The Background: My wife and I have been together for six years. When we first met, via Tinder and Match simultaneously, we were in a difficult place with past relationships and we connected over shared pain and a desire for stability. She had a child shortly before we had met and the dad is a deadbeat who put her through the ringer. He would show up at her apartment drunk and promise her the world, then not show up for days. I had a son six years before we met and had been through my own trials (literally) and needed to feel safe and stable. The mother of my child is very unstable and a master of manipulation, so I was guarded but hopeful for something better and without drama.

We dated for six months and got to know one another and then moved in together. It's funny, because we weren't each other's type at all, but we fulfilled some essential needs for one another, none the less. The sex for me was mediocre (she's an uninspired lover) but the stability was bliss after years of turmoil. The sex for her was physically good, but since I'm not her type, there wasn't really any fire, which may be why I experienced it as uninspired. She wants a "bad boy" aggressive type and I'm really just a sappy puddle of love. I want a silly romantic, and she's anything but (saying the word love while having sex is a turn-off for her). That said, our priority was stability, so we were happy and decided to get married on the one year anniversary of our first date. We sat down and talked about our expectations for the relationship before tying the knot. I told her that I am polyamorous, but that I wasn't interested in pursuing any other sexual relationships at the moment. I have one other person that I consider a long-term partner, but he's male (and therefore, strangely, not a threat to her) and we don't have a sexual relationship, just a very close bond. She said that she's not poly and not interested in the lifestyle, but she's open to that side of me. And we also specifically said that if we ever wanted to pursue an outside relationship, we just needed to be upfront about it. No secrets.

Now six years have gone by and we are both fully committed to staying in the relationship, even if it kills us. We have a new baby, which is one of the reasons we wanted to be together: to have a child that we could both be full-time parents for. But neither of us is feeling fulfilled on the relationship side. She isn't emotionally available to talk about the issues, but I think she needs more and different emotional and sexual satisfaction than I can give her. She also seems to not remember, or at least not want to remember, when we talked about being upfront and outside relationships.

I have recently, and very unexpectedly, discovered that there is someone that I want to pursue a relationship with (not primary, but committed), but I haven't pursued it fully because I don't have the tools to introduce the topic to my wife. Plus, I've been thinking that she needs a different sexual partner for quite a while, long before I met the person that I'm interested in. While I've maintained a fairly positive outlook and mental state (most of the time), she's had a hard time for the past couple of years. I think she just hasn't been able to come to terms with what she wants/needs. I'm about 95% demisexual, so when our emotional bond is weak, I tend towards asexuality and don't miss the sex that much. I believe she misses the sex and the connection that provides, and while she is turned on by my body, she isn't turned on by my personality.

I've run this by my male partner and he seems to agree with what I've noticed and thinks a monogamish lifestyle would suit both of us, and our relationship, much better than whatever it is we're currently doing.

My Question: How can I introduce the idea of being monogamish in a non-threatening way? It's obvious that she has some big psychological walls up around this topic and while I do want to get around those, I don't want to cause her any trauma by just bulldozing my way through the issue. Plus, she's really very open-minded in theory, but when it comes to practice or talking about being open-minded herself, the walls come up hard. I've started listening to Savage Lovecast in the evenings without headphones while she is in the room hoping that some of the bits of wisdom will just soak in, but I'd also love to gently speed up the process before my opportunity to connect more deeply with my love interest evaporates.

Are there other resources you would recommend? Should I bring one of her friends in on the topic for support?

Stifled In New Situation

I don't know where to start.

Yes, there are resources out there for couples thinking about opening up their relationships. (Recommended reading: The Ethical Slut and Opening Up.)

No, do not—ABSOLUTELY DO NOT—invite your wife's friends over to take your side "for support."

Maybe... think about that baby you just had? A baby you two decided to have—decided together to have together—because you both wanted to be full-time parents. A baby you decided to have in the last year or so despite your wife not being in a good place for the last couple of years. That baby.

This particular moment—right after you had a child—is a terrible time to raise, much less force, the issue of opening up a marriage. Of course you're not "feeling fulfilled on the relationship side" right now. You're new parents. That's a given, SINS, you signed up for that when you decided to have a kid. Unless you have nannies and wet nurses, you're both exhausted—and odds are good your wife is doing more of the childcare and is consequently more exhausted. So while you may have the bandwidth to scrutinize your sexual connection and precisely diagnose what has always ailed you two and the energy to get out there date a new partner, your wife doesn't. And while she may have told you she'd open to you pursuing an outside relationship at some point—and that's some highly conditional framing right there—this isn't the right point.

Even if your wife was positively inclined toward polyamory, even if there was something or someone in it for her, the thought of you dating someone else is gonna panic her. You have infant in diapers at home 24/7 and two other children living with you guys part time. Time you spend with a new potential partner is time spent away from your home and kids. And if you think you have time to spare, SINS, you're clearly not doing your fair share of the childcare or housework. And telling your exhausted wife that she's free to pursue other partners too—something she never wanted to do—isn't gonna make her feel any better about being home alone with up to three children, SINS, one of them an infant, while her husband wining, dining, and boning someone else.

I get it, I get it: You met a person you're interested in and it's hard out there for a demisexual. If you only experience sexual attraction after forging an emotional bond with someone, you probably don't meet that many people you wanna fuck. But you had a baby, SINS, and you gotta be the grownup. Unexpected Someone is just gonna have to wait.

In fairness to poly parents, having another partner can actually make your lives easier and your children's lives more secure. So long as your other partner(s) are okay with kids and your primary partner is okay with your other partner(s) playing a role in your family life, having more adults around to share responsibilities (making meals, paying bills, doing laundry, etc.) is one of the polyamory's knock-on benefits. But just like responsible single parents, SINS, responsible poly parents don't introduce their kids to new partners until after they're sure (or as sure as they can be) that their new partners are gonna be permanent fixtures in their lives. That's not something you'll be able to determine for at least a year, SINS, so the potential benefits to your wife of you finding another partner are a long way off. And pursuing that new partner now—dating someone who may or may not become a permanent fixture in your lives—means time away from your wife at a moment when she can't spare you.

Support The Stranger

You made a baby and you're needed at home, SINS. But you can broach the subject with the wife, you can read the books, you can listen to podcasts. (And not just mine. Check out Sex Out Loud, Polyamory Weekly, and Normalizing Non-Monogamy.) But if you want your marriage to survive, SINS, you won't attempt to move into polyamory and/or monogamishamy until things are less hectic and exhausting than they are now.

Finally, I'd like to re-re-re-re-reiterate this point: sexual compatibility is important—particularly in sexually-exclusive relationships—and sexual incompatibility tends to get worse over time, not better. Or that's the impression I've gotten reading my mail over the last thirty years. It's a skewed sample, I realize, since I don't get letters from people who are contentedly partnered with people they don't connect with sexually. I recognize that sex isn't important to many individuals and it's not central to many couples and can become less important over time. But if sex is important to you... yeah, you need to prioritize sexual compatibility alongside all the other important stuff (emotional compatibility, similar goals, a shared desire to parent or not parent, etc.) at the start of a relationship. Because it's a lot harder to reverse engineer that. It's a lot harder to make sex work or hammer out an accommodation that allows you to get sex elsewhere after you've moved in, gotten married, and crapped out a kid.


Listen to my podcast, the Savage Lovecast, at www.savagelovecast.com.