Well this lady sounds pretty messed up.
be sure to read this letter in a "dumb guy" voice.

because he really is.
omg, FUCKING THANK YOU for that link. You're always talking about finding a sex-positive counselor, Dan, and I never had any clue how in the everloving fuck I was supposed to find one. I'm really happy to have that link in my hip pocket.
It's interesting how CPOSes almost invariably get freaked out by their partners cheating. I have to assume there's a power trip in play. "I can fuck anyone I want, but *you* can't."
But gay marriage is destroying the sanctity of marriage.
What a clusterfuck. She clearly has issues. Good luck on the counseling. Sounds like it is badly needed.
@4 There's something to that, but it's also about the stability in knowing that while your other partners will come and go (no pun intended!) your presumably primary, non-dating partner will stay with you because they simply aren't distracted. When that's threatened and the positions are reversed, suddenly that foundation is seriously shaken. So the letter writer's wife knows for a fact that she can have all the flings she wants and she can go back to hubby. But when hubby finds someone else, that's a tremendous shock.

I was in a disastrous open relationship for three years with a woman who cycled through a number of girlfriends in that time and really didn't have time for my discomfort. But when I started dating someone else, I had to stop seeing the other woman because... well... because. We broke up shortly thereafter.
How in the bloody hell do parents of youngish children find the time to do so much cheating?
@4: The same naughty taboo of pulling one over on someone devoted to her and who would be hurt by the act turns to ashes in her mouth when practiced on them. In this case, even knowingly, apparently.
They should have another kid and see if that fixes it.
@8: The kids are probably left to raise themselves.
@4>> It's interesting how CPOSes almost invariably get freaked out by their partners cheating. I have to assume there's a power trip in play. "I can fuck anyone I want, but *you* can't."

Yep, that was almost exactly how my best friend's marriage dissolved. She wanted to be poly, he was willing for both of them to be poly, but she got pissed off whenever he tried to find a girlfriend. He would set up a date well in advance, obeying all her rules (+100 miles away from the house, she had to see a photo of the woman first, etc.), and she would find some way to sabotage it so he couldn't go.

They're divorced, she took the kids, he married the girlfriend. He misses the kids a lot, but the new wife is much nicer.
CPOS who freak out when their partner wants to step out are the worst kinds of hypocrites. I thought this would be a DTMFA except for the two little kids.
Where's the usual caveat about the risks of contracting diseases and the need to be careful?
Why, why, why was this letter not written ten or twelve or twenty years earlier?

Also, M? Elm (M? Syrup?): How does the wife qualify for the L word?
@14: Left at the doorstep of the therapist.
@14 Because the wife's many drunken hookups show she probably isn't. Also, he's clearly far more considerate of her than she is of him, and he's following the rules they made together (she isn't), so is doubtless protected. Or not. Up to them really.
Triple her Xanax prescription, fuck whomever you want, problem solved.
I don't see anything about how much they love to fuck each other, in between all the squabbling. Maybe they used to, but now they seem bored with each other sexually. My advice: stop fucking for six months. Just fuck other people. See if that makes you remember why you picked each other in the first place. If so, then get tested and go at it again, but don't talk about the other people you screw unless it gets serious.
she's perfect for me in so many ways

You're being too hard on yourself. Whatever you think you've done to deserve her, it couldn't have been that bad.
Why are all the wife's partners gendered (guys) and the husband's partners are non-gendered in the letter?!?

Pronouns - the wallpaper on closest doors for the last 30 years.

Does "mostly-straight" mean "I married a woman but I really want to do guys"?

Clearly the wife is a CPOS. And if he wants guys, on one level, sure, whatever floats his boat. But if so, it's not surprising the wife freaks out worrying fearing just how gay he is. (Not saying it's right (if he's bi), just that it's understandable.)

And if "mostly straight" means "actually gay", then there is an obvious reason for why she'd seek sex with someone who gets aroused by women, goes down on them, etc.
I'm wondering if the way your agreement is structured and being carried out feels to her like you are shoving it in her face. Or possibly that you are ready to go out shopping for a replacement for her (worthless, hypocritical, cheating ass). Odd and perverse though it may seem, I can see how keeping things clandestine while preserving all the day-to-day goodness of your relationship would feel less threatening to her than for you to make a formal arrangement that you fully intend to go out and find people to sleep with, even if you are only exercising as much freedom to sleep around as she has grabbed for herself.

Personally, I wouldn't have walked back your agreement to some sort of rules about where and when, either. She clearly thinks the whole thing isn't so much rules as guidelines, to be forgotten when inconvenient. For that reason she doesn't deserve a set a rules from you. You offered to set up honest and fair rules and she rejected them. She doesn't do rules. Therefore she has long since forfeited any right to demand rules.

Second, however, is this idea that your rules set up the dynamic that you fully intend to fuck around on her, which to her mind is more threatening than her concept where she doesn't _intend_ to fuck around on you, she just falls into it naturally when the opportunity arises.

I would tell her that the attempt to put rules around it has been rescinded. The rules aren't working, they aren't making anybody happy, and hey, it's not like she was ever bound by rules during the last two decades. Instead, the two of you are going to have to operate not under rules, but under the working assumption that you both want each other and want to stay together, even if people slip up sometimes. In other words, you are continuing to operate exactly as she has for the last twenty years. She cannot plausibly object to that. There are only two differences: a) you no longer expect anything different from her, regardless of her protestations to the contrary, and b) sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander; that you aren't going to make a formal big deal about it, but if you should find yourself sleeping with someone else you expect her to cut you as much slack as she has cut herself over the last two fucking decades.
I have developed ADD, aka, scrolling disorder, after reading the SLLOTD. Seriously, people, edit yourselves for the sake of Dan and all of us faithful readers.
@avast2006: You really think she's going to lay off the Xanax because he's sleeping with other women/men informally rather than formally? You think putting some uncertainty and secrecy around it is going to make her less obsessive.

This guy married very, very poorly, and he's been either too self loathing or too stupid to see that until now.
@25 seandr: Just that if he is rubbing her nose in the fact that he too is actively sleeping around (possibly in retribution for her doing it), that might be making her more miserable than simply not talking about it would.

For his half of the equation, the chances that she is going to scrupulously start telling him details out of some new-found cult of honest communication...good luck with that. If he is going to stay with her, he is going to have to accept that she is going to fuck around behind his back. If he can't accept that she's going to do that, they need to break up. But if he can accept it, there is little or nothing to be gained by imposing rules that are going to get ignored anyway. He may as well operate by the same rules she does: fuck around behind her back too, tell her nothing, and spare both of them the heartache of more long arguments and more rules to break.

Speaking of which, that is probably why she blew up at him when he didn't tell her that first time. Here he set up some sort of system of where and when, in the name of open communication and to give her some semblance of feeling in control; and then first time out he didn't even communicate. Is that hypocritical of her? Yes, but it's also hypocritical of him, if that's what happened.

On the other hand, given how far things have devolved, I wouldn't be surprised if she breaks up with him, if he did lay out the new scenario that clearly (i.e., "Just so you know I WILL feel free to sleep around if the opportunity arises, and I WON'T be consulting you about it. Just like you've been doing.") Not that that would be a bad thing.
@22 I would think stereotypically the wife would be more freaked out about other women, not men.
I doubt counseling will help two people so determined NOT to grow up. Yes, both of them, they are BOTH acting like babies.
The LW says he doesn't want a divorce, but for the life of me, I can't figure out why not. He sounds unhappy and resentful. She sounds very unhappy and hypocritical. They've failed at reaching a workable accommodation. This marriage sounds like an unhappy mess all around. I'm having a hard time imagining that the kids are happy with these cheating mopes as parents.

This is why we have divorce in the first place.
One piece of the puzzle which LW hasn't yet figured out: If your kids are reasonably smart, staying together for them is almost always pointless at best. Kids aren't, on average, stupider than adults (evidence: these two!), they're just ignorant. And they're observant enough that they'll know if mom and dad are mad at each other, and will be at least as adversely affected by shouting matches or mutual silent treatments as they would by the household breakup. Most of the social evils that conservatives attribute to increasing divorce rates have nothing to do with the divorce and everything to do with the dysfunctional parent(s) that foolishly decided to have kids in the first place.

Also, this guy's wife will not change her ways unless he's seriously threatening divorce. Why should she? She gets all the benefits of the marriage (whatever financial and emotional support he provides her) without any of the drawbacks (maintaining commitments and keeping him happy and sticking to agreed-upon rules). And apparently this guy is too lily-livered to realize that acting like a doormat isn't what you're supposed to do in a relationship.
It just occurred to me to hope that Mr Savage isn't trying to weasel his way into giving the wife a passing grade in monogamy. I felt so confident in the previous thread that we both reached the F grade at about the same point.
@21 "She's perfect to me in so many senses" makes me think that LW is in love with her ass. He likes her so much and is afraid that he won't be able to fuck another delicious body like it, so he's willing to keep it up, afraid that there's no one better out there for him. I'd say DTMFA. It's better for the kids.
I'd just like to echo @30, because this "we have to stay together for the kids!" mentality really angers me. Look, you guys, if you're really that unhappy, just divorce. I would have been unhappy for a little while if my parents had split up when I was a kid, but as it is I now, at age twenty-three, have to live in the same house as them quietly (and not-so-quietly) hating one another's guts and making me and my sister miserable. It's not even that kids notice when their parents are unhappy (although we do); it's that if things are really so messed up at home that you're thinking about leaving but you also think that none of the negativity in your relationship with your life partner is going to spill over into how you treat your children...I...well, it's not *impossible*, but I'm gonna say it's not likely.

Also worth considering: people take their cues regarding the relationships that they eventually end up in from the relationships they see around them growing up. Unless you and your spouse have both been awarded a pretty recent Oscar in the category of Successful Portrayal of Healthy Partnership, this is going to affect them in that area, too.
@32 Thank you!! Why do people act like divorce is the worst thing that can happen to a child? Like it's such a shame that they won't be able to listen to their biological parents scream at each other through the wall while they cry themselves to sleep at night! I would have been soooooo much better of if my parents had divorced when I was young. Fuck unhappy marriages, they're unhappy for everyone involved.
Uh...this woman sounds nuts. "I can fuck other people without telling you all the time BUT IT'S A BETRAYAL IF YOU DO THE SAME EXACT THING."

Ooookay there crazypants.
If only straight people's sexual dysfunction had the power homosexuality does to cause hurricanes. California would be awash in water supplies.
I gotta agree 29 and 33. Why is 'saving' this relationship so important? She's been selfish, hypocritical and shortsighted and he seems more interested in revenge than in forming a working partnership.

The kids will not burst into flame and die if you divorce. Get a good lawyer, get some counseling and try to stay involved in their lives.
"Most of the social evils that conservatives attribute to increasing divorce rates have nothing to do with the divorce and everything to do with the dysfunctional parent(s) that foolishly decided to have kids in the first place"

Yep. By the way, I(ve read elsewhere that in the Bible belt conservatives divorce way more than liberals, because they marry and have kids before being functionnal adults. Young age ! And being under-educated probably doesn't help.

See unmarried virgin-again Bristol Palin's reality shows as the epitome of dysfunctionnal parenthood among conservatives.
22 may have a point actually- if the only people he is seeing on the side are men, then she may be reacting to that. LW, any comment?
and also 22 may be right that his desire for men is not unconnected to her cheating--this is not to excuse her for being crazypants, which she obviously is being--but there is nothing more depressing than years of sex with a closet-case.
just about everyone and their uncle seems to be able to share themselves with others, what separates the wheat from the chaff is whether or not they are able to share the ones they share their lives with

for those who are able to live openly and honestly on two way streets of equality, there is no such thing a "dishonestly open and functional" without adding miserable, empty, and foolish, which is just the long and less eloquent statement if the truth in your relationship is to describe "honestly open" with adjectives like "unbearable"

The only way to excuse dishonesty is to agree to it, and ignorance isn't bliss when you explicitly desire it, it's just another name for being irresponsible but reserving the right to bitch and condemn the responsible people when the inevitable inevitably happens.

Imagine if everyone in the world could only be effected by the dishonesty we agreed to

Imagine how powerless every anti-gay laborer would be if they were forced to admit that the only reason a man would write laws restricting another person's personal, private life, is because he secretly wanted to suck dick

The world would be blissfully pleasant, but it wouldn't be due to ignorance
Wow, that was me, almost exactly down to every detail.

I'm now 47, happily divorced, and in a very satisfying ggg honestly open relationship with the hottest woman I have ever known.
it sounds like his wife has some deep seeded issues regarding sex. her attitude on it reminds me of myself.

for years, i cheated on people but would have been horrified to learn that they cheated on me. (i'm a bisexual female, btw) my problem was rooted in being taught that sex was something to be ashamed of, and my complete lack of communication skills learned from living in a house where there was none, or if there was, it was met with invalidation and shame. so i learned to hide my true feelings about sex. if i wasn't getting what i wanted in my relationship, instead of telling the person, i avoided the conflict and went and got it elsewhere. i thought it was solving the problem, but it only added to my self hatred. i wanted the security of a relationship but after about 6 months, i would get bored with the sex because it was no longer "naughty". i didn't get that same rush after getting to know the person. so i sought out that rush by cheating.

honestly, if she is unaware of her issues (ie: not self aware), getting into therapy is probably not going to help. i've gone to a handful of therapists in my life (I am now 33) and nothing was accomplished because i was not honest with them. it was only after my husband found out about my indiscretion that everything came crashing down around me. we started couples counseling in May of 2013, but it was not particularly helping us with the sexual issue. i still had issues that were unbeknown to me and when it got to be unbearable for the both of us, i admitted myself into a partial hospitalization program in October 2013. things have slowly been getting better for me and us, and we are now working on the sex part.

i tell this story to let others know that when people are serial cheaters, it is not necessarily because they are just "cheating pieces of shit" or horrible people. some people may never get the help to better their lives, and that is a decision that their partner has to come to grips with. this dudes wife may never realize she has issues, or has been denying and hiding from them for so long that she never will get help. i would say that if counseling hasn't worked at this point, it may never work. both people have to be willing to help themselves before the relationship can be salvaged. admitting you need help is very scary for some people. maybe her family is very invalidating or shames people who seek psychiatric help. who the hell knows. bottom line is, their relationship is not working, and if both parties are unwilling to seek help, it will absolutely not work. or you end up being miserable for the rest of your life. change is hard, change sucks, change creates anxiety.....but change needs to happen.
Hum, I imainged this thread was dead, but I'll put in my $.02: all the focus on 'hypocrisy' and 'two-way streets', etc., is nice, but really misses the point. The wife is both a CPOS and incapable of consentual non-monogamy precisely because she is an insecure douchebag. She cheats on her husband because she needs validation that she's attractive/desirable (emotionally or physically, doesn't matter) and yet is deeply threatened by any relationship he has with anyone else for the same reason.

She needs to get into counseling herself but my guess is if she fixes her own insecurity her desire for other partners will substantially evaporate. It's not that lots of secure, shit-together people don't have desires for non-monogamy, but in this case that's not what's driving her. Hubby can't 'fix it' because he's not really the source of the problem. DTMFA already.
Look cuckold, I agree with you that from what you write, that she owes you. But the reality is that she will NEVER allow it. See, when she has an affair, it is because she was "drunk" or "made a mistake" etc. That means, in her mind, she isn't really guilty because she never premeditated it. This is a really common action in small town or religious communities that teach young people that sex is dirty and bad. So if they never plan on having the affair, it just sorta happened and that means it wasn't really their fault.

You want honesty and she CAN'T do that. So here is your real choices: She continues to cheat whenever she feels like it and you shut up and welcome her home without anger or retaliation. Or, you get a divorce. Now that sounds scary but let me tell you some real scary shit. You both are playing this sexual fight in front of your children. Ya, I know, you don't deal with it with them in the room. It doesn't matter, cuckold, they know. Regardless of how good at lying she is, you probably stink at it. I would bet my lunch money that you can think of at least 5 times you called her a slut or whore with your children in the house. Sure, they were in bed and children never hear shouting or fighting....

Grow up and deal with the reality. The two of you are teaching your kids that marriage is a horrible trap and that people don't have to treat their spouse with love or even respect. Would you let some man treat your daughter the way you are treating their mom? Would you want your son to have the same nightmare of a life that you have? Well guess what, this is what you are teaching your kids on a daily basis. Kids repeat what they see and learn. You have given it a good fight and even tried therapy. Your marriage as you visualize it is dead. You can't fix it when the issue isn't yours and she isn't willing to do anything. So man up and do the hard deed because she has proven she can't deal with reality.

Oh and don't keep this all a secret because she has already told everyone you both know, that you cheated on your innocent wife. Fight for your kids and teach them to live a honest, real life. She will make the divorce a nightmare and you a bad guy. I say this as a devoted feminist, and social worker, that you have no idea what you wife has been hiding from you. She has proven willing to risk your personal health, her kids' emotional and monetary lives, and her own safety to get a thrill. You don't know who she really is. But she has proven to be a better lier and manipulator hasn't she?
LW: Most of the people she fucks probably don't want to keep her, which is why she's still married to you. Most of the other people you fuck probably do want to keep you. You should let one of them.
I'm the LW, and I wanna say thanks for responding, Dan. I'm very grateful for the link for sex-positive counselors. I think that may be our solution. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that.

For those suggesting that we're staying together for the kid (SLOG changed a few details for anonymity), I can assure you we're not. We want the best for our child whether that means we're together or apart.
Also....good Lord, some people love to jump to the closeted gay theory. I added the "mostly straight" simply because it's true. I'm one of the bisexuals that Dan often talks about for whom homo sex is only sex. I'm probably 97 percent straight but occasionally enjoy sex with men. I've been open about this since day one, and my wife is completely on board. So, that's definitely not the issue.

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