SL Letter of the Day: What You Got, Slog?

Comments

103
vennominon I agree. DADGC always stuck me as something done when faced with crisis where leaving could cause some real physical and emotional damage. Not something to do when a couple hits a rough patch.

And nocutename I have to agree I'm sick to death of the attitude that someone is only worthy of love and affection if they're a slim, attractive, 22 year old. No one remains young and beautiful forever. If you're partner's looks are a turn off it depend on whether they can change it, whether they want to change it, or if they might be better off with someone less shallow.
104
IPJ - to answer your question @101 "how is he managing to still get interested in trying twice a week?"

A - He is a man, his need for sex is not dependent on whether he feels desired by his wife, his wife is his only approved sexual outlet.
105
@102: ...because men are not raped as often as women.

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.

This is a rape myth. Please do not spread rape myths. Please do not expect me to accept reasoning based on rape myths, or to accept "because [rape myth]" as an excuse for sexist behavior. Since there is parity between the sexes when it comes to rape victimization--and that's without even counting prison-rape, which is itself an act of rape apology--then no, their choices are not reasonable.

I understand that a number of people are about to lose their shit at me for disputing their deeply believed myths. To everyone who's about to do this: Please consider whether the attempting to help cover up a vast number of rapes is really a good use of your time.
106
nocute @95 wrote:
>>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.>>

These people are not good candidates for an open marriage. It's a poly truism to note that opening a broken relationship doesn't fix that relationship.

For this LW, the issue seems to be: "The intimacy is not there and it just feels wrong to be fucking my wife when she's not interested and just wants it to be over." For him (and previously for her too), sex is a key part of marriage. That sexual intimacy is gone, and either they'll work together to try to rebuild it or they should accept that the marriage is ending.

That said, I don't understand your point. Yes, in a happy open marriage one or both spouses might fall in love with a new lover -- but people can fall in love with other people even when the marriage is closed. Can you explain why (in your eyes) it would be so terrible if one spouse were to fall in love with someone else?
107
@106: Can you explain why (in your eyes) it would be so terrible if one spouse were to fall in love with someone else?

While I can't answer for nocute, I got the impression that she was looking at it from the wife's perspective--with the assumptions that the wife is comfortable in the relationship as she believes it currently exists, and so would shy away from anything that might threaten the current situation--and the observations that people often lose interest in their current partner if they fall in love with someone else, and that sex is a powerful bonding agent, so (in normal circumstances, with normal people) letting your spouse have sex with someone else is taking more of a risk than not letting them do it.

Of course there are people who can have sex without falling in love, and people who can fall in love without losing interest in their preexisting relationships, and some people who can do both, but they're the exceptions.
108
EricaP: Well, I guess it depends on a lot of factors. I suppose if there are young kids, if the economic hardships everyone suffered would be devastating, if by splitting up someone loses health insurance, and if both partners could accept being married to each other while at least one partner is in love with someone else, then it "would [not] be so terrible," and I'd say, sure, go get your needs met, take a lover, fall in love with someone else, and keep the marriage going, the last part of which (keep the marriage going) is what the wife wants.

But first of all, the fact that the wife has made her wishes clear as to what she wants her husband to do "I don't want you to go elsewhere for sex" suggests to me that even if she agreed to opening up the marriage, she wouldn't be happy about doing so and certainly wouldn't just shrug off her husband's falling in love with someone else.

Secondly, unless there are real, compelling reasons for a couple staying married despite not only not having sex
(which happens frequently), but one of them being in love with someone else, I don't think that's the preferred model. I know that when I'm in love with someone, I want to be openly with him, not hiding the relationship, and more importantly, not married to someone whom I am constantly comparing to my lover and finding that my spouse comes up short.

I was one married to someone and in love with someone else (secretly) and it got tiresome to live a compartmentalized life. I wanted to be in love with the person I was married to--and I don't think that's such a strange desire.

That's me; it's not everyone. But it's a lot of people, people who poly doesn't work for, people who don't want that level of openness in their marriage, if in fact, they can accept any level of openness at all.

Many people find the idea of being in love with one person while married to another to be undesirable. I see you mention that couples in closed marriages fall in love with someone else; I don't know if you are referring to secret loves (cheating), or the transitory crushes on other people that of course everyone goes through from time which don't really mean that much and ultimately die down. But if it's the former, surely you're not advocating marriages in which everyone cheats and is secretly in love with others; and if the latter, I don't think those temporary, relatively harmless unacted-upon crushes are comparable.

I'm suffering from acronym memory fatigue, and could use some help. What's DADGC? I know DADT, but I can't figure out what this could mean, and clearly by the way everyone's using it, it is well-known.
109
Eudaemonic, this seems like the core of your point: "people often lose interest in their current partner if they fall in love with someone else."

Let's take A & B (long married couple), where B is attracted to new hottie C. It's true that B may fall in love with C, and neglect A over the next few months. But if A&B have had a great marriage and A is patient during those few months, then it's unlikely that B will dump A, whether or not C demands it. Because adults who have been happily married a long time understand that new love fades, but a stable, happy relationship is not something to end lightly.

It's true that many open marriages end, and when they end, the people involved often grow closer to their extra-marital partners. But many closed marriages end too. And many closed marriages which are on their last legs try opening to see if that will fix things. Generally, it won't, and those marriages will end, as they would have if they hadn't opened.

Marriages end because one of the partners doesn't value the marriage. Other sexual or loving relationships can help make that clear, but I don't think they are the cause.
110
DADGC = Don't Ask, Don't Get Caught.

Nocute:
>> the wife has made her wishes clear as to what she wants her husband to do "I don't want you to go elsewhere for sex" suggests to me that even if she agreed to opening up the marriage >>

I said @106, "These people are not good candidates for an open marriage."

Can you continue the conversation without it being about the people in this SLLOTD? Can we discuss A, B & C instead, @109?
111
@108: " I see you mention that couples in closed marriages fall in love with someone else"

I mean that people in closed marriages fall in love with someone else and it often ends their marriage. So telling people that not allowing outside lovers will keep them safe is not true. Allow lovers or don't allow lovers -- whatever the married people agree to is fine. But don't tell yourself that one is safe and the other is dangerous to the marriage.

112
@109: It's true that many open marriages end, and when they end, the people involved often grow closer to their extra-marital partners. But many closed marriages end too. And many closed marriages which are on their last legs try opening to see if that will fix things. Generally, it won't, and those marriages will end, as they would have if they hadn't opened.

I was speaking in terms of probability, not absolute possibility. It is true that some people jump off of tall buildings and do not die, and that some people die without having jumped off of tall buildings, but by no means does that prove that jumping off of tall buildings doesn't increase the risk of death, or that jumping off of tall buildings isn't something you should avoid if you want to minimize your chances of going splat.

The chain of causality seems pretty clear--having sex with someone is a strong risk factor for falling in love with them, and falling in love with someone else is a strong risk factor for losing interest in a preexisting relationship. Some relationships survive that compounded risk, and some relationships don't survive even without both risk-increasing factors, but those are still risk-increasing factors.
113
@110: Thanks for the clarification re: DADGC.

I know that you said that these people are not good candidates for an open marriage, but since the discussion was about them and this marriage, I assumed you were asking your theoretical question with this marriage in mind.

Other than that, nothing in my post @108 changes. I acknowledge that marriages survive and persist even when one partner falls in love with someone else, and I acknowledge that poly relationships suggest every participant openly and successfully loves other people and still remain in love with their primary partners.

I don't think most people are comfortable with, want, or could maintain poly relationships.

As far as open marriages are concerned, it isn't uncommon for the spouses to have agreements that specifically take falling in love with the non-married participants off the table. Many open marriages include rules limiting the level of intimacy or frequency of contact to try and safeguard against that precise scenario. I once knew a man whose wife had given her permission for him to get sex elsewhere, but she stipulated that the extra-marital sex partners were not allowed to cook for him--cooking was how she felt she showed her love in its purest form, and was to her the grandest gesture of love.

Open marriages, as you are obviously aware, only work when both partners are each very secure in the other's love for each partner, and won't feel threatened by new relationships. I tend to think that that most people would feel threatened by their partner's falling in love with someone else, and have to learn how do counteract their jealousy.

But in a relationship in which things have cooled off or gone completely cold, one partner's falling in love with another person seems to me to be a recipe for even greater marital unhappiness. If the marriage is supposed to be closed and the relationship is in the form of a secret affair, then I think that the one spouse pulls ever farther away from the other as s/he falls more deeply in love with the new partner. It's true that once the affair is over, the cheating spouse may indeed find his/her way back to the spouse and the marriage may continue or even get stronger, but there's no guarantee of that and it seems like an awfully big gamble to recommend that people just be open to the idea of their spouses falling in actual, consummated love with someone else and trust that those feelings will die down and the marriage just pick up where it left off afterwards.

Many second marriages are between people who met and had affairs when one or both partners were married to others. A lot of people want monogamy and further want to be in love with the person they're married to. Conversely, they want to marry the person they're in love with.

114
@111: I never said or meant to suggest that "telling people that not allowing outside lovers will keep them safe."

No one is "safe" from the possibility of falling out of love with hes/her spouse, or of having his/her marriage fail. I'm not naive enough to ever think that, and I would never suggest that there is some magic charm that keeps people from becoming unhappy in their marriages or that keeps love and sexual passion alive in marriage.

I also echo everything Eudaemonic says @112.
115
>> But in a relationship in which things have cooled off or gone completely cold, one partner's falling in love with another person seems to me to be a recipe for even greater marital unhappiness. >>

Yes. People who are not currently happy with their partners, will not become more happy by dating other people.

So start from the premise: only people who currently value their marriages should even think about opening up their marriages. People who don't value their marriages should focus on figuring out whether it's worth working on the marriage to restore it to health. They should not distract themselves with other people.

@112 >> falling in love with someone else is a strong risk factor for losing interest in a preexisting relationship >>

I disagree that falling in love with someone else is a risk factor for losing interest in a [valuable] preexisting relationship, if by "losing interest" you mean "no longer valuing." Of course if you were already sick of your spouse, the new person will be appealing -- better to break up first, but it's quite normal to do it the other way too. And of course, taking up any hobby might distract one from the marriage for a few months, but I assume you don't think that people should avoid new hobbies or work commitments when married.
116
@115: I disagree that falling in love with someone else is a risk factor for losing interest in a [valuable] preexisting relationship, if by "losing interest" you mean "no longer valuing."

Why do you disagree?
117
@115, my first quote is from nocute @113.

Also this:
>> it isn't uncommon for the spouses to have agreements that specifically take falling in love with the non-married participants off the table. >>

Newbies do that, and then someone explains to them why that's a bad idea. We don't control our feelings, though we do control our actions and can try to treat our partners well even if we fall in love with other people. Life isn't safe. Relationships end. Value your relationships and love your partners as long as you can, but be prepared to let them go if they'd rather be elsewhere (or if they die). What's the alternative?
118
@116 - my experience in my life and watching other people open their marriages shows me that people who value/respect/love their current spouse don't stop valuing/respecting/loving him/her because of a new love.
119
@EricaP: I disagree that falling in love with someone else is a risk factor for losing interest in a [valuable] preexisting relationship" ". . . but it's quite normal to do it the other way too."

I disagree. Even if it is possible to keep a marriage strong by falling in love with an outside party, which is how I read your comment @115 (correct me if I misunderstood), I don't think it is by any stretch of the imagination "common."

You seem to want me to concede that falling in love with an extramarital partner is no threat to a marriage, unless that marriage is already in its death throes, and while that may be the case for your marriage and for a handful of others (so technically, yes, concession granted), I can't suggest it as a common or terribly viable practice.

That's okay; you know perfectly well that you and others in marriages like yours don't need my blessing or the blessing of people who feel as I do that the vast majority of marriages aren't helped but are actually hindered by one spouse's falling in love with an extramarital partner. You asked me, back @106 to explain why I thought " (in [my] eyes) it would be so terrible if one spouse were to fall in love with someone else?" I have.
120

121
Sorry for italicizing the whole comment. I should have returned to normal type at the end of the first paragraph of 119, following the quotes from EricaP's post @115.
I just hope I didn't italicize the whole thread!
122
@118: my experience in my life and watching other people open their marriages shows...

Note that this excludes everyone who is not poly. So we're talking exclusively about poly people, here, when you get to this conclusion:

that people who value/respect/love their current spouse don't stop valuing/respecting/loving him/her because of a new love.

It shows you that poly people are poly, though, since you're looking exclusively at members of the small minority of people who open their marriages and whom you know. That's a really, really tiny group of people, relative to "people," and is self-selected.

All people who want money rob liquor stores. I say this based on my experience of asking people who've robbed liquor stores whether they rob liquor stores because they wanted money, and they all said yes. Then, I surveyed five left-handed people about whether they primarily use their left hand because it works better for them; my survey concludes that all humans are left-handed. See the problem?

Your experience proves that the people you know who choose to practice polyamory are polyamorous. That can maybe be generalized to "people who choose to do polyamory generally have the values of polyamorous people," but it's not proof that people who don't practice polyamory are secretly poly.

123
So, nocute @119, just to make sure I understand, you agree with Eudaemonic that when A&B love & respect each other and have a strong, long-lasting marriage, B falling in love with C will weaken the marriage.

How does that work? Is it because B (the one with the lover) stops feeling love & respect for A? Or because A stops feeling love & respect for B? Or both? And what experiences or reading tells you that that happens?
124
@121: I don't know, I think for several weeks now these threads have been insufficiently bold...
125
Eudaemonic @122, who am I excluding? Where are these other people you know, who love & respect each other, and then their happy marriage ends because one fell in love with someone else?
126
@123: So, nocute @119, just to make sure I understand, you agree with Eudaemonic that when A&B love & respect each other and have a strong, long-lasting marriage, B falling in love with C will weaken the marriage.

Again, probability. Check out 112.

B falling in love with C will probably weaken the marriage. For most people in most circumstances, falling in love with C will weaken the marriage. Not for all people in all circumstances; "all" is not "most;" rare counterexamples do not disprove "most" or "probably." Only one side here is making absolute claims about what does or does not happen; I'm not, and unless I'm greatly mistaken Nocute isn't either.
127
EricaP: It's great if it works for you; it doesn't work for everyone, and your failure to acknowledge that, coupled with a fairly sanctimonious tone of a more enlightened and progressive person whose attitude and marriage everyone should try to emulate (Newbies do that, and then someone explains to them why that's a bad idea. We don't control our feelings, though we do control our actions and can try to treat our partners well even if we fall in love with other people. Life isn't safe. Relationships end. Value your relationships and love your partners as long as you can, but be prepared to let them go if they'd rather be elsewhere (or if they die)--@117--and my experience in my life and watching other people open their marriages shows me that people who value/respect/love their current spouse don't stop valuing/respecting/loving him/her because of a new love--@ 118) seem disingenuous and almost deliberately obtuse. Not to mention challenging, judgmental, and holier (or more evolved)-than-thou.

No one has suggested that people can make their relationships last in a state of blissful happiness by exerting total control. No one has said that life is "safe." No one has suggested that people who don't want their relationships to be open do so because they don't value/respect/love their partners enough to accept those partners falling in love with another.

I'm not judging you or your marriage or your model; but you're sounding kind of judgey about those who prefer monogamy.
128
@125: Eudaemonic @122, who am I excluding?

You're including only people who both 1)know you, and 2) have chosen to open their marriages. That's excluding basically everyone who has ever lived on planet Earth.

Where are these other people you know, who love & respect each other, and then their happy marriage ends because one fell in love with someone else?
Nocutename. According to your model, she can't possibly exist. Also, the vast majority of all human life on the planet--all those people who are not poly. If you're only looking at poly people, you can't extrapolate that to all other people with regards to whether they're poly or not.
129
Yes, Eudaemonic, we are in agreement. On this, at least!
130
{Let's take A & B (long married couple), where B is attracted to new hottie C. It's true that B may fall in love with C, and neglect A over the next few months. But if A&B have had a great marriage and A is patient during those few months, then it's unlikely that B will dump A, whether or not C demands it. Because adults who have been happily married a long time understand that new love fades, but a stable, happy relationship is not something to end lightly.}

And you don't find this insulting and disrespectful? I assume you're talking about a actual relationship and not a passing crutch but I know I wouldn't be happy if my spouse was pining over Someone New and ignoring me. And that they only returned to me because I was 'convenient'.

And during this I'm supposed to be sitting around twiddling my thumbs and hoping my spouse doesn't run off with new person. Living with the knowledge that I may find myself on the curb the next time Someone New comes along.
131
@126 "probability" -- I disagree that it raises the probability.

@127 "you're sounding kind of judgey about those who prefer monogamy."

When both people prefer monogamy, that's great. But when one person no longer wants monogamy, I think that's a sign that the two people are becoming less compatible. They should work on figuring out what they both want and see if they can rebuild a happy, compatible, mutually loving & respectful relationship. If that's monogamy -- that's great. But one person can't compel the other person to be happy with monogamy.

@128/129 - my memory is that nocutename's sexual relationship with her husband had collapsed long before their divorce, and that nocute no longer felt she could trust her husband to be trying to improve their sexual relationship. Am I misremembering, nocute?

132
@130, if my husband took up windsurfing and became obsessed with it, I would miss him when he was gone and if I needed more time with him than I was getting, I would raise that issue and hope he would take it seriously. But I would not feel "insulted" and I don't feel insulted if he spends a couple of evenings with his friends or his lovers.

If he treated me rudely rather than respectfully, I would see that as a character flaw and it would certainly weaken our marriage. But I don't think that falling in love with a third party (or falling in love with windsurfing) turns a respectful person into a rude person.

And the point is that if your spouse is happy with you, then they're happy with you. No need to run off. Why would they run off if they're still happy with you?
133
@ 132: We understand that you are poly. Seriously, you've made that clear. We believe you. We also understand that you know some other people who are also poly. That's fine; hell, that's great.

This proves nothing about everyone else. You are unusual.

1. Other people are different from you, and prefer different relationship structures.

2. This does not mean there is something wrong with them or with their relationships.

Believing #2 does not force us to feign ignorance of #1.

Gay people exist. Their preferences are not less legitimate than mine. They are not secretly straight. The fact that some people are straight, and happy being straight, does not mean any gay people are secretly straight, and it definitely does not mean all gay people are secretly straight.

The counterargument would not become less false if straight people were a tiny minority.
134
@133, when both people are happily monogamous, they should stay happily monogamous. No one has said anything different.
135
EricaP: I don't know if you are talking about some hypothetical couple @131, but I'm going to take the couple in this letter to respond.

It seems clear that the unhappy husband would prefer monogamy, too. He refers to the first 14 years of their marriage as happy and says that "there was nothing we wouldn't do as a monogamous couple." It further seems as if the only complaint he has now is about the frequency of sex and his wife's seeming loss of enthusiasm, and even then, he implies that he wants a return to a warm, intimate, playful, exciting sex life with his wife: "She will have sex with me if I ask but she just lays on her back and tells me to, "Do your thing." That doesn't help either. The intimacy is not there and it just feels wrong to be fucking my wife when she's not interested and just wants it to be over."

So this particular example is not one of one partner being unhappy with monogamy and the other wanting it (in fact, I suspect that the wife isn't being monogamous, but that's speculation, as well as suggesting that she has fallen in love with an extramarital partner and has therefore pulled away from her husband).

I know you wanted to stay away from this letter and this couple, but you keep placing new conditions on the hypothetical couple and I think you could just say that you're talking about you and your husband, who have already come to accept or even embrace non-monogamy, or others you know, who may even be poly. So I'm going to stick with the couple whose problems led to this comment thread to begin with.

I HAVE NEVER SAID THAT ONE PERSON CAN COMPEL THE OTHER PERSON TO BE HAPPY WITH MONOGAMY.

As for my own marriage, it's true that that the sexual relationship had collapsed before the divorce, but the direct impetus for my asking for a divorce is that in response to the unsatisfying sex we had, I had (after first doing my due diligence) had an affair and fallen in love with my lover.

(As far as "doing my due diligence," I first indicated my unhappiness, next suggested a sort of opening up the marriage, through visiting sex clubs together or getting into swapping together, and finally, when he refused to consider changing anything in any way, I told my husband--though I knew he didn't believe I would follow through--that I would do what I needed to do and do it discreetly (in other words DADT and DADGC))

I had the affair to "stay married and stay sane," and I fell in love with my clandestine lover. Initially, the need for secrecy was thrilling, but after a few years I wanted us to leave our respective spouses for each other. I wanted to divorce my husband, have my lover divorce his wife, and us to marry each other. Because we loved each other. Because I didn't want to love one man while being married to another, and because I didn't want to be married to one man while being in love with another. During all this time, I never lost respect or affection--even love, just not erotic love--for my husband, whom I still think is a great guy, a wonderful father, and a supportive, loving husband, but with whom I never had sexual compatibility. I'm monogamish by nature, and only want extra-marital sex to be an activity shared by the spouses (threeways or couples' swap) so they keep that sense of intimacy in all their sexual experiences. That's what works for me.

My lover loved me, but didn't want to disrupt the life he and his wife had made. He didn't want to lose the friendships he knew would champion his wife as the wronged party. He didn't want to risk losing, perhaps permanently, his children's love and respect, when they would feel a loyalty to their mother as the injured parent. He didn't want to devastate his wife, a woman he loved (non-erotically) and respected and whose mothering he admired tremendously.

So we broke up. Which was the catalyst for my leaving my marriage. I thought "I can no longer stay in this sexually unfulfilling marriage without the distraction of the affair, without the being satisfied sexually elsewhere. That's gone. And I refuse to ever have another affair. For one thing, I don't want to think that I am doing something that would bring tremendous pain and unhappiness to someone else. For another, I want to live with integrity again--I miss that. Lastly, I don't want to risk falling in love and being this heartbroken again, when the affair ends, as most affairs do."
136
But are you recommending that A leave B out of fear that B will leave A? Or are you recommending that A order B to be happily monogamous? Or are you suggesting A&B talk things through to see if they can find any way to still be compatible and together?

Because that last option is what I'm suggesting.
137
@132 Many people would not feel "insulted", per se, to know their beloved was with another lover. I'd describe the feeling as something closer to "devastated". I wouldn't be happy with him, or happy at all for that matter, and his behavior would need to change or the marriage would need to end. That's what makes me monogamous, I guess, rather than poly. Thanks for explaining the thought process of being poly. Based on the letter, we can be pretty sure the wife is *not* poly so for the sake of applicability we should not attempt to shoehorn this situation into a poly framework.
138
@136 was to Eudaemonic @133
139
@132: Seriously?! You're comparing a husband's taking up a new hobby like windsurfing to having an affair--and not even an affair where there is no affection to be understood, but an affair in which both spouses acknowledge that the affair-haver is in love with the extramarital partner?!

If love and sex is comparable to you to windsurfing or knitting, or enrolling in Italian class, then this argument works. But I don't think it is--or at least not for most of us.
140
I said @106 & 110, the people in this SLLOTD are not good candidates for an open marriage. (Nobody is shoehorning this SLLOTD into a poly framework. Dan recommended cheating. I think they should end it or work on rebuilding their relationship.)

Nocutename's marriage was also not a good candidate for opening, as their sexual relationship was unfulfilling while nocutename wanted to be in a sexually fulfilling marriage (as most people do). That meant the two people were no longer compatible. Poly/open-marriage doesn't fix incompatibility.
141
@136: But are you recommending that A leave B out of fear that B will leave A? Or are you recommending that A order B to be happily monogamous? Or are you suggesting A&B talk things through to see if they can find any way to still be compatible and together?

Because that last option is what I'm suggesting.


None of those, as I thought was obvious. We are suggesting that one of the reasons for B to forbid A from taking on other partners is out of the fear that A would fall in love with the other partner and that love would lead A to leave B.

We are further suggesting that this fear would be justified, because it is. Falling in love with your lovers, and wanting to leave a partner when you're in love with someone else, are both traits that are very common in humans.
142
@139 the topic I'm discussing with you and others is whether a good, healthy, vibrant, sexually fulfilling marriage is damaged when one person falls in love with someone else. It may be damaging, but no one has stepped forward to say this happened to them, or to anyone they know, or ever heard of.

My own belief is that it wouldn't be more damaging to the good, healthy, vibrant, sexually fulfilling marriage than one spouse taking up any other time-consuming obsession. But I'll consider revising my views if people come forward with relevant data on the other side.
143
@141, you mixed up my letters, so I'm reverting to my original case, where B is the one interested in someone new.

If A forbids B from taking a new partner (as you suggest), A will be damaging the relationship. It's different if A & B talk about the situation and mutually agree not to take on other partners -- that's just both people choosing monogamy. But forbidding an adult from doing something they want to do is what causes damage to the relationship.
144
@142: My own belief is that it wouldn't be more damaging to the good, healthy, vibrant, sexually fulfilling marriage than one spouse taking up any other time-consuming obsession. I think many people would say that there is a significant defining difference* between a spouse distracted by a new hobby and one distracted by a lover, but I don't think there is the "relevant data" you ask for to determine this.

*The difference is one of such great degree that it might fairly said to be a difference of kind.
145
EricaP: I happen to think that human relationships and emotions can't be reduced to logic puzzles or analytic games of As, Bs, and Cs in varying combinations, with givens and absolutes.
There is something about love, emotions, and human interactions that defies strict logical construction. Love isn't geometry--not to me, anyway.
146
Um the windsurfing equipment wouldn't be undermining my marriage. The windsurfing equipment wouldn't be tempting my spouse to leave me. My spouse could take a break or quit windsurfing with little trouble but ending a relationship, especially one with someone manipulative, is far more difficult.

And is my spouse staying with me out of happiness or familiarity? I mean if they're truly happy with me then why are they out romancing someone else? Not having sex, actually falling in love. Couldn't that energy be used to help our relationship?

I wouldn't be thrilled to know the only reason they're still around is because they haven't found something better. Or that once it comes along our relationship is over.
147
@142 It will be difficult to encourage someone to step up and say, "My happy marriage was damaged by an affair" because you'll likely argue that their marriage wasn't *really* happy, or it wasn't *really* the affair that did it. You're asking people to step up and argue the validity of their traumatic experiences.

I once had a loving, happy, sexually fulfilling relationship that was badly damaged by an affair of opportunity. So there's one data point. I won't be sticking around to argue with you over how valid my experience was. I'm pretty nervous about just clicking "post comment". Have a good day.
148
@143: you mixed up my letters, so I'm reverting to my original case, where B is the one interested in someone new.

If A forbids B from taking a new partner (as you suggest), A will be damaging the relationship. It's different if A & B talk about the situation and mutually agree not to take on other partners -- that's just both people choosing monogamy. But forbidding an adult from doing something they want to do is what causes damage to the relationship.


You're jumping ahead, and sort of begging the question. Let us presume A and B are married, and no one has yet fallen for anyone else. If A permits B to take other partners, A is dramatically increasing the chances that B will fall for someone else, and therefore increasing the chances that B will lose interest in A (as humans tend to do when they fall in love with someone else). If A forbids B from taking other partners, when B has not currently fallen from other partners, A is dramatically reducing the chances that B will fall for someone else. Because the chances are that B is a normal person, and is both prone to falling in love with his/her lovers, and prone to leaving preexisting relationships upon falling in love with someone else.

You seem to be arguing that these last two traits don't exist, when in fact those two traits are plainly the condition of most humans who exist or ever have existed.
149
@145 the A, B, C is just to avoid gendering the discussion in ways I choose to avoid these days.

@146 "if they're truly happy with me then why are they out romancing someone else?" -- well, that would certainly be a good question to ask the spouse who has a wandering eye. If the marriage were good, healthy, vibrant, & sexually fulfilling, I believe your spouse would be able to have that conversation with you, and you would listen to the answer without (necessarily) feeling betrayed.

@147 I'm very sorry that my tone has apparently made you feel nervous about posting your experience. I promise to stop posting completely in this thread from now on, in hopes of not terrorizing anyone else out of posting.
150
Typo in 148--"fallen from" is supposed to read "fallen for."
151
@149: If the marriage were good, healthy, vibrant, & sexually fulfilling, I believe your spouse would be able to have that conversation with you, and you would listen to the answer without (necessarily) feeling betrayed.

You are using "good, healthy, vibrant, & sexually fulfilling" and "polyamorous" interchangeably. They are not interchangeable.
152
Eudaemonic, @151: You are using "good, healthy, vibrant, & sexually fulfilling" and "polyamorous" interchangeably. They are not interchangeable. Hear, hear.

153
@105: Um. Dude. My first thought was "seriously a link to a writer on "male victimization" and not the CDC?" But then I saw the essay was about a CDC report, so I looked through what the CDC found. It says this, on page 18:

"Nearly 1 in 5 women in the US has been raped in her lifetime. Approximately 1 in 71 men in the US (has been) raped in his lifetime."

Sexual violence other than rape is 1 in 2 for women, 1 in 5 for men. The only form of sexual violence experience by more men than women is being forced to penetrate someone. Did you even look at the report you claim supports your idea?
154
Erica P. I hope I would be too. But I also hope my spouse would be willing to hear me out and not ignore my pain because it may interfere with their fun.

And you're right that one can control another person but people do get to decide their boundaries. Their 'price of admission' so to speak and I just don't think that monogamy is too much to ask even though it's not right for everyone.
155
@152--I think maybe what she's trying to say is that "good, healthy, vibrant and sexually fulfilling" is not as far a step away from "polyamorous" as you may think. It's certainly a pre-requisite for it. Most people would never entertain the possibility because of the fear that their partner may leave them. But I get the sense that EricaP is arguing that the fear is more outsized than the risk, and in that case more toxic than what the fear is a reaction to.

If you've got a very strong marriage, why would you fear or not trust your spouse all of a sudden? The very best that your spouse could ever do by leaving you would be, after years of uncertain outcomes and hard work with someone else, something similar to what you already share. I think the fear of your partner leaving you because of interest in someone else is not necessarily rock bottom human nature, but culturally conditioned. Which means, if you set your mind to it, you can probably uncondition it. As EricaP did, I believe.

Also, I don't find her tone preachy. She sounds to me like someone who has tried something, and found it's not as scary as she thought it was going to be. It's not preachy to share that.
156
@155: Also, I don't find her tone preachy. She sounds to me like someone who has tried something, and found it's not as scary as she thought it was going to be. It's not preachy to share that.

Um, yes, when she uses "poly" and "healthy" synonymously, she is being preachy. That's what preachy is. When a newly-out gay man declares that the only real relationship is between two men, he's being preachy, and he's doing exactly what EricaP is doing.

I think the fear of your partner leaving you because of interest in someone else is not necessarily rock bottom human nature, but culturally conditioned.

Look, I know you guys think that. It's insulting and untrue, though, so it would be nice if you'd quit saying it. I get that you guys have relationship models that currently work for you, and I get that you guys didn't have much luck with other models, but that doesn't actually obligate you to be a dick to everyone else.

@153: Oh, look, the first rape apologist. Did you read the analysis, where it shows how the results were deliberately formulated in such a way as to disappear male rape survivors?

Did you even consider reading it to learn new facts, rather than just looking for some random factoid you could use to cover up a few million rapes?
Look at the number of people who report being forced into sex in the last year. Given that as time passes, people rewrite their memories to conform to gender stereotypes, that's the useful one. Since you're not reading-inclined, I'll help you:
Percentage of women who report being forced into sex in the last year: 1.1%
Percentage of men who report being forced into sex in the last year: 1.1%
It doesn't fit your tidy gender-stereotyped narrative, though, so I'm sure you'll continue to take the word of organized rape apologists over the facts they didn't conceal quite thoroughly enough.
Have you considered becoming a better person, though? It would be easy, and rape culture really doesn't need your continued support. When you're believing the people who say that being forced into sex doesn't count as rape if it's done to a man, you're on the wrong side.

157
@156--You seem to be having a bad time with your knickers there. Would it help untwist them if you knew I'm not polyamorous*, I don't think there's anything wrong with monogamy, and I don't give a shit what relationship you or anyone else is in. Also, given how defensive you were about my one post, I'll take your views on EricaP's tone under advisement.

I haven't seen you provide any proof that human beings in a good, healthy, vibrant, sexually satisfying relationship are inherently prone to leaving their spouse when they start sleeping with someone else, or that the risk is so large it's not worth taking. I believe your argument is based on a false premise. That is all.

*Unless you count that I tried open marriage, and found it wasn't for me.
158
I haven't seen you provide any proof that human beings in a good, healthy, vibrant, sexually satisfying relationship are inherently prone to leaving their spouse when they start sleeping with someone else,

This is nonsense. You're being a little too obvious about trying to set up a No True Scotsman argument here.

What I have mentioned--and don't need to "prove," as it is an incredibly obvious fact that you cannot in good faith claim not to know--is that sleeping with someone often produces emotional bonds, and that having emotional bonds to one partner often leads to a weakening of bonds with another. I understand that you guys keep pretending that the word "often" does not appear in that sentence, but it does, and I am not interested in further humoring your often-less fantasy.

One more time, on the off-chance that you are just exceptionally poor at reading, rather than disingenuous: Often does not mean always. Proving not-always, which you have--congratulations!--is not proving not-often, and is not proving not-ever. Please stop pretending that Nocutename and I are saying "always" rather than "often."

Note for anyone else who feels the urge to make EricaP's and LateBloomer's specious arguments: I will largely ignore further posts that fail to acknowledge the difference between "always" and "often." They are different words; they mean different things; you can pretend not to notice this distinction, but I'm not going to play along.

...or that the risk is so large it's not worth taking.

It is true that I have provided no proof for this. I have also not asserted it. Or implied it. Or... anything. I have said nothing about whether or not the risk is worth taking. Merely that it is a risk. If you can quote a place where I said something like what you're pretending I said, please do so.

Given that you can't, though, I don't intend to give you any more serious replies, since I feel slightly guilty about wasting this much time on you already. Have a good day.
159
(A little late, but I found this necessary)
@89 "If you aren't self-aware enough to figure out that it's the dirty dishes in the sink that are stressing you out, how do you expect him to figure it out for you? What if it's really that you are missing your favorite kink?"

Okay, a few things. What makes you assume that I'm stressed or exhausted about housework? This isn't Good Housekeeping--you don't have to stick to jaded gender norms. Most women go out and earn money these days. I am one of those women. I couldn't give a fuck about the dishes. My lover already does those. So let me be clear about what I'm stressed or tired over--it's my job. I'm in a position of high responsibility with limited staffing--which means I frequently work six-day weeks; and I'm held accountable for the performance of my team. So when I'm exhausted, I'm exhausted. But sex is still important, so together we make an effort to get me aroused. And, I assure you, we have enough of our favorite kinky sex to keep either of us from missing it.
160
@158 A reasoned argument might look like: Emotional bonds to family and friends strengthen a marital bond, so the same principle should apply to additional romantic bonds. Your long winded "It's bad to have more than one romantic bond because obviously I'm right idiot" argument was painful to read.

I flipped through the CDC survey results that you've been quoting from, the setup and these first two data tables that have been mentioned. The numbers 18.3% and 1.4% appear in the women’s and men’s tables in the “raped during lifetime” box. Like it or not, they define rape as forcefully penetrating, or the attempt. The two boxes you quote involve vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by a body part or object; specifically men who are forced to penetrate and women who are forcefully penetrated this way. You may think that being forced to stick stuff up someone's butt (forced to penetrate) is equivalent to enduring unwanted stuff in your butt (forcefully penetrated). Not usually in terms of physical trauma; skin is just stronger and easier to treat than internal tissue damage. That 9 month illness and higher probability of disease transmission can also be factors of why externally touching the clit or penis or anything else is not usually punished as harshly as oral/vaginal/anal rape. Also you can’t just re-label the boxes “men forced to have sex" and "women forced to have sex”. Rubbing off a clit head or dick was in the "unwanted sexual contact" box ,and that is closer to normal sex than fingering a bum in the rape category.

I would grade your arguments about monogamy and sexual violence T for Troll. The report was interesting though.
161
It's so interesting that so many are saying play the divorce card. That would be great advice if a relationship is only about sex. The LW made it clear that he loves his wife and that he misses the intimacy he used to feel while having sex. His wife offering her vagina as a masturbatory tool does not translate into a feeling of intimacy - especially when it's coupled with that intimacy killing phrase "hurry up & get it over with".
Maybe the wife never enjoyed sex all those years and is now tired of faking & pretending. Or maybe she has discovered something about her own sexuality that has turned her off to her husband. Or maybe she's had her own sexual encounter on the side and no longer wants an intimate relationship with her husband.
If he loves her and wants to stay married, Dan's advice may help him maintain his sanity and give him the strength he will need to weather this storm until she works through her issues. But one thing is certainly true: Wifely Duty Sex (WDS) gets old quickly and will not be a satisfactory long term solution!
162
@160: Like it or not, they define rape as forcefully penetrating, or the attempt.

Like it or not, all nonconsensual sex is rape; it doesn't matter whether the authorities carefully define only some kinds of rape as rape. All rape is rape. When the authorities defined marital rape as "not rape," it was still rape. When the authorities define a woman raping a man as "not rape," it's still rape.

This stupid bullshit, and your bullshit rationalizations for it, indicate that something is very wrong with your moral compass.
163
@158--It's ironic that your tirade against other commenters' reading failures is based on a reading fail of your own. I tried to summarize your views using the phrase "prone to". When people are prone to something, it means they often do it. Shall I repeat that? They often do it. This means I acknowledged and responded to your use of the word "often".

But by all means, keep standing on your dignity, rather than addressing the core of my argument. You have consistently ignored it. In case you want another shot at it, here it is:

You say that "sleeping with someone often produces emotional bonds, and that having emotional bonds with one partner often leads to a weakening of emotional bonds with another." You say that this is the trait of "most human beings who exist or who have ever existed" (@148). I say that this is not true, that what you consider close to an absolute changes over time. It is not a safe assumption to make, for example, when you are talking about two people who have been in a satisfying, long term relationship together (especially the "weakening of emotional bonds with another" part). I am not saying by this (nor did EricaP say, as you claim) that only polyamorous relationships are healthy and satisfying. I am saying that people in healthy and satisfying relationships are in a good position to question the sorts of assumptions you make, should they so choose.

Here are my reasons: because they have the background of trust to take emotional risks safely together. Because feelings of betrayal are not absolute, but can be based on fears and assumptions that are incorrect. Because there is not just one kind of emotional bond with a lover, as you seem to assume: there are many different kinds, of varying levels of intensity, so developing an emotional bond with one person does not necessarily displace the other, and it could even complement it. Because people in long term relationships are acutely aware of how much work it took to make it successful, and satisfying, and have little motivation to start that process again where the outcome is uncertain. Because people who are satisfied sexually with a partner are strongly motivated to stay with that partner, with or without another lover. Because people who have been good at making their partner happy tend to continue making that partner happy, with or without an extra lover.

In short, I think the risk you see in allowing one's partner to see other people--given a stable, long term partnership--may be exaggerated.
164
@162 No one disputes guys can get butt or mouth raped. 90% of the time it is by men, looking at the convictions. Write to the CDC if you think rape should be redefined as an external as well as internal violation. My point was the numbers you quote don't measure what you claim. Does light actually bend around you? Massive density man. I gotta go, the feminist conspiracy meeting is starting soon. And isn't your patriarchy meeting down the hall?

@161 My first thought was also she got sick of faking, especially with his description of her old sex as just active and willing with less appetite. 15 years though? I don't see why cheating would help, it seems like ignoring the problem while creating more problems. I think the proper response is "I'm not interested in passive sex, I'll pass. I don't want you to touch yourself, either." Then when he discovers a toy or porn history, he can have sex with others more ethically since she lied first. Or maybe it would get her talking. I still don't have one guess as to why she stopped him from giving her oral, except that she secretly wanted a divorce.
165
Frankly, I think this is nothing more than two people who are both unhappy in their relationship and neither want to be the one to end it. She doesn't want sex with him anymore but she'll tell him that he has to go without - ensuring he'll cheat if he has absolutely no scruples. He bemoans the feeling of "using" her when she does consent to let him "do [his] thing"; he turns to an expert to get permission to cheat because, after all, if an expert says it, it must be the right thing to do."

I don't think either one has done enough to deal with the situation and, if this ends in divorce, they're both to blame - whether he cheats or not. She saw one doctor - a second opinion is always an option and most insurances will pay for it. If she was willing to accept that nothing was wrong when, clearly, something is, she is either keeping a very big secret from her husband (problem #1) or she's not willing to fix it at all (problem #2). Also, the fact that the husband will harass her for sex but not to go seek a second opinion is also worrisome - it suggests he doesn't really care about her overall well-being.

The bottom line is this: it doesn't matter if he cheats because both of them have pretty much thrown in the towel as it is. Even if the wife has medical problems or even psychological problems due to abuse or assault, she is not (if we are to believe the LW's account) making efforts to deal with it. Unless one of them finally stands up and makes an effort to fix it instead of finding lame excuses to avoid a real adult conversation, then they're better off going their separate ways. He can start by simply saying to her, "I know you don't want to have sex and that's OK. However, if you don't want me having sex with you or anyone else, then I need a better reason than 'Because I said so.'"
166
@159: Eloquently and forcefully argued, and entirely correct in so far as what you say -- and yet entirely missing my point.

The point was, he should not have to guess. He should not have to adjust his approach using best guesses as to what is _really_ wrong, hoping that something, anything, happens to hit the sweet spot. She should use her words to tell him exactly what's wrong. For her to say "I just am not interested." and "I find you sexy and attractive but I just am not interested in sex anymore" is about as wrong as it is possible to be.

Under ordinary circumstances one is expected to trust what one's partner is saying and take it at face value. Under every brand of feminist theory I have ever encountered, No is supposed to mean No -- and No is what she is saying to him. Now suddenly he is to be faulted for failing to disbelieve her when she says she just isn't interested any more?

By the way, there are some women out there who would indeed be tired because of the dishes, even if you personally don't give a fuck about them. When did this become all about you?

Are we clear yet, or are you still too enraged by my mentioning of dishware to think straight?
167
Okay I'm not going to read 160 some odd comments to see if this was brought up, but you know what? I'm probably that wife. You know what else? The lack of sex is a direct result of everything he's quit doing in our marriage. Okay, I work and keep the house and children, and you've decided at 35 it's okay to work and video game and that it...and then be sad when we don't' have sex? We don't have sex because i resent the hell out of you, not because I took a lover, you need to hit the gym, or anything else. You got lazy and complacent so I quit having sex with you. Even when I want laid I don't want it bad enough to do it with you. Counseling? Oh yeah, no that'd take effort on your part that you're not willing to put into it...If you're not going to put anythign into it, I'm not. Sorry your sex life is lacking, but my and my childrens entire life is lacking...YOU. Get over the no sex thing or fix shit.
168
@167: So TELL HIM THAT.
169
I've stayed quiet for a couple of days, but I just wanted to pop back in to say that my marriage wasn't open for the first 14 years, and when that changed, it wasn't because we had a calm discussion about opening the marriage. It was because he came and told me he had cheated.

So my choices were:
a) leave; or
b) tell him that had better never happen again or I'd leave (and then worry he would just lie again); or
c) accept that he was likely to do what he wanted, and deal with that. He didn't want more sex with me, or different sex with me (we had lots of fun sex) -- he wanted to feel alive, and for him, at that moment, feeling alive meant flirting with other people and feeling it could go further if they wanted it to. Not feeling that he would never again have sex with another person.

When both people are content with monogamy, these issues don't come up. That's great for the monogamous out there. I'm not advocating anything different for those people.

But after many years, sometimes one person changes and wants something more. Eudaemonic keeps insisting that most of the time, a person who gets something on the side will want to leave their old partner. But Eudaemonic is not right about the history (since throughout history, most men have had women on the side without leaving their wives).

And I don't think Eudaemonic is right about the present day either. I think, when there's an outside relationship and then the marriage ends, it's usually because the one-who-isn't-getting-extra decides to leave. That person feels insulted and abandoned, and therefore abandons the marriage. So all I'm saying is that (based on my own experience and that of other couples I've seen make the transition from longterm monogamy to non-monogamy), if the one-who-didn't-want-extra has some patience, accepts some discomfort for a few months, and asks for assistance from the partner who IS getting-extra, that many people can probably get through that phase and see what's on the other side.

Which may be a divorce, or maybe an open marriage, or a return to monogamy. But maybe slowing things down and trying to figure out whether you're still compatible can lead to a better long-term relationship (even after a possible divorce) than completely rejecting non-monogamy when your partner suggests it, and rejecting your partner for needing it.
170
Also, thanks LateBloomer!
171
And to msanonymous @154, yes, I would hope that your husband would listen to you and appreciate how much pain this caused you. And of course you alone are in charge of your own "price of admission" and if you need monogamy, then that's what you need. It's just about keeping an open mind when one person no longer can handle monogamy but doesn't want to end the marriage. As I said @169, keeping an open mind may still lead to the conclusion that you're now incompatible. The idea is just to get past the assumption that the only possible options are monogamy or divorce. Those may in the end be the only options that work for you, but if you love each other it's worth considering if anything else might possibly work.
172
@170--Any time. When I first started reading Slog, you were working through those very issues you describe, to the annoyance of some. But I was quite fascinated by what you were going through because, compelling as your posts were on their own merit, I was half a step behind in opening my own marriage and your posts were very helpful to me. So a very belated thanks for sharing right back.
173
Has anyone ever considered the possibility that a married couple's long term relationship could devolve into either a parent/child or sister/brother relationship? In those cases, the love involved is not sexual and having extramarital sexual relationships does not harm the primary relationship since it is non-sexual. The party not interested in sex could actually feel relieved that someone else is handling that "chore".