A reader writes:
If I had a mirror in front of me I am sure I would see steam streaming out of my ears after reading the email from the guy who has been sexually unfaithful to his wife for seven of their eleven years of marriage. I have been reading your blog for several years, and I don't think anything has ever made me so angry!
I have been happily, monogamously married for almost 18 years. Neither of us has ever had another sexual partner. Did our sex life suffer after the births of our three children? Yes. Did I go through a period of feeling like my breasts were for food not sex? Yes. Did sex become dull and infrequent, bordering on non-existent for a time? Yes. Did I feel at a point like I could be perfectly happy never having sex again? Yes.
My body had been stretched and taxed by child-bearing, feeding, and rearing. My hormones were in a continual state of flux. I was perpetually sleep-deprived. Did my husband have to sacrifice his sexual needs for a time while I bore, fed, and nurtured our children? Yes.
Today, things are very, very different. Our children are older. In the next few years, two of the three will likely have moved out. Sex is good and getting better and better. We weathered that season of life together. What would our marriage look like today if he had elected to visit prostitutes and have a string of sexual flings to satisfy his own desires and preferences? It would look a lot like divorce.
Of course, I cannot imagine my husband making the kind of selfish choices this man has made. I wonder what diseases he may have brought home to his wife. I wonder how he can look in the eyes the woman who is mother to his children and not know that he has violated her as well as their marriage vows. How can he look at his children, the fruit of that marriage? How can he look at himself in the mirror? Blah.
Thanks for the opportunity to appreciate anew my wonderful, faithful, loving husband.
Marriage is hard, with or without monogamy. I find it painful to read this guy's self-justification given that he isn't honest enough with the family he claims to care about to tell his wife the truth and give her the opportunity to find a solution that works for her as well. Because I have news for him. It's not that she's just not very sexual; it's that she's so drained by her daily life that there's not a lot of energy to devote to her own sexual needs.
As far as I can tell, for a period there, his wife was working full time to support four people, and taking care of the feeding, social, and emotional needs of 3 other people, one of whom is ADHD and having difficulties, another of whom is out of work and feeling wounded. And his solution is to find a lover and invest his emotional giving outside the marriage. Which probably isn't solving any of his wife's needs, is it?
If the reader was trying to earn any sympathy for his view on monogamy - wow, it would be hard to imagine a more spectacular failure. First, he's lying and then offering flimsy justifications for his ongoing lies. Even proud advocates of non-monogamous relationships, like Savage, would not sanction this potentially dangerous dishonesty. Second, despite openly acknowledging that several external factors - financial problems resulting from his layoff, nursing and birthing two children, and one child's ADHD - contributed to a deteriorating sex life, ultimately he places all of the blame on his wife. He reports no efforts on his part to help the situation, or respond supportively to any (quite normal) difficulties his wife might have had balancing the new roles of mother and baby's food source with her sex life.
What makes this reader's dishonesty especially galling is that his wife actually gave him a free pass to have a girlfriend outside the marriage! He rejected her offer because she proposed "some pretty ridiculous rules of engagement" - what were those, one wonders, when she was already willing to go so far as allow him to have sex with others? I imagine her side of this story would sound rather different.
In short, he wasn't willing to negotiate the terms of non-monogamy with his partner; he just wanted to have his cake and eat it on his own terms.