post looking for "twinks" (gotta be 18-22 only) - as if they deserve a hot young boy after a lifetime of cowardice. Fucking closet cases.
This poor sap is now stuck with a woman who may be a sweet, nice person, is no longer interested in sex - a common problem with women and men. I'll bet you that he is on Craigslist right now looking for another dude to hookup with. He probably calls himself a "MWM" and says "gotta be discreet" and "can't host". Fucking coward.
Why am I so bothered by this? Simple: If every closet case came out and admitted they were gay or bisexual - society would change and not be so intolerant and full of prejudice. Sure, marriage equality is moving forward, but as a gay man I have to come out constantly - even something as simple as saying "my boyfriend" instead of "my girlfriend" outs me - I don't mind and I'm very proud to say so, but its still a "coming out". It's constant and sometimes difficult, but I do it daily. If every coward who is sneaking around behind his wife's/girlfriend's back had the balls to deal with themselves and be open and honest with others, then the pain of being a sexual minority would be lessened.
It's about moving forward as a society. Progressing into a more equal, balanced civilization. Craigslist is FULL of closet cases, and worse yet - tons of them vote against MY rights to live equally, yet we are both gay! ENOUGH. Cowardice is no longer an excuse. It's 2014. Deal with it. Accept it. Quit lying to others and sneaking around - even if you are truly bisexual, come out of the closet and help break down the walls. It's not a big deal to you because you are hiding in a safe place where no judgement will fall on you. THAT'S why you are IN the closet - you don't have the guts to deal with conflict.
For those of us who have had the guts to be strong and be out, we are tired of seeing thousands of men on CL and elsewhere hiding in the closet and retarding society's progression towards a equal and JUST civilization.
Whew! What a rant. I realize I'm probably preaching to the converted but this dude who sent the letter in is RIPE to be a "newbie" on Craigslist M4M and I'm just tired of it.
Given that this guy happily fucked a woman 3-5 times a week for fifteen years, would probably love to keep fucking that woman if only she were into it, and is even put out that she won't even let him go down on her, what on earth makes you think that he's a "closet case?"
The closet might be involved - FOR HER. He's 42, she's 35 to 44, presumably. I've had more XGFs come out at 36 then he can count on one hand. She could well be seeing some hot guy who gets her hotter than he ever did. But she could have figured out a year ago that she really prefers girls. Sex with a hairy biped is not nearly as tenable as it was before she knew what she was missing. It fits her behavior. Married lesbians will stay in a sexless, eventually loveless marriage for the all the reasons they were self-closeted in the first place - church, family, prefectionism, worried about the kids, fear of change, etc. Her behavior could also be explained by hormonal issues, depression, a guy on the side, or his becoming a total slob.
That's it! Yep!
I did not believe this letter as I read along and this paragraph puts into words my visceral reaction of "bullshit."
(I'm normally the first to say "suck it up" to people in their 40s who are complaining about "only" getting laid once/twice a week, but the letter makes it pretty clear that it's gone from "often with enthusiasm" to "much less often and more to the point with no enthusiasm at all." Not everyone is a prize-winning essayist, people: read for content and ideally with a little charity.)
Yeah, yeah - it's not life or death or world peace, and maybe there are better forums to post this rant, but...well, it's done now and out there. It's the activist in me, the Larry Kramer, that makes me upset about this issue. Pardon me for my passion, but I'm sick of closet cases living double lives.
It's a big social issue and there are too many clueless women and girlfriends who, while well meaning, have no idea that their "straight" fella is sucking cock when he says he's "going to be late coming home".
If it's all out in the open, to wife and husband, fine. Sadly, most of the time it's not and I'm hoping that at least one Slog reader will understand what I'm saying and not freak out on me.
On the other hand, going by her attitude and actions, I can see how his sex life is in essence over, when she lays there like a dead fish and tells him to "do his thing" while clearly wanting him to get it over with. He might as well get himself a Real Doll to lay there and let him fuck the crap out of its unresponsive, passive, floppy body. Actually, a Real Doll would be better, because at least it _isn't_ putting out the vibe that his wife is.
That, and the hypocrisy of "I find you sexy and attractive but I just am not interested in sex anymore." Which was quickly followed with a quick, "I don't want you to go elsewhere for sex."
He should tell her that he finds her sexy and attractive, but he just isn't interested in paying for her food any more. Oh and he doesn't want her to go anywhere else to eat. Don't worry, she isn't actually going to starve. But from here on out it's a vitamin pill once a week and all the poi she can stomach.
"I just am not interested in sex anymore" is fundamentally incompatible with "I don't want you to go elsewhere for sex." If you can't be bothered to participate, then you have no right to be bothered when someone else does. You don't get to have it both ways. You just don't.
I understand the motivation -- e.g., I'm scared that if I let you be with someone who actually shows you the enthusiasm you deserve, you will fall in love with her and leave me -- but it is ultimately self-fulfilling. If you are scared of losing him, you should be scared he doesn't boot your ass out the door for being a selfish hypocrite; never mind how any hypothetical girlfriend on the side might turn out to be better than you. Yes, falling in love with the new girlfriend is always a risk, but your actions are pretty much guaranteeing that he will slowly come to loathe you.
This is not going to get better, Letter Writer. My opinion is do whatever the fuck you want. The outcomes are all pretty much the same:
-- stay with her and put up with her tactics until your self esteem is in ashes and you loathe her, then eventually divorce when you can't stand the thought of one more day with her.
-- divorce her right now because she is being a shit.
-- insist she open the marriage, and let her divorce you, because clearly she isn't going to go for that.
-- stay with her but take a lover, at least until you get caught and she divorces your ass.
-- take a lover and be really, really careful. If Wifey is really as wonderful as all that, maybe she's worth the risk.
It was destroying her, and recommended she get a divorce.
"But he's my best friend!" she cried.
"Maybe so, but he's not your husband," I replied.
Didn't see her for a year, when she told me that she'd finally told her husband she was leaving and getting a divorce.
"Give me three more months, I'll change!" He promised.
And lo and behold he did (I would have bet against it, but it happened.)
So I'd recommend the divorce papers be waved about, to see if wifey makes a more concerned effort to refind her libido.
Thinking that sex 5+ times a week, swinging from chandeliers, after decades, is what is killing relationships. I could have sex 3-5 times a day once. Irrelevant now.
The answer is to give the wife lots of foreplay and lots of physical attention like massages so she doesn't feel neglected, but cut back on the oral sex and other stimulation of the clitoris. If she cuts back her orgasm rate to a rate normal for her, she will be more interested in sex. If she orgasms two to four times a month, instead of twice a week, her desire for orgasms will lead her to be more sexual.
Also try my diet--vaginal orgasms usually the woman's capacity for sex is much higher than the man's capacity. It would be nice to see this grade-A douchebag get his just desserts when his wife is demanding sex three times a day from him.
If I suddenly told my husband what this woman told hers, he'd move heaven and earth to find out what was wring with me....because something would be wrong.
This guy doesn't seem to care about her.
If there is such a radical change....my guesses
Pre diabetes (yes, it can cause this)
Systemic, but largely asymptotic disease
Having an affair
Decided she's gay
Was assaulted (sexually or otherwise)....does she allow you to touch her or kiss her when sex is not the point? Do you still cuddle and show affection?
Had trust betrayed by you or someone else in another area and this is displacement.....
Mental health issues.
If she was an enthusiastic sex partner for 15 years and she suddenly stopped....there is an external cause...it's not just her deciding to screw you by not screwing you.
As others have said, I think Dan went way too fast to "it's okay to cheat." Spend more time trying to figure out what's wrong--asking her to see a doc for a second opinion is obvious. Pointing out that you're 45 and never having sex again that isn't offered as a hated chore on a par with cleaning the toilet is obvious. I get that some people don't want to ever have sex again nor to have an explicit conversation about opening the marriage, but it takes a lot more carefully worded indirect "If you ever cheated on me I certainly wouldn't want to know, and I certainly wouldn't want it to be with (insert unacceptable category)."
It's entirely possible that she thinks sex 1-2 times a week represents plenty of effort on her part, not implicit permission to outsource. And it's clear something else is going on with her, whether that's an affair or depression or that the sex all over the house and yard 4 times a week was never that fun for her.
This. Dan went way to fast to "oh well you asked, now lie to her and cheat."
And 48's list of possible issues is very good.
Ugh. Ok, I've been exactly where this LW is. I ultimately wound up divorced. Here's the thing: yes, sure, he can let himself off the hook in terms of guilt, either about "cheating" to get his needs met or dumping her because he needs to get his needs met. Because you know, dumping someone you pledged "for better or worse" to is pretty much on the same moral level as sexual infidelity. Her lack of desire for sex with him (whether or not it's just him is irrelevant here) is in essence dumping him at least sexually: we can be friends but I'm not going to fuck you anymore.
And so let's just address this whole trope from the die-hard monogamists which @1 immediately launched in with:
..here's the issue with that: you cannot fairly ask nor reasonably expect something of your partner that they are incapable of giving you. She does not want a divorce - she probably would have told him it was fine to get his needs met elsewhere if she did - and she does not want sex. She will agree in word (under duress) to his terms and then give him fake enthusiasm and "service" - at least when she can remember to keep the act up and her "face" on. And then the LW is screwed: she's "agreed" with the most passive-aggressive "NO" in the world.
That kind of fakery is rejection a thousand times worse than getting shot down by a woman laughing at the size of your penis. Masturbation is vastly preferable to fakery like that or worse "are you done yet"?
Yes, 17 year old men will fuck a pie - hell, anything will get them hard - but that does not mean that all men at all times are just so horny anything will do - anything that will merely acquiesce, no enthusiasm needed.
So yeah, Dan is right - she's checked out and doesn't want to deal with reality, so by all means, get some on the side from someone who is excited to fuck you.
Here is why I wound up divorced: it is true that not everyone is cut out to lead a double life. It's tiring and the constant stress of the threat of getting caught and sneaking around can get old. Sure, some people thrive on this, but for me, aside from the initial and occasional thrill of 'getting away with it', it just got old. I felt bad - not for fucking someone who was excited to fuck me - but for feeling like a constantly dishonest person.
There was no other reason to remain married either - we didn't (and weren't going to) have children - in fact, I decided I wanted children and we couldn't. There just wasn't enough left holding us together to keep putting up with occasional bad sex (her willingness to fake it and service me went way up when the threat of divorce became real, but even more: yuck).
Divorce was very hard on both of us - emotionally, financially, etc. It is hard on people - for marriages of any length, it's like being put through the wringer - even when you're the person who chooses to leave, and even if you feel a bit gleeful about being free.
So, I think the LW should give some serious thought to what else - aside from sex - the marriage gives him, and how important that is to him. He should also consider whether he's really gonna be able to sleep well given the stress part of sneaking around. Finally: his wife might be in a slump - it might not be permanent. She's approaching menopause, and once she pops out the other side, her drive might return. Maybe he ends the affair then and he and his wife pick back up. Or maybe there is just too much that does work - the sex is the only thing missing - in which case - as with so many other things in marriage - getting that one part of your life fulfilled elsewhere is the key to a good marriage. There is a general recognition that couples who maintain some separate elements of their identity - activities and interests which do not involve the spouse - are very very successful.
There is not an easy answer here, beyond the recognition that his wife has checked out of a big part of the marriage herself already, whether she is "choosing" to or not. People place too much emphasis on motive sometimes, when the practical harm is the same, regardless.
- those who have pointed out that all paths lead to divorce anyway (as in my case) are also correct - see @38 in particular.
- if the change was sudden, she might have a lover of her own or just have come to dislike her husband and wants a divorce herself without asking for it - I've had GFs do this, but not my ex-wife - @18 covers this nicely.
- she might not actually want the financial/life complications of divorce but has checked out.
@43 - it's an interesting suggestion, but she really does need to clue him in or at least a doctor - to be proactive about addressing her own recovery.
Honestly if this truly bothers you why not stop reading the M4M category on Craigslist?
5) (the point of my posting, else I'd just be reiterating what others have already said) it's perfectly reasonable to think that she herself doesn't really understand what's going on with her, and that she's hoping that the reluctant service she's providing is adequate, and is in serious denial about that fact that it isn't. If so, a wake-up call is in order, and it may take the serious "I can't go on like this, I really mean it, and I've made an appointment for us with a counselor, because if we can't fix this together, I may not be able to stick it out" talk to get her past her denial and to recognize that her marriage is at stake (as @49 says "if it's clear you'll leave over X, people have been known to suddenly realize they CAN tackle X").
Here's the thing: I had gradually lost my libido, and my (older) husband's was flagging as well, though not as fast as mine. He was patient, at least in part because of his own flagging interest, but when he brought up missing sex, and confessed to a minor kink, I started reading and thinking about sex a whole bunch trying to understand, and in the process found myself more interested in sex than I had been in a decade (since our "new lovers" glow had faded). **A lost libido can be recovered.**
In my case, though, it happened accidentally -- as a by-product of reading (mostly the Savage Love archives) to understand my husband and to clarify my own feelings about his kink. I don't really understand why or how. So I can't testify that trying to recover an interest in sex under threat of the loss of my marriage would have worked. Hence the importance of patient communication, I think, and an attitude that this is their shared problem.
She is not living up to her marital obligations. Sex comes standard. Oral sex comes standard. I think he ought to confront her honestly and directly first, and let her have the choice of divorce or satisfaction elsewhere, but Dan's advice is a viable alternative.
I think there´s a typo in this sentence: and the second "week" was meant to be "month". That's not only because no one in their right mind would call 1 or 2 times per week "pretty much stopped" but also because in this case repeating the word "week" sounds unnatural. It would have been "from 3- 5 to 1-2 times per week" or "from 3 - 5 times per week to only 1 - 2" or something like that.
As others have said, they need to have a truly honest conversation. But the LW needs to be prepared for the real possibility that he might not like what he hears. The blame may definitely not all run one way, and if he just follows Dan's advice and runs out and cheats without having those difficult conversations, he truly is being a POS.
Let's please take for granted that he is not an abuser, because there's no evidence to suggest that he is. Now, if he had inadvertently crossed a line, they'd been married for over a dozen years by then, apparently having adventurous sex much of the time. It is on her to discuss it with him. If it's hard in person, then by notes, email, whatever. "Hey, you remember when we did XYZ, and then you added ABC? Well, that made me feel LMNOP."
This is on her to address. If it's a depression issue, peri-menopause, pre-diabetic, whatever it is, he can't care more about it than she does. He can't drag her to appointments. If she doesn't want to figure out what's going on, then it's the same situation as if she had cut him off simply because she chose to. That's the point he needs to start from.
Totally agree. And also she went to a doctor, who presumably knows about such factors as diabetes, menopause and depression and didn't just look at her pussy and declare that everything was normal. I mean, at the very least she should have had hormone tests done. If she lost her libido due to a medical condition, her hormones would be affected no matter what the cause.
Both the sex part and the buddy part were really good with the men I settled into fuckbuddyhood with. I had years of pleasure with each of them, and from what I saw, my relationships with these guys helped their primary relationships work, rather than damaging them.
Good advice, Dan!
@62: One person can't make the other person do anything, but they can act like things that are a big fucking deal are a big fucking deal and signs of a huge problem are signs of a huge problem. Rather than going straight to "Well THAT'S weird. But it should be okay for me to start looking for side action since I asked and (s)he said nothing was going on. Hey, my due diligence is done."
One thing a few people have brought up, that she may not understand why this is happening. Hearing from him just how big a deal it is, how different she is, how bad an effect this is having on their marriage, would quite possibly be the push she needs to figure it out. With depression, for example, feeling trapped and helpless to change anything is practically a defining element. Hearing from your trusted long-time partner "Hey! You're totally different, and this is really hurting me!" might be what is needed to go do something about addressing it. Hearing "Well, that's fine. I'll be working late Tuesday" probably won't make much dent.
(As for the sexual assault suggestion, that was in response to the "but what woman wouldn't tell her own husband she was assaulted" stance. Other reasons might be that she blames herself. (e.g. because she was drunk, or she knew he didn't like the guy.) I think the broader idea that there was a major violation of trust, possibly by him, and that's what crushed their sex life is worth his considering. And talking to her about.)
So he's got the option of lifelong celibacy, divorce-then-partner-hunting-and-remarriage (always chancy), or a fuckbuddy or two.
This pattern happens all the time - there are marriages going through this in your own town right now. And from what I have seen, there's usually no one at fault, it just happens. The impulse to assign blame here causes much more damage than accepting the facts and moving forward with one of the available options.
Snark aside, I don't think discrete cheating is going to work here like it might with a 2x/year marriage.
Either he's going to keep sleeping with his wife a few times a week (probably w/o condoms) and expose her to all the risk of STDs he's taking while supplementing his sex with outside parties or he's going to go from asking her for sex 3x/week to not asking at all and she's going to know something is up.
Then they'll end up having the conversation they should just go ahead and have now before he gives up the upper hand of being the Affection-Starved Spouse by making himself The Cheater. And unfair as it may be , that's what will happen.
On the other hand, there is a big difference between decreased frequency and celibacy. More than one mistress on the side of a guy in a "sexless" marriage, waiting for the kids to get a little older so he'll leave, has been surprised to hear that the wife has gotten pregnant and, umm, it was just this one time.
It was only a month ago that she said, "I find you sexy and attractive but I just am not interested in sex anymore. (But) I don't want you to go elsewhere for sex." Before figuring his only options are divorce her or cheat on her (and as many have said, via many paths that may well lead to divorce), he should talk to her in more detail. Suggest counseling. Give her a few weeks to think over "I never want you to have sex again" or "I never want you to have ungrudging sex again" as realistic requests of him. (Which may lead to the 'I wouldn't want to know if you were cheating' sort of permission.) Or she'll be annoyed that he still won't press the divorce button because she doesn't want to be the bad guy. Or she'll be motivated to talk to the therapist, or to see a second doctor for a full hormone work-up. It's entirely possible she sees the change as a minor one--she's accommodating him a couple of times a week, after all--and doesn't realize he reads her cooperation as mean-spirited.
Just because they used to have lots of sex in many positions doesn't mean they were necessarily good at communicating about sex. (e.g. maybe it was never fun for her and that has caught up; maybe one of those sessions went a kink too far and she's now turned off; maybe the suggestions upthread about focusing on other types of physical intimacy (massage, cuddling) rather than upside-down-on-the-riding-mower would make the twice a week sessions loving rather than grudging on her part. He could at least try.)
(It also doesn't mean that a problem has a medical cause. But if NRW had written in (or an NRH) saying that they weren't having an affair, everything emotionally at home and elsewhere was fine and normal, it was just that their interest in sex had gone from 3-5 times/week to finding it completely off-putting at all times, people wouldn't take "but I had one doctor visit and they didn't think anything was wrong" as the last word.)
@62, they get the award for cutting through the crap to an actual solution.
That's right folks, it doesn't really matter what the root problem is. He's been trying to find it for more than a year, and the problem still exists. If he was callous or didn't care, he wouldn't have done the trying, nor the writing, so stop attributing malice where none is evident.
The real problem is that he's alerted her to the problem and she doesn't care sufficiently to come up with a working solution that makes things better for him. Marriage is a partnership, give and take, etc. That means that at some point you're allowed to point out when things aren't working for you, and he has.
This sounds really like the root cause is depression. That is good because it is theoretically treatable, but it's bad because for somebody who is chronically depressed it's a lot easier for her to make promises to exercise, spend time in sunlight, and generally 'do things' than it is for her to actually follow through. The other thing that screams depression to me is the going through the motions of sex with absolutely no passion. That is actually worse than cutting him off; it's like Lucy with the football she pulls away from Charlie Brown at the last second. "Hey, here's sex, but it's so bad that you're going to wish you had done anything but this."
I suspect that she thinks she is already being plenty accommodating by agreeing to fuck him at all. This is probably a big part of why she doesn't want him to look elsewhere: because she thinks she has the situation handled, and he therefore has no right to go looking. By the same token, however, I predict that any attempt to get her to step up her game will result in little to no change, because she thinks she is already doing for him what is due him.
That said, plenty of people have been motivated to change when the consequence hit them upside the head. "I'm unhappy and considering leaving" is a much stronger wakeup than "Okay. Well, I'll be working late Tuesday."
The people suggesting that he try harder to figure out what's going on with her--including tossing out suggestions like 48--and to make it clear that 'I'll just lie here' sex is untenable to him aren't saying that marriage gives you an endless pass to treat your partner badly. But it does suggest that you try harder to work things out--based on the solid good years you have together, and he has those--than you would for someone you were dating for six months.
If he loves her and doesn't want a divorce, try a few more things to get back toward what they had. It could be it ends in divorce, it could be he winds up going outside the marriage for sex in a way he feels is tenable, and it could be he actually figures out what the disconnect is and they're able to unwind it. Telling her that the blank-doll sex is appalling, that he doesn't want to live without sex for the next many decades, that if she wants him to stay she needs to see a second doctor and/or a therapist, are all ways of trying to bring about that third option.
I think he needs to talk to his wife and make it clear that he considers the need for sex--with an AVID partner--absolutely essential to his mental health. If she can't provide it, she can't have the absolute monogamy she's demanding. And, yes, this kind of minefield is best navigated with a sex-positive therapist.
Thank you for pointing this out. There is such a need to place the 'blame' and therefore responsibility for "fixing", on one party or the other. It's far more often both and neither, simultaneously. How can she be 'wrong" for not feeling something she just doesn't feel (horny) or him for feeling it.
Oh, the other problem with the FWB approach, and likely the reason the wife is wary of it is that feelings often develop, so it winds up being emotional infidelity not just physical.
Yes he is still cheating. Even setting aside the fact that he could give his wife a disease, she does want and desire something: his faithfulness. I gather that you think the wife is just being mean; to me she sounds depressed.
If this sexual libido problem came as out of the blue as the LW says, then they should go to a different doctor or a sex therapist and keep looking for a medical or psychological solution because sometimes doctors write off women's sexual problems as "that's just the way women are."
I used to be a big believer in DADGC until I tried it and got caught. Also, fell in love with my lover... My wife and I are (now) in the therapy we should have been in before my affair.
Not to mention that to me there's a huge gap between "there was nothing [monogamous] that we wouldn't do" (seriously, who can say that honestly who has an imagination or an internet connection?) and "all over the house and every position". "all over the house and every position" is very vanilla, and leaves us all free to speculate that the wife is sick of not getting [insert fetish here] or at least to try something more fanciful than oral and vaginal intercourse.
There are SO many missing factors here that it's almost as if the letter was written to get the commenters to project their own experiences onto it. If so, yay, it worked!
Given all the speculation going on here, you'd think that if it was indeed just poor essay skills, he'd have shown up by now.
With the data presented, I'm still fairly sure this is someone looking for a free pass, and he thought Dan would give it to him. Which Dan didn't really do -- he leads with an highly packed If-then sentence. But it was easy to slide over, because the rest of what he said took up more physical space in his response.
Letter writer? I think a lot of us would love for you to chime in now.
@87: If what you are feeling is terminal boredom because he isn't providing that kink that you discovered you are missing, then you should say, "Honey, all over the house in every position is just so vanilla, can you please try (kinky activity X) instead?" You shouldn't say, "I don't know, I'm just not interested in sex any more." It should not be your partner's responsibility to present you with kink after kink, hoping that one of them sparks your imagination and fires up your libido (and hoping that one or all of the others don't turn you off so violently that it really does kill all subsequent desire for him, as has been seen at intervals in letters here). What if it's really that you are just exhausted from all the housework?
Are we beginning to notice a pattern yet?
Also what motivates this decision? If it’s his self-interest, then why is enduring rejection and cheating better than divorce and dating? If he’s doing it for her, then it’s the same controlling abusive nonsense as her suggestion that he settle for an unenthusiastic partner, but at least she’s giving him a choice and he has a voice. I don’t think that an abusive marriage is worth preserving.
Low desire? Terrifying. No interest in sex? Not letting him give oral? Who makes these choices?
Unless there's something we don't know, DADGC is expanding at a disturbing rate, despite the cautionary tale of Mr Finch in this thread and Ms Cute's sad history in the other. It hardly seems fair that Mr Cute should have emerged with his estate intact or nearly so, but perhaps it will prove beneficial for the Miss Cutes. (On the limited information presented, I am not sure whether the Miss Cutes remind me most of the Miss Musgroves or the Miss Bertrams.)
And DADGC went from "immense strain of terminal illness exacerbated by complete lack of interest in sex was improved by discrete outside nooky" to "out of the blue my spouse will only screw me twice a week, so going elsewhere to get up to my 3-5/week minimum is reasonable, no?"
I'd give it one more "throw it all out there" conversation and then assuming no kids, go get the divorce.
LW: Your wife dumped you; respond accordingly. If you're the long-term-monogamy type, you won't be happy until you've been married to someone else for a few years, so the sooner you can get started on that path, the better.
"I won't be having sex with you, and will be taking no further steps to change that, but you can't go elsewhere" is an expression of ownership, not love.
We really don't know what is going on with the wife, and for that matter, we don't even really know what HHNRW means. Sex 1-2 times per week, while a significant drop off from 3-5 times per week, is hardly sex that has "pretty much stopped." HHNRW says he has tried to understand what is going on by asking her questions, so it doesn't sound like he asked cursorily once and then thought to leave. The loss of frequency began a year ago after 15 years of consistently frequent sex, with the wife being "willing and active." It was a month ago that she said she wasn't "interested in sex anymore." Btw, the phrase wasn't, as several others have said, "I'm not interested in sex with you any more," which would be more telling and more ominous.
I agree that there is something wrong, but I don't think it's medical. The wife isn't telling, either because she doesn't think she can without losing her marriage, which she doesn't want to do, or because she doesn't herself know why. If she herself doesn't know why, the likeliest cause I can think of is depression.
But I think it is clear that she is, for whatever reason, no longer attracted to her husband. This could have many causes: she could be having an affair (14 years is about when I started to get seriously dissatisfied with my marriage and crave a different kind of sex from that in a long-standing marriage, so it resonates with me), in which case, she may almost feel disloyal to her lover by having sex with her husband, or perhaps in comparison to the outside sex she's getting, the domestic sex seems particularly bad. HHNRW could be pushy and whiny and demanding and difficult and after all this time, she's turned off to him. Something really traumatic could have happened to the wife a year ago, either with her husband or someone else, and this is how it's affecting her. But the truth is that sometimes people just lose their sexual attraction for someone for whom they once felt it--it's no one's fault and it can't be fixed by all the date nights planned, or flowers sent, or dishes done in the world.
In the end, if she doesn't want to have sex with her husband, but is obviously enduring it, and they don't work through or past this--which starts with total honestly about why she's responding this way--they are both going to continue to get more and more miserable.
It is imperative that they communicate, perhaps with the help of a very good and sex-positive marriage counselor to keep things from blowing up (which the wife could be fearing will happen depending on what she's not disclosing).
They may well split up; it actually sounds imminent, but the solution isn't for him to cheat--and yes, it is cheating, even if she doesn't want his sex. She wants and expects his fidelity. The solution may not be for them to open the marriage, either, though that could be tried, because many people fall in love with their lovers, which is a fact that Savage Love and its regular commentors seem to ignore or scoff at.
I'm irritated by all the comments that say things like "she isn't fulfilling her marital obligation--he should take a mistress or leave" or "maybe he stopped keeping his body fit, so he shirked his marital responsibility and no wonder she doesn't want to have sex with him." The sense that marriage entitles the other spouse to expect a condition to persist indefinitely or walk is troublesome. People change; bodies change. Yes, sometimes the change is so great that the other spouse doesn't want to remain married, but marriage isn't merely a set of conditions that must be fulfilled.
Mr. Ven: As a doting mother, I prefer to think of my daughters as Jane and Elizabeth Bennet or perhaps the Miss Dashwoods, but I suppose the good-humoured Miss Musgroves will do. But please, not the Miss Bertrams.
Given all the speculation going on here, you'd think that if it was indeed just poor essay skills, he'd have shown up by now.
Given that he wrote in about a problem he's having, and the community here responded by coming up with ways to insinuate that he's a rapist, no, I would not assume he'd be comfortable interacting with this group.
"I'm not interested in having sex any more" includes "I'm not interested in having sex with you any more." If she's not interested in having sex, then she's not interested in having sex with him. She didn't say the most relevant part out loud, but she still said it.
If you asked me if I want to go to lunch, and I said "I'm not interested in having lunch today," would you understand that the answer was "no?"
I agree that the wife may or may not be having an affair, but I don't think that matters. The wife ended the relationship, isn't interested in doing anything to rekindle it, and isn't willing to let him have a relationship with someone else. She doesn't own him, so she doesn't get to do that. There are a lot of unknowns here, but they don't really matter; once someone plays the "Congratulations, I've decided you will now live in forced celibacy" card, it's time to DTMFA. Non-motherfuckers don't ever play that card.
If NRW is disengaged because it's a symptom of something very wrong with her (with serious depression the most obvious candidate) then HH's job is to try and get her to deal with it--like spouses do, because "for worse" is supposed to trigger "because the years of 'for better' make you and us are worth fighting for." This means being clear that she IS very different and it is powerfully affecting him, and neither mutual celibacy nor sex that makes him feel like a rapist are workable responses.
If it's depression, then her intellectual knowledge that she used to enjoy sex and a bunch of other things, used to feel passionate and engaged about them, isn't connecting as an emotional memory. I once had a drug induce a week of depression (high steroid dose stopped with no taper) and it wasn't until the end of it, when I started to come back to myself, that I had the "Hey! Whoa! That was a serious rewiring of my brain, not a wrong-side-of-bed day like it felt back on Wednesday. That's really absolutely terrifying in retrospect" reaction. If it's depression, she's had a year of that helpless disengaged feeling that she can't tell isn't basically normal. If HH is a loving partner trying to save their relationship, then this is not the time to shrug and start an affair with someone.
Person A: That sounds like the way many women respond after being sexually assaulted. (Which is true.)
Person B: Or more broadly, displacement where she feels her trust was violated, by him or by someone else, and this is where it's landing. (Also true.)
Person C: But what woman wouldn't tell her spouse she was assaulted?! Inconceivable.
Person D: Umm, if he did the assault (e.g. one of those 'everything a monogamous couple can do' games). Or it was someone he warned her about and she feels guilty. Or blames herself for one of several other reasons (drunk, flirting, etc). Or she doesn't trust his possible reaction. Or...
Person E: Oh great now everyone says he's a rapist.
Are A and B not supposed to raise an actual reasonable explanation of her behavior? The criticism implies that people are insisting on him as "rapist" as the only possible explanation, rather than one extreme variation on one of many possibilities.
I will guess depression, medical problem, or affair as more likely than an assault she doesn't want to talk about, but the last shouldn't be an unspeakable possibility.
First, you're assuming that A and B were not intending to insinuate the first part of D. Given that they don't do this when the withholding partner is male, I don't see any reason to grant them this assumption. Remember that thread where a woman asks what to do after her husband loses interest in sex, and gets "You probably raped him somewhere along the way" as an answer? I don't remember any such. Has it ever happened here?
The criticism implies that people are insisting on him as "rapist" as the only possible explanation, rather than one extreme variation on one of many possibilities.
There's a reason I said "insinuate" rather than "insist;" I don't know why you changed it to "insist." "But we were only hinting at it, not saying it outright!" is not a very good defense against the accusation that you were hinting at something.
Many have mentioned the dissonance of:
a) About a year ago sex pretty much stopped.
b) We went from having intercourse 3-5 times a week to 1-2 times per week.
There's also dissonance in:
a) (For the past year we have intercourse) 1-2 times per week.
b) She will have sex with me if I ask but she just lays on her back and tells me to, "Do your thing." ... The intimacy is not there and it just feels wrong.
I get how horrible that last one is, and to constantly reject your partner, or give 'sure, rape me' level cooperation, is a horrible thing to do to someone. They would be thoroughly justified in leaving you. But if that's what's happening, how is he managing to still get interested in trying twice a week? Either it's not a very accurate portrayal of how awful she is making the times they do have sex, or something else is weird.
Impossible standard. People are supposed to refuse to mention perfectly unexceptional explanations because you can insinuate something from them? Dan might as well close the comments right now.
As for the rest, suppose a woman writes in that her husband was an enthusiastic, engaged, loving sex partner up until a year ago, when he lost all interest in having sex with her in any way. (With or without the coda that he will numbly cooperate if she tries to initiate.) People would suggest an affair, a medical problem, and extreme stress at work or elsewhere. (That displacement onto marital sex of a violation experienced elsewhere.) Also the "it just sometimes happens, and it's okay for you to not be okay with being celibate forever too."
They probably would get well down the thread before suggesting that it was possible he was responding to a sexual assault, by her or anyone else, because men are not raped as often as women. Your little reverse-the-sexes thing does have a kind of huge disconnect. (And if they had a varied sex life with her as initiator of variety I could see the possibility that a game went somewhere he felt as a violation: As I said upthread, the fact that people are having sex frequently doesn't mean they are communicating clearly with each other about it.) But the fact that people more frequently attribute a woman's abrupt withdrawal to being sexually assaulted than they do a man's has something to do with how often each gender is assaulted.