Savage Love

Married People

Comments

1

Other can also busy Dr. Married and not give him a choice. Just send some pictures to Mrs. Dr. Married anonymously. Pictures of the 2 of them together. Make it from an angle that isn't obviously from her. Boom he's busted so he had to make a choice.

2

I too often wonder "why get married?". Ironic as my work revolves around the wedding industry, for the most part. Marriage was not originally for love. And now there's no reason to marry "for love" unless you feel you have to prove something - which is never a good reason.

For the money then, I guess.. at least in America.

3

Love is a traditional reason to get married but you can also have more practical reasons. Rights of survivorship and inheritance is a good reason. I'm not saying because someone is a gold digger but laws are there to help family in the event of a death and there's no will. Again in the event of poor estate planning and lack of a living will, if someone were to be incapacitated (ie. in a coma, etc) a legal spouse can make healthcare choices that a roommate can't. Cost savings where 2 people can be under 1 person's health insurance, I'm not sure if the laws in every state allow a domestic partner to be covered.

4

Yes of course - legal reasons - shared benefits, rights, etc.. those are all valid. Which is what I meant by "for the money" oh and wedding gifts too !

5

"He ain't got laid in a month of Sundays
Caught him once and he was sniffin' my undies"

6

As someone who "got" the compromise Dan suggested for LW1, I just can't recommend it. You can psych yourself up about it for a while, but in the end it all feels pretty hollow when you're still second fiddle to the wife. My advice is to do what I finally did two months ago: end it, and tell him why. It sucks, but deep down you'll never doubt you did the right thing, and you'll be free of that nagging feeling you've had to ignore the entire relationship. And who knows, if he actually feels the same way you do he'll sort out his situation and come back to you.

7

I see nothing wrong with the panty sniffing - he isn't doing it to denigrate his wife in any way, and it keeps them close during this difficult time. No need to feel guilty, or to tell her...

8

BTW - totally agree with @6. It's an artificial relationship now, but I would add that, most likely, it will not be the same if and when he sorts things out - they will need to create a whole new relationship with new parameters.

9

"Other" most likely won't be the exception to the rule. "Cheaper to keep her" is a saying from a rich older guy who had been pursuing me off/on at random since I was age 19 and I'm in my forties now. I've met plenty more just like him and they would say or do anything to score. These guys love the thrill of the chase and want their fun but no way do they want to pay for a multi-million dollar divorce. Not judging because I know it's exciting to be showered with attention from a good looking, educated man with power/money. LW should be careful because often it's just a game to men like that. If he'll disrespect his own wife that way, he'll probably do the same or worse to you.

10

@OTHER; you are "falling in love and...his wife allegedly doesn’t know about his unhappiness in their marriage"

You know that that's pathetic about him, this guy you are in love with, right? Just so you know. Maybe that's OK with you; maybe you're pathetic too.

@MAD "Why get married?"
The only reasons I think are valid are legalistic things like having a kid together, hospital visitation rights, etc.

11

Maybe I'm the only one, but I find marriage (at least in the USA) to be pretty kinky. When my wife and I got hitched it was for insurance purposes entirely, but it became a part of our sub/dom play. She in the kitchen in her apron, heels and nothing else washing the dishes, while her brutish husband has his way with her whenever he pleases. All very 50s stereotype cosplay, but it gets us off now and then. All those patriarchal ideas of a wife as a possession become grist for the transgressive power game mill.

But you could do the same thing with someone you just met of course.

12

My partner and I talked a huge amount about the point of marriage before we did it, because we were both mostly against it (he had general contrariness issues; I had done it before, and it seemed to me that it hadn't done "what it was supposed to"). It turns out there are reasons, which are entirely practical: tax benefits; inheritance issues; all that shit about who gets to come into your hospital room when you're sick, or pull the proverbial plug. There are also a number of other more minor legal benefits; you can look it up. All these things can be arranged without getting married, but it takes hiring a lawyer and throwing down real cash (we checked), whereas (at least, in our county) a marriage license might run you about $60.

There is, of course, also the pressure to make the relationship work; the declaration in front of friends and family that that's your intent. In some sense, if you think about the typical service, there's also the feeling that your friends and family participate: witness, agree to support the relationship, all that jazz.

If you want the legal upsides without all the wedding industrial complex bullshit, and without forcing friends and family to throw down money on gifts (which were originally to get a couple started in a new home--silverware and all that--but now, as most couples are already in homes, homes with silverware, even, it's just ridiculous), you can always go get married at the courthouse. Treat it as a legal agreement; that's what it is. Make any emotional commitments to each other a separate deal. At least, that's what my partner and I did, and (fingers crossed, wood knocked-upon, etc.) it's working for us.

What gets me about LW1 is my (personal, irrational) belief that the reason this relationship is so great, with the love and the sex and all that, is precisely because it isn't a marriage. The wife/husband pair deal with the domestic bullshit and all the un-fun bits, leaving the mistress to have all the sex and joyful illicit stolen time. She's in a state of constant desire because she doesn't get enough. (Cher from Clueless comes to mind: "Always leave them wanting more.") What happens when she does? Suppose the dude does leave his wife and marry LW. Two years down the line, they have to have all the domestic fights and deal with all the boring aspects of life together. Suddenly the relationship isn't so shiny anymore. And, in my imagining of this, a few years after that they're both having new affairs.

Best possible option: get the okay of the wife to bring it into the open--allowing her outside partners as well, of course, if she so desires--but otherwise keep things the same. Otherwise you're just asking for this fantastic relationship to wither on the vine. (Chances of this being agreed to: close to zero. But you never know until you ask.)

13

Looked at the other way around, there is a Spanish proverb in which the deity says to take what you want and pay for it. Some people just don't want to pay for various mixed reasons.
xxx
How much of an edge each individual letter will require over the S in divorce statistics if we're to have any shred of hope of retaining a semblance of rights remains to be determined, though I expect that the marriages in the first couple of years of availability may be reviewed to avoid skewing.

14

OTHER- LW1
Be aware that what makes this great relationship with this great married person so great is because their other relationship at the home base is full of so many things they’re not happy about. For good or bad, yours is an exclusively fun, sexy relationship. Not necessarily bad nor saying you should end it, just giving you a perspective.
(I kept the situation non-gendered because I think the feelings and dynamics are common. Married person being a man is indeed more common, though I’d argue that this is due to social make up and that there is some shift in
this regard. )

WANK- LW2
While no longer practicing I’m with Dan re being torn.
Using someone else’s panties without their knowledge and consent is not something I endorse.
On the other hand, intended, if that what’s keeping you going in these all-around hard times, intended again, and you can keep it to yourself and you only do so because you crave for your wife and not her flirty coworker’s panties and/or body…

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a German-born who was a very sex-positive adviser celebrity for her time back in the Reagan’s 80’s, appeared in a mouth wash commercial and declared, “Heff faan, baat kip eat kleeen.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdLR3XLGn8w

15

Ms Ods - Flatware or sterling, though?

16

After quickly moving in with a guy I was crazy about and living with him a year, I realized I'd made a big mistake (it wasn't that there wasn't love for him, but how he began to behave after the "shiny and new" stage wore off, which was also bringing out the worst in me). It was still hard enough to split and move out when things really got unbearable for both of us. I realize then how lucky I was not to have been married as it would have been even more complicated. I think the best plan is to move in and live with each other at least a few years and then, if you still feel you love each other and can live with not only the best about them, but also the worst about them (and vice versa), then consider slipping a ring on it and making it official.

17

The writer using his partner’s pantries as a masturbatory prop should keep doing it and keep it to himself. Worrying about how someone else would view your private masturbatory activity when they’ve already declared they’re not having sex with you is a little too earnest

18

OTHER: "How can I give him an ultimatum without it seeming like an ultimatum?" Or, "How can I also have my cake and eat it?" Honey, this is what you signed up for when you agreed to be a mistress, I'm sorry to say. Man up, indeed! You're correct that he's getting everything he wants here and you're getting the shaft (literally and figuratively). If you don't want to live this way any more, you don't have to, but remember you're not the one he's made a legal commitment to. The alternative to the way things are is probably going to be you being single again. Are you ready to face that?

Also, Dan touched on this, but he's lying to his wife, so there's a good chance he's lying to you too and it's his wife's version of their relationship -- the one where everything's fine, aside from her husband being a CPOS unbeknownst to her -- that's the accurate one. It's really sad that men can successfully change their images from CPOS to prize just by saying "But your belly is sexy!" Sadly, here we are.

WANK, perhaps you could regularly buy your wife new panties to assuage your conscience over this? It sounds like the sexlessness is at her request, which many would find license to unilaterally open the relationship. WANK hasn't done that and it's been a year and a half. WANK, continue to do what you gotta do to stay married, stay faithful and stay sane.

MAD: This is why I think couples should be together for at least five years before they get married. My guess is that you weren't. I get it -- I too was married and divorced in my 20s and that left me wondering why anyone would do such a thing. But other people aren't us, other marriages do work out, other people don't ignore huge incompatibilities and/or rush into it, the mistakes you realise you made. In other words, you know why your marriage failed, so by extension you know why some succeed. Give it five years and the big three-oh behind your belt next time you're considering this, and I give you far better odds.

19

MAD: Oh Dan, false modesty doesn't become you! Your own book about marriage (The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family) is a delightful read and provides an in-depth examination into the whys and why nots of marriage. Highly recommended.

20

Jack @4, I don't think many people get married for the gifts, but a lot do get married to have a huge party that's all about them.
Oh and in the US, don't forget tax breaks and health insurance. So yeah, for the money -- but not necessarily the partner's money. :)

Curious @10, yes, good catch. This guy won't talk to his wife about the issues in their marriage, but he will talk to a third party -- a third party whose pants he's coincidentally trying to get into? This is not a guy with integrity or a spine. Other men like curves, most of them in fact. Go find one who's single.

DrJones @11, and you could do the same with the man in the apron and heels, just saying.

Ciods @12, I think you've nailed it. Sounds like she's in the throes of NRE. What happens when it wears off and she discovers she's married to a CPOS who's going to get the seven-year itch with her too and go complaining to even younger naive nurses that his second marriage is sexless and the wife has no idea how unhappy he is? Hmm.

Jon @16, good point that couples should try before they buy. Marriage is a big commitment because it's so hard to get out of. If you want to have a big party, have a big party. For your birthday or perhaps for no reason. But don't make a "lifelong" commitment to someone you've known for a tiny fraction of your lives.

21

His wife's not a lesbian. And if they don't have sex, she knows they don't have sex. This guy is so full of it. Have fun while it lasts!

22

Dashing @1: Congratulations on the Firdt. Your advice seems spot on for a pair that have both demonstrated a lack of integrity.

Personally, I think people should communicate openly and honestly. Neither of them have done that, and OTHER continues to not do that:

"I don’t necessarily want him to get divorced [...] but that would honestly be my preference."

Yes you do, OTHER, and if he negotiates an open marriage, you won't be happy. You're a cowgirl who wants to lasso Dr. Married and pull him away from his wife and family.

23

WANK should definitely knock it off. His wife is refusing to have sex with him, and yet he's working her into his routine. Fantasizing about a woman who has explicitly turned him down seems mildly transgressive, but masturbating with her used panties puts it over the edge. He should buy a Fleshlight.

That WANK is "a bi man in a straight marriage" seems entirely irrelevant to the letter, but probably isn't. Fodder for speculation! I wonder if he "came out" eighteen months ago.

24

I think it is admirable that Dan tries to avoiding lambasting OTHER and lays out her options with equanimity. But I must say OTHER's letter makes it pretty hard. It is so self-absorbed. She writes "I don't necessarily want him to get divorced" only because "I fear it would cause him to resent me." She then casts herself as a marriage counselor for the Good Doctor when she continues "I want him to at least attempt being honest with her so we can figure out if it’s even possible for us to move forward." It is literally all about her.

25

EDIT @24 "tries to avoid."

26

Funny, @fubar, the WANK situation doesn't bother me at all; I'm a little surprised he's so angsty over it. He's not hurting the panties, and I just...don't get why she'd care. The only down-side I can see is if it's somehow keeping him just satisfied enough that he doesn't bother addressing what's going on in their sex life directly with his wife.

If I were the wife, and for whatever reason I couldn't deal with sex with my husband right now, but I still loved him, wanted him to be happy, and hoped we could get back to a mutually satisfying sexual place, I'd be thrilled if he found some way to keep his sex life feel connected to me.

And if those if statements don't apply--if she doesn't hope that--then she needs to man up and tell him so they can figure out what happens next. (Sorry, I just can't say "person up" yet.)

Okay, so, scenario: suppose these relationship issues are because of some major fuck-up on his part--say he cheated, and she's still mad. Then maybe I could see her being upset by this. But if she's still that mad eighteen months later--they've got bigger problems.

27

WANK. What if part of "trying to find our way back to each other" involved you talking to your wife about your desire to use her panties because they "make you feel close to her." Wouldn't that be a way of being as honest and open with her as you can while rebuilding your relationship? You don't have to tell her that you've already been doing this without her consent. Call that a while lie (universally endorsed by experts everywhere as a relationship-saving tactic). Just tell her that this would turn you on and ask if she wouldn't mind you doing it. I'm uncertain why Dan asked WANK to guess about this instead of telling him to open the discussion.

28

Alysounn @21: Nailed it!

Fubar @22, be fair, she'd be fine with his bumping her off as an alternative. ;)

Fubar @23, good catch! I hope the WANKs work things out, or he loses patience, soon.

Ciods @26, I agree. He's washing the panties immediately after use. Surely the wife is also sleeping on sheets he's come on and isn't bothered by that? If it enables him to have patience while she sorts out her feelings about resuming their sex life, she should be happy to sacrifice her undies to the cause. (And she should piss or get off the pot about whether she wants to be in a fully rounded relationship with him. Eighteen months and she should have some idea.)

29

WANK’s letter was touching. (To my feelings, as well as himself.) I like the suggestion of Ens Pulver above.

30

As a lawyer who did work on gay marriage at a state level before SCOTUS declared it the law of the land, there are literally HUNDREDS of legal rights that are tied to marriage. It’s not just the 3-4 most common ones trotted out (i.e., children, hospital visitation, spousal support). It’s in the hundreds (depending upon how you separate rights/overlap them).

Heck, marriage gives you articulated/overtly sanctioned special status under federal law at least 1,138 times (last time I checked the GAO report) in the code. If you, say, live in NY or CA, your state adds quite a few more specially-sanctioned rights/responsibilities to that number. All states add something, some add a lot. And when a couple moves from place to place, it can be difficult to figure out what applied when.

Our entire legal system (wrt to couples, children, and families) is predicated on a legally recognized union as being a vehicle for special status under the law. There is nothing that replaces it. Nothing. No legal device such as a trust or contract and no financial devices can replace that piece of paper. Trust me, I get asked this a lot, particularly by gay couples and by poly couples. Sorry, can’t get you there. I’ll do what I can do, but marriage is the “golden ticket” legally.

If you are fine living without those legal protections, that’s all well and good. But It is not a status which is equal under the law. It isn’t and never will be. Because “marriage” is a legal construct as well as a moral one. The moral one has a lot more give it than the legal one.

I strongly recommend that anyone who wants to think seriously about this topic read Oberfell v. Hodges and all of the briefs filed in support. It pretty clearly lays out why marriage matters.

It’s perfectly fine for people to want to live without those protections for moral reasons or because they simply don’t want a long term partner.

I do, however, take issue with anyone saying a LTR is essentially the same as marriage. It is in terms of social value (IMHO), but it’s not in terms of legal status.

This is one area where we’ve done a horrible job explaining to people exactly what marriage means legally. I honestly think all Americans should have a pre-marriage counseling session which lays out federal and state law before people sign on the dotted line.

PS The one reason I don’t think we will sees poly unions recognized in my lifetime is that it’s difficult enough to figure out how and when to apply all those legal protections to two people. More difficult when you have successive unions. It would be very, very difficult in a poly union where all parties were part of one unit. It’s almost impossible if you have a poly union where not all persons involved are part of the unit (e.g., a throuple where one partner had another “outside” person to whom hey had a union). Heck, it’s difficult enough even figuring out how to describe the different configurations in legal terms.

This would be very different if our entire legal system (not just the US, but globally), was predicated on property ownership, marital union, etc. But they all are at some level.

It sucks that we humans aren’t further along and more evolved on these issues. Maybe our grandchildren’s generation will look back at us and laugh at our simplicity.

31

As a lesbian who just got married, i can attest that insurance is a great motivator for getting married. I love my long term partner and we have been together quite a while, but we prob wouldn't have gone through the whole legal rigamarole if it werent for losing insurance.

32

LW#3: people get married for many wrong and unexamined reasons. Thus the divorce rate. Unless you plan to have children, or are clear on the financial security it will provide you, I don't recommend it.

33

@slowpokey Ever since I got married (almost 14 years ago), I have been saying how crazy it is that all I needed to get married in NYS was my birth-certificate and the birthplaces of my parents. I never got to see the contract I was signing. Even my credit card company keeps me regularly updated about what our contract entails. Legal premarital counselling seems like an excellent idea! On the flip side, my brother and his partner did not marry immediately; they were business partners as well and had their relationship pretty well arranged legally. I was fine with that until my first nibling was born and then I realized that I would have felt a whole lot better if they were married because I understood that there were layers of legal protections that I wasn't even aware of.

34

P.S. It’s a lot easier, legally speaking for a married couple to “opt out” of a legal protection than for a non-married couple to “opt in” and get one.

For example, you can do things such as a pre-marital agreement and separate finances (or even separate households) to keep income protected. You can even do post-nups in most states.

(You can’t, however, really effectively divvy up the kids ahead of time. Best interests of the child always prevail).

Someone above stated that you could go to a lawyer and get PPW done which approximates marital rights. You can’t. A lot of lawyers peddle this myth. It’s just not true. I don’t blame the poster above for believing it. Because lay people are told that they can do so.

I have had to help far to many gay clients who thought it was true only to find out it wasn’t when their partner was hospitalized and the homophobic family exerted power. It’s heartbreaking.

I can, and have, created very robust powers of attorney, trusts, and other devices for unmarried couples. They are legally binding until there’s a court challenge or a guardianship. In many, many states, if a legal next-of-kin comes in and gets a guardianship, that POA is ineffective. If, however, the parties are married, the spouse always comes first and has to be proven to be harmful to the ward or otherwise unable to serve.

Marriage matters. It cannot be replaced by legal instruments, even by the most clever lawyer.

What I recommend to people who want the protections but have some reason they don’t want to be married is to try and figure out if they can get the piece of paper but opt-out of the things they don’t want OR configure their marriage to overcome the hurdle.

For some people, there are underlying traumas and wounds that have festered. It isn’t about the concept of marriage, but about something else. For others, it’s a desire to protect some asset or some independence. For others, it’s about the traditional heteronormative patriarchal Christian view of marriage and a desire to reject that.

The more people decide to get marriage, but reject the traditional models, the better. Gay marriage is a wholly positive thing for heterosexual couples. We need alternative models. We need to see there’s no one way to do it. We need to see the Cleavers are not role universal role models. (But if the Cleaver model works for you, more power to you.)

The more people are out with their choices, the better.

35

Zoftig,

It’s more difficult to get a driver’s license than a marriage license. That really scares me.

I don’t think anyone can know just how difficult marriage is until they are in one. It’s like combat, you really can’t imagine it. You have to live it.

I do, think, however, that a lot of the legal matters could be taught and advised.

This is one area where the break down of religious life int he US has left a gap. I’m an atheist, but one thing I think churches used to do right was counsel couples before marriage. Now, the content they used was totally wrong. But the idea of doing it was right.

I tell all the younger couples I know to sit down with a divorce lawyer and estate lawyer prior to getting married. I also tell them to get individuals and couple’s counseling first.

The individual mental health component is another part of it. Far to many people are walking around with issues and no way to resolve them. Some self-medicate through substances, some through sex, some through attention. Not that those behaviors are always motivated by self-medication. But when they are, it’s deadly to relationships.

I think almost everyone could use a counselor of some sort. Even if it’s just an external check that we aren’t doing something self-destructive.

Most people don’t have someone outside the relationship to go to. If they did, Dan would be out of a job.

I think it’s also incumbent on those of us who are older to try and mentor and help those who want it. Far too many people need someone, anyone, to help but can’t find it.

There’s far too much shame and stigma in our culture, far too little caring, empathy, and assistance.

36

ciods @26: the fact that WANK wrote to Dan indicates that he's troubled by it, and I infer that he knows his wife would be troubled. I also infer that the eighteen month hiatus means she's deeply upset or traumatized about something.

The options appear to be that he either cheated or came out as bisexual... or both. If it's the former, he should leave her out of his sex life until she consents to participate. If it's the latter, the pantie sniffing might actually be affirming!

37

WANK: I'm going to give you my opinion as a married woman, but my opinion is not your wife's opinion and you're the one who would be in the best place to know how she would feel. If the "troubles in your marriage" have to do, in any way, with a sexual/intimacy violation on your part, don't risk it! However, in general, I might put this under the implied consent/clear your browser history category. She knows you are washing her laundry (and thus touching her underwear) and you are in fact washing said garments after any additional use. If you are able to do this when she's not home and clean up any evidence so she'll never know and swear may-I-never-get-an-erection-again that you'll keep this to yourself unless specifically asked (I mean if everything works out and you want to come clean to liking to smell her panties in a general way, that's different). You're not cheating or violating her privacy; in many ways this is only a slight step up from masturbating from mental images or old erotic photos of her. In my mind, it would be worse if you were going through her things and taking her panties from her drawer (where she has the right to expect a certain level of privacy), but that she knows you are washing them really changes the situation (for me). Use some of this "closeness" energy to work on your marriage and make sure you are doing things for/with your wife that will build her intimacy with you (cuddling, doing a hobby together, whatever). General pantie sniffers, my logic does not apply outside of LTRs! Seriously, being in a long term committed sexual relationship changes some things; in any other circumstance sniffing/using someone's panties is seriously and significantly more violating than masturbating to mental images of them, in the way that if my husband told me he jerked off to fantasies about me I would find it very endearing and if someone else told me the same I'd find it deeply creepy!

38

It's nice to see people seeing clearly that marriage is basically about practical considerations. (And it was nice to see slopokey elaborate @30.)

ciods@12 is of course correct that
"There is...also the pressure to make the relationship work; the declaration in front of friends and family that that's your intent."

Kinda like how I understand "Weight Watchers" works(ed?): You have to face everyone. But I just want to say that I would wish for people to not need that, and I would hope that they could find something within themselves that would not make them need outside pressure.

@20 BDF
"This is not a guy with integrity or a spine."

Exactly. And if OTHER doesn't care about that, the same might be said of her, and her standards are very low.

Which while not the advice OTHER asked for, and while I don't begrudge anyone answering OTHER's question to help her be shitty, is the most important and helpful advice she needs and deserves.

Ens.Pulver@24
"I think it is admirable that Dan tries to avoid...lambasting OTHER and lays out her options with equanimity."

I think, as I just finished writing, it's the exact bloody opposite of admirable to only answer the question she asked.

@10 I posited that she might be "pathetic too" /not/ to 'lambaste' her, but to try to help her in a way infinitely more valuable than to help her be shitty. I think what's admirable is to be willing to say something that isn't easy to say to someone to help them be/become a better person, and to choose to be with better people. There's always people willing to say things that are easy to say because they're easy to hear.

39

OTHER - Covid19 curves? From comfort eating? Since what you want the most is for your boyfriend to leave his wife and stay with you and maybe marry you, you should talk about it with your boyfriend. It would be good to know how he feels, if he wants to make changes to be more committed or more honest. Maybe he has thought about the same thing, maybe when the kids have grown up, or maybe he can't imagine divorcing his wife.. and although you could tell his wife and prompt her to divorce him, it probably wouldn't result in a lasting relationship. Since he has been careful to deceive his wife, and has kids that he probably wants to live with full time, and may still enjoy living with his wife even if he misses the sex.. he probably doesn't want a divorce. If his wife is interested in other people too, and he seems to think she may have a crush on a woman (This would imply she is bi not a lesbian, right? You don't change from straight to gay when you fall in love with a different gender, right?), then there is a chance that an open relationship may work, if he is skilled enough to keep his wife happy with the situation. But.. the way he described his wife as a possible lesbian and implied that she had never been into him, although she married and had kids with him, seems like something a cheating husband would say to feel good in the moment, it's improbable.. I don't see a possible motivation more like he's painting the wife as crazy. Honestly, it sounds like you were lonely or lashing out for a little while and wanted to be the other woman and now you're tired of it and want to change him instead of leave. If you can't bring yourself to leave, can you at least try to meet other people who are available for whatever more committed sort of relationship you want to "move forward" into, be it married or living together or spending more time together or simply more honest/less secretive?

I like this letter because it close to spells out that when a spouse tells you that their marriage is sexless, it's a come on. If you tell another that your marriage is sexless, you're hitting on them. Unless there is some obvious reason that you're not, like you are not interested in their gender, or you had already slept together and decided it wasn't right but you could still be friends, or have otherwise said that you are not interested sexually in them in some other way.. It's often implied, but OTHER pretty much said that he tried to prep her for a kiss by announcing that his marriage is sexless. I think there are very few circumstances that it's polite to tell other people that your marriage is sexless rather than strained or separated, unless you want to date them.. maybe only in counseling.

WANK - The secrecy is creating a barrier, even though the activity makes you feel closer to her in the moment. Don't give the panties back to her again unless you've told her what you've done with them. If you do it again, keep the panties or dispose of them yourself rather than give them back to your wife! I probably wouldn't tell my spouse that I had put the clothing back if my guilt kicked in late like yours. I'd tell them what I did with it, and that I'd like to take some clothes once in awhile and buy them new ones. Maybe they'd even give permission for me to borrow them instead and I wouldn't have to feel so bad about what happened.. If not, then it was a pretty accidental betrayal before I realized what was wrong and I'd probably vault it, if I've learned my lesson then no reason to burden my spouse with my mistakes..

MAD - Why did you get married? Some people do it for the legal rights and responsibilities, some do it for whatever vows they want to keep for life or until divorce.. I don't think that love is a good reason to get married, all love is not lasting love, and I think that marriage is a mistake without lasting love. Lasting mutual goals. Only you know which goals of yours are likely to last, and it's your judgment whether your spouse has proved they have the same lasting goals, enough to trust them to marry. If you've already created children, that's a pretty lasting mutual goal, legally..

40

I don't believe for a minute that the wife in the first letter is "maybe a lesbian" or that the marriage is sexless. Dr. Cheat has figured out a line of patter that works. The mistress is always ready, and the dishes and dirty sheets are hers to deal with when he's gone. She won't have kids who need braces; they don't have those conversations about how to deal with the kids' school problems. Like one of the other commenters said, the mistress is for sexy fun times.

The line used to be "my wife doesn't understand me," along with "we haven't had sex in years."

41

@MAD immigration. For binational couples, marriage often is the only way you can be together with a beloved in one or the other's country.

And a very LTR is different from an LTR, it involves building a shared future together in hopes it will last till death-do-you-part, through good times and bad, etc., lower the stress of life not add to it.

This isn't for everyone but marriage is a thing because it is what a lot of couples want and benefit from. Stop projecting that anger MAD, maybe marriage wasn't / will never be for you. Or maybe it will be, try a longer courtship next time?

42

Marriage can help to cement an LTR in rough times, in a good way, precisely because divorce isn't easy. A multi-decades relationship isn't for everyone and I'm not saying it is superior, but marriage assists.

@MAD if you are reading - how long was your courtship? Head over heels "in love" is usually 18-24 months, at a minimum wait that long.

And I'm curious why you are so mad at the institution of marriage and think you let down gays? Lots of married people get divorced, not necessarily a failure if it didn't last till one of you dies!

43

@42 griz isn't here yet (hope recovery is still good, Griz) and last week's comments I urged against new numeric awards, but I just noticed I got 42. Hitchhiker's Guide award?!

44

L-dub 1, you are lost in the throes of early love. It's great. But it isn't reality. It's a vacation. Your lover knows it's a vacation (he's got that other life back in reality) but you have lost sight of this fact and are treating it like your new home... with great views... and beach access... and tons of restaurants within walking distance. But it's not your new home. It's just an AirBnB.

Your new beau? He's not a reliable narrator. Sure, it could all be true. But it could all be lies. That part about the wife being a lesbian is highly dubious, for example.

It's ultimatum time. Gotta find out what's real and what isn't. Forcing him to deal or lose you is the only way to find that out. You don't have to be mean about it. Just clear. Hell, it can be stated with great sadness. But don't just accept any old affirmation from him. Get concrete commitments about what is next, and how you are going to bring your relationship out of the shadows.

Good luck, I guess. I mean this is all a cheating disaster of lies after all.

45

I see FUBAR's point about the possibility that WANK's coming out might have been what caused the friction in their marriage. We've certainly heard enough about biphobia rearing it's head with spouses.

Or what about this possibility: WANK is pretty sheltered/traditional and he thinks he's bi BECAUSE he likes his wife's underwear. Because only someone who's bi or gay would like women's underwear, right?

46

delta35 @43: Now I've got Bob Dylan playing in my head.

47

@delta35: I can get behind a HG award.
As long as no one panics.

48

Re LW1, the ol work mistress, that is a cliche.
This is what happens when work and family become different worlds, and the children are kept at home. Of course adults are going to fall for each other, when it’s an artificial world, which work spaces are.
LW1; eight months in and you thinking of laying demands? Yeah yeah, he’s said the whole marriage is a mess thing, and if children involved it probably is a mess from arse to tit.
You may not be classified as a cheater, you are however colluding with one, and once the shit hits the fan, fun will be over.

49

@47 ciods - such an idea sounds mostly harmless to me

50

@1 Dashing: WA-HOOOOOOO!!!!! Big congrats on scoring Svage Love'snhighly sought after FIRDT Award, and the coveted honors of leading this week's comment thread. Bask in the glory. :)
@2 jack chandelier: WA-HOOOOOOOOOO!!! Equal congratulations on scoring this week's SECNOD honors, and being among the earliest to start us off once again, here in Savage Love Land. :)
@43 delta35: WA-HOOOOOOO!!! Griz bequeaths upon you the Hitchhiker's Guide award (@42). See how fun it is? :)
@46 fubar: I think I'm hearing a little Bob Dylan, too. :)

Griz is still taking it easy--no flute playing or driving my beloved VW Love Beetle as yet. But the horrible back and neck pain and other associated health woes I once had are now gone. The Bad Bitches are indeed, gone, and once my OB-GYN gives Griz the all clear, I'm having one helluva Carrie party --let the red, red wiiiiine flow! :)

We're already approaching @50? Who's up for this week's Lucky @69 Award? Tick...tick...tick...

51

Dan the Man and BiDanFan @18: Thank you and bless you both for nailing it again this week. Spot on advice for MAD.

@50: Aiiiigh! Not again! Make that: @1 Dashing: WA-HOOOOOOO!!! Big congrats on scoring Savage Love's highly sought after FIRDT Award, and the coveted honors of leading this week's comment thread. Bask in the glory. :)
Oh, the agonizing number of unintended typos when Griz has no access to alcohol.......

52

Ms Grizelda - Happy recovery. Interesting that you type more accurately when drunk.
xxx
Ms Fan @20 - Thank you for reminding me of the ultimate marry-for-the-gifts novel Blue Heaven.

53

Ens @45, if he says he's bi there's no reason to think he's not bi. Erasure much? It's more likely that their difficulties did occur because he came out as, or was discovered to be, bi. If his sexuality is the issue, the panty sniffing may be a doth-protest-too-much move to convince himself, if not his wife, of how much he loves pussy. And not just pussy but HER pussy, if cheating (with a man) was the catalyst.

Griz @51: Thanks for the kind words, and glad to hear your recovery is going well! Don't worry, you'll be back to typing tipsy and looking sober in no time. Mwah!

54

OTHER-- You're bi. His wife might be a lesbian. Had you thought of making a play for her? After all, she's in a sexless marriage too.

You're 38 years old and the best relationship of your life is with a man who gives you attention in dribs and drabs, doles out his affection, attention and sex when he feels like it, not when you want it, basically has you begging for him to look at you twice, and when he does, you act like an abused puppy who's all the more devoted the more you're abused. Ever ask yourself WHY this is the best relationship you've ever had?

Google "intermittent reinforcement." Then google "intermittent reinforcement abuse."

You're jealous of the time he spends with his wife. Are you sure he's only cheating on her with you? Seems to me he'd have more time if you were his only secondary partner. He probably has 2 or 3.

Google on "malignant narcissist" while you're there.

He's got you feeling sorry for him, poor thing, lying to his wife, cheating on his wife, nobly asking if he could kiss you and waiting 3 months, 3 whole sex starved months before using the handy excuse of drinks to start the affair. (I can't help dripping with sarcasm any more than he, poor thing, can help manipulating you.)

Google "trauma bonding."

How to have the conversation without it seeming like an ultimatum? If there's no ultimatum, there's no sense having the conversation. He knows you can take him or leave him at any time. He knows what you'll put up with. I'll say this much, the guy is a genius.

55

@Venn @15: Silver is lovely, but it's important that every new couple also have some sensible cutlery.

As for everyone assuming the guy in LW 1 is a serial cheater playing games, lying about his sexless marriage, etc.: probably, but not necessarily. My previous marriage became (sadly) sexless (or near enough for government work) and my husband had an affair. And they are now happily married (far longer than we were) with a kid. So ya never know. That said, I think my husband was the one to prompt the "inform the wife (me) and get a divorce" stage, not his (then) mistress, which probably tells you something.

56

Why all this sympathy for wives who are totally checked out of their marriages? I’m with the dyke — it’s a scam!

57

@53. Of course you're right. I shouldn't have questioned WANK's identity. I suppose I got caught up in the speculation about the couple's backstory. My apologies.

58

OTHER: The woman I'm dating could have written a similar letter a year ago

This doesn't end with Dr. Married leaving his wife, it ends with OTHER getting tired of being in a relationship that isn't going anywhere.

59

MAD: "Why get married?"

Wish I was this wise at age 29.

60

@52 vennominon: Many thanks for the kind well wishes. As for Griz's typing accuracy when inebriated, we-ellllll....red wine is my only allotted source of alcohol. I like to call myself 'comfortably numb' in a respectful tribute to Sir Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd fame. :)

@53 BiDanFan: Many thanks, and mwah, along with big hugs, positrons, and VW beeps coming right back atcha! :)

@59 Dadddy: Every time I think of my X I end up wondering Y. :)

61

@169 fubar: WA-HOOOOOOOO!!!! Major congrats on scoring the Duuble Whammy from last week's Savage Love: Stating the Obvious. Savor the double prizes and delicious envied glory, found only here in Savage Love Land. :)

Griz had some catching up to do post-op....

62

LW3, I got married in a court house, parents, those alive, in attendance, and a few kids. I was pregnant with no x.
Presents? Our ‘ couples’ shrink gave us a lovely big ceramic canister, the lid broke somewhere along the line. Like the marriage.

63

The dead ones might have been there, hovering like the guy in Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. He came back to watch his daughter’s graduation.
Both our fathers were long dead by then, so I pride myself on leaving the marriage before any dead dads happened. Though way things were going it more likely would have been dead mums.
Marriage is a promise, people give it a try some keep it pumping along and some don’t. Thumbs up for trying.

64

LW1: Consider the very real possibility that you are not the only side chick that the doctor has had, or even has right now.

Sure, it's possible that he is in a sexless marriage with a closeted lesbian, and that you are the one and only other person he's ever been with other than his wife. Then again, maybe there really is a Santa Claus!

It's also possible that he has a perfectly ordinary marriage, and also has liaisons with multiple women, each one who also feels that "this has been one of the best relationships of my adult life." The wife changes the diapers and scrubs the toilet; the side chick(s) gets laid when the doctor feels like it and can get away from the family.

For examples of such CPOSs in real life, look to two role models: (a) Newt Gingrich, and (b) Donald Trump.

65

Dadddy @59: Bitter, not wise, and I'm glad I'm no longer as bitter as I was in my 20s. A wise person wouldn't have learned the "don't rush into marriage" lesson the hard way.

66

@30. slowpokey. Well said. Without knowing much of different states' law, I know that marriage almost everywhere grants you rights not available to other forms of contract. I wanted to get married for rights associated with kinship in relation to my partner's child. It wasn't available to me, as in the state where he wanted to live we were both legally male. (This was at a time when I was prepared fully to transition).

/break/
The ultimate question for OTHER is whether she's prepared to give up the chance of having her own child for this affair. The letter says nothing about whether she has a child, but dwells on the doctor's, on her lover's, children; I would think that the question of kids, and the situation's unfairness in her not having a child, will be constantly before her, if it isn't already, and that she'll at some stage be making a decision whether to hang around with that being a big factor.

My sense would be that the affair will play itself out, with her leaving him, some time down the road. In one sense, then, there might not be a need for any advice--but the situation is an unfortunate one, and one would have to say both are behaving poorly. She is of course the junior and more vulnerable party at work, and would perhaps do well to worry about the future of her career, than the prospects for her extramarital relationship.

It doesn't seem likely he'll leave his wife, or that he's telling the truth about her lesbianism.

67

Harriet @66, there is no reason to assume she wants children. She mentions neither children nor marriage, and, believe it or not, there are women in the world who have no desire for one or both of these things. The doctor's children have probably been proffered as the reason he "can't" leave his wife, that's their relevance here. So, that's not the ultimate question; the ultimate question is when she'll wise up to his having played her like a violin. Soon, one hopes.

68

@23. fubar. The thing that happened 18 months ago could have been his coming out. Or it could have been his getting caught having sex with a man, or making a pass at a man. Or looking at gay porn, or being on Grindr.

I think the thing with the panties is a deflection or a deplacement, in psychological terms. His asking about it, making it so big a deal, is a deflection; and his doing it is a sort of deflection, in the sense of avoiding confronting the really big issue in his marriage. We don't know what this is.

There are broadly two possibilities, as I see it. The first one is that he's done something wrong--he's acted in a way that makes his wife say no to sex with him that involves cheating or misrepresentation, and that attracts blame (inc. in his own mind). He should do all he can to put this right--involving the renegotiation of ground rules both can accept. In the other set of reasons, he's a doormat of some sort. His wife is being unreasonable in not sleeping with him; and he's substituting and palliating in sniffing her pants. Eighteen months is probably too long for his wife to hold off making a new deal, committing to the marriage, if he has erred in some way, or else painfully to come round if her baseline sense of who he is needed adjusting (but he didn't, however, do anything wrong). There is nothing about mental illness in the letter, such that she can't have sex; she started withholding sex, it would seem, because of a punctual event eighteen months ago. It's time for her now to say yes to a sexual marriage or not (or for them to frame mutually agreeable companionate / open terms).

69

@67. Bi. [Taking the 69--or maybe not!? But here goes...]

Well, her bisexuality is not relevant to her situation--so it may be that her being 38 is not either....

It seems apparent to everyone, it's implicit or explicit in all the comments, that she lacks self-esteem. It's a surprise to her he doesn't shame her for being slightly too curvy or fat; one of the reasons she's happy in the affair is that she's 'at last' found someone who treats her well. Of course the reason he treats her well is that he gets sex, and love, too, maybe, without her demanding anything in return. Dan said nothing about her apparent low self-esteem, or low starting expectations--and was correct in doing so--because, I'd suppose, he imagined the comment-board would come in with them. But maybe it needs gently pointing out. OTHER, you're doing a valuable, responsible job; you're kind, thoughtful and empathic--don't you deserve an available guy? Who treats you well on a basis of equality? Who isn't going to put you down for fluctuations in weight? Who looks up to you, as you look up to him?

As regards marriage, without really trying to be contrarian--because it tends to go down badly--I think the board has underplayed how marriage genuinely is a grail for many of a non-Savagista mindset. It confers social respectability, yes, but there's more to the desirability of marriage for many people than that. It's that it meets an internalised or inner aspiration. An emotional rollercoaster of a marriage, with setbacks, failings on either side, stress or animosity, is more of an authentic life to many people than a low-stress, harmonious, brokered-in-complete-rationality unmarried LTR.

70

I don't see it necessarily as a matter of whether OTHER will want a child down the line. I do see a related question. What does OTHER want for the future if not a child? She says she wants more time with him and freedom in the relationship, but I find it hard to believe that. I always try to take letter writer's statements at face value, but in this case, it seems to scream that she says she wants that only after knowing somewhere deep down that that's the best she can hope to get. This is why it's hard to advise. It's hard to tell someone how to get abc when I want to give her a dope slap and say: "Don't want abc when you should be aspiring to def, or ghi. Girlfriend, you could have JKL or MNO!"

OTHER, don't keep pining for this married man. Set your sights on someone who will treat you well AND devote his time to you AND not have to cheat on his wife to be with you AND will make you the main object of his time, his affection, and sexual attention. You could have it all. Still don't think that's possible? Then devote your time to having the best single life there is. Pour yourself into your career, your friends, your home, your hobbies, and your dog. (If you don't have a dog, get one. Dogs are good. I always recommend dogs.) Pour yourself into a satisfying sex life with men and women who are happy to sleep with you and can do so without encumbrances, without cheating.

You say you believe this guy about his sexless, non-romantic marriage to the maybe lesbian. Great, if he has nothing to be ashamed of, if he knows his maybe-lesbian wife wouldn't mind him getting sex with you, why not ask her? Hear it from her lips

71

Regarding the answer to LW1, who are these men who ask for what they want and get it? Straight men asking women? Because I can tell you I am a man but I've never gotten what I've asked for from the men I've seen.

Leaving aside the quite possible explanation that I'm chopped liver, this makes me think that maybe it is not that men are entitled (though some surely are) so much as that women are on average more agreeable to men than vice versa.

In any case, I've come to the conclusion over the years that no good can come of asking. In love, what isn't freely given is going to be worthless.

72

@54. Fichu. Good suggestion re the lesbian wife. Or--a slightly more realistic, but still finale-hastening suggestion--drop a line to this woman as a nurse--that is, as the lw herself--saying Dr. Whatever has come on to her with the line his marriage is to a sexless lesbian. And ask, 'is it true?'

@58. Dadddy. What you think will happen is also what I think will happen. OTHER will or would not write the same letter to Dan even in six months.

73

At carnivals in rooms of Funhouse mirrors (aka Distorting mirrors) one sees things that aren't there.

74

@70. Fichu. Your advice is right and I've said the same thing, esp. (without seeing your latest post @70) about how OTHER should relate to the doctor's reputedly (reputedly, but actually improbably) repressed-lesbian wife.

The problem is that the broadest possible advice, which in this case is 'grow a backbone!', doesn't always go down well. The recipient will flinch, then think of some circumstance in which she had a backbone, in which she stood up for herself or for someone marginalised or disprivileged. (There will be cases, given she's a nurse). Then she is likely to reject the broad-brush characterisation of her lover as just a user, just an asshole, even a genius asshole. What about the time when he worked eighteen hours, then was the one to cook for her? Or bought the first flowers at 6am on his way back from a night shift? There are good pragmatic reasons for advice not being holistic, and not taking an indignant or hortatory tone.

More bite-sized advice, like 'if it is an ultimatum, it has to sound like an ultimatum' or 'try to find out how far his commitment to you will stretch by proposing more activities together (that aren't sex)', are going to work better. They will put a lw on the path to thinking the big things, having the big realisations e.g. 'he's using me as a convenience', much more than an outsider would just walking in with that pronouncement.

@71. Cocky. Well, I've been too bashful to ask. My internalised sense that I'm not what anyone could want most of all (or, rather, that I'm not the optimum desired object of the people I've wanted, or wanted things from) has been too strong.

75

I'm pretty sure that Fichu's suggestion @54 about the bi letter-writer making a play for the cheating doctor's supposedly lesbian wife was made facetiously.

And just as some of us spend an inordinate amount of time trying to analyze different lws' situations based on their sign-offs (which we've now been given confirmation is only created or supplied by the lw about half the time), a lot of people are trying to figure out the relevance of the various lws in this week's column's sexual orientations to the problems outlined in the letter--but especially in the second letter, where some here are attributing the reason for his wife's not having sex with him over the past 18 months to the husband's stated bisexuality.

This may be the reason for the sex embargo, and it may not be.

'But why mention sexual orientation if it isn't germane to the problem?' I can almost hear some commentors saying.

We tend to bring the same interpretive intensity to these letters, which are always incomplete in presenting both sides of the various issues or in details or information which make radical differences in the advice that would be offered, that Talmudic scholars bring to scriptural passages. We can come up with elaborate back-stories or reasons for behavior based on an elevation of a small detail to Really Important status. A lot of times we commentors project issues from our own lives onto the lw or the person the lw is having a problem with. Most of the time we never know how far off the mark we are.

Given the fact that all three letter writers introduce themselves by sexual orientation ("I’m a 38-year-old bi woman," "I’m a bi man in a straight marriage," "I'm a 29-year-old lesbian who got married to a woman at 26 and divorced at 28"), I see this information as a sort of preamble introduction made before launching into the meat of the lws' problems. This is very common in Savage Loveland--many people seem compelled to offer up their age, gender, geographic location, or orientation (or some combination of these) which only occasionally is germane to the problem they're seeking advice about. This happens more frequently on the podcast, where it isn't unusual for a caller to begin his call with something like this: "I'm a 43-y/o cis gay man living in the Pacific Northwest who . . ." Then you listen to the rest of the call, and the man's age, the fact that he's cis, the fact that he lives in Vancouver, WA, or his attraction to men turns out not to matter at all in the scope of the reason he's calling, which is, perhaps, to ask when the ideal time is to reveal his teddybear fetish to someone he's just started dating. I think there are two reasons for this trend:

1) It feels inappropriate to simply launch into one's issue without a little preamble of some sort--kind of the way people often begin a commercial transaction by asking each other how they're doing today. No one really cares how the insurance agent you just called to get a quote is doing today, and the agent doesn't care how the potential customer is doing, but it is rude to not pay that social currency upfront. If I asked the person at the store where I'm trying to return a purchase how she's doing (in response to her having asked me how I'm doing today), and she were to say, "I'm having a tough time: my six-year-old is really regressing and I don't know if it's because of the new baby or COVID-induced anxiety," I'd think, "what is WRONG with this woman? Doesn't she know that no one really expects to get an honest or detailed answer to that question?" It's just social lubrication: everyone in this society knows that the appropriate and expected response to the question, "how are you doing today?" is "fine, thanks; how are you doing?" Because culturally, to lead with the purely transactional nature of the interaction is considered abrupt or rude. And other cultures have a far more elaborate dance of social niceties which must be observed before people can introduce the real topic.

2) So many people have begun letters or phone calls to Dan this way, that a norm has been established, and it feels weird and somehow wrong to not conform to it to a lot of people. It's a sort of hemming and hawing, but now it seems almost like a requirement.

The column on August 4 (Stating the Obvious) has a letter which begins: "I am a 37-year-old female who, almost three years ago got out of a six-year toxic, violent relationship with a man I believe I loved." In this case, the lw's age is irrelevant, just as the fact that this week's lw OTHER is bisexual seems to be irrelevant to her problem. Sometimes of course, that information is germane, as in the letter by COVET in July 28's column (Friends in Deed), which begins: "I'm a twenty-something more-or-less lesbian in an East Coast city." This time, the fact that she's "more or less lesbian" is relevant to her question, because she was asking how to let a male colleague who knows she's a lesbian know she's interested in doing some pandemic-boning. But the fact that she's "twenty-something" really has nothing to do with her concern. It's just part of her "how are you doing today"-preamble.

So that while it's possible that WANK's "relationship issues" that have resulted in his wife's having turned off the sex-spigot for the past 18 months stem from his bisexuality, it seems far likelier that it's just his version of the "how are you doing today" preamble.

Or at least that's my two cents. Speaking as a 40-something, cis, bi, jacked, brunette woman living in a gay Mecca on the east coast . . .

76

74- Harriet-- You make a good point that the best advice isn't very good if the Letter Writer can't hear it, can't take it. In this case we have a fat girl who deep down believes she's got the best she can expect. Convincing her otherwise is going to take a lot more than some well meaning strangers in an advice columnists comments section.

Something that escaped my notice the first time and that has been bothering me since I reread: The wife's possible lesbian status is mentioned in a tone that suggests it's a negative. Surely no one here believes it's a bad thing. Repression is bad, maybe, but being a lesbian? Hell no. I'm reminded of the letters in which "gay" becomes the umbrella term for all things non-vanilla and always said in a condemning way. (My boyfriend has said he likes oral sex. Do you think he might be gay?)

With that beginning to the letter, surely there are other directions it could have gone. Like: my boyfriend's wife is a lesbian, and I'm bi. We both want more time with him, how do I suggest a threesome? But it didn't go that way. The lesbian thing is the oddest red herring.

77

M?? Harriet - There's also The Body in the Library, in which Miss Marple calls on Basil Blake's presumed mistress Dinah Lee (ostensibly to collect for an upcoming vicarage Sale of Work) and advisers her to stop using her maiden name in the village, that, however amusing they'd found it to shock the villagers and how useful it had been to keep tiresome callers away, Basil would need local good will when he would presently be arrested (wrongfully) for murder. Asked how she knew, Miss Marple cited the way they quarreled, theorizing that people without the bond were too determined to maintain a facade of how happy they were. Allowing for the difference in time, I could see Basil and Dinah as Savagistas underplaying their respectability.
xxx
Ms Ods - I suppose the theory is that many young adults have only serviceable flatware and the wedding is an opportunity to be given the sterling (or, of course, a Royal Doulton dinner service for some even number, complete with hand-painted periwinkles).

78

@76: Fichu, I don't see any judgement, either positive or negative about the doctor's wife maybe being a lesbian. Here's the full quote: "one night he ended up spilling a lot of personal information about his marriage to me (sexless, non-romantic, she might be a lesbian) before asking if he could kiss me." In context, it sounds like the wife's possible lesbian status is being offered by the cheating doctor as a possible reason for the sexlessness of their marriage. It's unclear whether or not the wife has actually said this to her husband, or the husband is grasping at straws to explain the fact that his marriage has become sexless, or as many of us suspect, the marriage isn't even sexless and the wife's orientation irrelevant except insofar as it seems to be a compelling reason for this lw to agree to enter into an affair with a married man, in which case, his telling her that was a good strategy.

79

75- Nocute-- I wasn't being entirely facetious. Mostly I was thinking out loud. I continue to do so here.

Twenty years ago a friend told me a variation on the same story. She'd just begun sleeping with the married man. When I raised an eyebrow full of disapproval, she was quick to tell me that he hadn't slept with his wife for years, that the wife was a horrible person, that he was reluctant to start the affair with my friend, and that made my friend respect him all the more. With each revelation, my disapproving eyebrow shot up another notch. Her concluding argument was that the wife didn't mind. I didn't say it at the time, but in l'esprit de l'escalier, I wished I'd said "Really? She told you that?" or "Call her and ask her just to make sure."

Instead, I launched into some of what I've been getting to here: You deserve so much better.

Still, I must have been channeling that idea when I suggested making a play for the purportedly lesbian wife. I mean, if the wife really is all the things that the cheating doctor says she is, hitting on her might be just the prescription.

80

Mr. Ven, I am going to suggest that the doctor divorce his maybe-lesbian wife and that he and the lw enter into a covenant marriage. It seems like what you'd suggest.

81

Ms Cute - Had I known you were here when I started my last, I'd have asked you if you thought there might be any comparison worth making between D1 and Henry Crawford, bearing in mind Mary's distinction that Henry's liking to flirt and make women attached to him was at least less troublesome to a spouse than a tendency to fall in love himself, to which Henry had never been prone.
xxx
Mr Balls/M?? Harriet - As for asking, I certainly never got that memo, but it seems too much part of Mr Savage's routine to expect change now. I don't think he's stuck in the era of June Cleaver; I'd put it more around the time of the Mary Tyler Moore Show (with its epic example of the gender pay gap). There seem to be too many different sub-societies now to make generalities safe. I remember, when Mr Sinatra died, one of the comments I heard was about how he may have been among the last to represent a time when everyone knew what all the popular tunes of the day were. Maybe five years ago it would have been interesting to hear a conversation between Mr Savage and a leading FeMRA, but now, I don't think either of them would accept the other's base society enough for anything productive to result.

82

@60: Nobody, not even Dadddy, laughed at my little analytical stab at divorce humor?
Tough audience. But then I always sucked at mathematical equations (or inequations) back in my school daze......

@65 BiDanFan: I was in my late 30s after 9 years of toxic marriage too long, but would like to think that since then I, too, have learned from my past unpleasant experience. :)

@69 Harriet_by_the_Bulrushes: WA-HOOOOOO!!!!!! Big congratulations on scoring this week's Lucky @69 Award! Savor the tres magnifique delectability of the honors bestowed upon you and bask in the glow. :)

83

Who's up for this week's Big Hunsky? Tick...tick...tick...

84

I think a large number of people get married for the wedding. While I despise the excess and gratuitous spending prompted by the wedding industry, I think there can be a lot of value in a thoughtful wedding. Rites of Passage have an important place in constructing ones personal narrative, and modern society is bereft of such ceremony (particularly for the non-religious such as myself). A wedding can create a strong memory to serve as a milepost in ones life and in the collective story of your family and friends.

85

@81: Mr Ven, it's hard to really compare Cheating Doctor with Henry Crawford, because Henry isn't the one who is married. It's possible that part of the thrill for CD is making women become attached to him, but the one who cheats on her spouse is Maria Bertram Rushworth. Still, Henry is charming and handsome, so if you're proposing him as a model for DC, his appeal is more obvious.

86

@76. Fichu. The 'lesbian' comment about the wife suggests to me (let's say) OTHER's marked credulity. The doctor wants to suggest to her that his wife won't have sex with him; in his mind, maybe, he supposes that OTHER finds him attractive, so might find difficult to credit. So he pads out his cover story, which is that his wife's a repressed or in-denial lesbian. The SL-reading response to that is likely to be, 'so why haven't you negotiated 'open'? Why do we have to be on the down-low?'. But OTHER hasn't had that response at all, nor anticipated that we might have it. She's accepted that her lover's marriage is sadly, grievously sexless without much resistance.

She's less sophisticated, less personally confident or literate about relationships than we are; and I think we should say things to her like 'is this the guy? Really?' gently.

I've noticed that Dan has a tendency to give narrow answers to questions asked even when a broader answer is staring him, and everybody, in the face (like e.g. 'he's using you!' here). I'd guess he's wise to do so. Wise and experienced.

87

OTHER is deluding herself, and how things are now are the best she’s gonna get. Does she believe the Dr’s wife is going to stay, after he does tell her.
Then the whole noisy sad break up of a family with kids. Then reality will happen for the LW. Her beau will be stretched what with child support and every second weekend they coming to stay. And she gets to go thru all their resentment at her turning up.
Has he got his cake and is eating it? He could be a serial affair haver, a seasoned player, in which case no guilt. If he’s not, then when he sees his children, it must flash thru his mind what his actions mean for his relationships to them.

88

@82. Griz. Thank you! I hope your recovery from your op goes well. Take it easily, and bask in the relief, even the liberation!

@77. venn. Are you saying that some Savigistas draw emotional satisfaction from being long-term married? I think they are quite within their rights, morally and emotionally, to do so, or rather to have done so, even in jurisdictions pre- Obergefell where equal marriage was resisted. All that was of moment here was whether they supported equal marriage--and almost to a person Savagistas did.

Of course Obergefell is teeth-grindingly heteronormalising; and a more worthy cause, now but always a more worthy cause, as it were, would be the same legal treatment, rights and entitlements for throuples and polycules.

89

The wife no doubt works too, he’s a Dr so all hours for him, and they have children.. whose ages we don’t know. Does OTHER? And off he sneaks in any free time and leaves his wife home with the children, who doesn’t know how unhappy he is.. poor baby. She’ll show him unhappy once this gets to her.
OTHER, he’s the best you’ve ever had because it’s the cream you are getting. Not the dirty laundry or dishes. Walk Away, hard as it might be. Married men with children mean more work for you later on. By then, it’s too late.

90

@88 Harriet_by_the_Bulrushes: Many thanks, too. While I cannot play my flutes, drive, or safely consume alcohol as yet (at least not until I get the green light from my gynecologist), my recovery is coming along nicely, thus far. I plan to gleefully have one helluva Carrie party to celebrate the long-awaited absence of three mega-bitches who plagued my reproductive system for the last four decades once I get the all-clear on red, red wiiiine consumption. :)

@89 LavaGirl: I agree--sound advice to OTHER. Call Griz naive, but I have never seen the attraction of having an affair with a married man who has a wife and children. That just sounds like it's asking for trouble. And I don't like the idea of being branded "the other woman" or "step-mother". OTHER says it's the best sex she ever had---but it's on HIS terms, and at his wife's and kids' expense, too.

91

Nocute @75, you are correct and wise as always. WANK's sexuality may not have anything to do with his question, it's just his hi-how-are-you. The only reason I didn't jump on the people who said "hey maybe his sexual orientation was the reason for her sexual plug-pulling" is that this indeed seems a plausible theory to me. One of many plausible theories, but certainly if it were the case it would explain their current situation. As is usually the case with these sorts of speculations, however far-fetched or not, they may be interesting to think about but aren't really relevant to the advice being sought. Regardless of the reason, is he doing anything wrong by wanking with the underwear of the wife who's not banging him? And beyond the question actually being asked, the larger questions of whether his wife is doing anything wrong by keeping him on indefinite sex hiatus and what he should do about that, also have nothing to do with his being bi or with the reason for the sex hiatus. Questions he didn't ask but which seem obvious enough to address.

Fichu @76, either the lesbian thing is further manipulation on Dr CPOS's part to convince OTHER it's okay to have an affair with him because the wife doesn't want him anyway, or, in the unlikely event that it's true, well, it's then justification for him to be cheating, which is exactly what he was going for. I take your point that "my marriage is sexless" could cover that, but if she's gay then it's not just sexless now but sexless permanently, meaning he can string her along forever and she won't start wondering whether they've started shagging again.

Griz @82, certainly there is no guarantee that marriages will work when you're over 30, but the odds are a bit better! I've just learned a 40something friend is divorcing; she says it's amicable, which is the best one can really hope for, I suppose. I also know people in their first or subsequent marriages that are still going strong. I suppose one could see the glass as literally half full - half of marriages don't end in divorce!

92

@69 re marriage: good point. In addition, many (most?) of us are socialized from birth to view marriage as being a life goal.

More than one relative told me that someone isn't truly an adult until and unless he or she gets married and has children. (For most of us, of course, that meant heterosexual marriage, if for no other reason than the fact that gay marriage didn't exist in the eyes of the law until relatively recently.)

My parents weren't dreadful about it, but it was just assumed that I would marry and start a family, and thereby give them grandchildren.

I didn't.

93

OTHER: You need a higher bar than someone who doesn't mind a few extra pounds and who treats you well on the rare occasion that you're alone together. He lies to his wife, talks badly about her to strangers, and is carelessly putting her at greater COVID risk through his secret relationship with you. That is how this person treats women when they are not in the room with him. He is doing it to his wife and the mother of his children. He will certainly do it to the nurse he's been banging for a few months. Is that how you want to be treated? You know his wife isn't actually a lesbian, because if she were he wouldn't need to keep you a secret from her. And you know that he's a passionate lover, so you know that he wouldn't have married a wet blanket. The things he does to your body that you like—he probably learned most of those by doing them to her body and and getting positive feedback. He does this things to her when you're not together. You know all this, which is why you're jealous. But you're the lucky one, not her, because you're not married to a deceitful coward. Drop him and learn to value yourself. And drop the wife an anonymous tip.

94

@BiDanFan @91: You're right that oftentimes the discussion is more interesting once it moves away from the particulars of a letter and into the broader issues or implications raised by it. I happen to think that it's no big deal what WANK uses to masturbate with, and as he's not leaving a mess for his wife to deal with, or taking what might be a favorite pair of clean underwear out of circulation, it's really none of her business. I sense from the fact that he's asking, that she might not feel this way, but honestly, I find his explanation ("It makes me feel very close to her. . . . This is something I do to feel more connected with her sexually. I don't get hard thinking that she's wearing panties I came in; I get hard thinking about coming in panties she's worn") to be rather endearing, even romantic. Maybe he's just over zealously policing himself, and I suppose it's better to err on the side of caution and consideration, but I just don't see the problem here.

As to "And beyond the question actually being asked, the larger questions of whether his wife is doing anything wrong by keeping him on indefinite sex hiatus and what he should do about that," that's far murkier. I think most of us would agree that if a partner had undergone some sort of trauma, physical or emotional, and needed to heal from that trauma before they felt comfortable having sex (again), a considerate partner would respect that. But how long--or at least, how long without the traumatized person seeking help and healing for their trauma--would we be willing to wait or would we think is too long for someone else to wait?

If the reason for the sex hiatus was due to something the other partner did (or didn't do), would that make a difference? WANK says, "My wife and I have been working through some relationship issues. Because of these, she has not been open to sex with me and for eighteen months our marriage has been essentially sexless. I’m not happy with this, but we are working on things," and it's unclear whether her unwillingness to have sex with him is due to her finding out, 18 months ago, that he is bi, or because of some betrayal he committed against her, or that she perceives as having been deliberately committed against her. This betrayal could be sexual--he could have cheated--or it could be something else, as long as it resulted in the wife not feeling that she can trust her husband. If indeed she doesn't feel that she can trust him, and he has good reason to suspect she'd be upset at his using her underwear as a masturbatory prop, and HE IS KEEPING THIS SECRET FROM HER, well then, if she ever finds out, she is unlikely to just say, 'oh, well.' This would compound her sense of not being able to trust him.

And it could be something else, as well. I don't know how long it is reasonable to expect someone to wait without at least trying to fix the problem, but he says twice that they are "working" on their issues. I would think that "working on" the problem wouldn't be a permanent state of affairs: either pretty soon things should improve relationship-wise, or the couple will probably call the relationship over or agree to some radical change. If the relationship improves and she still doesn't want to have sex, that's a different discussion with possibly a different solution. If I were holding a one-woman Lysistrata-scheme against my husband and we were actively working on resolving the issue(s) that led to my sex strike--and it also depends on what those issues were--I would be furious if he decided that I was taking too long a time to feel ready to have sex again and he just went out and got laid. But WANK suggests that even though he's not "happy" about the sex strike, he understands why his wife wants it. I think that all things considered, he's arrived at a very fair and happy solution.

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@91 BiDanFan: ...and then there are people like me, who got divorced because our lives and our personal safety depended on being able to successfully flee an abusive relationship.
But yes, I also like to see the cup as half full. :)

@92 Musicbiker: Our societal expectations can be unreasonably brutal. I had an abusive (now longtime ex-) spouse and in-laws who insisted I "owed" them grandchildren / nieces & / or nephews. I have then and since remained childless by choice (although I had to really battle my butt off to uphold my personal beliefs during my 20s and 30s).
Then there was a guy I knew back in college who, all of a sudden, desperately "needed" a wife and kids by sundown on his 40th birthday, or he would have supposedly turned into a pumpkin.

96

Griz update: It's miraculous. The back pain I have suffered for over 4 decades is gone post surgery. The rightwing nut jobs claiming that women are flocking in droves to have hysterectomies as new sources of birth control are full of shit. I am 56, divorced for nearly 19 years after an abusive marriage, and am asexual by choice. My gynecologist can vouch for me. There was not one iota of evidence that I was pregnant before I had a full abdominal hysterectomy bilateral (removal of the uterus, ovaries, and Fallopian tubes), having been admitted in a Catholic run hospital. Now internally, only my cervix remains as cis evidence of my female reproductive system, and good riddance to the bad bitches that had plagued it for so long. I have reason to believe that if I had let Nature take its course, the organs responsible for monthly cycles and breeding (or not) would very likely turn cancerous if not surgically removed.
I can't imagine ever having kids. Especially right now during a global pandemic that has already claimed the lives of 174,000 U.S. citizens ALONE.

97

@96: Amazing. I have not had any alcohol for well over a week, and no typos.
It must be the drugs.

98

Ms Cute - My last crossed with your CMY suggestion, and I had to leave right afterwards. Considering the question, I'm not sure. LW1 does strike me as a good candidate for deserving to get what she wants in the Wildean style of that's being one of the two great tragedies of life.
xxx
M?? Harriet - No; I was thinking that many people are really more respectable than they like to pose as being.

Why "more" worthy? The only reason that comes quickly to mind is that the societal changes to make that doable would be mostly or almost all benefits. We might presently be able to manage throuples that arrange themselves as equilateral (I notice you mention only rights and entitlements without responsibilities), though I could never agree with any child's having more than two legal parents, given the harm I experienced from that quarter with only two. Beyond that would seem to require a lot of reconceptualization.

It's an interesting idea, though I suspect the practical effect would include a proliferation of Westboro-style groups. Something else over which to lose sleep.

99

And this week's Big Hunsky Award winner IS..........

100

Happy recovery, Auntie Griz!! Hope you crack open a deeeelicious red wine just as soon as you can! Yay to no more back pain.

OTHER: I dislike rom-coms, for the most part, but I'm reminded by your letter of the character of Marie, played beautifully & sharply by Carrie Fisher, in "When Harry Met Sally". Marie has been dating a married man, & in scene after scene, she plaintively says to Sally (her best friend, Meg Ryan) "The point is, he's never going to leave her", once after she finding a receipt in his pocket for a $1600 dining room table. That he bought with "her". Eventually Marie wises up & ends it. Marie winds up meeting a better match, who makes her his priority.

You, LW, are in Marie's shoes. Stop giving Dr. Feelgood all of the power in this situation. You can issue whatever ultimatum you like. He's (likely) never going to leave her, they're still going to buy dining room tables together while he fucks you (or whoever comes after you) on the side & he's almost definitely lying to her. You're not the first, you won't be the last. Don't you aspire to more than to be a rom-com stereotype..? Your curves are likely beautiful. Share them with someone who deserves them. Open relationship, hookup, big romance, whatever. Free yourself to go find it. The frustration of not coming first in his affection & consideration will outweigh your lusty attraction eventually. Why wait for that? Life is short.