Whoa. Barely out of the honeymooon period. I see it this way: either they should've explicitly settled this - with a test run - before signing on the dotted line, or he should've waited a lot longer. And regardless, even waiting longer, he should've honored his wife's request and not told her.

If the bad sex - and I left a marriage myself for this reason (among others) after fifteen years - was bad enough that it was to the point of going outside the marriage - immediately after getting married, then it was too bad to have ever gotten married.

Better to find out quickly and divorce than drag this out a few years (and maybe a few offspring too). I say go all in: put it on the table and tell her this is the deal going forward - sex with others with very clearly laid out guidelines - or let's end it now. Yes, she's likely to end it, and yes, you'll be bringing that pain down on yourself, but...better short and sharp than agonizing and slow.
She did say she didn't want to know about it. Doesn't that include coming up with a plausible lie -- or changing the subject -- when confronted directly?
I'm with @2. The switch was "I don't want to know."

It would be nice to devise a system that manages not to trample people's feelings without also coddling the socially monogamous (at a guess, 95% of the political class?).
@2, 3,

I dunno. If she didn't want to know, then she could've simply not asked. By claiming to be OK with it, then not being so upon finding out, it sounds to me like she may have been laying that trap Dan alluded to (and I'm not saying he's blameless by any stretch. I think there's an awful lot of missing context here and we're dealing in vague hypotheticals.)

I think the real problem here is HE FUCKED ONE OF HER FRIENDS. Jesus Christ! Anonymous sex with some stranger is one thing, but picturing your husband and friend together is just painful. What kind of fucktard thinks the fact that the other woman "knows each of us" is a selling point? (For the average woman anyway, not the adventurous poly person.) All this could have been avoided if he had waited a little longer and took the time to have a conversation about ground rules. If they really love each other they could have worked something out.
Good advice, Dan.

These people should not have been married in the first place.

If HHH can't go without sex, then the wife either needs to take care of her man, or let him do his business elsewhere.

Otherwise, they need to cut their losses now.
I doubt this has anything to do with it being a friend. Heck, wouldn't a friend be better than a risky stranger?
I think it does have to do with it being a friend. She suspected something was going on. Yeah, it sucks that she said "I don't want to know" and then asked, but she asked because she already suspected.

Trying to imagine myself in her shoes, living with suspicion is NOT what I meant. She didn't want to know, and whatever they did to screw up -- giggling when she was just coming back into the room, torrid glances, checking out each other's asses, touching more -- she saw that, and she knew.

He chose a partner thoughtlessly (I understand -- I don't like the idea of stranger sex much either!) and then he behaved in a manner that compounded that -- because something made it obvious, and that something probably burned her like fire.
"I don't want to know about it" is incompatible with "test runs" or "ground rules." You can't not know about that thing that you are explicitly setting up ground rules for, so that it hypothetically either is happening or will happen at the next opportunity.

Yet again we get another example of "I don't want to know about it" being code for "If I ever _do_ know, for whatever reason, there will be hell to pay." The fact that she felt compelled to interrogate him bears out the idea that she wasn't in fact okay with the idea. If she was okay with it, it wouldn't have bothered her to the point of needing to question him. I'm not saying she set out to trap him, but given the number of times she said "I don't want to know" he should have figured out that telling her right out would end badly.

Not sure what he should have done differently in the moment of being interrogated. He could have lied to keep the peace, but chance are good she wouldn't leave it be, and then he would be in double deep shit for lying as well as fucking a friend. But it was at least possible to get a better definition of what "I don't want to know" really means, back when it was all still hypothetical. If she truly meant to give him permission, she would have had to back off of not wanting to know, as per above. If she couldn't give that up, then he would know that it was a false invitation.
If only there were some way to vet one's sexual partners and preferences prior to tying the knot.
Sounds like a bit of a mess you got yourself in LW.
Is this sexual incompatibility something just dawning on you, after fucking your mutual friend? Did your wife say go fuck others when she was a little pissed off with you? This other woman made you feel appreciated sexually- assuming then, your wife doesn't. Or didn't.
I'm hoping, for both your sakes, she does leave you. It'll hurt for a while, but hey, the pain will teach you.. That when choosing someone to marry, you choose someone with whom you can have satisfying sex to express the love you feel.

Snatch, Dan. That's a fanny/ pussy I'm guessing? Funny one. Snatch. Means to steal something.
About the length of time he waited before fucking the friend, 16 weeks into a committed relationship does sound pretty short, but what we know from the letter is that it's 16 weeks into the marriage. For all we know, they had been in a serious and monogamous relationship for several years before tying the knot.
@9 "She didn't want to know, and whatever they did to screw up -- giggling when she was just coming back into the room, torrid glances, checking out each other's asses, touching more -- she saw that, and she knew."

Yeah, this sort of DADT arrangement is not for people who just got married. It's for people whose lives are super entangled, and who still get along, but who have one big conflict around sex or drugs or crossdressing or seeing one's ex, or spending time with that friend.

Once DADT is in place, she's not supposed to ask, but if she does ask something inadvertently ("so if you weren't at work after all, where were you last night?"), then he should say something like "oh, honey, trust me, you don't want to know." Which is her clue to drop it. But he has a responsibility to act totally normal around her, so she doesn't have to think about the issue and get ideas about what he has been up to.

They both failed here, but really, this situation did not call for DADT. This situation calls for divorce. No harm, no foul, they just aren't sexually compatible. If she does bad-mouth him, he should just admit that, yes, it didn't take long to figure out they weren't sexually compatible. And he can be glad he got out now, when he's not tied to her forever as a co-parent.
I just wanted to point out the is another possible angle on this problem thats being overlooked.
It sounds to me from the LW's discussion of size like part of the reason the wife doesn't want to have sex is because it's painful. Girth alone shouldn't be painful, the vagina can after all fit a baby and a penis is much narrower. I would guess that her early experiences were too rough and painful. If so she is likely very tense and at least a bit dry during sex due to anxiety. This would reinforce her fears and form a vicious circle. Her libido wight be in creased if sex can be made pleasurable instead of painful for her.
If this is a problem, the wife should see a good gynocologist to make sure she has no physical issues that may cause pain. The husband should look up positions that don't penetrate as deep as that can cause pain. He should also make sure there plenty of foreplay before sex. I would recommend both of them incorporate the use of small sex toys and lube in sessions that concentrate on the wife's pleasure and don't necessarily end in intercourse.
I know I'm reading a bit between the lines here, but this is one possible solution to the mismatched libidos. Even if the wife can't increase her libido, she may enjoy giving him pleasure if it isn't painful for him.
I really loved Dan's advice on this one, and it wasn't exactly what I expected either. But it was better than what I expected.

I really don't know how you do it Dan. I guess experience reading and answering so goddamned many sex/love/relationship questions? But I feel like calling you the Sex Pythia regardless.
One more possibly... She thought she'd be okay with it, but then when it actually happened (especially with a friend, and so soon!), found out she couldn't handle it. So... an unintentional trap. There may also be feelings of inadequacy on her part, too.
I'm totally with Cat in Fez @9 on this one. "Don't want to know" means a lot more than not putting your dates on the kitchen calendar in the form of "sex with [mutual friend]." It includes not necking with your date in front of your wife; not giggling and texting your date with a pillow in your lap in front of your wife; not saying, "I'm going to visit our friend and stay late" twice in two weeks; not stopping sexual relations with your wife.

If you can't respect "don't want to know," this is as good a time as any to learn a little empathy. Ending a marriage is a hard way to learn but in this case it sounds like what it's going to take.
I feel sorry for the guy, but really, this letter is just so irksome. Their sexual relationship has "never been truly compatible." That means that whether they dated for 10 years prior to their marriage of a whopping 4 months duration, they both knew going in that they were a mis-match, both physically--it sounds like she's too petite to take his girth, and sex is always done gingerly--and in terms of preference, as it sounds like such gentle, "delicate" sex is not the lw's preference (there's no way to know what kind of sex his tiny, fragile wife would like to have. Maybe she'd be into raw, wild sex with someone whose body parts more closely align with hers, or maybe she prefers the extremely gentle type of sex that he is forced to have with her).

He says that she doesn't have much of a sex drive and points to a once-weekly frequency as evidence, but that could be a factor of the size discrepancy, rather than due to a lower libido on her part: maybe she's nervous about sex with him if it includes a lot of discomfort; maybe if she's that petite and he's that "a girthy," she needs some recovery time.

In any case, they went ahead and got married with this huge obstacle in their way, and there's nothing in the letter to indicate that they didn't already know about it. And a mere 4 months later, it's become too much for him to take.

I don't think the wife ever really meant she was okay with him having sex with other women. I think she must feel guilty for making him do without the kind of sex he obviously prefers and at fault for not being able to accommodate him. I have no way of knowing how he communicates his dissatisfaction to her (and again we don't know that she's satisfied with the kind of sex they're having/she's getting, either), but I can envision scenarios in which she feels at fault and unable to change her basic anatomy, and as if she's letting him down, so she says, in sort of a desperate not-really-meaning-it way: "you should just have sex with another woman." I think what she really wants is for him to reassure her that what they have--what she can give him--is good enough for him. Yes, we can all sit here in front of our computers and blame her for bait and switch or for being a poor communicator, but it seems to me that they share the blame for this message going out and not being meant.

Then he goes and takes her up on her "offer" with a close friend. Among all the other weird feelings this might lead to, it lets a good friend know intimate details about their sex life and the state of their four-month-old marriage, which probably makes the wife uncomfortable. That the lw is oblivious to the possibility his wife wouldn't want him to choose a mutual friend is telling. (Btw, I love the way he describes his long-suffering self-sacrifice: "until recently I resisted temptation hoping for some sort of other option." Bravo, lw! You held out like a true stoic. 4 whole months from the wedding you waited for some sort of "other option"--what, specifically? Did you hope your wife's body would change?--to magically present itself. Actually, you waited 3-and-a-half months, but that's a mere quibble.)

Then has sex with this mutual friend twice in two weeks and is clearly so changed in behavior or demeanor, either around the friend, if the wife observed them together or just in general that the wife asked "if anything was going on." People are capable of having sex without trumpeting that fact to their spouses all the time--witness all the people who successfully carry out secret affairs. It's not too hard to imagine that a newlywed wouldn't want to be confronted with the obvious fact of her husband's having sex with someone else.

Her only rule was that she didn't want to be told, and he first behaved in such a way that she felt compelled to ask (which makes me think she didn't really want or expect him to take her up on her "offer"), and then told when she asked. Now he seems shocked that she's unhappy.

Really the stupidity all around is kind of astonishing. He says; "I would never have endangered our relationship had I known this would be the result." But was he willing to have once-weekly gingerly sex forever? What if that's what it took to not endanger the relationship? What was he thinking when they got married?
It sounds like he doesn't do a lot of thinking in general.
For those criticizing LW for fucking a mutual friend:

He's a "girthy" straight guy. His fuck buddy options might be a little more limited than a "hunky" gay man on Cap Hill. Maybe he can't just walk into a bar and hook up with a stranger, or have the money for a pro. Maybe he took the only escape snatch available.
I had sex once with a guy who was way too big for me. I'm too smart to have had sex with him twice, so why did SHE marry HIM? Didn't she want to have regular, pleasurable PIV sex herself? They're both at fault for going through with a marriage doomed to fail.
Sir Vic @36: My interpretation of “girthy” is that he has a cock like a beer can, not that he has a muffin top. Clue: he tied the word “girthy” to being “crude or macho” in the context of sexual compatibility.
@36: Sir Vic, do you think he polled all their mutual friends and his female acquaintances to find out if they could handle his girth?

Come on! Put it in your Craigslist ad, Adult Friend Finder, OkCupid, Ashley Madison profile.

I've been with girthy guys; they're not that rare (unless he's really freakishly large). More to the point, how was he in a position to know that the friend would be able to accommodate him?

He may not be as "girthy" as all that, anyway. Apparently it's the joint combo of his girthiness and his wife's petiteness that create the problem, a situation known to both in advance of the wedding unless they're Duggar-level fundies, in which case, I doubt the rest of the letter's content would be an option. Even if they never had PIV, just fooling around would have informed them.

Nice try, but no excuse.
nocutename @39, I interpreted Sir Vic @36 as assuming that “girthy” meant “fat,” such that a girthy man might be tempted to just take what he can get because he is instantly unattractive to many people.
I am a small person with a small snatch. And I have never found a penis that is too big for me. I have had several sex partners whose penises are too big for standard size condoms, but never too big for my vagina. Because my vagina, like most vaginas, is good at stretching, when happy and wet. Penises that are big enough to make blowjobs uncomfortable fit very comfortably inside my vagina. And the (well-exercised!) muscles around my vagina mean that I can squeeze small and large penises very tightly. When we think and talk about vaginas, we should think of "tight" as the kind of strong that comes from exercise, not as a limitation, not as something that only virgins or inexperienced women are, not as something that comes from body size and can be ruined by sex.

HHH's wife might not have a vagina as strong, flexible, and wet as mine. But if HHH takes it slow and sometimes has sex with his wife without penetrating her, I strongly suspect that HHH's wife could absolutely adore vigorous penis in vagina sex with HHH, if only about 10 minutes of it per week.

This problem really seems to be more about two people who don't know how to communicate with each other, and to sexually please each other, than two people who are physically, sexually incompatible.

I was sexually incompatible with my husband of 7 years. But it wasn't a physical problem (despite his girth and my small body size): he likes egalitarian sex, I like to be submissive. He likes sex to last hours (literally), and not be about orgasms: I like to come hard and often, but not have sex for more than 45 minutes at a time. He's monogamous, I'm polyamorous. And yet, our marriage was wonderful. It did end, but it didn't end with us bitter and hating each other. We lasted as long as we did because we were good at communicating, exploring, figuring out how we could mutually please each other. And because our relationship was anchored and sustained by being excellent roommates, walking partners, and conversation partners, not by sex.
Seems a good time to end things if neither option is good.
This couple deserves each other.
Dude. "I don't want to know" doesn't mean "Fuck one of my friends so it'll be almost impossible for me not to notice something is going on." It means "Fuck someone so far removed from our lives that I will never, ever find out." I don't think she laid a trap for this guy. I'm more inclined to think he unconsciously wanted her to find out, for any number of possible reasons. Either way, they should both move on to people with whom they are actually compatible. Sometimes love isn't enough.
1) Vaginismus anyone? I don't know what everyone is assuming they had sex before marriage - it sounds to me like the definitely didn't. That equals religious conservative at least on her part, which ups the odds of difficulties with sex in general and vaginismus in particular. If he's of the same belief system, odds are he is crap in bed and ignorant on top of it.

2) Probably the friend told her. So she kinda had to ask, really, to see if he'd be honest with her at least. He was, but in doing so also proved he was an idiot, something which also seems clear from this letter. Hard to be married to an idiot, even for four months.

You are just excellent, IMNSHO, at being so upfront and honest with people. You are SO kind and respectful and considerate to HHH. Thank you so much for that. You are an true inspiration to me.

You did an asshole thing. You fucked a mutual free 4 months into the marriage. You say you aren't sexually compatible, but what have you tried? The only description of sex I saw was penetrative. Even if she is petite, if you have lots of foreplay, oral, fingers toys ect, for at least 20 min or so before penetrative sex, use lots of lube and start out slow, she should be good to go. If it still hurts after that much prep and care, then she should see a dr.
They should have been more diligent about negotiating the terms of their openness, and his judgment was perhaps a bit off.
But with that said, I think ending the marriage right away might be premature. Yes, there clearly needs to be some degree of openness in this marriage; without it they may as well pull the plug. But just because foray #1 into the open relationship wilderness ended poorly, #2 or #3 may not necessarily be doomed. Yes, she may be squicked out by him having had sex with someone else. And it may have been exacerbated by his choice of partner. But people can adapt. They do it all the time. If he and his wife can agree to put it behind them, take a breather, and try again - in a couple months' time, say - it may be easier for her to cope the second time around. And he will be armed with more complete rules of engagement for choosing a partner. (And if she really doesn't want to know, then next time she may know better than to ask the question again!)
My own open marriage has been very successful. We opened up after a decade of successful monogamy, and our non-mongamy has been even better! That said, the first time I slept with someone else, my wife was squicked out for a couple of days. The next time - one day. Now - it's just routine. Did you work out? Where did you go for lunch? Sleep with anyone? No big deal.
@47: "You say you aren't sexually compatible, but what have you tried?"

If they think they have and both agree that they're not, why encourage them to stick around and be more miserable?
I'm kind of surprised Dan went along with the premise that this couple can't have a satisfying sex life. Specifically, he didn't wade in and provide some more mechanical suggestions, including referring to a doctor to evaluate for vaginismus or vaginitis. Or suggest some techniques, positions, kegels, lubricants, foreplay.... I also wonder HOW HHH talked about it with his wife such that it ended with his being dispatched to have sex with other people. I'm just not buying, "She's skinny so it doesn't fit." Just as a condom can be inflated to the size of a fetus, and then stretched over your head.... well, you get the picture. Dan, I hope you'll come back to this one.
@48, but you had a decade of good sex together, and you continue to have good sex to cement your connection. The LW and his wife like each other (she's sweet! and beautiful!), but they don't seem interested in improving their mutual sex life. The LW doesn't speak about her awesome blowjobs, or how he loves her orgasm-face, or how much fun they have canoodling. They don't seem to have much of a physical connection, and the LW didn't ask for help in building one with his wife.

These people have been married 4 months. They should tell the world they made a mistake and move on to find people with whom they are compatible.
@45: I see nothing in the letter to suggest that they are no-sex-before-marriage Christians. I see things that make me believe that they had sex before marriage ("we've never been truly sexually compatible;" "It was great being appreciated sexually again"), which suggests that he, at least, had sex before he was with his wife or before this marriage.

I also don't know if this is a girth issue as much as a length one. He might have an all-around big penis, but it might be the length that's causing the pain, rather than the girth. Vaginas do stretch, but they can't grow long enough to keep the cervix from being hit if what goes in is long enough. Some of us like having our cervixes hit sometimes (waves hand in air), but for some women that is an extremely unpleasant and actually painful sensation. If it has happened a few times, she may well be tensing up every time they start to have penetrative sex, which certainly isn't going to help matters. This may be a case of someone who's trained herself to have vaginismus.

Some women have shallower vaginas, and some men are too long to fit comfortably inside. I once knew a man who's wife couldn't take his entire length--penetrative sex really had the potential to be painful to her. I also have known men who preferred petite (which, alexxjim, is more than just "skinny") women specifically so that they could feel bigger and more endowed. It might be vaginismus, but if that's the case, I still don't think the wife really wanted him to have sex with their friend. I think she feels inadequate and knows he's not satisfied. Perhaps she feels nagged; perhaps she is nagged. Maybe he's being a baby about it. I don't generally read in like this, but anyone who would hold out for a whole 3-and-a-half-months into a marriage in which his wife experiences pain before sleeping with a mutual friend, acting in such a way that his wife asks if something's going on, and then telling her that he has acted on a suggestion she made which they seem never to have fully discussed and hashed out--well, I guess I'm going to make an assumption about the way he's been conducting himself that led to her "offer."

I agree that there is a lot that this or any couple can do to make sex a pleasurable experience with more types of and extended foreplay, but I also think that their far bigger problem is one of poor communication.
I think venusaveb@44 was right on the money.

Maybe this marriage can be saved, in that they can negotiate an open marriage in a way that works for both, or they can try incorporating more foreplay, but it sounds as though PIV sex is always going to be a challenge for these two. Some people are literally incompatible.
@52: "I also don't know if this is a girth issue as much as a length one. He might have an all-around big penis, but it might be the length that's causing the pain, rather than the girth. Vaginas do stretch, but they can't grow long enough to keep the cervix from being hit if what goes in is long enough. "
This is not described as an issue of simple mechanics, though.
There's no lying implied in DADT.
@24 Flunks biology. A vaginal canal cannot fit a baby until well into a pregnancy. A person's hips permanently shift position during a first pregnancy to make it possible for a baby to fit out. Before a person has been pregnant, it is entirely possible to be too small for a larger-sized penis. While having a baby might fix this incompatibility issue, that's a huge step to take when there might be other incompatibility issues and they may or may not even want a baby or be capable of having one biologically. Yes, vaginas do stretch. Yes, lube does help. But some vaginas really don't accommodate larger penises. And sometimes, there's really nothing you can do about that other than accept it for what it is.

This marriage was doomed. They are both far better off divorcing. She deserves non-painful sex. And yes, this may mean she has to limit her sexual partners to those with narrow penises or who are okay having non-PIV sex (some toys might be fine if carefully selected). He deserves a partner who actively enjoys having sex with him. Since the not doing the painful PIV sex option and exploring other forms of sex didn't seem to work for the two of them and their discussions only led to talk of him going elsewhere and her never getting to have good sex, this was clearly a doomed relationship.
uncreative @56,

If I understand you correctly, if a women experiences pain from vaginal penetration the reason is that her pelvic girdle has not been widened in pregnancy?
My well-toned vagina just ended a two year relationship with someone who my heart, brain and soul loved because he just was too big for me. I've always preferred normally- to less-well-endowed men and 2 years of almost constant cystitis after sex that felt like my cervix was being jack-hammered had to end.
@57 No. That is one possible reason. There are other possible reasons. My point is just that this is a thing that can actually happen, and when it does, there isn't really a good solution. And that people shouldn't rule out that this may be exactly what the letter writer described. But there are a lot of possible causes of pain. I just dislike when people blithely state that every vagina can fit every penis when that is false. It tends to make people who have a vagina that can't fit some penises feel bad or wrong or broken, when really, they tend to just be part of the normal variation in vaginal size, just as there is normal variation in penis size.

It's also not true that vaginas can always fit babies out - sometimes no matter what you do. There's a reason that caesarian sections are so popular, and that's largely that they are often safer. Sometimes the baby can fit out with more time and effort, and sometimes there really is no better option. Midwives used to routinely have to break bones in babies being birthed to fit them out. There are terms for different maneuvers involving breaking different portions of the baby to save the life of both the mother and the child. There is also the procedure no midwife wanted to give a name to, where the baby's skull is broken and the dead body is removed in pieces. Sadly, before safe c-sections, this was sometimes necessary. I find it unsurprising that men were kept out and not allowed to know the details of what happened. They could just find out who lived, who didn't and what state the baby was born in, without getting to find out why. There are also some people even with current medical procedures who are advised to never get pregnant, because it would be impossible for them to get the baby out vaginally, and the life of both mother and child would be at risk if a c-section could not be performed in time (and labor can be unpredictable), because some bodies just aren't big enough. She's probably not in that extreme a situation, but she may well simply be on the smaller end, have never had a baby, and have trouble with larger penises. It happens. It's sad for both of them, but bodies are what they are.
Several comments are assuming that vaginismus or vulvodynia can be easily fixed. It's often a long term feature, even if all the treatment options are followed.Vaginas, while stretchy and all the rest of it, have complex nerves that can go wrong in multiple ways. I feel for these two, although it doesn't change the fact that they shouldn't have got married without much more honest discussion.
@misspiggy: I didn't mean to suggest that vaginismus is easily treated; I have a friend who struggles with it and I know better. I just meant that while the accommodation issue might be eased somewhat by longer and better foreplay, it also might not--even if the problem isn't vaiginsimus but simply body size mis-matches.

@Alison: I hadn't even realized that sir vic might be suggesting that HHH is just overweight. But if so, you're right: that's clearly not what HHH means.
Oops: sorry for the typos/misspellings @61.
Uncreative @59, you’re talking about different body parts.

The vagina is made of meat. As long as there’s enough pressure against it, it will stretch and tear. Once they have passed through the pelvic girdle, babies almost always pass through the vagina just fine though the mother might hemorrhage from a cervical tear or end up with a fistula.

The vagina is in the pelvis, which is bony. The bony pelvis can trap a baby but will *not* make intercourse painful or impossible. (This is where the loosening of ligaments during pregnancy comes in, and the characteristic pregnant waddle.) The loosening of the ligaments holding the bones of the pelvis together is *not* required to permit intercourse.

Vaginismus is caused by muscular spasms. (Vulvodynia is less clear.) A vagina that is too tight to allow easy penetration has tight muscles, not tight bone. Using dilators to practice relaxing during penetration, and perhaps gently stretching the muscles, usually works. During a vaginal birth the vagina is stretched and perhaps torn, but because it is meat the muscles usually repair themselves and the vagina will regain most or all of its tone.

A tight, thick or rigid hymen may also cause pain with penetration. Hymens make intercourse painful but are not a cause of cesarian sections.
When someone tells you "I'm fine with you fucking other people" it's usually implicitly prefaced with either "this is a safe thing to say because you WOULDN'T" or "I really, REALLY haven't thought this through" in my experience.

If someone says that, and you want to take them up on it, you should make that REALLY REALLY FUCKING CLEAR in my opinion, because what you're going through now is what happens when you don't.

I'm not specifically blaming you, LW, don't get me wrong. I've just been there and done that and a lot of people hide behind things "s/he wouldn't actually DO" and/or don't really think things through well. So if a person who's never been IN a poly or happily monogamish relationship tells you they're cool with you fucking other people... Tread really, REALLY cautiously.
@64: I agree "I'm fine with you fucking other people" is a high-stakes thing to hear and you want to be listening carefully, and ideally asking for clarification.

But "I'm fine with you fucking other people" is also a high-stakes thing to say. Generally, we should be able to trust our partners to say what they mean and mean what they say. If you're saying something just to dodge the guilt of being a lousy sexual partner, then speak VERY carefully.

So, -1 point to the LW for not probing more after getting the hall pass. -10 points to the spouse for not meaning what they said.
@64 The internet seems to feel that when doctors give the diagnosis that it is too small, that the doctor is making a mistake and it is actually an issue of muscular tension. And yet many women self-report enjoying sex with slimmer penises and sometimes encountering a penis that is wider and unpleasant to have sex with no matter what they try. So, my reason for why may be wrong, but it is still the case that sometimes a wider penis is simply difficult or impossible to enjoy sexually through PIV.

Also, this penis is attached to the letter writer, which is a very bad fit. Since you'll notice all the things absent from the letter about trying to make sex enjoyable for her or not having PIV with her and sticking to things they mutually enjoy. As best as I can tell, the picture from her viewpoint is she has sex with her husband, but it hurts and she doesn't enjoy it. Then he complains about how they can't have good sex, so she agrees to let him have sex with others. He does not mention any steps to let her have enjoyable sex or telling her that she should also have sex with others so she can have enjoyable sex. And by this point, any initial difficulties are going to be compounded by her expectation of pain and unpleasantness from sex with him. They are way too soon in and have made way too many mistakes for it to be worth fixing. They both need somebody they haven't messed up with, and have a chance of not having a bunch of negative associations with. She certainly isn't going to develop a better sex drive or a healthy sex life while she associates sex with unpleasant pain. It's just sad that they didn't spend their four months of marriage exploring sexual acts that didn't involve PIV and finding out what they both enjoy. But that their discussions didn't lead to that rather obvious pathway for a while makes me really worry for the relationship's viability even without the potential that she may have set him up give her an excuse to be angry (which would indicate she wants out, and while not a good way to handle it is certainly a good reason to break up with someone) or him choosing a friend of hers and not being sufficiently discreet (which isn't the best judgement on his part). I really suspect both sexual incompatibility and poor communication skills. Possibly due to simple inexperience on both of their parts, which is quite understandable if that's the case (we all learn as we go), but it seems time to learn what you can and move on.
Usually these kind of letters come from somebody who starts out talking about how great their partner is in every way, except for the completely unfixable sexual situation. Either this guy didn't start with that, or Dan edited it out. Either way, the question is the same: aside from inertia, what is either spouse still in this marriage?

Usually, marriages start out with a healthy, strong sexual connection, and the sexual connections go downhillslowly. If you had to step out at four months, imagine how things are going to be going at 4 years or 14 years. If you can't even imagine 4 years, then go ahead and file for divorce now, and do what you can to lessen the time until you can both be happy with somebody else.

I'm going to refrain from beating this guy up about doing a friend. The friend knew what she was doing too. People who aren't straight married guys underestimate how hard it is to find somebody to have a relationship with on the side, and then adding more conditions like they can't be involved in their life in anyway. Rando hookups are lot easier to find if you are a gay man or a woman of any kind.
@Adam Washington: I'm not suggesting that this marriage is strong, but I find those initial disclaimers sort of ridiculous and completely unnecessary. I mean, obviously there is a problem or the letter writer wouldn't be writing to an advise columnist, so why not just start with that? And presumably the lw thinks there are things about the other person and the relationship worth salvaging, or why bother writing to an advise columnist? Why not just bail?

I think those initial claims (wonderful guy, our relationship is great except for this one thing, etc.) are useless and tell us nothing. They are a way of easing into the problem, and some people don't want to be bothered easing in or don't need to ease in. But then when readers here say "oh, I notice he didn't say a single nice thing about how great the rest of their relationship is," I want to say he also didn't tell you that he brushed his teeth this morning, but I have no reason to assume that he didn't or that that information is relevant.

And when someone starts with all the the "everything's perfect except for this one absolutely deal-breaking, horrible thing, I think it's kind of sadly funny.

Plus, it might be hard to meet a woman in a bar for a hookup if you're a straight married man, but there are plenty of online venues, and if you're well-spoken, don't come off like a creep, and not remarkably unattractive, you should be able with a little patience to find someone to have your extra-marital sex with.
Does anyone else notice that the LW describes his wife and their mutual friend he slept with in almost the same terms? The wife is "sweet, beautiful, intelligent and supportive" and the mutual lady friend is "attractive, kind" and "knows how much my wife means to me."

It's like the only difference between them is that the friend "wasn't interested in a strings-attached relationship." And given that she knows the LW's fuckin' wife I'm not surprised.

It's the interchangeability with which the LW treats these women that makes me confident he'll be over bungling this marriage soon.
Been married four months, slept with the mutual friend two weeks ago -- that means he slept with her 14 weeks into the marriage, not 16.

Bad judgement for sure. Seems like he lost sight of the big picture and made a desperate move when he had the chance to sleep with someone that he was attracted to for a long time.
nocutename @70 I agree with you that it's not very helpful for people to write in saying "our marriage is wonderful except for this one huge thing." But I think women's sexual pleasure can't be taken for granted.

As uncreative said @66 "He does not mention any steps to let her have enjoyable sex or telling her that she should also have sex with others so she can have enjoyable sex. "

If a man writes in about their sex issues, but doesn't discuss his wife's sexual satisfaction, I'm going to assume that he's not terribly interested in her pleasure.

His letter would be very different if it said "We both love it when I go down on her and I love coming by rubbing between her asscheeks, I just wish I could also have uninhibited PIV because I miss that." Then we could talk about ways to save their marriage. But if neither one is very interested in the other's sexual pleasure... it's hard to see why we would encourage them to stay together.

Also, my experience is that it's harder than you suggest for well-spoken, non-creepy, normal-looking men to find no-strings sex online unless they can devote hours a day to the endeavor. If your evidence comes from speaking to the guys you find interesting, well, those are the ones who are good at crafting messages a woman will respond to. How about asking the guys you would never meet for a first date whether they've had trouble meeting women online?
EricaP: I agree that women's sexual pleasure shouldn't be taken for granted. But again, I don't see someone's lack of saying something as evidence that it's not happening. It could be true that HHH isn't doing anything at all to give his wife pleasure, but we can't take the fact that he doesn't give a list of all that he might actually do as proof that he's doing nothing.

We only have what we have to work with. We can take some clues that are in letters, but we can't take a total absence and read a story into it.

Let's face it, love makes you do things that are irrational, such as marrying even though there are incompatibilities (not necessarily sexual, but that is a biggie). Hey, who said that? La-la-la, not I, replies my alter ego, aiming for deflection. People assume that getting married will fix lots of things without them needing to do any of the work. As if hearing "I now pronounce you" is accompanied by a sprinkling of magic fairy dust. Until you wake up and see that the incompatibilities didn't disappear, but now you're stuck loving someone with RL consequences such as escalating disappointment and frustration.

Though it sure sounds as if HHH was a real dick (and not only in size) to his wife, he's received affirmation that there are women around who will definitely like his rougher style. OTOH, I have to wonder if his wife just shrank back into her delicate shell and decided that she'd grit her teeth and bear the pain, as long as it was only once a week. Because she loved him, too. In which case, saying he "should" have sex elsewhere (fine on an academic level, not so much in practical terms) still demonstrated her love. But she was probably hoping he wouldn't accept her offer if he really loved her.

For anyone not acquainted with the Klein Orientation Grid (to help determine bisexuality), it's a fascinating way to assess whom you'd like to be partnered with, socially, romantically and sexually. So I wonder if we, as a society, wouldn't be better off if we could differentiate between different types of love, where we could be romantically in love with someone on an ideal level without the necessity of expressing the love sexually. I know some have commented in the past that people who love each other but don't want sex are just friends. But I think I have to disagree precisely because of the romantic nature of the love. The only problem, then, is that people would need to be able to have more than one partner to satisfy each category. I guess that's a type of polyfidelity. And I shouldn't wander OT.

IMO, I don't think that HHH and his wife are going to last, especially as he felt miserable enough just 14 weeks into his marriage to initiate DADT. For those who believe that all he needs to do is satisfy his wife in ways other than PIV, he might do that but still not receive his own satisfaction, either temporarily or forever. His wife might well be his ideal match socially and romantically, but sexually they are polar opposites.
Let me clarify my position: based on the letter as written, I think it's possible that HHH is a selfish inconsiderate lover, who doesn't care a whole lot about what his wife wants or needs, except insofar as he tries not to hurt her during sex, which I guess counts for something. It's also entirely possible that that's not the case--that he is trying as hard as he can to make sex more fun for both of them. I admit to having formed a negative opinion of him based on his timetable and the fact that he showed poor judgement in whom he chose to have his extramarital sex with and how he handled that whole thing, and I probably let those negative feelings spill over, but there's really nothing to support my feeling that he's a selfish, inconsiderate lover; he may just be a selfish, inconsiderate man.

But I don't think that the onus should be on every letter to assure us that indeed s/he tries other things, just as we don't need the disclaimer of how wonderful the other person or the relationship is. What is important for the purposes of the letter is the problem as stated.

Now if indeed HHH is doing all kinds of stuff to make his wife come, if he's going down on her, if he's fingering her to orgasm or whatever else, and those of us saying "dude, more foreplay" are doing so in error because we aren't in possession of the facts, that's our problem, not his. He can either disregard that advice, or write in to correct our false impression.

But in this particular case it sounds like even if he's doing whatever he can to relax her and get her off, the actual PIV has to be done "with great delicacy" and he'd prefer more wild, uninhibited, rawer sex (and more than once a week). This could be a difference in sexual styles, or it could be due to their physical differences.

The fact that this early in their marriage they've had "lots of talks about [their] differences in bed" and her suggestion is that he "should sleep with other people" suggests either that the tone of these "talks" is coercive or nagging, or that she feels that whatever he wants is something she just can't accommodate.

Since they're newlyweds, and he didn't mention a kink, I assume that this is a basic body-size issue: she's "petite" and he's "girthy" and it's a physical mismatch.

Given that premise, and the fact that they're newlyweds, and the fact that what he liked about the sex he had with the friend is that it was "raw, experimental, and fun," and that he liked "being appreciated sexually again" and was relieved "to be able to have sex without feeling like I was hurting someone," I'm going to infer that he hasn't been a total douche about trying to please his wife. He also says that she doesn't have much of a sex drive, and while that might be because of the way he's been approaching having sex with her, it's also possible that that is simply the truth.

They sound incompatible in many ways. It may not be anyone's fault.
@72: Possible, I wonder if his reveal-

"We have had lots of talks about our differences in bed and most of them have ended with her sayomg, "You should sleep with other people—I just don't want to know about it.""

actually came from before they got married.
@63 sweet summary
@66 "And yet many women self-report enjoying sex with slimmer penises and sometimes encountering a penis that is wider and unpleasant to have sex with no matter what they try. So, my reason for why may be wrong, but it is still the case that sometimes a wider penis is simply difficult or impossible to enjoy sexually through PIV."
That's the hymen. And it does stretch and tear without harm. It can make you come if your vagina is aroused enough, and it can feel godawful when you're not aroused. Like the sensations that can make you orgasm when you're aroused feel repulsive when you're not aroused, only much more extreme. In my experience anyway. I came when my hymen broke and afterward thought I was bleeding out. I was the one moving so it wasn't painful that I remember. Later I found it could hurt to widen that place too, and that stretching it with the same partner could feel very painful or orgasmic at different times. So I disagree that this size mismatch is sexual incompatibility. It's been awhile since I browsed the kama sutra but I think it's called a high union.
@EricaP: I love your comments, but I don't think your assumption is productive.

You and the ladies of slog have spilled a lot of ink here talking about your own sexual desires but rarely discuss, specifically, the steps you take to ensure your partners' satisfaction. It would be rather ungenerous of us to assume that means you don't give a shit.
"You and the ladies of slog .." whine
My post was informative, leave me out of it.
Hey seandr: How was Burning Man?
@76 >>Given that what he liked about the sex he had with the friend is that it was "raw, experimental, and fun," and that he liked "being appreciated sexually again" >>

What I took from that was that sex with his wife was not "experimental" or "fun," and that she didn't appreciate his touch. I'm agnostic about whether he has tried and failed, or not tried much at all, or married someone unable to express appreciation. But in any case, saying you love sex with a new person because it's fun & you feel appreciated ... that's not a sign of a strong marital relationship.

What does "raw" mean in this context? Is it a synonym for "hot"?
@EricaP: We're in agreement--I don't have much hope for this marriage.
I don't think the sex he has been having with his wife is fun. He sounds as though he is afraid he's hurting her and he has to hold back. This may be true. The fact that she wants sex only once a week could point to a lower libido, to his technique and her subsequent lack of pleasure, or to actual pain she experiences which she needs time to either physically recover from or to psych herself up for.

I took "raw" to mean "no holds barred, uninhibited. Dirty." I understand "raw" sex to be in opposition to love-making.
@82 Raw: From his tone I'd guess raunchy/gross, risky, degrading, or some combo. Something his wife doesn't feel safe enough to do.
@79, "rarely discuss, specifically, the steps you take to ensure your partners' satisfaction."

lol. I used to go on in detail about how I fucked strangers to please my husband, not to mention my famous blow job techniques, picked up while fucking strangers (see comment #11 in:….) People said then I was oversharing, but I guess you miss those days...

Marital sex almost always includes PIV (this is a rare marriage where that doesn't work for them, and Dan and most posters agree they should divorce). Standard PIV tends to be more satisfying for men than for women, unless extra stuff is done to stimulate the woman's clitoris.

In that context, I don't find your post @79 productive.
@Erica: I'm guessing that "raw" in this context is emphasizing the contrast with "with great delicacy"/artificiality of sex with his wife.

People have said that the wife was suggesting DADT. She's wasn't. At most, she was suggesting DT.

Re: him having sex with another without letting her know. I think that part of a successful sex life is joy. And you can't conceal joy from a person who's intimate with you e.g. his wife. So, when she says he should have sex with others, but she doesn't want to know, she's saying that it's OK for him to have sex with others, so long as there's minimal joy in it for him. Which is hardly a solution. (I'm not blaming her: it sounds like she was speaking in frustration.)

It sounds to me like this marriage just isn't going to work, although both husband and wife both really want it to.
@70: "if you're well-spoken, don't come off like a creep, and not remarkably unattractive, you should be able with a little patience to find someone to have your extra-marital sex with."

Indeed. Such women are so common there's even a name for them. "Sex workers."
Sex is a huge component in a relationship and I agree that if you weren't compatible sexually then marriage should not have been an option. Doomed from the start..
@79, the steps you take? Seandr, you want a step by step ..
Well no 1; oh that's right, got no man in my life and my memory has faded..
Oh that's right; have his slippers ready by his chair as he walks in the door.
Hand him his pipe and the evenings first drink.
Make sure the children are feed, bathed, stories read and are in bed.
No, that's not right.. That was my mothers list.. Wait, seandr, it'll come to me.
I have to agree with EricaP. [Rhyme unintentional]. And while I can understand people calling the LW on his thoughtlessness a part of me can't help but wonder if his leaping at the friend's offer was a sign of just how bad things were between him and his wife. He admits that they've never been sexually compatible and things like that do erode a relationship.

Heck how many letter have we seen with that same theme.

It sucks but end it now HHH before your lives get more entangled and kids get in mix. You may be better friends than spouses.
Hey @nocutename! How was Burning Man? Oh my god. I lost 10 pounds. I'm tanned beyond the point where it's still called "tan". I slept 16 hours last night, which doubles the total sleep I got all week. The calluses on my feet have calluses. And there's a smile on my face that won't seem to go away.

So, all in all, pretty fucking awesome.
@92: Glad you had such a good time!
Thanks Dan....

The man should have honored the agreement to take on "stranger" lovers and NOT people in her wife's social circle.... How humiliating for her.... There are millions of other opportunities to be discreet and discretion was the arrangement..... You dug your own hole in this situation and will probably result in divorce.... It's like two gay men gettting together who have similar proclivities and it just does not work... You should have been very dear friends and NEVER married in the first place if these issues were known before the nuptials.... Did you think it was going to magically going to change?.... What were your motives and your part in this marriage in the first place, as I do not believe it to be "love".... Business, social, etc.???.... All the best luck to you and make a clean break now before it gets uglier..... Brad
@EricaP: Ok, then you agree that it would have been unfair (not to mention completely incorrect) of me to assume you were a selfish lover based solely on the fact that I wasn't aware of any evidence one way or the other on the subject.

Standard PIV tends to be more satisfying for men than for women, unless extra stuff is done to stimulate the woman's clitoris.

If Dan responded to his letters with these kinds of tangential, dismissive over-generalizations, I doubt he'd be in business very long.
@LavaGirl: Seandr, you want a step by step ..

Oh I'm always up for a step by step. Lay it on me, babe!

oh that's right, got no man in my life and my memory has faded..

You're such a tease. Well, I gotta admit, I kind of into that, too. :-)
@95 Such a male mistake to take the "You're wrong, prove me otherwise" tack. A smarter response would be, "These women see something more than I do here, what clued them in?", asking, and clearing up your confusion. But maybe you're craving examples of women who please their men. I thought that's what most online porn is for. If you're unaware of the resource, check out pornhub.

To the question "Why does it appear this guy is sexually selfish from this letter?"
In short, she doesn't seem to be enjoying sex much.
1) once a week is an unusually low drive for enjoyable sex
2) requiring great delicacy with a girthy guy makes me think that her body's not aroused enough to enjoy the girth from my experience.
3) their conversations about how to enjoy sex together usually end with her giving up, finding his needs too much for her alone. Doesn't tend to happen with a satisfied woman.

I think that EricaP also pointed out that the guy was really vague about the actual problems and didn't mention any solutions they had tried so far besides this failed "don't tell". The conclusion that he doesn't understand her arousal explains it all. I think that's unwise for a married person, maybe not necessarily selfish.
Maybe these guys just don't know how to play with each other. Be light ; having what's wrong with our sex life conversations after four months marriage, seems pretty boring and very strange. And here is this man, having enjoyed the buzz with the other woman, freaking out about loosing his wife. Equally strange. Maybe this woman is not so much like a wife as like a mother.

@95, nope, disagree on all points.

What part of "I don't want to know about it" didn't HHH understand? If somebody says "It's OK, BUT I DON"T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT", then 1. If you act you do it in such a way that they are very unlikely to find out (i.e. no mutual friends/acquaintances) & 2. if they ask you "if something is going on", you do not share the thing the said they DID NOT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT. Maybe you tell them about something other thing that is going on which they have NOT specifically said THEY DON'T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT.

Is this an ideal arrangement? No.
However, IF you are going to take that kind of offer, you have to take it on its terms. You can't unilaterally change them, which is what HHH did.

Please wait...

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