Open Relationship

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2010
Open Relationship
25
Wed, 04-20-2011 - 9:10am

Last weekend in the middle of our umpteen-millionth fight about the lack of frequency and variety in our sex life, I snapped and told my wife that I wanted an open relationship. Suprisingly, she seemed amenable. It's actually something she'd brought up before during fights (not seriously,) and it's actually not at all what I'd prefer--I'm pretty much terrified about what this would do to my kids and my marriage.

But...The status quo seems to be wrecking my family anyway, so I'm now going to try to find a woman in a situation analogous to mine for a friend with benefits relationship. It really sucks that I have to give up time with my kids and wife to try to find someone else to meet my basic needs and who has needs of her own. (Not that my wife doesn't have sexual needs. They just happen to be for a few minutes of missionary position sex three or, if I'm lucky, four times a month.)

I know that some people here have "piece on the side" arrangements. How does it work? I've tried to make it abundantly clear that I would prefer to be monogamous and that it's not like I've been dying to see other women.

What will this do to my family? My wife is LL and insists that she no sexual fantasies. She never masturbated until her mid-20s and she has only ever masturbated a handful of times in her life. Her answer to our mismatch has always been for me to learn to appreciate what I have. Why would she be willing to let me have sex with other women rather than stepping slightly out of her comfort zone?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-16-2004
Wed, 04-20-2011 - 9:47am

Why would she be willing to let me have sex with other women rather than stepping slightly out of her comfort zone?

Good question.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-04-2006
Wed, 04-20-2011 - 9:49am
Well, I cannot speak to what this will do to your family (each family is different) but for me, it doesn't do anything TO my family. Who my husband sleeps with is not exactly public information. It's no one's business, and we keep it that way. As for "giving up" time with your wife and kids, well I guess in some ways, that is a price that's got to be paid, but honestly, do you have any hobbies? This is just like that, except it has the potential to IMPROVE your relationship with your wife.

As for why your wife would rather this than "stepping slightly out of her comfort zone." I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that it is much more than "slightly" outside her comfort zone, that you are wanting her to go. And whatever she does, you are going to want more. And whatever she does, she knows will not be something that she can sustain. Which will put you back at square one. This is the primary nature of HL and LL in a relationship. It isn't anyone's fault, it's just how it is. It's a constant struggle for most (not all, but most) ML couples, for one to rise above their natural level, and the other to settle for less.

Good luck with your new arrangement. I hope it brings you both a little peace.
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2010
Wed, 04-20-2011 - 10:47am
"I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that it is much more than 'slightly' outside her comfort zone, that you are wanting her to go."
I suppose that's possible. Over the years the idea of pretty much anything that's not totally vanilla* has been taken off the table, so from my perspective I'm not asking for much.

*example: My wife, quite stereotypically, loves shopping for and buying shoes. I'm not at all into feet or shoes, but on a couple of different occasions in the last few years I've suggested she wear a new pair of boots she was excited about while we have sex--Not because it was at all something that I personally wanted, but mainly because it was something I thought would require absolutely no effort from her. On both occasions her replay was "That's asking too much for a Thursday night" (or whatever night of the week it was. Sex night is generally on Wednesday or Thursday.)
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-04-2006
Wed, 04-20-2011 - 10:53am
You are missing my point. I am not saying you are asking too much. I am saying her comfort zone is very narrow, and pretty much what you are asking is way outside that. It's not that you are right and she is wrong, or that you are wrong and she is right. You are just asking more than she has to give. Period. Regardless of how "small" the things you are asking of her, they are too "large" in her mind. You cannot understand, because you do not have those kinds of issues. But you need to believe me when I am telling you she does.
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2010
Wed, 04-20-2011 - 11:37am
I guess I understand you on an intellectual level.
Still...It boggles my mind to think that my wife would rather have me go out and fool around with other women than leave on her shoes during sex. It's really hard for me to wrap my head around that.
First because I have the HL perspective and feel I'm not asking much. I think this is what you're talking about.
Secondly because I personally have always been just "naturally" monogamous. It would still be my preference.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-04-2006
Wed, 04-20-2011 - 11:55am
>>First because I have the HL perspective and feel I'm not asking much. I think this is what you're talking about.<<

Yes, this is what I am talking about.

>>Secondly because I personally have always been just "naturally" monogamous. It would still be my preference.<<

This is why I am fairly sure that your wife feels that she cannot supply what you are wanting on a regular basis. People don't go to the "get it outside the marriage" solution unless there is a lot of pain and guilt and other negative stuff going on (as a rule.) I think for most folks it is a last ditch effort. It's not an easy alternative to offer up. She's probably making a huge internal sacrifice to even suggest it, and I don't think she'd do that without having done all she CAN to solve the problem another way.

You need to view this as a sacrifice and a gift on her part. The fact that she is willing to explore this option is PROOF of how much she loves you, not some defect or weakness or fault on her part. She wants you to have what you need, and is willing to take an enormous risk for you to have it. Most women would not do this, they'd just expect you to "suck it up and appreciate what you have." She's special, and her love for you is so strong she's willing to go to this length, you need to appreciate that about her. Even if it doesn't make sense to you.
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2010
Wed, 04-20-2011 - 12:02pm
From reading your posts I know that you have gone far above and beyond the call of duty to try and match your husband's sex drive. I'm guessing that indicates you guys communicate about the issue somewhat.
Do you have any suggestions for how my wife and I can negotiate an open marriage when she is so uncomfortable discussing sex at all? I can't see something like that working without ground rules and lots of open communication.
Is that the HL in me talking again? Would LLs prefer to simply not even think about it? If so, that's another thing that it'll take me some time to process.
If my wife was having sex with someone else, you can bet I'd want details. If it was by my agreement I'd have prurient interest in what she did. If she cheated on me I'd want to know details because that's what we want when we get cheated on (I think we like to feel like martyrs and gory sexual details help create that feeling.)
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2010
Wed, 04-20-2011 - 12:07pm
Thank you so much.
I see myself plagiarizing this post in a speech or letter in the not-too-distant future.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-04-2006
Wed, 04-20-2011 - 12:19pm
>>Do you have any suggestions for how my wife and I can negotiate an open marriage when she is so uncomfortable discussing sex at all?<<

I would highly (so very highly) recommend that you get the book "The Ethical Slut" by Dossie Easton and Catherine Liszt. It would be great if you both read it, but even if only you do, it will lead you to some good thought chains and will probably help you head off problems. I'd suggest, if you both read it that you keep notes on things you want to discuss. What we did is read it independently, taking notes, then came together and discussed our notes. But it doesn't have to be that "in your face." You could get two copies and mark them up, then switch them over and look at each other's books. You could read to each other, discussing as you go, or any other method you think might work. You know your wife best. But don't assume that she won't do something. Ask...ask some more, come up with alternatives. You cannot talk too much about how you feel when embarking on this kind of thing.

>>I can't see something like that working without ground rules and lots of open communication.
Is that the HL in me talking again? Would LLs prefer to simply not even think about it? If so, that's another thing that it'll take me some time to process.
If my wife was having sex with someone else, you can bet I'd want details. If it was by my agreement I'd have prurient interest in what she did. If she cheated on me I'd want to know details because that's what we want when we get cheated on (I think we like to feel like martyrs and gory sexual details help create that feeling.)<<

On this part, you are probably wrong! You need to talk about how you feel. Your wife needs to talk about how she feels. No one NEEDS to discuss the details of what is happening behind closed doors. Most folks who think they need that find out later they SO don't want it. This is very different than cheating. In a case of cheating, you want the details because you are either comparing yourself to the other parnter or you are trying to martyr yourself, as you said or to try to establish some kind of communication/trust about the misdeed, because cheating erodes trust. Open relationships can actually BUILD trust, because there are no "secrets and lies." Only disclose details if and when she ASKS for them. For me, I like to know a little about the women that my DH sees. I like to meet them if I can. Beyond that, I prefer not to know much else, except for where he will be, and when he will be home. Of course everyone is different. You have to find your own way. The only way to do that without hurting each other horribly is to communicate about how you FEEL. Constantly, without judgement or fear of judgement.

I hope this helps. It isn't easy, what you are doing, but it CAN be done.
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2006
Wed, 04-20-2011 - 2:04pm
Sorry, but I would not do it. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see the point of staying in a relationship like that. Not every relationship was meant to last, and love is not "all you need."

I don't believe staying together for the kids is a good idea. Kids are much more perceptive than you might think, and you are teaching them all the wrong things about what a healthy relationship looks like by staying together. I have known people who stayed together for the kids while carrying on their own outside relationships (in one case the husband was gay) and the kids knew what was going on. It was not good for the kids or the family.

Besides that, I can't speak for your wife, but there are many reasons to stay in a failing marriage besides love. I know, because I lived it. I stayed way too long, and it wasn't because I loved him.

I can only speak for myself but I would not settle for an open relationship. I have seen so many of them crash and burn. You're just putting a band-aid on a compound fracture.

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