SL Letter of the Day: Over & Out


@62: I think I understand better now. I now agree with you, 4 seconds plus unending meanness without goal is too much to bear.

I think the misunderstanding comes from the way the letter is presented up top.
Bad sex for 14 years (which was their entire marriage! prior to opening), which neither of them could fix. I don't know how that happens -- how do you dislike the sex for a week, nevermind years, and yet soldier on? Anyway, the sex sucked, and the marriage was probably doomed from then on. The rest are just details of how two sexually incompatible people slowly implode.

The real mistake, regarding the children, was having them in the first place. If you know you're sexually incompatible, you shouldn't procreate. They're both at fault for not divorcing 19 years ago pre-kids. I know that's harsh, but it just pisses me off that people bring kids into deteriorating marriages.
@100: There are people out there who HATE to be the break-up initiator and so just behave in a way that convinces the other person to do it and be the bad guy. Perhaps in this case two of them married.
@2, child of a broken home myself. Having met both of my parents it is unquestionable that, had they tried to stay together, my childhood would have been even more screwed up.

My anecdote cancels yours.
@102: I imagine the sex was terrible before marriage, as well. Why it wasn't a reason to do anything different (e.g. not marry, break up before kids, etc) for more than a decade...
I guess that will teach me to read the comment thread before wondering out loud about what really happened when that question is already answered in a followup comment.

So the bigger story begins to come into focus. 14 years of really bad sex. Out of desperation, LW begs husband to open the marriage, which he really really doesn't want, but they set up rules to make it "safe" for husband. (And having been dragged unwilling through the whole "it'll be okay" part of that scenario myself, those are the biggest, ugliest, finger-wiggliest scare quotes around "safe" you can imagine.)

Two years elapse during which LW gets happily busy with four different guys -- adding up to an actual sex encounter every other month or so, but there had to be plenty of Excitement and Communicating and Discovery and New Relationship Energy sorts of things going on, which were no doubt salt in the wounds to poor Inadequate Four-Second Hubby. (Four seconds, honestly? Are you sure you aren't exaggerating just a little there?)

Then after two years of that, one night she breaks a supposedly cardinal rule, and fucks a guy without a condom. Husband loses his shit and slams the relationship shut again, hard. Followed by an additional four years of husband being bitter and sarcastic. Not clear whether that was about everything in the daily routine, on the topic of anything sexual, or only on the topic of reopening the relationship that he slammed shut; but enough for the kids to notice.

"If the husband knew he could never forgive me, why did he choose to be a dick for years rather than leave me?" Not exactly helping your cause here. Who knows in advance how long it's going to take them to get over it? And OF COURSE he's going to give it his best shot, rather than walking away. Wife and kids, remember?

Only in this case, anyone paying attention would realize that the condom incident, despite being the Identified Unforgivable Transgression, really is the straw that broke the camel's back. The problem here is that you are married to a man who does not satisfy you sexually, which no doubt continues to hurt him; on whom you continue to want to have extramarital relations, which continues to hurt him; and against whom you have demonstrated a willingness to violate the very safety boundaries that were set up to get him to agree to the situation in the first place, which no doubt makes him, not surprisingly, massively gun-shy. I'm not saying you are the bad guy either; it's a vicious cycle. But your demonstrated lack of logic, empathy, and self-awareness isn't helping your case. This isn't a case of "Why can't you forgive me, I only did it once!" It's a case of massive incompatibility, in which he feels trapped (marriage and kids, remember?) while tied to someone who completely devalues him sexually, and who continues to seek (active) emotional and (deferred) sexual gratification elsewhere.

#73 basically nailed it, in a nutshell. (With tiny little nails and a tack hammer, I guess.) Your solutions and your actions might be workable if you had lucked into a cuckold fetishist, but for the rest of the male population, pretty much everything you've done adds up to our worst nightmare.

No one is saying that a woman and this LW specifically are undeserving of sexual satisfaction.

People are just contending the LW's interpretation of events that places blame for the divorce solely on the husband. If she wasn't sexually satisfied, why didn't SHE leave earlier? Was the lack of satisfaction the reason for opening the marriage? If so, she probably should have left then.

Also, we don't know how much "togetherness" was involved in the decision to open up. Was his agreement made under duress and done just to appease the wife? The LW has intentionally or unintentionally omitted facts about this so we don't know.

Could the husband have dealt with the transgression better? possibly, but we also only have her side of the story. We don't know how she treated the husband during the 4 years before the divorce. She could have been punishing him to closing the door to the open marriage. Furthermore, he didn't exactly renege on the agreement. After her mistake, their agreement was null and needed to be reestablished and renegotiated. You don't just get to erase the mistake and start up where you left off.
I just want to throw out that maybe the LW isn't talking about her kids because this situation isn't about them. That being a parent doesn't mean you stop being a separate person and that while you kids should be your priority you life shouldn't revolve solely around them.

Well, coming at it from the side of a religious family, where dad was a preacher who was fucking one of the congregation but stayed together "for the kids" and because "what would people think?" That sucked far worse and fucked us kids all up pleanty. Watching him get to stand up there and preach morality when everyone there knew he was banging hoerina, how humiliated our mother and we all were. I'm a staunch atheist now because religion is a lie and so was my parent's "marriage". They didn't get divorced until not only were all of us kids out of the house, but until the hoe's husband died and she wanted a replacement. All of us shunned their sham wedding too, and my poor mother is still miserable- he ruined her life and then ditched her when the slut snapped her fingers. IDK. None of this is helpful I guess, but don't assume the kids don't know, my brother was an alcoholic at age 14, I can't remember my senior year of high school because I was totally high all the time, and I left as soon as I was 18.
Ok, rereading the LW's comments, I've missed out on a few facts. LW was dissatisfied with sex with her husband leading to the open marriage, so again, why didn't she just end things?

The LW describes sex as short and unsatisfying. Did the husband care and/or put in any kind of effort to correct this? If so, was the LW herself supportive and constructive in her husbands efforts. Did the LW belittle (perhaps unintentionally) her husband for his lack of sexual prowess, which certainly would have made matters worse. If he put in no effort, why didn't she leave?
@106: I'm not saying you are the bad guy either; it's a vicious cycle.

This, very much. It's why I cited way up there the woman who divorced her cheating husband but then spent some time figuring out what she was doing in her half of the relationship, so that going forward she wouldn't feel like a passive victim, but someone who could ask different questions and take different actions. Sometimes the blame for the end of a marriage really does fall on one person, but that doesn't mean the other person should dust their hands off and do no soul-searching or changing.

@97: OK "mean and rude" all the time. You weren't by any chance continually bringing up wanting to reopen things during that period, were you? Doesn't excuse that behavior, but would explain it. I still wonder about your motivations for barebacking.
Again, congratulations on the divorce. Sounds like you were making each other miserable.
(Goddammit people, sign up and post your shit like folks! (From the start!))
@102: I think it happens when two people are really too young to get married. A lot of young women really don't make their sexual desires a priority when they're young because the culture tells us it's not important and that it's the guy who's important in sex anyway.

For whoever said that 10-11 is statistically the worst age for your parents to have a divorce, that makes perfect sense. A 10-year-old is old enough to have lots of solid memories of his parents together, but not so old that he/she has really started thinking critically about those memories. I think it's very easy for a 10-year-old to believe that everything was fine in the house before and to not understand why the divorce is happening.
111: Agreed, and I don't want to give the impression that Husband is 100% Victim in this scenario. Just not sure how to weave his share of the burden into an already overlong comment.

But how does a couple go 14 years with bad sex not getting any better? That does not speak well of him, and it also lends a more unfavorable coloration to his being bitter and snarky. But at the same time I find it hard to believe that someone would be completely unwilling to work on his technique, and then turn around and accept opening the marriage. Unless he was medically incapable, one would expect him to either improve matters or to be equally intransigent about a request for extramarital sex.

Seems to me that the two of them should have divorced long before procreating.
@113: I think you're right, and this is part of why we need sex-positive, empowering sex ed in every middle school.

@114: That seems to be the emerging consensus -- a slow train wreck of a marriage between two sexually incompatible people who, ironically, should have used condoms every time.
@113: I disagree on the age thing, having seen plenty of letters from those in their 30s and up wondering if lousy sex with, or a complete lack of desire for, a partner who is good on paper is any reason to break up. All available genders and orientations--Hax has one today from a lesbian of advanced years.

Admittedly this hits a pet peeve of mine: Once brides and grooms pass 20 their odds of a successful first marriage level out, even if they wait an extra year or thirty. Those who marry in their teens get divorced at much higher rates, but 22 year olds who don't have much experience of independent living, and 42 year olds who have two decades of deciding on their own where to set the thermostat, have about the same odds. I suspect the persistence of the "I was but a child of 27" thing is because time has fixed that, and so no introspection is needed into one's actions: next marriage will be fine, because you're 32. To relate it to the thread theme of who is at fault when a marriage ends, and how reassuring it is to lay it all on your ex. (Maturity does matter, but you can be mature and level-headed at 19 or an immature twerp who never met a problem that was your fault at 37.)
I always was of the opinion that parents should suck up their own shit and stay together to parent their kids rather than put them through the trauma of a divorce for their own selfish needs. Perhaps that is why I didn't feel I had the right to complain about my husband's behaviour towards me. However, what I viewed as sucking it up, my eldest (a teenager) viewed as not standing up for myself, which made her very angry. Her relationship with her father became increasingly strained as she did the 'standing up' for me.

It is far too simplistic and easy to say that divorce fucks kids up. Dysfunctional parental relations, whether those are expressed through divorce or not, fucks kids up. I never did stand up for myself. Instead, I behaved in a way that Dan refers to as 'slamming my hand down on the self-destruct button', my husband found out and ended the marriage. NOW I am learning to stand up for myself again. And we are actually working very hard to parent together kindly, minimizing the effect on our children. They've all told people that divorce isn't that big a deal after all. The younger two are content and well-adjusted and now have a mother who is an independent and happy woman. The eldest is still kind of pissed off and has more shit to work through, but she had that *before* the split.

I'm so thankful that our marriage ended before my other two were old enough to truly become aware of the fucked up dynamic between my ex and I. WOS, congratulations on the divorce and the awesome new guy. I am sure you are not ignoring or forgetting your children, but you being happy *is* important to them, so don't listen to anyone telling you how selfish you are. You matter too.
So I read this letter from another perspective. After 2 decades of monogamy, my husband had a few emotional and physical affairs. Part of a midlife crisis. It was a big emotional - not just sexual betrayal. (Until I discovered the cheating our sex life was fabulous by the way.) I found out more than a year ago. At first he lied, failed to tell the truth, and blamed me for everything. Now he is remorseful and wants to reconcile.

I don't want to punish him. I don't want him to suffer. I forgive him in the sense that I totally see how a good person could have done what he did given his life at that time. BUT, forgiveness doesn't take away the tsunami of hurt and grief and distress. It has been so great that I am a broken shell of a person now. But my kids would not survive a divorce. So what can I do?

I love Dan, but he always assumes cheating is "just sex" and that all that is needed is forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness isn't enough. I don't see an appreciation for how devastation it is to experience emotional abandonment/betrayal of a long term affair after a long term marriage. I suspect - although I don't know, that the letter write abandoned her husband emotionally when she pushed for an open relationship. I hope that someday Dan will give advice that is more compassionate for someone like me.
So I read this letter from another perspective. After 2 decades of monogamy, my husband had a few emotional and physical affairs. Part of a midlife crisis. It was a big emotional - not just sexual betrayal. (Until I discovered the cheating our sex life was fabulous by the way.) I found out more than a year ago. At first he lied, failed to tell the truth, and blamed me for everything. Now he is remorseful and wants to reconcile.

I don't want to punish him. I don't want him to suffer. I forgive him in the sense that I totally see how a good person could have done what he did given his life at that time. BUT, forgiveness doesn't take away the tsunami of hurt and grief and distress. It has been so great that I am a broken shell of a person now. But my kids would not survive a divorce. So what can I do?

I love Dan, but he always assumes cheating is "just sex" and that all that is needed is forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness isn't enough. I don't see an appreciation for how devastation it is to experience emotional abandonment/betrayal of a long term affair after a long term marriage. I suspect - although I don't know, that the letter write abandoned her husband emotionally when she pushed for an open relationship. I hope that someday Dan will give advice that is more compassionate for someone like me.

Though I don't think Dan is saying that all that forgiveness is easy, he is just saying that without forgiveness, the relationship has no chance. Dan is just being bluntly neutral on whether or not forgiveness possible, should or should not happen, and where the responsibility lies for achieving forgiveness.
@118 I'm sorry for the trauma you've experienced. I've been there and been through it-- it took 3 years to start feeling normal again. Please pick up a copy of "Not Just Friends" by Shirley Glass. It helped save our marriage. I told this to Ira Glass, her son, who gave me a big hug. I wish I could give you a hug and tell you that some day it'll feel better. It sounds like you're both on the right track.
@62, my situation was somewhat similar to yours (except for the homeschooling part). It's so difficult to stay married to someone who has contempt for you. I've had difficult times since then, financially, etc., but nothing ever got so bad that it didn't seem like a walk in the park compared to being married to my ex.

My daughters tell me all the time how grateful they are that I divorced their dad. I'm sure that it did some harm to them, but overall, I think the best thing I could have done was get them away from an environment where they were being taught it was okay for men to have contempt towards women.

I'm not going to glorify my experience during my marriage as emotional abuse or rape, even the time that he hit me that triggered my request for divorce didn't even leave a bruise. But don't listen to the commenters here criticizing your decision. If you have daughters, they now know that it's not okay to be treated with contempt by men, and if you have sons, they now know that it's not okay to treat women with contempt. That's a very important lesson.
I’m counting votes, and “terrible woman sacrificing your family for something as debased as sex!” and “terrible woman not realizing that sex was important and pursing marriage with a man you loved anyway!” seem to be about even. Some people are even voting twice...
@118: I went back to reread your letter for why you wanted to stay and found this: "But my kids would not survive a divorce."

In what sense? Like, is one of them dealing with a severe mental issue (like an eating disorder), and you fear any additional stress or change could send them over the edge? Or is this just generic "divorce would be hard on the kids"? Because--and I say that as a big advocate of putting your kids first--that skirts close to laying the responsibility for your misery on their existence, rather than looking at this as what you can do for yourself, your partner, and them. Rebuilding a marriage with their father is a good instinct, if there was enough good once there to hang onto (sounds like it) and he regrets being callous (three times over, with affair, then gaslighting, then blaming) and is willing to work on winning your trust back, along with the ease between you. It's a lot to recover from, it's been less than a year that you've both been on board with trying to rebuild, it will take a lot more time.

But "kill" your children sounds like such an exaggeration--lots of okay children of divorce in the thread--that it really set me aback. Any amount of martyrdom can be okayed if it would "kill" your children to behave otherwise, and then it becomes a cop-out. One the grown kids don't necessarily thank you for, if they sensed how miserable everyone was the instant you shared a room, or thought their father treated you like crap and you wouldn't stand up for yourself.
@123: You seem to have missed a lot of other votes.
@123: Put me in as a vote for both, maybe? The only part of which I can be certain is that the LW sounds pretty terrible.

If her husband's as awful as she's (unsuccessfully) trying to portray him, I wish they'd have stayed married, thus keeping innocent people from accidentally dating them without knowing how terrible they are.

@ 93: Oh boy I love helping people with reading comprehension.

I wish you were better equipped for it, since you don't seem able to provide the help in question. Notice how you had to mischaracterize both the opening letter and everyone's responses to it? I did.

I'm not sure whether you have a reading comprehension problem or an honesty problem, and frankly I'm not very interested in determining which. Thanks for your participation, I guess?
I feel like there are a lot of us not calling the LW a terrible person? Like...she did what she had to do. Frankly, I am of the opinion that splitting up is better than preserving a toxic household, and the thread seems to contain many stories that support this idea (besides @2, who had so many conflicting variables happening at the same time that it's impossible to trace where the issues he talks about actually came from with any accuracy).

However, as always, this is one person's perspective on a two person problem. It would actually be really interesting to hear what her husband would have to say, since everyone mischaracterizes events to make themselves look better (for all we know, "being a dick" means that he won't let her open the marriage again).


I think everyone agrees that divorce was the best end point to this relationship. Its the path there that's in question.

Yes there was 14 years of bad sex, but for all we know, she may have spent most of that time hiding her feelings and telling the husband everything was ok. Or maybe he knew there were problems and tried correcting them, but she dismissed or was unsupportive of his efforts and did nothing to aid is confidence compounding the problem.
@ 128 - Or maybe, and according to my abundant experience with men, way more probably, he knew there was a problem, made some token effort to "solve" it, than just hoped the problem would go away (meaning that she would stop talking about it). And she might have stopped talking about it for a variety of reason - the children, for example, or so as not to hurt his feelings - until she could no longer withstand the situation, leading them to opening the relationship, etc.
@129 is this common? Because I've definitely encountered this but thought it was more of a character trait than anything else.
@ 130 - Common ? Almost universal, I'd say. And even more so when the problem has to do with the guy's sexual performance or his endowment. And not only in my direct experience, but also that of all my friends & family members who have emotional/sexual relationships with men, be they male or female.
Seconding 127: Divorcing was probably the right thing to do. But getting to the point where divorce was the right thing took a concerted effort from both parties.
Mr Ophian - At the risk of setting off a mad scramble for the one working time machine, if my parents had been "permitted" to have premarital sex for two months they'd never have married; one month would probably have been enough; even a week might have sufficed.
This LW declares her marriage depended on the thickness of a condom. There was a LW that crossed from consensual sex to rape by the same thickness. I've yet to read a letter from a partner hammering the lapse of a male about condom use.

To be resting such important consequeces on such a thin, and fragile, margin seems...wildly uncomfortable. Perhaps it should be written out, precisely, what steps/consequences occur following "barrier lapse", starting with a trip to the doctor's office. Did the LW & spouse dictate automatic & permanent closure of the marriage for "barrier lapse"? Wouldn't the LW have benefited from a longer and harder look at ending the marriage before they opened it?

I'm not the kind of person that could deal with the insecurity.

@135 continued....

Did I mention I HATE condoms?! Especially when they break...

If I had the chance to do it over again myself I'd have left my ex years and years ago. Staying "for the sake of the kids" allowed him to tear me down while the kids witnessed it. It's taken a great deal of work to get my life back and my children have suffered because him main goal is to "win" at all costs, without any regard to the well being of the kids. If I'd left much sooner than I did our lives would be much better. but at least I did.......
Late to the party and only offering Me-search here, but...

My parents divorced the summer I turned 12. My father was a rage-filled, sociopathic alcoholic and compulsive gambler. My much abused mother fell madly in love with another man. She got up the courage to leave, they married within the year, and they remained married 23 years until he died.

He raised me as his own. I loved him. I loved that he loved my mother. I could see it, plainly, and I was both delighted and unsurprised when my mother left, even after my father tried to kill us (no, not exaggerating).

My brother?

He was 16 when it all went down. He didn't speak to my mother for 11 years--she was an adulterous whore who destroyed our "family." My oldest nephew was 3 before my mother got to meet him.

So, sorry, but I'm in the camp that a person's reaction to either a bad marriage or a bad divorce has much more to do with his or her disposition than whether one or the other is inherently better. But I will say, however, that my stepfather raising me made all the difference in my life because he brought stability and love to it. So, yes, I'm biased, but I think happy single or remarried people make better parents than the compulsively miserable.
@100: if she were pushing for a crisis, why stay for 4 years?

You're also confusing the situation. Her point was not that it wasn't fair that she couldn't continue to play with others; her point was that she cannot continue the marriage with a man who refuses to forgive her.

I smell sexist projection, that I do! Not as bad as Mr. Slut Shaming Central of @97; I suppose you can take solace in that.

On another note, some folks are trying out the sensible "sexual compatibility" problem. But, if sex lasts 4 seconds ("I've been vaccinated slower!"), how do they know if they're compatible? It seems to me that the opening the marriage was for the wrong reasons (bad sex life), so I'm left wondering if they ever tried addressing the problem. Moot point now, I suppose.
@97: sorry! I meant @109. (It's late.)
Divorce is wonderful for kids. I was so freaking happy when my mom walked on my dad. Her five kids walked with her and our REAL lives began that day. We were dirt poor but we were so relieved to be rid of my idiot father. My dad was an asshole without peer.
@118. I agree with you that Dan is a little flip about the hard work it takes to get over such a violation. It's been 2 years for me and it is still painful. For me the jury is still out on whether this marriage will succeed. Good luck to you.
@139: Her point was that she cannot continue the marriage with a man who refuses to forgive her.

And this is true. But that there was something huge to forgive was on her. Parallel this to Friday's letter, which seems to have gone down "I cheated, I'm sorry. Now I've apologized, so it's on you to forgive me. If you don't, everything is your fault."

If she were pushing for a crisis, why stay for 4 years?

Because it took that long? "I won't be the bad guy, so why won't you break up with me already?" is not a new or unique relationship pattern.

138 and 141 bring up an important point: If your married life is unstable (and therefore scary), you are not doing your kids a favor by remaining.
Once again I find myself dragged into uncomfortable places I never would've visited without this blog.

Thank you.

Perhaps the opportunity of opening a marriage should only be suggested to make a good marriage better. If everything going on in the marriage except sex is going well, and it isn't due to medical problems like PE, then I can see working with a counselor to open other possibilities. Am I being naive in hoping for an outcome where everyone wins?

And if the above conditions aren't met, the sex life is intolerable, are there pre-divorce counselors to ease the burden? Divorce counseling, isn't it a concept that needs to be explored in a long lived world?

I can't now find which comment it is, but I agree with the person who wrote that perhaps only *happy partnerships* be opened. From where I sit, if a partnership is unhappy, there's a very high risk of a lack of useful communication and the good, clear, thorough communication is needed (I assume) before creating an open partnership where everyone still feels valued, loved, cherished, and safe.

Mind you, I think that a happy partnership itself requires that same good communication. I also think that a not-monagamish or not-poly relationship should, too, be one where everyone feels valued, loved, cherished, and safe. If you don't have that normally (obviously, there's likely to be rough patches), then steps should be taken to improve matters and that just might involve divorce.

I was a child of divorce. It was much better than them staying married. When I realized that the only reason my marriage had lasted as long as it had was because I had very thoroughly lied to myself and managed to prevent myself from seeing things as they really were, I started divorce proceedings. Yes, there was a child involved. He wasn't pleased with it, but I did a lot on my side to make sure there was support for him and I think that I am modelling a good set of adult behaviours. I hope my ex does as well, but I have no control over that nor do I (thankfully) have enough exposure to his life to judge that.
@2, i credit *MY* fucked upedness to my parents STAYING married. But I'm also grown up enough to realize that any fucked uppedness sustained after the age of 18, regardless of who "started" it, is my own fucking problem. I also realized that I no longer had to put up with fuckers who would fuck me up or contribute to fucking me up. It's made a world of difference. It's so easy to blame our parents, and sure, they did shit that sucked, but we're all goddamned adults now, and it's time to own it and deal with it and move on. How do you know your parents staying together would have been super awesome rainbow pony love?
My bona fides: My parents split when I was nine and it has led to years of lousiness.

Of course it's better if parents figure out how to be happy together. If they can't be happy, though, it's not so much whether parents stay together or divorce that makes the difference to kids. It's how they handle the decision once they make it. It's not the fact that my parents aren't together that's a problem. I'm not quite clear on how they ever got together in the first place. It's the way they've handled their split that has caused lasting damage.
People need to grow up and realize their parents are/were people too. I spent my teens and twenties mad at my parents for their faults and failures, their addictions, their cruelty, etc. (youngest child left with angry constant fighting followed by divorce that rocked me for years, sent me into a tailspin). But now that I have a marriage and kids I know that it is fucking hard even when you love each other, and can't imagine how much harder it would be if you didn't. Please everybody: try to look at things through your parents' eyes and treat them with the kindness of understanding them as fallible people, rather than being angry at them for not being perfect. Imagine what you would have done in their situation, rather than just being mad they didn't magically solve everything. If you think through it with your own failures clearly in mind, and see that they weren't terrible, just average in their solutions to the shit life serves you, then call them up and give them some love for the good they did (obvi some parents don't deserve this--not talking about severely abusive). As a parent myself, I don't want to rage against my parents anymore. I want to remember the love they did give me when they could.
Here's the thing--people always tell kids of divorce, "it's not your fault". But actually a lot of times it is your fault. If they hadn't had you, they might have been able to go on dates and rekindle their romance. They might have had money or time for the conversations that might have saved their relationship. What did they give up in the way of dates that would have saved their marriage so you could go to dance class or soccer? So many nights, your colic-fever-flu-tantrum came in the way of their relationship. Imagine the sacrifices they made for you when you couldn't even know that they were making those sacrifices and be grateful for their struggle to balance things out.

@148 Oh god, this sounds exactly like my parents!
Your children didn't ask you to make them, this was entirely your decision and the sacrifices you are talking about are all part of the package. You made the decision knowing the difficulties so suck it up. Don't tell your kids it's their fault. It would only be their fault if they'd asked you to have them and I can with certainty say this didn't happen. There's no longer "if not for them" in your life to fantasize about. You don't have the option of _not_ taking care of them, not because it's their fault, but because you made the supposedly adult decision to have kids.
"open" only works when both partners commitment to the relationship is casual; sex, financial security, public appearance, etc.

If either partner's commitment to the relationship is anywhere near the level of commitment associated with Traditional Heterosexual Marriage "open" is a cruel assault.

And will inflict years of painful emotional torture before the inevitable messy destruction of the relationship.

It is not surprising that Danny has NO CLUE of this, based on his limited personal experience with "true love" and loving long term relationships.

But readers of Danny's shit should beware........
Actually, @148 and @149, there's another take on "If they hadn't had you, they might have been able to go on dates and rekindle their romance. They might have had money or time for the conversations that might have saved their relationship. "

My personal epiphany that I had been lying to myself came when I was seeing and realizing what was happening *after* my son was born. I did my best to push for constructive dialogs and CHANGE. The realization that I had failed to see the truth when I now had a child who I had to raise made me push for the divorce. My child had to take a priority, I could only be a mother to my son, not some random idiot who I had stupidly married years and years before.
@148: I'm sorry that you blame yourself for your parents being assholes. I really am.

I have to imagine that raising kids is tough as fuck, but your displacing of the hatred you may have felt upon you as being your "fault" for existing... I can't see that as being anything you should take on or shove on your kids. I know I'm going to get frustrated and angry and lose my sanity, but I would never use the "but I'm a human" excuse for blaming my inability to cope with parenthood on my having children.

I'm sorry you've internalized and potentially perpetuated that lie.
@139 maddy

" if she were pushing for a crisis, why stay for 4 years?"

Perhaps she was hoping that he would end the relationship because she didn't want to take on the responsibility. People go to great lengths not to initiate the end of relationship because it makes them feel like the bad guy even if its something that both people wanted.

I think what most people are seeing is that even taking what the LW is saying at face value, she essentially had one foot out the door even before the marriage opened. Meaning, she really didn't want an actual open marriage, just the ability to sleep with other people as a way to cope. Also, it suggests that she likely didn't work very hard, if at all, to regain the trust of her husband, which certainly would have contributed to his refusal to forgive. All together, this would suggest that they are at least equally to blame for not ending the relationship earlier.

I'm also wondering what if any efforts were taken to correct the bad sex before opening the marriage. Did the husband not care about her pleasure and never attempt to change the situation? Or did he make honest efforts to change, but was incapable changing or meeting the LW expectations. How well did the LW communicate her wants, and in what ways did she support her husband to change. This info is glaringly absent
@146: Any fucked uppedness sustained after the age of 18, regardless of who "started" it, is my own fucking problem.

This, so much. I'd allow a few years to undo patterns laid down by parents--it's not easy--but no one over 18 should offer up "it's my parents' fault I'm this way" without a heavy dose of "and I'm trying really hard to change it because I realize (shutting down whenever an argument starts, or whatever you did to cope as a child) is not who I want to be as an adult."

@148: A lot of times it is your fault (your parents divorced).
I am married and have kids, and this attitude is utterly insane.

A lot of people become more forgiving of their parents' imperfections once they have their own kids and learn how impossible perfection is, but taking it to the level of, "Oh wow, my parents' divorce WAS my fault because I needed time and attention and care so they couldn't focus only on each other" is seriously fucked up.
@153: By the timeline, I'm thinking the sex was terrible when they married, not that it abruptly became terrible later. So she's going for a simultaneous "I married, expecting to be monogamous on both sides, thinking the lousy sex was something I could live with" and "Of course no one could be expected to maintain monogamy in the face of lousy sex." And I agree about the one foot out the door when she asked to open the marriage.
It may have also been:

"I married thinking the lousy sex was something that would get better over time"


"I didn't realize how important sex was to me until after multiple years and multiple kids into the marriage and I didn't know how to correct the issue"

Ultimately, I think people here are accepting of the LW for wanting to end a relationship because of sex and not smoothly/quickly ending the relationship. Sex is a perfectly acceptable reason to end a relationship, and ending a relationship is never easy and people will almost always make missteps along the way.

I think people are put off by the fact that she lacks the self awareness even now to realize that the real reasons for the divorce came prior to the absent condom and that she tries to shift all the blame to the husband.
I think people are put off by the fact that she lacks the self awareness even now to realize that the real reasons for the divorce came prior to the absent condom and that she tries to shift all the blame to the husband. It seems like she is more excited about her "fuck of the century" rather than escaping an emotionally abusive relationship which makes me question how abusive if was. If you wanted a better sex life, own it, don't try to dance around the issue and blame the husband.
@148 has a point. It's not anyones fault, but just existing can be enough to make other people miserable.
@158: The problem here is that 148 implies that it's the child's fault and they should accept this.
@156, you nailed it. I was young and thought it would get better over time and I also didn't know how important sex would become when I hit my late 30s. He had other qualities so I overlooked the bad sex for a long time. I really don't know how you correct something like that. 4 seconds was the average, sometimes it was 8 or 9 seconds, sometimes he came before he was even inside me. Maybe I did give up too easily but I think we both wanted out for those last few years and neither of us wanted to pull the trigger and be the bad guy. I know we are both happier now and hoping the kids will get through it despite everything. I really hope I didn't mess up their lives. I am trying to have a healthier relationship model for them than the bitterness that they were being exposed to.
160 Not to blame you or anything, but is this really the only thing that counts about sex? It's one thing if you suggested trying something else and he rejected you and didn't ever want to do anything whatsoever beyond the 4 seconds. But if that's your main or only criteria and you guys never tried bypassing this problem by having anything other than PIV sex it's a bit weird.
@161, of course not. He was good at oral, he got me off, but sometimes I just really needed a good, hard pounding and he was unable to provide that for me. Fuck, I sound so goddamn shallow. There were other issues not working besides the sex, but that's where the focus seemed to be. I thought I could be satisfied with an open marriage, like a good pounding once every couple months would make it all better, it didn't work out that way. Maybe the whole condom episode was me slamming my hand down on the self destruct button of my marriage.
@162 There are also dildos.
@163 yes, clearly there was something missing that a dildo couldn't fix. I probably went about everything the wrong way. All I can do now is not repeat the same mistakes.
@ ButWhatDoIKnow

You don't sound shallow. Some people here might try to make you feel like that, but they're really just sex-negative morons who try to find fault with you because you don't talk enough about your kids, as if they were the subject here. This probably stems from a strong need to project their own frustrations as unhappy children of divorce (or as bitter premature ejaculators who've been dumped because of it) unto your situation.

Quite clearly, they don't get the fact that what has changed in your life after 20 years of intense frustration is the sex; so, obviously, after only one year, you're still fixated on that and that's what you talk about. It doesn't mean that you're not a good mother (we don't know that), that you're fucking up your children's lives (we don't know that, and as some people have pointed out, being a child of divorce is the new normal, so the "trauma" may not be as great as it once was) or that you didn't work hard enough (we don't know that, but I'd say that if he still had a premature ejaculation problem after 20 years, HE didn't work hard enough - there are well-known techniques, after all, and they're not necessarily complicated).

Enjoy your life and enjoy your now satisfying sex life. You deserve it.
LW: What @165 Said.
@165 & 166, thank you for that.

Though most people being critical of the LW were doing so without the knowledge that the husband had actual premature ejaculation problems and perhaps did little to correct the issue. When she followed up in the comments here with the 4 second remark, I assumed it was sarcastic/hyperbole. I just assumed, and perhaps others did as well, that such a crucial piece of info would not have been left out, so I wasn't even considering that there were real and potentially neglected performance issues.

It still quite clear though that the open marriage itself was a mistake since the marriage was essentially over before that. The open marriage just prolonged the misery.
@ 167 - My pleasure.

To energetic poundings and the men who give them!
@ 168 - Yes, but a lot of the same people then decided (if they hadn't already) to blame her for not thinking about the kids or for not doing enough to help her man with his problem, as if that was solely her responsibility (it's always the woman's fault, isn't it?). What a way to divert the debate away from the real problem and to slut-shame someone... who isn't even a slut!

No matter what these commentors' reasons might be, I find their insistence on shaming the LW extremely uncalled for and misogynistic, and it says a whole lot more about them than about her.

Maybe the whole condom episode was me slamming my hand down on the self destruct button of my marriage.
@2 - My parents divorced when I was 14, and I can absolutely say that it's better to have parents happily divorced than unhappily married. Now, my parents never tried to put us in the middle and were generally respectful of each other (except for the rare catty comment). That was much easier on us than the fighting, getting up to see one of them sleeping on the couch, etc.

Being in the middle of a tug-of-war in a bitter divorce would also suck, and I'm happy I wasn't put in that position. But it's not like everything would be hunky dory if they stayed together solely for the sake of the kids.
@170 I'm personally not shaming anyone and it wasn't her "job" to help her "man" or whatever. Just trying to understand because to me the way the problem is posed seems a bit strange i.e. I can't imagine leaving someone or opening up a relationship solely because of this specific problem of premature ejaculation instead of trying (together with the "man") to do anything about it and the LW doesn't mention either of them trying to do anything about it.
@ 173 - The fact that she didn't mention it doesn't mean that there weren't any efforts made over the course of a 20-year relationship, or at least that the subject had never been brought up between them. It's silly to think so. How else would they have gotten to the point where opening the relationship made any sense to either of them? Come on, they were married for TWENTY YEARS!!!

She wrote in about her predicament (being psychologically tortured for 4 years by her spouse), asking for advice, got it, made a life decision, and is now happy. She wrote back to say how happy she was about the main thing that had made her marriage a living hell for so long - a frustrating sex life, with the consequences that we know about - and a bunch of people start saying that she's a suspicious character because she should have put her kids before her own satisfaction, she didn't try hard enough, etc., all things that only reflect the commentor's own frustrations and prejudices, since WE DON'T KNOW FUCK ALL ABOUT THOSE ASPECTS OF THE RELATIONSHIP. It's all projection.

And if she had been a man writing in about his lackluster sex life and his wife's psychological torture after a failed attempt at an open relationship, I'm sorry, but I doubt so many people would have even mentioned the kids. That's misogyny.
@175 Listen, could you calm down? It's an advice column, of course we don't know all aspects of her relationship, and yet it has never before stopped us from discussion. To me it's strange not to mention this.
And PLEASE, don't scream. -.-
...meant @174
And seriously, is it your first time here or what? Are you honestly indignant about people discussing the letter and making theories and asking questions?
@173: Assuming the open relationship was the first attempt to "do something about it" also seems amiss. Who knows? A lack of mention of any other item that was attempted doesn't mean that nothing was done or discussed.
@177 exactly, "who knows". I'm assuming one thing, you're assuming another. Nothing wrong with that.