Comments

1
Sounds like the pictures were old; you likely did her a favor. Maybe you could bring them up that way?

Open to closed relationships can leave some unexpected baggage. But that doesn't mean you can ask your partner to ignore the past; forget friends or jump through hell just to please you. You grew up with your partner; now it's time to grow more.
2
Oh, Dan, you ruined it by telling him to stay out of the comments!!! :-) your response was great, as usual. I just hope this guy realized how ridiculous he sounded as he was writing his missive. What a self-centered jackass. Imagine how his wife must feel! It sounded like she loved their sex life before, too, and now she's in pain and having to have sex with this whiny asshole. Poor lady. If she wrote in, would you tell her to DTMFA? That's where I'm leaning.
3
The fact that LW referred to his wife's chronic pain as "a turn-off for me" tells you everything you need to know about his priorities.
4
Yeah, I think that particular bit was the clincher for me too, @3. It would have been one thing if he had said something like, "Seeing her in pain doesn't do anything for my libido", but of course he couldn't be that diplomatic. Seems to me that dude loved the sex more than he does his wife...
5
"Let me say for the record: I'm not a selfish lover"

He's just selfish in every other aspect.

Need proof? Deleting or throwing away something that is not yours then proudly stating that you "don't give a Tally-ho fuck". Not very mature either.
6
Guy basically took his wife's chronic and very painful and debilitating condition and made it all about him. Four years in, dude, and I hate to tell you this: it isn't going to get better. Either learn to be more compassionate or do your wife a favor and bail off now so she might have a chance to find someone better.
7
@ 6 - Not finding anyone else would still be better.
8
Now hold on, commenters. First, I agree, Dan's answer was spot on. I also agree that LW's expressions here are selfish and immature, but he *knows* it. He's desperate to feel connected to his wife and have fun together again.

They closed the relationship because their feelings for each other deepened, and subsequently they had awesome sex. Note that he complains that they've drifted apart and that he can't talk to her. He experiences the photos as if his wife were choosing other cocks over his. He feels rejected, and possibly isolated and insecure about their work situation too. He's not asking for an open relationship with anyone except an emotionally-open relationship with the woman he feels rejected by and is married to!

He feels anger at her condition, but isn't giving himself permission to feel it. Yay, Dan, directing attention to that anger is great. He's angry because he's feeling rejected -- whether it's rational or not. (And if a person can't express irrational feelings to a sex advice expert, where can s/he??)

I second Dan's advice to seek the therapy together (and alone -- to exorcise those irrational feelings in a safe space without hurting his wife, and with no commenters!). Reconnect and re-open to each other, and the sex stuff may pleasantly follow.

9
LW. If your wife is the bread winner and you're a homebody.. no kids I'm guessing?.. Then what a wicket you're on. No wonder she yells at you. Do all the cooking and laundry and housework for two people. God, stressful or what.
Tell your wife to dump you.
10
Guy obviously based his love for this woman on frequent orgasms. Should she see this letter figure out it's about her, maybe she'll kick his ass to the curb and move on.
11
I know it's a sex column, but I love that they fixate on "she gave the best BJ's ever—and I mean that" alongside bragging about skills as a lover, but nothing particularly pleasant is stated that doesn't involve her serving him.
12
@11 You're right. It's a sex column. I don't expect Dan to give useful advice on a genetic flesh disease. So that's why LW doesn't go into those details.

Dan is certainly spot-on on his advice for LW not to read the comments. It took only three comments before someone decided to rag on him.
13
@ 12 - "It took only three comments before someone decided to rag on him"

In other words, an eternity.
14
I suppose that When Bad Things Happen (Secondhand) to Unpleasant People can be as confusing as when it's one's solemn duty to do something absolutely enjoyable.
15
@12: Dan also gives relationship advice, though. He's not being asked to describe the state of her body, but he sure can point out when the guy's a douchecanoe.
16
This letter seems fake to me.

The only sexual position she is comfortable in is the missionary position? What about the positions that wouldn't have his weight on her? It just doesn't sound right to me.

Also, she has a painful, degenerative disease; and she's the one working while he stays home. That makes no sense to me. Let's not forget, he decided not to tell Dan why....

The whole letter makes the LW seem like an asshole, but he is still with her. An asshole like this would have been out the door as soon as those 'award winning' blow jobs stopped, that is, unless this seriously ill woman is pulling down some serious cash.

If I were Dan, I'd have told the guy to look for a job and move on. If this letter is for real, she would be better off without him.
17
I don't think this relationship is doomed. Chronic illness is a MAJOR life changing event, and the parties involved are entitled to occasional rage in dealing with it without immediately treated as pariahs. The make or break is what NHS does now - look for help in handling this, or continue to be angry at his wife for something that isn't anyone's fault.
18
@2: that's a joke. Of course the guy is going to read the comments.
19
So the porn-policing guy is angry and hurt that his wife likes (or "needs") pictures of dicks that don't cause her physical pain. Or that are not attached to the snotty, selfish, insecure asshole that she made the mistake of marrying. Yep, a good marriage counselor should be able to fix that in two or three sessions.
20
Dan, you were right that they need to talk and they could use a counselor. But the LW having sex with other people is not the main thing to talk about! Oh, it might be nice, but that's not going to make this into a good relationship. And the LW didn't even write in thinking it would.

He wrote saying they can't talk about anything, he feels hurt and betrayed about the blowjob pics, and because of lousy sex they've been drifting apart. That's what he should try to deal with (or otherwise decide he doesn't want to and end it). I don't think it's hopeless; it's when they stop missing intimacy that's hopeless. He has got some major shit of his own to face though, as detailed by others.

Right now they're not talking and he's 100% not interested in sex. "Relationship clinically dead, add more sex partners" is not a good recipe. That gets you a super ugly breakup inside of six months, I promise you.

(I assume there are no kids, because I hate the thought of what it means if there are and he didn't think they were relevant.)
21
I just read the letter again. Jesus, Dan, you think this guy right now is any kind of good bet to manage a poly situation while not blowing up everything left of his marriage?
22
What an asshole.
23
That was just reverse psychology on Dan's part. Tell this fellow of questionable something, not to read the comments. Of course a guy who is so clueless will then proceed to read the comments.
24
Really Dan? This woman is already working to support two people. Why should she give him a pass to go fuck others. I'm sure his chores would be neglected.
LW. Remember that little ceremony you went thru? The Marriage?
Pretty sure that contract includes the words ' in sickness and in health.'
Your wife is sick and still she works to feed your belly so your stupid dick can call out for attention.
If you don't love your wife enough to let go of the pics.. like how much porn do you watch.. Pull your head in and be real with this good woman, your wife.
25
I like @8's commentary.

I had a partner who went through the old-school hep-C treatment (ribavirin and weekly interferon injections) for 18 months. That was 18 months of pretty much permanent flu-like symptoms and other misery. And, let me tell you, he was really hard to be around. But because you knew what he was going through, you couldn't express that he was hard to be around, because what he was going through was so much worse.

Nor do I buy into many of the commenters' opinion that looking after a household is somehow lesser work than earning a paycheck. Frankly, I wish more families had a stay-at-home parent and that our crappy economy didn't oblige most households to need two paychecks. Just because there isn't a dollar amount attached to work doesn't mean it isn't valuable. So let's drop the assumption that he isn't contributing here.

My guess is that NHS and his wife both have a lot of unspoken worries and anxieties here, related to his wife's condition and what that means for the future. Not to mention that being a caregiver, especially for someone close to you, is extremely emotionally draining work. But she's pretty much going to be the only one getting sympathy and support from anyone else (viz. many of the comments above).

I like a lot of what @20 has to say on this subject. NHS's problem is that a lot of the intimacy he has enjoyed with his wife has been sexual in nature. Now that path is being cut off by her condition. That actually gives NHS an opportunity to start creating and deepening intimacy in other ways.

So what practical advice could we give in that vein? How about starting to set aside some time for some old fashioned dating?

It doesn't have to be anything fancy. She's off at work while he's looking after the house. That sets up some opportunities for letting her come home to a special romantic dinner. I don't know if her condition allows for it, but perhaps there are some opportunities to work in other forms of touching, like sensual massages and the like. The point is you both get opportunities to do something for the other, and get to deepen your enjoyment of each other's company. It sounds to me like this relationship needs some non-sexual good times together.

Incidentally, she's probably feeling more than a little guilty and defensive about not being able to engage in sex like you used to herself. She may very well respond favorably to having other alternatives besides sex as a means of showing affection and love.
26
Corydon@25. Yes, where there are children having a stay at home partner can be a good outcome. The work involved in that scenario very different to just two adults.
27
@26 cont.. That's not the point.
Peoples' arrangements occur for whatever reasons. It's that this guy seems to feel no appreciation for the effort his wife, his sick wife, is putting in. Where is the Love.
Not in his dick. Seriously, she gave the best blow jobs, oh and now she doesn't. Poor me.
People really need to think hard before they get married. This man's attitude makes me shudder.
28
Adam @16: "The only sexual position she is comfortable in is the missionary position? What about the positions that wouldn't have his weight on her? It just doesn't sound right to me."

Moving exacerbates her pain.
If she is on top, she is moving.
If they are doing it doggy style, she is moving.
If they are doing it in missionary position, the amount of movement she is doing is minimal.
Go work out for three hours, and the day afterwards, see if you are in the mood to do anything more than lie there.

Also, perhaps her job involves just sitting at a desk all day, which is a lot less challenging than bending over to clean, walking a dog or doing laundry.

He's pissed off because he's missing the blowjobs he saw her giving in those photos, which he had absolutely no business deleting, and he needs to apologise. I do agree that reopening their relationship is a good idea. We already know that she's OK with the concept, and who knows, maybe she can also meet someone who is capable of compassion instead of just resentment and selfishness. I'd tell her to DTMFA, but she needs him as her carer. Hopefully it is only the sexual frustration that's turned him into such an asshole.
29

Only 4 years into what started as and should have continued as a fabulous relationship, my wife got sick. I knew about her genetic condition that affects the soft tissue in her body that affects the soft tissue in her body, her ligaments, joint, skin and digestive track. She's in a lot of pain, so much pain that sex, which we used to have several times a day, is now down to once every 2 weeks, and plain missionary at that. I'm now doing all the housework. She's still able to work for money.

I love her, but I'm in over my head. I don't know how to be loving and supportive to someone who's so sick. Thinking about the future scares me. This isn't what I signed up for. I'm kicking myself for not thinking this through when I fell in love and married her. We should have at least gotten pre-marital counseling with someone who knows about chronic pain, but if I feel like a jerk now for mourning my old sex life (and it really did used to be fantastic), I would have felt like a jerk back then if I'd refused to marry someone I loved because it was likely she'd become sick one day.

What do I do? I know she has it worse, and I know my emotions aren't rational. (Emotions never are.) I'm angry and hurt, by turns not interested in sex. She's irritable, and I know all the sympathy will be with her, but I'm at the point where I'd like some sympathy too. You know the way men get angry and hurt when their sexual advances are turned down for what seems like no good reason? I'm being turned down for a very good reason, and I'm still angry and hurt. I'm doing all the housework, living with someone who's irritable with me all the time, and not getting any of the love and comfort I'd like to get from sex. I'm not even getting any cuddling so I could rub up against her and masturbate in front of her while she talks dirty to me. All we've got are memories of past blow jobs.

I'm afraid that with all the frustration, I've done some hurtful things, like I asked her to delete some old pics she had, then deleted them myself when I saw that she hadn't. I shouldn't have done that, but it did at least get us talking, arguing, but really, the old pics are only representative of everything else that's wrong. Help.

Answer: Oh gosh, I'm sorry. What a horrible situation. What's the name of the genetic condition that affects soft tissue? I'd like to know because I'm trying to get a handle on your wife's health prospects. Is the condition likely to worsen to the point where she needs in-home care? Does it affect her life expectancy? Obviously you're not having biological children with her.

You both need help. You need a good sex positive counselor to give you some ideas for how to have a satisfying sex life with someone with your wife's condition. A support group with others with the same genetic condition would help. Hire household help. Consider opening out the relationship, though I think what's going on is far larger than a matter of one of you getting sex elsewhere.
30
Fichu. Nicely re written, if the LW had written such a letter one could feel empathy. If there was that sort of love in him for his wife, it would have come thru in the letter.
It is a hard call one member of a couple getting sick. It has just got to be talked thru, and if he can't give her really felt care it might be best she organized others' to help.
What are these two going to do when she can no longer work, if it is degenerative? Best these issues are talked of now. Instead this guy is pissed that his sex life has changed.
31
He's not her carer Fan. It's the other way around, she's working. And he's got the energy to ponder finding enough to open the relationship yet won't/ can't work.
32
I think I have the same condition as the wife, or one very similar. And yes @16, bizarrely missionary is the only comfortable position. Bodies are weird. I really hope the LW reads the comments, because I want to plead with him to take a moment and grieve for all the things that are making his and her life so hard. And then hopefully bring his head up and decide to take the best out of what is in front of him.

Someone else I know with this condition said that you can't just take joy in the easy moments. When so much of life is pain, fatigue and unpredictable failure, there won't be enough easy moments to make your time together bearable. You have to do your best to take joy in everything.

It would also be useful to make things more honest and more fun, or everything will just be a grind. I can't tell the LW how to do this in the context of his relationship, but acknowledging how painful it is to constantly see a loved one suffer may be the first step. I know my husband resents me at times for causing him so much mental pain in witnessing my physical pain. But all we can do is face it, name it and choose to move through it together, appreciating how much love there must be for him to stay.

If you can no longer bear it, don't stay, or take a break - but do everything you can not to let this situation turn you bitter against your partner. If you can manage that, I think the sex will become wonderful again. Opening the relationship may be a practical stopgap, but it won't heal the situation on its own and could make things worse, if that's all that changes.
33
One more thought. My husband gets upset that he is making my pain worse by having sex with me. Possibly some deep-rooted gender stuff going on. I have to keep reminding him that I am making my pain worse by having sex with him. It's not his responsibility. I will not give up intimacy and pleasure just because I'm going to be tortured for it later. That's my choice. To feel that he's doing something bad to me is denying my agency.

Also, this kind of illness is degenerative, and it can seem that nobody is able to help. But (in my case) you can get treatment and make changes which massively improve one's quality of life. If this is at all an option for NHS's wife, this is going to be a vital direction to pursue, in addition to everything else.
34
Lava @31: If she is the one with the chronic health problems, he is her carer, even if he is not the financial provider.

I do wonder why he quit working. He said "for reasons he won't delve into," but it's probably relevant to the situation. I agree that his getting a job would probably help in many ways.

MissPiggy: Thanks for your perspective. I have a partner who has a degenerative disease of the connective tissue. We both know that one day it will significantly affect their ability to be sexual. Fortunately we are poly, so I'm unlikely to ever be in the position of Mr "Her pain is a turn-off."
35
Is there any evidence the wife had even been looking at the pictures?
LW, you need a part-time job. Not even for the money, but to get more areas of focus for your life. You're too dependent for your own happiness on your wife. Take the pressure off her by getting more going on (and I don't mean, or don't exclusively mean, sexually).
36
My partner has a chronic illness that affects our sex life (and almost every aspect of our lives). I get angry at the disease and I often feel overburdened with caregiving. I understand all of that.

I think the LW might be experiencing a great deal of grief and hiding it under anger. Perhaps he and his wife need to work through their grief at the things they have both lost. She has lost a lot. He has lost a lot. They have to find new ways to connect and bond, because some of their old avenues aren't as available. There is a real mourning process involved in chronic illnesses... Perhaps if he allows himself to mourn and grieve and feel ALL the emotions, he will find he has less anger. And that the anger he has is more properly directed at the disease, the state of medical research, the universe, what-have-you. Not at his partner.

For me, anger is almost always about being really, really sad about something that I refuse to recognize. And it's about my bucket of stress being WAY too full and overflowing inappropriately. That's just my perspective.
37
If they were “open” before they developed feelings for each other, re-opening the relationship seems like exactly the way to blow it up. They aren’t people who are open/poly by nature; they were two people who were fucking, and fucking other people, until they fell in love. LW is resentful of her, and it's only going to get worse. The love is already gone.
38
I find it really interesting that those who've been in LW's shoes find a little bit of compassion and understanding for him, like Sessie.

I know *exactly* how LW feels. And you are all right. He dashed this email off showing his ugliest side. His frustration. His anger. His exhaustion. He is human. He is forced to hide his feelings and put on a good face if he isn't completely heartless. (I think he has a heart or he'd already left).

I know, I know. Everyone here is going to say, "well what about her..??? she's sick and...."

And you all are right. She is sick. She is going to pieces. She does in a lot of ways have it so much worse than he does, but that does not mean he doesn't have it bad.

It's called caregivers fatigue and it is so often ignored in this country with our crappy social security net. It is very VERY common.

My mother was disabled from birth. For a very large portion of my life, I lived alone with her. And for that time, I was her caregiver. From about seven until about sixteen when I started to rebel, and then fled to college. By my teens, I resented her, deeply. I was deeply angry with her. Because it never stopped. It never ended. I never could have a free life without having to worry about her. She also had deep depression and anxiety. And pain. And with pain brings anger. Lashing out. I was left deeply scarred from it, to the point that i have little tolerance for illness in others or myself.

Not surprisingly, my first husband had depression and substantial problems being a functioning independent adult. Because we pick what know. I begged him to get into treatment, get meds. He didn't. Instead I had to live with his lack of mental health and the incredibly self destructive ways it lashed out at me. And after about five years, I was sick of it. OMG, so tired. I did divorce him. And I don't regret it, because his sickness made him abusive.

When I remarried, I married a highly competent man, one who I felt could take care of me as well as vice versa. However, he had some joint injuries that have left him in chronic pain as well. I am not going anywhere, I love this man. I put on his shoes and socks often. I help him carry things. I thank the lord that I've been given two strong legs and two strong arms and a resilient body. And god knows he tries, despite the pain. But PAIN, oh man. Pain saps the soul of the person experiencing it. And he struggles with a temper more than he would without the pain.

But as much as I love him......

In the night, sometimes I call my brother, who completely understands the struggle with my mom. And I vent. I talk about my frustrations. I talk about my anger. I talk about how tired I am having to tie a grown man's shoes. I talk about how we can't have the sex we used to do.

And I talk about my fears - I had to have surgery two weeks ago to repair a damaged ACL - what happens when my body starts to fail? I'm 40. I have two kids under ten. So what happens.

I know we will be fine. But in the middle of night when I am sitting in front of my computer, staring at the blinking cursor, I'd could have easily dashed off what LW did or burn a few letters.

___________________________________________________________

LW, if you read this, please join a support group of people, like you, who are caregivers for ALS or whatever condition your wife has. DS or others who've never been through it, they can't see it, they don't get it. Yes, your letter was a$$holish, and your actions - deleting those files - are out of bounds. DS is giving you your wake up call. You are drowning, hoss.... you need a life line, or both you and your wife will go under.
39
Can't put it better than #38, so won't try.
Though I do wish I could change my avatar back to the Byron pic, anyone else having problems editing their account?
40
@38 - bingo. Being repeatedly snapped at by someone you're caring for takes a toll. The focus becomes all about the other person, and suddenly you don;t have a partner anymore. IF LW doesn't get into the habit of talking these things out with people who understand, these kinds of emotional eruptions (which are ugly to read) are going to keep happening.
41
What an intensely unlikable letter.

I'm just glad I don't know this guy. Or, if I do, I'm thankful I don't know fuck-all about him.
42
Thanks, DHR @38. Comments like yours are why I still read the comments.
43
Yup, the guy sounds selfish. Maybe he is. Maybe he just came across that way in frustration.

Being a care-giver is terrible. Chronic illness is terrible. You can't really imagine how terrible it is until you experience it. And it feels deeply unfair because there is no solution and nothing you can do about it, and you stare at the situation and think THIS IS MY LIFE and there's nothing you can do. It's horrible, and yes, you can have lots of irrational resentment.

Also I don't know why everyone is jumping on him for not working. Not everyone needs two incomes and not everyone wants to live that way. It's nice to have someone at home keeping the house clean, providing home cooked meals, doing the laundry, doing the yard work. If they are both happy with that arrangement, why are you guys acting like it's a bad thing? Maybe she has the sort of sedentary job that is easier for her than housework/cooking and she enjoys the fact that she can just come home and be off work and not have to do anything else? I don't get this mindset that you have to be super stressed and busy with kids to justify one income.

The only place that I see where he's being an asshole is in the deleting of the pics and his response to it. On top of that, it bothers me that men love to have a woman who gives great blow jobs but then get bent out of shape over evidence of the fact that she learned to give great blow jobs through lots of practice. I don't know if that's what's going on here, but why else would he demand that she delete something from her own damn computer? If he doesn't want to see it because he's feeling sex starved, then he should just not look. It's not like she's showing him the pics.
44
@29 Brilliant reframing
@32 and @36 - really helpful perspective

Definitely, there's a lot of anger and grief going on with the letter writer. Agree: counseling, grief/anger management, support groups for care-givers: all of this could use attending.

Someone earlier in the comments thread, I've lost who, mentioned needing to come up with new ways for intimacy that wasn't all about sex. This made me think of an earlier SLLOTD, I think the topic was post-pregnancy recovery and its effects on sex life, and a commenter there had some really helpful ideas for non-sex focused intimacy. It had to do with finding some way to be kind or sweet to each other every day, without the end goal of sex as part of that. Since your mileage will vary based on the illness in question, these suggestions may have no specific relevance, but think things like showering together, holding hands, sending silly IMs. Just, ya know, look for ways to be kind to your partner and also to yourself. And it doesn't have to be every day. That might be overwhelming to think of it in those terms. Good luck.
45
What @38 said.

And that's all that needs to be said.
46
LW sounds burned out, stressed out, understandable given a hard situation, his former loving wife is sick and life isn't what it was. Too bad the response he chose was "be an asshole." Hey, remember that little thing about "for better or worse?" Not just words. So suck it up, be a man and, oh, I don't know...stop whining like a toddler who lost his favorite toy. Your sick wife is out making money while you sit at home thinking of how bad your life is. Stop being a massive prick and for god's sake, get some therapy to help you cope! Don't be a douche and abandon the one you love when the going gets rough and she needs you most - that would be assholery of the first magnitude. Try to figure it out TOGETHER. That's what grown-ups do. Look for other options for her medically. Look for other options for you sexually that don't make her feel like you've abandoned her. She knows life isn't what it was – now she knows you're a selfish prick who lashes out at her, and that probably doesn't make her feel like fucking you more in the few times she might be up for it. And by the way, repeat after me... sex isn't all about you. She might to open to outside help (i.e. sex worker) if you get a job and PAY FOR IT YOURSELF and she can view it as "just sex" not you looking for someone to replace her permanently.
47
@43EmmaLiz it bothers me that men love to have a woman who gives great blow jobs but then get bent out of shape over evidence of the fact that she learned to give great blow jobs through lots of practice.

Exactly. Thank goodness my GF learned her craft well before we met. I'm the one reaping the benefits of her experience! Just me, but if I found old pix of her blowing previous boyfriends, I would't delete them, I'd copy them to a secure drive. We all had a life before this week. Why be jealous of it? As Puumba said, "you gotta put your behind in the past."
48
Self-righteously deleting her old porn?

He really has embraced the classic housewife role.
49
That Dan advised the LW to keep away from the comments suggests that he reads the comments--which pleases me. It makes me feel like he's paying attention to me. On the other hand, it suggests that Dan's take-away from the comments section is that we're an insulting judgmental bunch. I disagree. There's certainly that element, but I'd say that say that as a whole, the regulars are unusually compassionate. It's why I hang out here despite my leaning towards the vanilla monogamous side.

I've read that when men and women are dealing with major life stresses and disappointments, women are more likely to react with depression while men are more likely to react with anger. This makes me think of something I was writing a while ago when the LW was a man doing everything for his seriously depressed wife. I said that sexual considerations aside, there could come a time when he'd be in trouble (lost job, serious health concern), and he'd want to lean on his life partner. I don't think that thinking about that makes you an asshole.
50
Thank you for the nods. I appreciate it. Due to my unusual upbringing, i had to confront the caregivers fatigue at a much younger age. However, a good friend of mine, 50, her mother has dementia. She is showing the classic signs.
From webmd. There are dozens of sites that reference this.

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude -- from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don't get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able -- either physically or financially. Caregivers who are "burned out" may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, anddepression. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones.

http://www.m.webmd.com/heart-disease/hea…
51
You can always tell when people haven't experienced a sick loved one because they give the shittiest advice.

Ever heard of caregiver fatigue? You probably haven't because you thankfully have never been a caregiver. It takes a toll on you, especially when your loved one is rude, temperamental, ungrateful, etc.

"But think of how much worse they have it!" you say, firmly planted alongside your healthy loved ones on your high horse. "You need to understand that since she is sick, everything is about her! You don't get to be upset anything anymore ever again. All your problems are incomparable to hers!"

Have you ever stopped and thought that maybe this person is writing a letter as a cry for help? Maybe they sound crazy and rude because they're emotional and their life is falling apart. Maybe the life they envisioned is being torn away from them--completely out of their control--while they see their friends and family carrying on with normal happy lives. Disabling diseases are brutal on spouses and children (especially young children) and no one ever talks about anyone except the person with the disease.

I speak from experience because I saw this exact thing happen to my parents. They are 35 years older than me and when I was 8 my mom started to lose her ability to walk and she started to go insane. She had a brutal form of MS (yes, MS makes you fucking crazy). I'm not going to dive into specifics but this took a toll on my father. He was irrational, angry, drunk, etc. They fought constantly, they emotionally abused each other. It was a mess. Now, over 20 years later, they are fine (MS medication has come a long way) and the situation is much better.

Anyway, 90 percent of the commenters (and Dan) can't understand what this guy is going through, so 90 prevent of the commenters should shut the fuck up.
52
@51 Nope. "Everyone should shut up" is a POV one gives up when one writes to a public advice-giving column. "You haven't been there so you can't have an opinion" is also unrealistic and pointless. Why, I've never BEEN murdered, nor have I had a loved one murdered, so I guess I should just STFU about murder! Nope nope nope.
53
I'm just not seeing where this man is the compassionate care giver you guys are seeing. His wife is working. His wife is supporting him. She is the sick one and it is she bringing the money home.
Yes he may have written the letter out of understandable frustration activated by some pics she had and her illness, that doesn't change the fact that this woman is the one carrying the burden of the illness and having to work.



54
Dark Horse, your situation was very different. You were a child. How is this man suffering carer burnout when his days are free, except for a few hours of chores? He's suffering" I'm not getting the sex I want but I can't leave because she is supporting me."
Don't know what words you guys have read because the man I see in this letter has zilch concern and love for his wife and he needs to be honest about that with his wife. Then maybe they need to separate while she is still capable of sorting her life. I don't see this guy is hanging around if she becomes bed bound. Then he'd have to work and support her.
55
And while I'm at it. I'd say her anger is coming from a deep realization that this man, her husband, doesn't love her, not really. He loved her when she gave good head, before the sickness became more pronounced. I'd say her anger also comes from having to admit to herself that she married a boy not a man. A boy who expects her to keep working, support him even though she's sick.
A boy who on top of that, moans he's not getting the sex he used to get.
56
LavaGirl, Why are you reading into it that either of them are having trouble with the financial arrangement? The letter writer did not say so or even hint at it. Some people actually like their job, and it's very likely that it helps her to come home to a house in which all the chores are done, the laundry is done, the dinner is done, the house is clean, etc. Especially if she has an illness that makes it painful for her to move, she probably likes not having to do any of those things. If you are saying that he should work outside the home AND do all the chores, OK, but it might be worth asking if either of these people want that. Many jobs are sedentary, and she might be really happy to have work outside the home. Plus she comes home and doesn't have to do anything else. It just seems strange to me that you are repeatedly assuming that this is an issue for them.
57
High-five on the name check from Dan, fellow empathy-free scolds!
58
I don't mean to be tedious and read him the wrong way, but my misogynist flag was raised three times. I already mentioned one- he has no interest in sex now after seeing a bunch of pics of her sucking other dick (which was fine back when she wasn't sick and was sucking his too) and he deleted all her pics without asking even though he could've chosen just not to look at them. He can't stand thinking of her with others IN THE PAST. Still, I get that it could be resentment or sorrow so maybe I'm misreading.

But then he says the housewife thing, as if that is always a woman's role- doing the cooking and cleaning while the other works. Still, I get that he's being a little tongue-in-cheek here, and I see nothing wrong with their arrangement if it's what they both want.

THEN he brags about her orgasms. Ugh, just no.

Guys listen- this is a really disgusting thing for you to do. Lots of dudes do this- brag about how they make girls cum. First off, it sounds like you are looking for recognition of an achievement which really makes your perspective on sex seem creepy. Second, it probably has more to do with her familiarity with how her body works than anything you did. Third, even if she cums more easily with you than with other people, then it's about your chemistry together- not something you did to her. Fourth, it does not make you a generous lover if she has an orgasm. It just makes you a lover. There are all sorts of things that could make you generous and the number of her orgasms have little to do with it.

Any of these things alone, OK. But all three of them in one letter? I feel like calling misogynist here. But seems like I did that last week too, and maybe I'm just reading too much into it.
59
@53 I totally agree with your last comment. This guy doesn't sound like his wife's caregiver at all, and I know what it means to be a caregiver.

My partner's father moved in with us a little more than a year ago. The move was mainly to help her father financially (his pension has been cut in half), but since the move his health has started to decline rapidly. He is back in the hospital for the third time in less than two months. At this stage he can still take care of himself a bit, but he can't stand for more than a few minutes, and he can't drive.
He has fallen twice in the past two months, and he can't get up on his own. Thankfully I've been at home both times, but she and I both work full time and we are afraid of what will happen if he falls and we aren't here.
The stress of managing his care ( some of the medication he has been taking effects his memory, so she keeps track of his meds with him and takes him to all his appointments ) and the anxiety she feels when he is left alone is really starting to take a toll on her.

The LW, on the other hand, is complaining that he has to do 'most' of the housework. 'I'm essentially the housewife now.' The fact that he self describes as a 'housewife' and not a caregiver says a lot. Shit, just using the term 'housewife' suggests that he thinks housework as 'woman's work'. I'm finding it very hard to feel bad for the LW. His wife is the only one working outside the home, and it sounds like she is still helping with the housework.
The LW is obviously NOT her caregiver.

@BiDanFan I wonder if a swing or something like 'the liberator wedge' would be helpful in a situation like this?
60
#38 and #51 - and many others - thanks for the comments.

I'm on the LW's side here. Maybe he expressed it badly, but it's not easy being a caregiver.

In my case, I work at a paid job AND do almost all of the housework. Due to my husband's various aches and pains, he does very little (although he's great at handling the tv and a/v system). I run the errands, take care of the pets, do the dishes, the cooking, the cleaning (granted, not a lot and we do have a housecleaner every 2 weeks for kitchen and bathrooms).

Sex? HA. "he's in too much pain". And quite frankly, since I'm housecleaner, chef, wage earner and everything else, I don't really feel like being his sex outlet on top of it (yeah, bad attitude, so shout at me).

I'd do open relationship in a heartbeat except I live in a small town.

Some here gave the LW some really good advice about counseling and all. For those of you who think he's a heartless a*hole - maybe. But maybe he's just very very tired.
61
@49
it suggests that Dan's take-away from the comments section is that we're an insulting judgmental bunch.
I've been reading SLOG for years and my take away from the comments section is that we're an insulting judgmental bunch too.
62
I make no apology for giving this LW the same disregard I feel he's giving to his wife.
63
@lava. I was a caregiver as a child and as a young married woman. I am a caregiver now (although not even close to what I used to be).

If he truly was a heartless a$$hole, he'd have dumped her or already gotten his dick wicked rather than writing a fuming letter to DS. And I am not going to be making a whole lot out of the assumptions over the employment either. She might have to keep working for access to good health care. Employment linked Healthcare is a real issue here in the us. After surgery I could work, even though I could barely walk to the bathroom because my job is all computer based.

And I find sympathy because his anger is ×so× typical of caretakers... especially a hale and hearty one with a poor sick wife. Why? Because of what happened here. He doesn't have the right to feel angry... right? He doesn't have the right to miss sex and feel angry about that, does he? He doesn't have the right to feel overwhelmed.... because in everyone's eyes she has it worse.

So like all things, it festers and festers some more in the dark, where he's gagged and silenced. And it grows into a monstrous thing until one item lances the boil and the whole putrid mess spews out.

I really wish you all would click on the link I provided. And search for caregivers fatigue. Why am I not surprised? Why do I see him so differently? Because I've been in the room when the most loving of men and women have expressed the darkest of feelings, even such things as wishing their loved one would die....

Oh the darkness that lives in everyone of us.

I have complained how my sex life has become so limited because of my husband's physical limitations. You know why? It sucks. And voicing it helps me diffuse it and move forward into thinking how to improve it. But though I may complain or grumble I still love my husband with all my heart.

Really, Google "caregivers fatigue."
64
My only advice to the writer is to avoid slipping into the black hole of infidelity. Being ill, and being caregiver, both put horrible stresses on marriage, especially when intimacy is lost. Communication is key. I have suffered over a decade with diminishing health along with increasing chronic pain, but there has been no pain (not even my current relapse) that compares to the pain I experienced finding out my spouse broke our wedding vows and slipped back into "friendship" with an ex. I urge anyone facing the loss of their sex life due to partner illness to do the loving thing and get yourselves into some good counseling to see if you can prevent a destructive and extremely painful trip through infidelity-land. Do the hard work now, because it is infinitely more difficult to heal the broken heart of the person you love than it is to endure inconvenience and loss due to illness. Just ask my spouse, who is the only person who vowed to protect me from all hurts . . . and then hurt me.
65
Do her a favor and divorce her. I'm sure I would divorce you if deleted anything that belonged to me. That's off limits.
66
Do her a favor and divorce her. I'm sure I would divorce you if you ever deleted anything that belonged to me. That's off limits.
67
Sounds like LS Lichen sclerosus, and if so, she ibst just suffering, it's likely consuming her vulva, clitoral area, making sex not only physically painful, but emotionally painful, as well. Imagine, if you will, having painful intercourse, pain from gentle oral, pain when urinating and bathing, and sitting, walking, BEING. Now add to that pain, the extra agony of no longer being able to achieve an orgasm. You claim that you give and she gets orgasms regularly, and that is highly unlikely. Once LS begins to take form, the flesh literally consumes itself. Her clit may no longer exist, and having sex at all, is uncomfortable, painful, and no orgasms to speak of, it's a wonder she sleeps with you at all. Shame apparently isn't within you, nor a hint of compassion, and I'd recommend you either go fuck yourself with a searing hot poker, in hopes that you can share in her ungodly condition, or get on you fucking knees and beg this poor woman for forgiveness, in hopes that you can redeem yourself, and maybe skip the searing hot poker. Best outcome is she doesn't suffer any more than she already is, and you just might find yourself in the receiving end of one of her amazing blow jobs.

Highly unlikely, as you certainly have come across as an absolute pile of human dog shit, unworthy of being scraped off the boot that kicks yer petulant ass.

Fuck you, very much.
68
I don't think anyone on the thread has a lack of compassion for people who are fatigued and burned out being someone's caregiver. It is just that the LW doesn't say anything to indicate that he IS her caregiver. She works outside the home, so for now at least she functions somewhat independently, and he doesn't say anything about taking care of her in any way. He states that he does the housework while she is working. Homemaker =/= caregiver. If it did, plenty of people in single income families would be "caregivers" to perfectly healthy spouses. And before I get lumped into the "never been there, don't know what I'm talking about" crowd, I took care of my dad when he had dementia and terminal cancer, and I currently live with a chronic illness that has stolen a lot of my independence.
69
Perhaps there's a little more insight that I can contribute as yet another chronic pain sufferer in a relationship.
My pain has been getting steadily worse since I was 18, and it is whimsical in nature. There are good days and there are bad. I can never fully predict how I'm going to feel on any certain day, and that's fucked up many a plan. I sometimes worry about myself and what the future will hold, but I'm quite used to the pain and unpredictability by now. The majority of my concern goes to my wonderful partner. He's an amazing, empathetic man; I've never known anyone like him before. He's a fixer though, and it's very frustrating for him to not be able to fix me. It upsets him to see me in pain, and it upsets me to be the one upsetting him. I worry that being with me will be too stressful for him. I feel bad that I can't always have all the sex I want to be having with him. I hate that I can't always contribute as much as I want to. It's a heavy thing to feel your vitality slipping through your fingers and to feel like a burden on the one you love at the same time. Add to that the bad state of mind that chronic pain can put you in, and you have quite the dark cloud over your head. It causes some huge insecurities, and I can pretty much guarantee that's what is causing the LW's wife to lash out.
Of course, that's not an excuse. I try very hard to not gripe at my partner, because he hasn't done anything to deserve it, but on really bad days I can't always control the way my despair manifests.
Luckily, it's fairly easy to communicate such things with my partner. I think resentments do extra damage in complicated situations like this. I know that even if I'm not physically up to fucking him, I still need to be vocal about my desire for him, because he has insecurities too. As people have said, finding other ways to be intimate is key, because if you don't, it's too easy to drift away from each other.
So, LW, talk to her! I think you'd be surprised how similar some of your feelings are.
Also, I think Dan hit it on the head when he said she might have kept those bj pics as a reminder of her previous vitality. Giving a good blow job is surprisingly physical, so she probably saw those as her varsity bj years (hehe. I want that letter jacket! ;) ). If I had such pictures, I'd hang on to them as well. It's not about the cocks, or the dudes attached to the cocks, it's about her looking back fondly on what she used to be able to do. I really hope she has a backup copy of those pictures, cuz yeah. Dick move sir.
Anyhoo, just wanted to throw my two cents in. Sometimes it feels like I am my pain, and I'm sure there are times when my partner feels like he's dating my pain, but that's not the truth at all. Remind yourself of why you fell in love with her (hopefully there was a reason besides the killer blow jobs :p), and then show her you're grateful for those reasons. I think she will respond in kind. A little gratitude can go a long way.

Chronic pain is a bitch for everyone involved, but it gets a bit easier if you can find a way to face it together.
70
This comments section used to be all about self-referential pontificating, but that's given way almost entirely to LW lynchings.

71
What are you people on about? Lynchings. People write in and they know Dan has a comment thread and that sometimes a LW needs a good kick in the head.
It's not every letter and I find it offensive to have that implied.
72
To Corydon@25 - thanks, likewise. Great ideas!

To misspiggy@32, sessie @36, dirtygerty @51, Wenchysadie@68 and others: thank you for honoring us with your stories.

To OlderWiser@64: hear hear, I'm so sorry that happened to you.

To DarkHorseRising@38 and @63: thank you for helping us to understand. Hang in there. You are heard.

Actually, some of the comments here have been especially compassionate, emotionally-bare, and open! @LavaGirl, no matter what we all think of LW, I'm sure we agree that is a silver lining.
73
@72. I don't feel one way or the other about the LW, I was responding to the dynamics as presented. And it's heartwarming to see people share their stories.
74
This letter really brought out some powerfully open and compassionate responses, some powerfully open and angry responses (I'm not judging), and some glib robot asshole responses (you I'm judging).

LW, if you come here, don't mind the robot assholes, but try to take in some anger with the compassion, because there are reasons.

Oh and let me echo the huge thing some people said: SUPPORT GROUPS! If your wife's not in touch with people with her illness, please suggest it. And you might gain a ton by talking with their partners and caregivers. (Are you acting as a caregiver yet? If not, get your shit in order now, because if you're in trouble now just wait. Sorry.)
75
Am I in a minority thinking Dan gave bad advice by bringing in opening the marriage? Or is it just that's kinda his schtick and there are other things to talk about?
76
Mtn @75: I think the open relationship suggestion was a great one. One, because their relationship was open previously, so he knows that she's okay with the concept (that they're both okay with the concept). Two, because all this anger and resentment is coming from a place of him getting no -- rephrase, very little -- sex. He's getting very little sex because she's not physically capable of having sex. So why not allow him to have sex with others, maybe during the day when she is at work, and then he'll once again be capable of being a loving, caring partner to her -- which anyone with a chronic illness is lucky to get?

I do believe the letter paints LW as an insensitive jerk, but I also believe there's a high likelihood he's just lashing out and there's a decent person in there. Go back to the discussion of whether sex is a need in terms of emotional well-being. It clearly is for this guy.
77
Mtn Beaver @ 75. No you're not in the minority. It's a terrible idea, under these conditions of the wife working and he not. To me he allowing this to continue while his wife is sick is very questionable.
If he's a decent guy as you suppose Fan, then he should be earning the money to look after his wife, then talk about opening the marriage.

78
@77.

LavaGirl. If they are in the US, there is a substantial likelihood that her job is what gets access to good healthcare. Please don't make assumptions about that. One of the reasons my husband stays with his job rather than moving on is because of the amazing benefits - vision, dental, and health - that he gets. Depends on what he was before, what he did, and what types of jobs he can get now. Going out and working at Wally-word if it means she gives up a much higher paying job with better benefits, may be a net detriment.

As to whether he's a true caregiver or not? I don't know. He may just be a SAH. But I doubt it. If she's in that kind of pain, I have to think he's taken over everything - the house, the chores, and everything she can't do because of the pain. My mother worked full time. My father, while he was around, still was a caregiver. He worked too (although sporadic), and did a lot of the physical things that she could not. Many things. And it was a heavy load on him too. He was an @$$hole but not for that. Being married to a disabled person isn't necessarily a cake walk.

I repeat what I said before. I had ACL surgery and could barely walk to the bathroom for a while. I could, however, do my job with no problems. I couldn't take care of my kids. I could pound the keyboard. I am not ready to jump all over him over the employment issue.

Let me acknowledge, he may be an a$$hole.

But look at Primal's response. I would be that Primal either personally experienced that horrible disease or someone close to Primal went through it. And while I acknowledge Primal's feelings as well, and understand, please keep in mind that many people who are care takers here that often - implicitly and explicitly - "well you aren't the one with dementia, or ALS...." and thus aren't allowed to ever complain, ever get tired, ever vent.... I got this a lot with my mother. People fluttering around saying she was soooo amazing, how much she was able to accomplish with her disabilities (and f*k all, she is and was. She did!) But those same people would (1) completely ignore the amount of care-taking that I and my siblings did as children to help her; or (2) if we ever grew resentful (and we did, all of us booked it and left home early), we would get a wash of condemnation.

And - honestly - not being completely heartless bastards, we heard those voices in our head, telling us, "stop getting upset, x has it much worse...."

I got some pushback and guilting for leaving my depressed ex-husband - not a lot, because we did all sorts of turdy things to each other - because he was "sick."

I got a little dark, I admit. I just have seen so many people who go through this. Some times the caregivers become very sick themselves.

He did write a letter that was... well.. a$$holish... he definitely sounded bad. I want him to go to counseling and also become part of a support group. I don't think he should go into an open relationship, not yet. I think he needs people whom he can vent his anger with some safety but also get pragmatic advice for improving his situation.

PS, I don't think anyone here - just because they haven't per se gone through it - should shut up or not have an opinion. You should. Had you not, I probably won't have posted as much as I have over the last twenty-four hours, and hopefully some of you will click on the links for caregivers fatigue, and let it open your eyes to an issue that you hadn't thought of. Perhaps you know someone suffering from it, and can offer a hand. Perhaps you will want to factor that in for your own old age (where this usually hits).

I still will deliver food to the shut ins through my church and spend a little time talking. Not just for the shut ins, but for the caregivers, who all need the break.
79
I bet if the genders were reversed everyone would be sympathizing with the woman. But, in this reality, everybody finds it SO easy to condemn men. It is rather demoralizing.

My advice to the NHS man... file a divorce, move on with your life, and don't look at the comment section.
80
Regarding your first bit, I was thinking the same thing. It's easy to condemn men because men tend to show anger, whereas a woman would show depression (generally speaking).

Look past the anger, and what do you see? I see a young man whose life changed for the worse and he is powerless to stop it. And, he's being told that he isn't allowed to feel bad about it.
81
Dark Horse. Of course, I forget the U.S. health system. In Oz, a person can get a disability pension and their carer can get a support pension. Adequate money if they are careful. Though the conservative govt is starting to make getting these much tighter.
I do hear you Dark Horse. I just didn't read much concern for his wife's illness at all in his letter. And she may need her job for those benefits, he still could get a job. I found his letter was all about him. I saw no empathy for his wife's sacrifice ( supporting him), or her illness ( can't fuck me much now) and little understanding why she might have been keeping those pictures. She will never have that robust pleasure again, pictures helped her remember.
And I feel for you, having those carer chores as a girl and honour your brave mother.
The LW, he needs to be honest with his wife, emotionally. If the love isn't there to stay with her and care for her, why would she want to open the marriage, even want him to stay. They could enter a contract, be real with how this marriage is playing; but if he doesn't love his wife, how long after opening the marriage would he be off with a healthy woman?
No. Wrong way to go, so he owns his narcissistic self , tells his wife his whole truth, and the bricks will fall where they may.

82
@69, Thank you for putting things much more eloquently than I did. I empathize with everything you said, things are the same way in my marriage and me feeling bad makes him feel bad which makes me feel worse. It really is a downward spiral that is hard to pull yourself out of. Just know that you are not alone, and there are all kinds of people in unexpected places who have similar experiences and will be supportive of both you and your partner.
83
Lava @77: You keep fixating on this one detail, that the husband is not working. He said there are reasons for his not working. If I were too ill to clean a house but healthy enough to sit at a desk at a high-paying job where I had good health coverage, I might well be far more appreciative of a househusband to do all the chores than someone working a low-paid, part-time job and leaving the house dirty. Perhaps taking care of all the domestic duties is a far more effective way of "taking care of his wife" than earning an unnecessary second income but leaving the house in a state.

Lava @81: You think this letter is "his whole truth"? I don't. I think this is one aspect of the relationship, the aspect that's bothering him right now. I think opening their marriage could save it; not opening it will mean he's eventually driven to either cheat or leave.
84
@76 opening the relationship for sex may help them, I underplayed that, but it reads to me there's several things they have to do first. Get communication opening, rebuild intimacy and empathy and trust, hug through some teary apologies. The LW doesn't sound in a state to open up sex without more harm right now.

One thing in particular, opening the talk with "I'm frustrated, can I go out and get some" may be a disaster move if she's also missing their old sex life? You have to keep energy on this sex relationship not just move out to another. Even if in the end you have no fix for her needs, you owe her something here.
85
I think the nasty commenters could be nicer to the guy. He writes because he seeks help, not public shame. He is expressing feelings, which makes writing them down even more difficult. He could be the nicest man, with a few human flaws we've ever met, but because we know him only through his skills with a keyboard, we get a limited picture.

My advice to him: Do kinky things with your wife that get you off without the pain of intercourse. It's not as thrilling, sure, but the love and intimacy remain.
86
@76: "I think the open relationship suggestion was a great one. One, because their relationship was open previously, so he knows that she's okay with the concept (that they're both okay with the concept)."

They closed it because they're not okay with the application and real-world practice of the concept.

Please wait...

and remember to be decent to everyone
all of the time.

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