I went from a 19 year relationship you describe, albeit no kids, but good roommates, to the most passionate, intense, best sex 2 year relationship of my life. There is life after. For me the passionate relationship came with to much drama to last forever, and I'm forcing myself to move on despite still being in love, but now I know that there is still great passion to be had in life. Good luck.
I'm going with dump her. Don't dump her because there's no sex-- though that's a good reason. Don't dump her because that's better than cheating-- though that's a good reason too. Dump her because you want to be adored, want to be wanted, wanted to be someone's emotional center. Dump her because you're miserable and alone and think there's someone out there who's better for you. Dump her because the resentment is building, has built to the explosion point. It's relatively easy for women to find someone willing to have sex with them, and if your letter was all about sex, I'd say to follow Dan's advice and find sex, but that's not it. This letter is about resentment and the betrayal you feel and that soul-sucking emotional abandonment. Go out and find true love.
I say do both. Have the affair and DTMFA.
Telling your wife, "We've had sex three times in 14 years. We're obviously no longer in a romantic relationship. We're in a co-parenting relationship, one that's working quite well, and I'm happy to stay in it if you are. But I want a sex life and I'm going to have one, and if you're not interested, there are other men and women out there who are. If you're not happy with that, let's get a divorce. But as long as I'm here for the kids, I don't see any reason for you to object. You're off the hook for sex, and that's what you want, right? I deserve to get what I want, too," and then acting on it, is not cheating. So you can tell her you're unilaterally opening your relationship and continue to NOT be a cheater. Problem solved.

Great point in Dan's last para: there's no way OVER can be sure she wouldn't have suffered hetero bed death. Or worse.

I'd also make the point that while OVER feels she's offered her kids (not sure where the second one came from; changed details, obviously) a better relationship model than her parents did, not by an awful lot. Her kid or kids have seen 13 years of loneliness, frustration, and resentment. Seeing a divorce and a happier ending for both parties involved might be far better for their view of love and marriage. Something to think about.
4-BiDan-- I think both children are biologically the partner's.
Which means OVER has even more to lose than a father in a custody battle.
Um, LW needs some meds before anything else. This reads like an unedited version of On The Road (no diss, that's my favorite book)

Generally I'd say, control what you can control, but this seems like it's an OK one to put back on your partner to resolve the issue to your satisfaction. But in this case, it's time to regulate your partner. Tell her if she isn't going to lay the pipe, you can find someone else who can. If she has a problem with that, it's put out or get out. Force her to choose breaking up the family, leaving your kid (kids?), etc.


If you successfully shame your wife into shame-fucking you, would that even make you happy?
emotional, nuanced, forthright, sensitive, pragmatic-- among your best columns in a long time.
I second Fichu (@2). You've had as much counseling as she will tolerate, Presumably, she knows how you feel, yet nothing has changed.

You're not a cheater, so don't cheat. I assume the best you can hope for is to live with your wife and get your intimate needs met elsewhere. Tell her this as gently as you can. Try to get permission. Failing that, I'd say leave.
I second someguy @8 - this was one of Dan's best columns in a while. I especially like his suggestion that LW "take a break" before jumping straight to divorce. Maybe Wife needs that kind of a dope-slap to realize the depth of LW's unhappiness, and maybe LW needs to test the sexual waters outside her marriage to get more clarity on where she'd rather be. Maybe the break-time will motivate them to negotiate a new marriage contract that will satisfy both partners. Obviously we're only getting one side here, but to hear LW's version, she's done most of the giving and Wife has done most of the taking.

Regarding LW's complaint that she'd be better off if she'd married one of her straight college boyfriends, her own words: "The sex was fine, but also just what I came to call not-gay." LW, knowing what you know now, would you really have signed up for 16 years (or an entire lifetime!) of not-gay sex, in return for someone who appreciated you more and had a higher long-term libido than Wife? l suppose that if you are currently dwelling in the seventh circle of sexual hell, the sixth might start to look pretty good in retrospect. But instead of sighing wistfully about old flames, I'd suggest doing some hard work (maybe with a counselor, all on your own) to determine what you really want and need from your current and/or future relationship, and how to stand up for yourself more effectively with a domineering spouse or partner.
@4 BiDan, you nailed it!
I got as far as “I take guitar and do endurance races and have friends and even have a side hustle vending at the farmers market.”

Side hustle? vending at the farmer’s market? This gal sounds like the most boring woman EVER. Is all this a Seattle thing?

Then casually LW says I need/want to be ADORED. SORRY--I may just throw up now.

Even if LW looked like Wonder Woman/Charlize Theron combined I would still avoid this boring woman like the plague. Adored? What EVER happened to being a responsible adult! Those babies see her as another mom...walking out DTMFA already seems incredibly drastic.

Has LW ever actually sat down with her mate? Had a nice romantic weekend without the kids and find each other again. Be sensitive, loving, but get it resolved. A woman’s hormonal balance can get out of whack after carrying a fetus for nine months, then going through delivery and now having a little being totally dependent on you. Now she has two...and with LW that makes THREE people demanding to be adored and have THEIR wishes be first.

I have cared for a lot of women after becoming moms. Sex is the last thing on their minds when she is being tugged in all directions and now her “third child” LW is making more demands. Ever think that maybe SHE wants to chuck it all and walk out? What are YOU doing, LW, to raise the children? This biological mom is overwhelmed. Perhaps LW can look at life from her perspective?

Take that weekend together. Take some weight off her shoulders. If your FIRST thought is only to have YOUR needs met you’ve completely missed the most important parts of marriage: love, respect, sharing, and understanding how your spouse is handling stress and motherhood. If you are as selfish as you sound,, do her a favor and get out...just keep on running from being a responsible adult.
There's "my kids" but "my baby" - so they did have one pregnancy each, LW's wife 14 years ago and LW later? Confused now.

@Dr Helen, if the wife's pregnancy was 14 years ago, new mom exhaustion doesnt sound likely to be the root here. 14 years of sexual and emotional neglect doesn't sound like a way for a responsible adult to treat a partner, with or without kids. And even people you personally might find boring need partners to care about them.
Dear LW, your wife made you a female eunuch at age 27. This is emotional abuse. Dump her ass now!
@12 do you act like this with your patients? Because if so, there are 538 fathers out there who voted for trump, purely because of their experiences with you.
Dr. Helen@ 12
"This gal sounds like the most boring woman EVER. Is all this a Seattle thing?"
Hmm, I don't get the point of doing the break first. What's in it for her? Why not get this over with and then have a break, or as many breaks as she can handle? Anyone expand on their reasoning for this?

Yes it could shock her wife into giving her some sex, but the odds seem to me almost zero that it triggers a lasting change. More likely ends up wasting the LW's time.
@12 um, are you being an asshole for us, or for you? If for you, carry on I guess.

(no reason not to take CMD's terminology suggestion)
I'm confused by the compliments for this column. Why would Dan advise an open relationship when so many areas of the relationship have gone wrong? The LW deeply resents her wife and feels betrayed on a number of fronts, not just sex. You can't turn that level of anger into a happy relationship simply by opening up sexually.
Fichu @5: But where did the second child come from? OVER refers to her wife's "wanting one of each" (wife and baby), "after she had her baby who is 100% mine too" (singular), to "our kid and the future kid," and then later on to kids, plural. Clearly details were changed, but inconsistently, so we don't really know whether Dan's minions added a kid or took one away.

Sportlandia @7: I wasn't suggesting, and I hope no one else was suggesting, that "blackmail your wife into having sex she doesn't want" is a valid option here.

Capricornius @10: Excellent point. If OVER had married one of her boyfriends, the letter she wrote Dan might not have been "I'm trapped in a sexless straight marriage," it might have been "I've realised I'm a lesbian and I can't bear to fuck my husband anymore." Marrying a dude was clearly not the solution; marrying a different woman would have been.

Donny @11: Thanks!

Helen @12: The "babies" are thirteen years old. Scolding isn't doing any good here. I'm sure OVER is heartbroken that you won't want to date her.
If there IS a second child, there are more issues than sex at play here. OVER says that she, too, wanted to experience pregnancy. If Mrs OVER had both kids -- I don't think they're twins, because OVER says "after she had her baby," not babies -- I'd want to know why. Selfishness, or was OVER infertile? It's not as if a lesbian can get pregnant by accident.

I suspect there is only one child, and "kids" was an embellishment to cloud the LW's identity.
Isn't this just the same story but with different players? 'Got kid(s), spouse won't fuck me in like a million years and I've just goddamn realised how flaming pissed off I am.'
Dr Helen @12, if you really are a doctor, you've got a lot of bitterness inside you. This woman can wish to be adored without it being some cardinal sin. Some people when they fall in love adore to adore each other, and this LW just wants a bit of that. Her partner sounds like a cold one and the both of them have let this happen. The child is only beginning teens, hard time to bust up the family. The truth has to be fronted here, this is not a marriage, so work some arrangement out.
I don't see anything worth salvaging here, so what's the point of taking a break, other than to give LW a chance do some bossing around (as she's been apparently bossed into the relationship she has now, which indeed sounds terrible) before leaving. Since LW flat out says that she doesn't want to cheat, I think encouraging her to do something she's against will just delay the inevitable and make her feel worse in the meantime.

Staying together for the kids in a loveless marriage where at least one person (LW) is seething with frustration and rage is NOT better for children than a divorce. The oldest is a teenager now - the kids can handle it (my parents split when I was younger than that and it was the best thing they could have done for me). They'll probably be relieved, because I suspect LW is not great at holding in her feelings.
@19, @24, depending where the LW is, access to the kids could be a particular issue for a same-sex couple after a break-up. But agreed that kids pick up on things parents tend to congratulate themselves for keeping under wraps.
@12 wow - that's pretty nasty. "Gal sounds like the most boring woman ever" and "I might throw up now"
Maybe you're just having a bad day but it's hard to imagine you helping people in a professional (or personal) capacity.
Improv @26: I know, right? I was wondering what "Dr" Helen does as hobbies that's so much more exciting than music, running and growing her own vegetables. Come on, Helen, what makes you such a thrilling individual? Naked lion taming? Fire burlesque wing-walking? Climbing Mount Everest in nothing but a meat bikini? Are you secretly Angelina Jolie or Katy Perry? Out with it, so we have a frame of reference for your judginess.

I think there is only one kid in this situation that is a teenager.

The LW got a little confused when comparing her situation(with one kid) to her parent's situation(with multiple kids).

This means that, if new mom exhaustion is a thing it's been a thing for 14 years.

*insert complicated Gregorian sounding ritual that more or less says that the LW is more or less an empty nester and can get out of that relationship already*.
@25 - agreed, if access to LW's child/children is a concern, that is a compelling reason to try to make it work. If that's the case, Dan's advice is worth considering as a way to make the marriage tolerable (it might even improve things for LW's wife, who knows). But it doesn't sound like there's any romantic relationship left to salvage, and if LW can't get out from under the unhappiness of this marriage somehow, it'll be worse for the kid(s?) than a divorce.
@4. BiDanFan. I'm with you in thinking the LW should be around for the kids--or should in principle think she should be around for them. The problem seems to be that for 14 years, the only thinkable options for her seem to have been 'sexlessness' or 'cheating'. Not some form of polyamory. Why?
They share property, an adulthood's worth of investments, and two children. It might be better to negotiate a friendly-as-possible divorce now than deal with a messy divorce later if she has other partners without permission and the wife finds out.
@22. LavaGirl. I read the situation as having a further dimension in that the wife can guilt-trip the LW into not wanting to 'leave us'--that is, leave the wife and her biological children (as I understand it). Or the LW has internalised this understanding. And she doesn't want to leave the children; she sees it as a defeat, as recapitulating the pattern of her own parents. There's a sense that hetero-imitating suburban coupledom, not free loving sexual dissidence, is what she signed up for. But it's not. She should try to negotiate something better now.
Re: The children: I interpreted it as there are two kids, both born of the LW's wife. The original plan was that each would carry a child. What ended up happening was the wife had both. But yes it is confusing and I might have misinterpreted.

@12 Wow, judge much? When I read that a woman with a career and two children manages to make time for multiple hobbies, including a regular gig in the local community, that tells me she's social and proactive and interesting. You are judging her because she works at a farmer's market? Also, I'm not a lesbian but the local farms and ranches around my town are full of lesbians and they are fun women to be around- outdoorsy and community minded. Take your judgement about what is interesting and what is boring and shove it.

As for women not being interested in sex after having babies- for sure. But we aren't talking about the early years around pregnancy and diapers and young children. We're talking about kids who are older (I think even young teenagers now right?) . It can be hard for a couple to rekindle their sexual relationship after years of drought due to raising young children, and good for you if you help women work through that. I see no indication in this letter that the LW's wife is interested in working through it- refuses counseling for example. It might be useful for her to see a doctor. What wouldn't be useful is for someone to claim that her wife is boring for having hobbies, I mean wtf?
Moral of the story: never turn down butt play.
I don't think it matters how many kids this couple has. The problem is a sexual mismatch that has left the lw resentful and bitter and frustrated. Dan suggests that the lw cheat to see if that will help, which I read as a rewording of his "do what you have to do to stay married and stay sane." This might be a good approach at least for starters. But the lw has to be prepared for this marriage to end more acrimoniously through cheating than it would through just leaving. And it might change the relationship between her kids and herself. Children rarely care about whether or not their parents' sexual needs are being met, but they do care when they see one parent betray the other. They grow up in a culture which doesn't have a lot of nuance in its discussions or perceptions of monogamy and infidelity. Nicholas Sparks et al set unrealistic expectations for relationships; even watching and wanking to porn is seen my many to be a form of infidelity; "cheaters" are all always "assholes." Unless the kids have been part of a more poly-tolerant community, they will be very angry if their parents' marriage ends because one parent was cheating on the other.

Because the truth is that although the children will survive if their parents separate, it will affect them, emotionally, logistically, financially, socially. As long their parents aren't at each others' throats, I think kids barely care about buried resentment, if they even notice it. But getting the partner who doesn't want sex to sign off on the one who wants sex getting that sex outside the relationship, while logical in a way, is very rarely easily done. Many, many people who are not interested in having sex with their partners still insist on their partners not having sex with anyone else. Call it non-sexual monogamy or non-sexual exclusivity or fidelity, but the reasoning that you don't care about having sex with me so I'm not cheating you out of something you want rarely seems to be convincing. Many people are insecure and probably fear that if their partner becomes sexually satisfied by someone else, that partner will leave them for the someone else. This fear is well-grounded. I think most truly open relationships work best when the primary couple still has a satisfying sex life with each other.
(Of course, there are exceptions. Some of the regular commenters, current and past, have open relationships that allow for the person with the higher libido to get needs met that the other can't meet, either due to a lower sex drive in general, or a lack of sexual attraction to a partner whom they nevertheless love.)

So I'd say it's time for a long and serious conversation with the wife about what each wants out of marriage in general and this relationship specifically. The lw says "I've participated in all the counseling she will agree to (six sessions over 12 years)" but it is time to point-blank ask her wife what the wife thinks she should do when she's living a celibate life and she's sexually frustrated and is sexually and emotionally rejected, and has been for over 12 years.

@ 12: As for wanting to be adored, everyone wants to be adored by their partner. Everyone wants to feel that their partner thinks they're the bee's knees. Don't you want your partner to adore you? Doesn't your partner, if you have one, want to be adored by you?

Yes your post is spot-on about having that conversation with the wife, point blank.

I think the issue with the word "adored" is that there is a trend among some people where they say shit like "I want to be with a person who treats me like the queen I am" or that they expect a rose garden- and "adoration" seems to sum up that idea. It's absurd, selfish and demanding, and yes the Nicolas Sparks type romance ideal sets up this expectation. But I gave the LW the benefit of the doubt and assumed she didn't mean "adored" in that way but rather in the way you meant it. Affection, love, desire, etc., which of course we all want. But the word is sort of a red flag, and I see why people respond to it the way @12 did even if I disagree with a lot of the rest of her post.
Humble Brag Here: I'm a 50ish gay male who choses to have FWBs over a solitary relationship. I have at least three "friends" who are in long term relationships that have devolved down to roommates. And virtually all of my straight friends are rarely getting laid. Based on my experience, once you cross 10 - 15 years together, the sex seems to end.
BiDan@27 – "meat bikini"...Oh, YEAH! Now you got me fantasizing! Love pork chops and pussy, but the same time...!! Have I died and gone to heaven?
DK @38, just for you:…

...And of course she had a "faux-meat" dress for the BTW tour, because, ya know, the refrigerator on the tour bus is not always what you would want to maintain top-quality product. Especially if she was planning an end-of-tour feast for her entourage.
@BiDanFan It's not blackmail, it's aggressive boundary setting. "I'm going to do X". Wifey can approve or not approve, it's on her. But rather than accepting the onus of breaking up the family because she wants to have sex as often as once per year at least on herself, LW should put that weight on her wife. Potato Tomahtoe.
Came here to whup on #12 like she stole something, not just for that awful 'most boring person ever' bit (and Bi beat me to asking what YOU do, Doc, for kix, and I bet it's not jiu-jitsu on a raft floating in an acid lake or joining reformed ninjas for stealth food relief to Sudanese orphans), but for the reading-comp-fail in noticing the age of the kids + previous attempts at communication....and everyone beat me to it.
Nurse Rached called, dottore, and she wants her act back.
LW, you should break up. Sunk Costs Fallacy sucks, and we've all been there, but as a guy once said, it gets better.
re the 'adored' thing, can't see it as a red flag, and I'm a connoisseur ('I like nice things/the finer things' = alarm will sound if door is opened) of those. Nobody can be everything to one person, but we can be a person that it's real hard to be tired of, like beer and pizza. Adoration is high praise, but scarcely unattainable.
Honestly I really wish Dan would stop trotting out cheating as a solution to relationships that need to end already, because no child in the world has ever survived a divorce.

LW you're done. All the pussy in the world won't change that tell. Tell your wife, tell your kids and go. Your kids will survive, your wife will survive, and you might actually be happy for a change.
Sportlandia @40: I was referring to your "If you successfully shame your wife into shame-fucking you, would that even make you happy?"

That, to me, implied that one of the choices OVER could present her wife was to start maintenance-sexing her again. No no no. It's obvious Mrs OVER has no interest in that, so it shouldn't even be presented as an option. The only options are, 1, stay married and accept that OVER is going to fuck other women, or 2, divorce.

Your comment @40 sounds like we're on the same page.

Cat @41: I beg to differ. My partners regularly tell me they adore me. This is not an unattainable holy grail, and in fact, should be a requirement if you're going to make a lifetime commitment to someone.
Cat @41: Sorry, I think I misread your comment, and we're in agreement.
Bi, yes, we agree.
In other news, have you heard about the spellcaster Priest Ade? Or maybe it was a spellbinding benefit for clergy who want to sire progeny, called PriestAid?
Whatever, supposed to get your shit knocked up like wow. At least that's the word on the street.
Cat @47: I think I'd prefer to call on Priest Dan whenever I'm in need of a DTMFA spell. Really, Cathy's husband chucked her for another woman when she couldn't get pregnant, and she's happy she's now stuck with this douchenozzle as her co-parent for the next 18 years and eight months? I reckon she needed a divorce lawyer, not a priest.
Seriously, what a self-own. "I'll show you for being an asshole by chaining my body, finances and mental health to you for the rest of my life!" Ugghhh....
@42 @msanonymous I'm with you. LW says they have been coparenting for years. They don't have to remain married to keep doing that. Remaining married is only further entangling them in a partnership and putting the next chapter in both of their romantic lives on hold. And LW can take what she learned from this relationship and apply it to the next, perhaps seeking out a more open arrangement next time.
@42, 50: I don't mean that she shouldn't leave this marriage, because only she can decide what is best for her and her children (and it sounds like she's backing the car down the driveway as I type), but co-parenting children while living in the same house as their other parent, as an intact family is 100% different from being divorced parents in two separate households co-parenting. It is different for the kids. They have to shuttle back and forth; depending on how amicable the parental split is or how far away they end up living from each other, there could be serious implications. For many people it's financially prohibitive to go from being a dual-income family to two single-income families. The kids feel the pinch, too.
@12 Who gives a shit if someone is 'boring'. Sex 3 times in 19 years is fucking ridiculous, boring or not.
I agree with you, Nocute @51. I think OVER owes it to herself and her kids to have an open, painfully honest conversation with Wife about how difficult it's been to live a celibate life with the woman who once rocked her world sexually, and also let WIFE know that she feels like she needs a break from their marriage - perhaps a permanent one. Even if WIFE objects, I think OVER should take that break. Maybe 1-2 months to start with, then take stock of where she's at and extend it if needed. She can see what it feels like to be out on her own, playing the field and scratching a 13-year sexual itch, but also missing the ups and downs of daily life with her kids and possibly even starting to miss WIFE a bit. I think it could give both of them a different perspective, and possibly even resuscitate their dying marriage. It's worth a shot anyway, and divorce will still be an option if nothing changes.
@51 @nocutename Absolutely, it is almost always financially burdensome to go from one household to two households, though this will always be the case, even after the kid(s) have grown, so then it's a question of whether or not they're in it together forever. And I do understand some divorced coparenting arrangements are difficult on the kids, but so are some marriages, and then there are also cases of harmonious blended families that arise after divorce (this is what is happening for my ex right now and our child has adjusted very well to it). I also know someone who stayed in a marriage for practical reasons and then found herself in an intensive caretaker role after the spouse suffered a catastrophic medical event. The future, including financials, can't be predicted.

I do understand that for some, the prospect of maintaining two households can seem impossible and can result in tremendous stress and lowered standard of living. Generally, I'm a big fan of talking things through and trying to find an agreeable solution before giving up. But it seemed to me like this LW was saying they have done that already, the wife has refused further counseling, and LW was explicitly asking for permission to move on.
"if someone you're married to isn't interested in sex, you aren't cheating that person out of anything by having sex with someone else"

Dan you ought to know better than this, of course. Nobody is ever *rational* about sex. The person who's "so over sex" will rarely if ever actually say "Hey, no problem, go get your rocks off somewhere else. Kiss kiss!"

Even my wife was having mixed feelings about this when I was off doing exactly that, and we're in an open relationship since the day we started dating. The only way that ever happened was that it was with my wife's best friend, who has not only been our fuck buddy since we met her 12 years ago, but the one person in the world my wife could trust me to fuck without her present.

I could go on and on, and the interesting part is that my wife got her sexy back, which had exactly nothing to do with what was wrong in the first place. But the moral? Yeah, it's selfish as fuck to demand that the other person never have sex again because you don't want sex again, but they're still going to pitch a fit over it. In this case, this discussion alone is almost certain to end the marriage they've got, only now in an acrimonious divorce as opposed to an amicable one.

So... great advice eh? It would be interesting to see what the fallout is, one way or another. I personally would love to hear back from the letter writer.
Dr. Helen, you might legitimately be a worse person than Donald Trump. That's impressive in its own anti-social way.

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