Perhaps the steam was obscuring your reader's eyes, because it is obvious she didn't actually read the poor man's letter. Or perhaps she belongs to the rather sizable camp that firmly believes all men are selfish pigs, while giving birth automatically makes any woman a gold-plated Mother Theresa.
The wife stopped giving blow jobs right after the wedding. To paraphrase Dan Savage, oral sex is standard for both parties, and any model not equipped gets returned to the lot. A few years later, with sex happening once every five weeks or so, his wife didn't say, "I know things are rough right now, help me through this and it will get better, I promise." Instead, she told him she didn't care if she EVER had sex again, and he should find a "girlfriend." But, as with their prior sex life, she put so may arbitrary rules in place that clearly honesty was not the best policy.
I’ve been going back and forth about whether to sit down and write my experience with non-monogamy. After reading the judmental letters decrying the infidelity of that one husband, I decided to write (probably because I can empathize with him and can’t imagine how it must feel to be stuck in a relationship with a selfish, sexless person).
My husband and I have been married for seven years. We have one child and another on the way. We met online because of the events on 9/11/01 (which is a good long story, but not for today). He lived in Dϋsseldorf and I lived in Dallas. We dated “internationally” for two years before he moved to the States. In those two years, we were practical about our relationship, so we made it an “open” one. Sex is important to both of us, so we gave each other the freedom to enjoy sex with other partners because we lived so far away from each other.
However, we love each other. So much so that it culminated in that “state of emergency” feeling in which we had to live together. He moved to the States; we got married and moved to Austin.
Since then, we have maintained an open relationship. We have not been monogamous with each other, but we are honest with each another. This type of relationship is perfect for us because we are honest with each other. Of course, we have bouts of jealousy or frustration because of a lack of sex drive (due to pregnancy, tiredness, etc.), but we work through it. We approach these issues intellectually, because that’s who we are.
While I know that sex with my husband is the most intense and close-to-spiritual event that I’ve ever experienced, I also know that the purely physical sensation of having sex with an acquaintance or stranger is just plain fun. My husband and I talk about our separate experiences, which turns us both on and usually leads to hot and heavy very quickly.
Why does this open marriage work for us and not others? I think it boils down to the way we view sex. We don’t view sex as sacred. I don’t think of sex as a rite of marriage. I don’t believe it’s something that I “own” over my husband or vice versa.
I think of sex in practical terms: it feels good; I like to do it; so let’s do what feels good. And part of what feels good, for me at least, is being open and honest with my husband. If I couldn’t be honest about my sexuality, that would be hell for me.
I think some of your readers were too harsh on the man who said he had secret liaisons because his wife was too tired and too disinterested in sex. I disagreed with his surreptitious approach, but sympathized with him nonetheless. I’m in a monogamous long-term relationship. He lives in Colombia and I live in Miami (because of DOMA). He vehemently insisted from the outset that we maintain a monogamous relationship. Generally I prefer them too, but it’s not a deal breaker. Then the separation led to a depression for him and uninterest in sex, with erectile dysfunction as a kicker. Other issues complicated the mix. So when I came down every three months to see him, there was maybe one sexual encounter and it took enormous begging/fighting to get it.
During a calm moment in the middle of the day, I explained to him that his reticence to engage in some sexual activities, plus his refusal of treatment for either depression or ED, effectively vetoed my sex life. I quietly explained that he could have monogamy and I would wait for sex when we got together every few months provided he took ED pills and saw a therapist to ensure the sex would happen. Or the monogamy deal was over.
The next trip led to near-daily sex. And that was that. Savage is right: honesty makes or breaks a relationship.
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