any advice on open marriage/relationship?

Discussion in 'Relationships' started by noedee, Jan 7, 2015.

  1. noedee

    noedee Active Member

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    Hi,

    My wife of ten years recently asked me if I'd be interested in having an open marriage. Our sex life hasn't exactly been thriving lately and she says as time goes on, she is becoming more and more attracted to men. Apart from that, though, our life together has always been awesome: we get along, we laugh, we talk a lot, go on date nights every week, give each other space to do activities separately but also have lots of friends we see together. We have two wonderful little girls and are really in line with how to raise them and both feel like the other is a wonderful mother to them. Also, she is and always was the love of my life.

    My first reaction to her question was to say no, because I can't imagine wanting sex just for the sake of sex, and doubt very much that she would want that either. The way I see it, it would just be a transition period until one of us falls in love with whoever we are having sex with, so it would just delay the breakup and make it more painful. And I fear that the one left on the curb would be me.

    So anyway, my question really is simple: is anyone out there in an open relationship or marriage, and can tell me if and how it can work?
     
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  2. Just Me

    Just Me Well-Known Member

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    Don't do it, it never works. Unless the people are sociopaths...

    Think of your children, do you really want to raise them in a broken environment? I say this because my mom was a complete whore. She could try to hide that she was sleeping around with multiple people, but at the end of the day, kids are really fucking smart. They know when things aren't right. You two can try to hide it, but they'll figure it out.

    Have you guys tried counseling?
     
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  3. greylin

    greylin Well-Known Member

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    The simplest advice I have heard about opening up your marriage is that you have to really like and enjoy this kind of relationship to be in it, just like you would have to really like women to be with a woman. There are polyamorous people out there with families and they are not cheaters and in fact they seem to abhor it. There are a few books out there that describe the different poly relationships and they make good reads. I also have read on poly forums some people who are monogamous but ended up with someone poly and I don't know what happened to them or what the success rate would be. But what is the success rate of any relationship, really? People try their best to find happiness where they can and sometimes they try too hard and torture themselves but sometimes they don't try and feel tortured by their choices.

    But before this opening stuff you need to know what exactly she has in mind as far as being attracted to men. Does she have someone in particular in mind already? Is she looking just to swing or have another significant other? If it is just sex, there are ways you can simulate some of the vibe if you are up for it. It would really be good to get some counseling but finding the right counselor can be difficult though worth it if it helps.

    I really feel for you as far as the kids and wanting to keep what you have with her. I think the way you are talking it doesn't sound like it is what you would enjoy and even tolerate and you can sort of see what would happen. It would take a lot of discussion and contemplation. She is being honest with you and talking to you about it and it is the best place to start.
     
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  4. noedee

    noedee Active Member

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    Hey, thanks for your advice it feels like you've really understood the turmoil I’m in and that already helps a bit.

    You are right, this open marriage thing is not something I think I would really enjoy, but I’m trying to keep an open mind. For sure, it will never be my first solution. But while I don’t want her to know it and get her hopes up, I have been researching it a bit to try and understand how I would feel about it. And I also would love a better sex life than what we have now, so on some level I guess it appeals to me a bit.

    I think counseling would be a good first step for us, and honestly I’m so deep in this issue that I hadn't even thought about it. But she will need to be on board, which might not be easy because she hates the idea of therapy. Counseling is a bit like therapy for couples, right? And you are right, I don’t know how to even start looking for a good counselor, though in our day and age I am sure I can figure it out.

    As far as what she is looking for with the idea of an open marriage, I have the impression she doesn't really know herself (or maybe she is not telling me everything in fear of hurting me more?). She says she has become more and more attracted to men over the years and that she has dreams about having sex with men and wakes up hating herself for it. She also said she doesn't have her sights on anyone in particular. But when I asked her if she just wants sex and that’s it or if she wants to date men, she didn't really answer. I don’t think she has really thought it through. I have the impression that she has kept it bottled up for so long that it has become some kind of obsessional fantasy. But a part of me feels that she is idealizing sex with men because she hasn't had it in so long. When we first got together years ago, I always had the impression she wasn't a huge fan of having sex with her previous partners, which were men. In fact, she did tell me that her low sex drive had been a recurrent cause of fights in her relationships. So a part of me wants to let her free in the hopes that she will just scratch that itch and stop idealizing sex with men. But another part of me is really afraid that she would find the whole package deal somewhere else and just dump me then. And to be honest, just the idea of her with someone else is killing me. The good news is, when I told her that, she said that if I felt that way we definitely couldn't do the open marriage thing. And to her, breaking up is not an option. She still loves me and wants to grow old with me, and she says she will always put our family first. So what we have decided right now is to try to work on us, rekindle the fire etc.

    I did tell her that we could try to have sex in ways that are more in line with her fantasies. I’m totally up for it. I said we could buy more toys, try to do some role play, whatever she wants. But when I said that, she said it scared her that when being told that she was attracted to men I would come up with “hey, just have more sex with me”. And that is the part that really scares me: what if she is really not attracted to me anymore at all? What if I can’t reverse that? What if she is only staying with me to protect our family and our kids? It hurts that thinking of her with other partners kills me while she seems totally okay with the idea of me with others. I told her I was having a real big dilemma: I’m 38 now and can always reconstruct myself and my life if we break up now. It would be hard on the kids, but hey, so many kids out there live through a divorce and adapt to it. But if we stick with each other now and she breaks up with me in 5, 10 years because she really needs men in her life, I will feel like a fool and it will hurt more. Also, knowing that she doesn’t feel attracted to me has created an imbalance, because I still desire her and it hurts that it is not reciprocated. It brings up all sorts of insecurities in me. So a part of me wants to just rip the bandaid, break up and reconstruct. I feel like I have so much more chances of moving on with my life now than in 5 or 10 years.

    On the other hand, I am a person who lives by a strong set of values, and a strong belief that you have to work hard to make a marriage succeed and that you should never give it up easily. We owe it to our kids to try everything we can to fix things without them feeling the impacts. But can we get over this? If I don’t make her happy physically, will she ever be able to let that go without hating me? And will I ever be able to feel beautiful to her again, to feel desired? Can we work on all of that without having the kids feel the tension and pressure of it all? Even for them I am not sure what is best…

    Today, what I think is the following: no matter what we decide, what we need and want is to be happy. And she and I are talking honestly about it and in line with wanting to try to fix things between us. So I am thinking we should give ourselves some time (6 months?) to work hard on getting our marriage back on track, then reevaluate. But it is so hard because in one day I go through such a wide range of feelings: from sadness, to nausea, to anger, to excitement at the idea of trying sex with other partners, to jealousy at the idea of her with others, to fear, to confusion etc. My workdays are hell, I can’t concentrate and it is really hard to keep a happy front when we are with the kids.

    How ironic that my wife would come out to me as straight after 15 years of living together. There are so many stories out there of people coming out of the closet around that age after having been married and created a family: of course I had to fall on the one person who is a repressed straight!

    Sorry if this was too much of a rant, I guess I am just trying to sort through all these feelings. Thanks to both of you for the advice, I will definitely bring up the counseling thing to her! And if you have more suggestions I am all ears…
     
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  5. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    Try and fix you guys first, before even considering an open marriage. OK, your sex life isn't thriving, why not? Are you tired from the kiddos, feel disconnected from each other, are there lingering resentments in the relationship?

    Try couples counseling if you have to.

    As you guys reconnect sexually, her cravings for anyone else may subside. Or, at least, tone down to a minimal level.

    If that doesn't work, then at least your marriage is nice and strong to approach whatever is next.

    I also don't think you should go there if you don't want. Just because she is feeling attractions, doesn't mean she has to act on them. To me, marriage means commitment. It doesn't mean 'I'm going to decide to not be faithful to my vows, because they've become inconvenient.'

    I really feel for you. If my wife said that to me, I'd be pretty devestated. I really hope you guys can work through this.
     
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  6. greylin

    greylin Well-Known Member

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    I think what she has maybe is a fantasy and actually doing it for her is quite another thing. Her fantasies, your feelings of excitement and jealousy all at once is natural. I am someone who doesn't like to give into fear and worry about what's around the corner so I would probably tell her that I am all in. She has expressed what she wanted with you, growing old together and all you can do is take her word it and give her your assurances. Knowing where she stands with you and you knowing where you stand with her takes the pressure off everything. Even if she is somehow not feeling it with you on the sex part, it can always be worked on. And it should be fun working on it and not a decidng factor of breaking up a long and loving relationship.

    She has approached you with a big secret and probably hoped at least you will still love her forever and grow old with her. I think your confidence that you will work as a couple will be sexy to her. Keep working on your relationship, I think there is a lot of hope there. As far as the sex toys and stuff maybe the first step is to give her freedom talk through the fantasies. You can hold her and let her talk and if something develops sex wise then great but should not be a goal, the emphasis is a safe place for her to tell you anything and you won't over react.

    By counselor I meant generically as a marriage counselor and probably in the form of a Family Therapist. I would keep looking for a good one while you guys are communicating and you are doing a good job communicating.
     
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  7. Just Me

    Just Me Well-Known Member

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    There are sex therapists out there too, they might be able to give you guys advice on how to spice things up without bringing in another person.
     
    #7
  8. noedee

    noedee Active Member

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    Well things have taken a turn for the worse with tonight's talk… Sounds like my wife now regrets saying that she is willing to work on our relationship since I have "taken options off the table" (her words referring to my not wanting an open marriage). So we discussed the open marriage idea more in depth and when I asked her how often she would be needing to have free time, she said once a week! ONCE A WEEK! I almost choked. For someone who has always said to have a very low sex drive and who never wanted to have sex once a week, even in our most passionate years, it is crazy. I know I shouldn't even have gone into discussions about that, but now it's done.

    Anway, she is not so hot on the counseling (as expected), but what came across the most tonight is that she also sounds really not so hot on trying to work on our sex life. She asked me if it couldn't be enough for me if I ticked out all the boxes of what she wants in a lover, except that one. She pretty much said she would be willing to make an effort and have sex with me sometimes if I could come around on the open marriage idea.

    So although I started the evening really hopeful and ready to discuss counseling and working on our relationship, I am now incapable of falling asleep and I am super angry again. What drives me nuts is that she is sleeping like a baby.

    I told her that before anything she needed to figure out if she is bi or just straight. She is really making it sound like she is straight and could never imagine having sex with another woman again (except to indulge me a little). But if she is straight, does that mean she has lied to me for 15 years? Can you just wake up one day and realize you are no longer bisexual? Or is she just having some kind of mid-life crisis? It just baffles me and pisses me off and hurts the shit out of me.

    It makes me so angry because we had some issues 10 years ago that I'd thought we had been able to work through, and then we went on and had kids. And I have this feeling that the underlying issue then was the same as now but she never ever said anything about wanting or needing to be with men. And I find it so unfair that she decided she was going to have children with me if deep down she suspected she was straight.

    Anywho, who nows what tomorrow will bring. I almost feel like leaving the house for a few days to take a breather from all this. But I don't want to miss seeing my kids this weekend after working all week…

    Thanks for all your advice, I thought it really was good…
     
    #8
  9. Kaiden

    Kaiden Well-Known Member

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    If sex between you became an "effort" for her, is pretty fucked up, taking in consideration that your marriage was build on other terms for years.
    If she's going to have sex with a man every week, then how will that push her to have sex with you more often? since she is going to get what she needs from a man. or she thinks those cravings will eventually go? i've never heard of someone saying "alright, i had my fun with sausages for a month, now is time to have sex with my life partner again and get back to what i left behind and pretend that all the gaps were filled with my presence, so i must expect the relationship to work fine"
    from the sound of this "She pretty much said she would be willing to make an effort and have sex with me sometimes if I could come around on the open marriage idea." means that she is going to have less sex with you if you don't let her do that stuff? to me, looks like that the only reason she will still have sex with you, is for the sake of not breaking the family. instead for passion.
    that doesn't sound like an attempt to an open relationship. i know that an open marriage/relationship is dynamic because both partners agreed with the conditions from the very beginning
     
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  10. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    You can still get counseling for yourself, even if she won't go.

    I would also consult and attorney about divorce and child custody. And do things to protect your assets, like make sure you have some money in your name. Hopefully it won't come to that, but it is better to be prepared.

    After all, she is being pretty uncool to you - 'I'm not willing to work on our relationship and I insist you let me have sex with random men 1x / week.' That is not how open relationships are supposed to be. It is supposed to be a choice everyone is OK with. Not an ultimatum that the other partner has to accept, because they've been given no good options.

    I'm really sorry. I think your anger and hurt are quite justified. And I think your wife is being very selfish.
     
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  11. greylin

    greylin Well-Known Member

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    Agreed with Bluenote, get counseling and divorce attorney. So not okay what she is doing. It is not even what opening up your marriage is all about. Feel free to vent here if you can't sleep.
     
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  12. noedee

    noedee Active Member

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    Guys, you don't know how good feels to have you on my side! Thank you for that.

    After last night I wrote to her so I could put in writing as eloquently as possible all the reasons I felt she was being selfish and showing lack of commitment (like using working on our marriage as a bargaining chip to get what she wants, treating me as collateral damage and not even considering counseling or therapy). I also told her that forcing me into an open marriage would likely turn me into a sad, angry person and most likely a bad mother. So I made it clear that if her stance is "open marriage or break-up" I opt for the breakup.

    She replied a nice email thanking me for my honesty and telling me that she was actually thinking of calling her therapist today and had changed her mind about the marriage counseling. She also said she wants to find a way for both of us to be happy.

    A little later, she wrote me another email saying she had called her mother, who had good advice, all of which seemed to point to having relationship problems - as all people in relationships eventually do at some time or another. And my wife added the following:

    "But I did realize that I haven't shown a visible push to try to make things better, or shown that I'll work to connect with you on all different levels (you noticed this too). To try to solve the problems instead of having the impulse to run away to some mysterious utopia. I think I have a flight instinct and will convince myself that that's the sensible thing to do. So what I'm saying is that it's worth rebuilding and reconnecting, especially given how strongly I feel about you and how much I love you. I'm sorry for not saying it so directly before."

    So, a bit of hope I guess? It's the first time she recognizes her impulses as a "crazy utopia" and I am sure she got that through talking to her mother. I don't have that kind of "share all" relationship with my parents but I am glad to see that her mom is in my corner. I am sure her sister will be too, her family really loves me ! ;-)

    Her emails made me think that she really is in a bad psychological state and that there is a bit of hope that if she chooses to work on it we could get back to a stage where there might be hope to reconnect. It is also more in line with the person I know her to be (please tell me that if I were living with a crazy selfish manipulative bitch I would have noticed some time in the past 15 years?).

    What do you guys think?

    She used to see a therapist a few years back but I never have before (I am of the happy, optimistic variety), but I am thinking if she doesn't change her mind again we should try to see a counselor together and each see a therapist separately. Or do you think at this point I should run? (I kind of already know I am not going to though...)

    Thanks again for everything...
     
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  13. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like she's had a think and can see things from your side. These emails are a lot more positive and the fact she spoke to her mum is a big tick in my book (I'm not a share all with my folks either) as there's nothing like a mother to put you in your place and point out you're being an idiot.

    This last post seems a lot more positive and looks like you two are stepping in the right direction to sorting through your problems together. Good luck to you both.
     
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  14. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    Sometimes good people do stupid things. Or, at least, think about doing them.

    I think time will tell if your wife just had a freak out and didn't handle it well, or if she is a different person from what you thought. But the steps on the table - listening to you, seeing your point of view, willingness to go to therapy - are all good steps.

    I guess if it was me I would still talk to a divorce attorney and make sure I had a few assets in my name. Not that I think it's going to go that route, but, hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

    Then I would enter both individual and couples therapy with an open heart. I'd be willing to make changes, forgive my wife and accept some blame for how things got off track. And yeah, if I had 2 kids and a wife of ten years (OK, I've got the wife of ten years) - I'd fight like hell to keep it.

    Best of luck to you.
     
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  15. Just Me

    Just Me Well-Known Member

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    It's good to hear she's willing to work with you. I was beginning to think this would be another post where the other woman couldn't see eye to eye. I wish some of the other ladies who've been through this would come back and give advice...


    It's good she's talking to her family and willing to go back to therapy, that's a great first step. If you feel you don't have to go to counselling that's fine, but one session alone and a few together would defiantly help.


    Hope it all goes well!
     
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  16. noedee

    noedee Active Member

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    Last night was so much better. For the first time since her "big reveal" I felt like we were on the same page.

    She had a day off work on friday and was able to do a lot of reflecting. She told me that no matter which angle she looks at it, the one thing that stands out to her is that she loves me and thinks I am the most awesome person on earth :) . She says she wants to work on our relationship because of that, and not only for the sake of saving our family. She apologized for panicking and feels like because of that panic she was on a path to self-sabotage. We agreed that marriage can sometimes be hard, which is probably why so many people give it up. But we don't want to give up and we are both committed to fight to make it through.

    She called her therapist yesterday and is waiting for a call back. We've agreed that she will also ask if he has any good references for a counselor, and also for another therapist for me to go to.

    We have decided to take a more holistic approach to the problem and first try to understand why there has been a disconnect between us lately and work on that. Focusing only on the sex issues was not a good approach and it only made things more tense. And I am trying to take Bluenote's advice and take an honest look at my responsibilities in all of this, and accept part of the blame.

    We were able to talk while keeping it a bit more light, cuddle and laugh (as opposed to sitting at opposite sides of the table like the rest of the week). Just being in her arms and smelling her did me a world of good!

    I know it's only the beginning of a long journey, but I told her how much it means to me that she is committed to taking this journey with me. It gives me hope, and I really believe that this hope will give me the energy to keep fighting on good days and bad days.

    Anyway, we both went to bed feeling more optimistic and I was able get some much needed sleep!

    Thanks for all of your good luck wishes, it means a lot to me!

    oh, and as far as the divorce attorney, I am really not worried about that part: everything we own is in both of our names, the kids are her biological kids but I have adopted them, the adoption is recognized where we live, and we always agreed that if we ever were to separate we would save each other the headache and do a 50/50 split. I know she loves her children too much to try and take them away from me. And actually getting a divorce might be hard for us because we got married in Canada, which you can do as a non-resident, but to get a divorce you have to live there for a year (unless the law has changed). I prefer not to think about that headache!
     
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