How do I adjust to a non-sexual, companionate marriage?
June 3, 2016 1:53 PM   Subscribe

My husband of 15 years and I haven't had sex in seven months. We are mismatched sexually and are otherwise happy. How do I let go of the idea that sex with him is necessary?

My husband attributes this primarily to how young we were (20) when we fell in love, and that as we have gotten older, our sexual tastes have diverged. He almost exclusively enjoys a D/s dynamic that I find difficult to participate in due to sexual abuse in my past (for which I've received extensive therapy, but I'll never be able to embrace a submissive role). He is not turned on by the kind of playful, lighthearted romping I prefer.

He doesn't like it when I initiate sex (he finds aggressiveness a turn-off) so I am kind of trapped in having to wait for him to initiate, which almost never happens. He also just doesn't have as high of a sex drive as I do: he is pretty happy having sex about once a week, maybe twice, whereas I feel antsy if I don't have sex several times a week and would prefer to have it daily.

We are in an ethical, non-monogamous, polyamorous triad with our wonderful "wife" (we've had a commitment ceremony but obviously not a legal wedding) in a house the three of us own. I have a boyfriend of 3 years who lives separately from us with his other girlfriend, and my husband has another girlfriend who lives separately from us with her other boyfriend, as well as two to three other women he casually dates. We have been poly for about 8 years now and this issue predates becoming poly, but the dry spells have gotten longer in recent years.

In most other ways I am happy in our marriage. He is considerate of my needs, communicates his own needs well, pitches in with housework and home repairs, listens when I need to vent and gives insightful advice when I ask for it, and tells me how beautiful he finds me and that he loves me pretty often. We are very good at communicating with each other most of the time, and patient with each other when somebody is struggling to figure out what they need or how to ask for it. He is pretty good about touching me in non-sexual but loving ways, like rubbing my back and resting a hand on my leg when we sit together, although that has dropped off over time too. We have a long shared history of references and in-jokes and "get" each other in a way that I think nobody else does. I believe he loves me very much.

I get plenty of sex from my boyfriend, plus I can get my needs met from other men as well if I wish (we have rules about who we sleep with, involving std paperwork and everybody meeting and so forth, but I could have a new person through that process in a few months if I met the right person and it were a priority for me). My husband doesn't see a meaningful distinction between scratching the itch for sex with somebody, and having sex with a particular person (he understands that I see a distinction, but doesn't understand why, and to me this is such a basic thing that I don't know how to explain it).

Our lack of sex doesn't appear to either of us to indicate a looming, secret problem in our marriage; we're just mismatched in that respect. But I am worried that we will slowly grow apart, or that the strain of wanting to have sex but feeling like if I even try he will reject me, will hurt our marriage. It hurts me that he doesn't want to be sexual with me. I am not sure that I can handle the companionate marriage that he has stated he wants us to transition to. He is not sure that he can give me the level of touch that I have requested.

We both believe that finding a marriage counselor who won't just tell us to stop seeing other people would be extremely difficult in the conservative area where we live. He doesn't see the need for counseling but is willing to go if I insist on it.

Breaking up is not an option. I'd lose my wife, and everything I value about my marriage to my husband, and I would very likely be throwing myself into poverty, or at least massive financial uncertainty, as I can't live in the city that I work in on my own salary alone, and moving in with my boyfriend is not an option (his other girlfriend would never allow it, although we get along fine). I'd rather be poor than unhappy, but I'm not typically unhappy, most of the time I am happy and feel loved. But when I do feel unhappy over this, it's a profound and difficult sadness.

We haven't given up on sex and are making an effort to spend time together and give each other lots of touch and see where it goes, but I am not confident that our efforts will ever overcome our basic mismatch.

I'd really like some advice on becoming more zen and relaxed about the possibility that our sexual years (with each other) are behind us.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am not sure that I can handle the companionate marriage that he has stated he wants us to transition to

Breaking up is not an option.


I feel like these two sentences are completely incompatible. You are describing a situation where your sexual needs are being met by other people, but you still want (fairly!) to be sexual with your own husband. If he doesn't want that, you need to either decide that you can live in this sexless marriage, or move on. Profound and deep sadness is not something you should waste your time doing. You cannot make your husband feel desire for you.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:07 PM on June 3, 2016 [13 favorites]


We are in an ethical, non-monogamous, polyamorous triad with our wonderful "wife" . . . my husband has another girlfriend who lives separately from us with her other boyfriend, as well as two to three other women he casually dates.

Does he have the same issues with frequency with the other women? Is there any chance at all that part of your discomfort is that you no longer feel like the primary relationship in his life because he is initiating sex more frequently with the other women than with you?

You don't mention anything about this in your question, so I really am just posing it as a question to you. Maybe its a non issue, but it might be something to think about.
posted by anastasiav at 2:12 PM on June 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


I think you should leave out the financial and extra people considerations; they're just clouding the main issue. If the three of you own the house, they could buy you out. You can find a place with roommates that you rent, whatever. You won't "lose" your wife, you can still see one another, just in a different context. You make your own rules and way!

What you need to focus on is how your relationship with your husband makes you feel. You are telling us that you're not happy. So you are the person who can decide if this unhappiness is low enough background noise that everything else outweighs it, or if it will erode your relationship eventually. It sounds like you're probably in your late 30s. There's a LOT of life left. Do you want to spend it being unhappy about not having sex with your husband? He wants a friends-only marriage, you don't. I don't think this is about learning how to become zen and relaxed about your situation. You seem to want to challenge it. And that's fine! Do that.
posted by clone boulevard at 2:14 PM on June 3, 2016 [11 favorites]


If he is pretty happy having sex "once, maybe twice" a week then you are not in a sexless marriage. But you do say it's been seven months so I guess he's having sex 1-2 times per week with someone else?

He likes a particular kind of sex that you don't like so it sounds like he abstains from having the kind of sex you do like. Have you two talked about this explicitly?

For me, sex and love/companionship are two different things. When my hormones are into having sex, I'm into it...with my partner! When they aren't, I can still have sex but I'm not into it in the same way and can take it or leave it. I don't stop loving them or wanting to be around them or even being interested in touching and contact. For my partner, they equate the two more closely but I think that makes sense for the person with the higher drive – it is a more common occurrence for the two to occur simultaneously. It's really frustrating for all parties.

You both have to work at this relationship, put in effort to be kind and giving. Is he working at it? I feel like somewhere in that line of thought may be the key to this.
posted by amanda at 2:34 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


It must be incredibly hard to live with someone where you're lusting after them and they don't return those feelings. Are you currently in individual therapy? Because it seems like you have a lot to mourn and process, and maybe it would help.

Or is there any possibility of taking a break from your home life? Like, going on vacation for a week or two without either of your spouses? Maybe even renting a room or crashing with friends for a couple of months while you work through stuff.

Your husband is being very uncompromising; he gets what he wants and he refuses to give you what you want. That's his right, obviously, but it's not particularly generous partner behavior. On the other hand, this has been an issue for your entire relationship, so you're sort of the one challenging the status quo. You're in a tight spot.

I know you don't *want* to break up your marriage, but it's not actually impossible. If you had to, you could make the financial and extra people considerations work out. I suppose a large percentage of people who get divorced have these kinds of considerations, although the extra people are more likely to be minor children than additional spouses. (Also, though, where does your wife stand on all this? To what extent *would* you lose her if you decided you couldn't live with your husband?)
posted by mskyle at 2:37 PM on June 3, 2016 [15 favorites]


It sounds like you're not quite 35, and being real that means another 40-50 years of life, as noted above. People get married for all kinds of reasons that don't have anything to do with sexual love -- they marry for money, due to social arrangement, to stay in a country they love, to give a child a surname...whatever. Is keeping a house, a sometimes-partner and a husband who seems more like a roommate enough for you? And will your wife stick around long-term? Is she satisfied? Even if you're committed to this, I don't think I would want to trust your other partners are. I'm not sure people who are enthusiastic enough about sex to pursue it with multiple partners are really people one should expect emotional self-abnegation from. My guess is both of them are probably about as satisfied as you are. Is it a level of satisfaction you foresee working for all of you indefinitely?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:43 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I mean this gently, but by staying in a marriage out of fear of poverty, you have totally lost all leverage to negotiate.

8 years with your husband and he can probably call your bluffs pretty well.

You need real power and real leverage or he is unlikely to change, being secure (and correct) in his understanding that you will not leave him no matter what he does or does not do.

I know this is not a nice answer, and people do not like to hear this "tit for tat" about human nature. I negotiate for a living, and find this is basically true of everyone, no matter how kind or decent they are. You need leverage.
posted by quincunx at 2:43 PM on June 3, 2016 [44 favorites]


my husband has another girlfriend who lives separately from us with her other boyfriend, as well as two to three other women he casually dates. We have been poly for about 8 years now and this issue predates becoming poly, but the dry spells have gotten longer in recent years.

So, it sounds to me like he is getting all the action he wants but, in spite of a triad "wife" and a boyfriend, you are not for some reason. And your husband's involvement with other women is increasingly causing you to go without.

Which makes me wonder a whole lot about this earlier statement:

our sexual tastes have diverged. He almost exclusively enjoys a D/s dynamic that I find difficult to participate in due to sexual abuse in my past (for which I've received extensive therapy, but I'll never be able to embrace a submissive role).

I was the higher sex drive wife in a relationship where my husband swore he was willing to meet my needs, all I had to do was ask. And, for 17 years, every single time I asked, he not only turned me down, he made me feel like it was somehow my fault for having bad timing or not knowing how to ask. And then one day I called BS on this and we eventually divorced.

Part of the underlying dynamic of my marriage was that I had been sexually abused as a kid and we both blamed all sexual problems on me for those 17 years. And I no longer will accept that explanation from a man. It takes two to tango and the exact steps involved depend on the choices of both people. Blaming me for everything because of stuff in my past is something a lot of men like trying to do. And it says a great deal about the kind of person they are, more than it does about me.

You say you cannot play a submissive role sexually, but you sure as hell are playing a submissive role here in the overall relationship. And that may be exactly why he married you.

If you are in your 30s and have no children, there is absolutely no reason you cannot extract yourself from this marriage and build a career that supports you and a life that works for you without him. I would advise you to NOT tell him you wish to leave and just start developing your career more and your income stream more. Do your best to NOT make a big deal about it.

Also, since you are poly, start getting laid more, even if you need a second boyfriend on the side to make that happen. Though, personally, I would ditch the current BF who has a girlfriend of his own and find a man with more time for me.
posted by Michele in California at 2:49 PM on June 3, 2016 [38 favorites]


If your husband is happy having sex once or twice a week, and you two haven't had sex in seven months....it sounds like he is having sex with at least three other women, but not with you. That doesn't seem like a good deal for you.

Our lack of sex doesn't appear to either of us to indicate a looming, secret problem in our marriage; we're just mismatched in that respect


It sounds like you are getting plenty of sex elsewhere, and your legal spouse isn't even being affectionate much with you anymore.

I'm guessing that husband is done being a husband, and wants to be your friend and fuck other people instead of you. That doesn't sound like that's the kind of relationship you want, does it? I think all these boyfriends and girlfriends and other "wives" are just complicating this rather simple truth that he doesn't want to be a "husband" in most senses of the word to you anymore.
posted by 41swans at 3:06 PM on June 3, 2016 [20 favorites]


"You say you cannot play a submissive role sexually, but you sure as hell are playing a submissive role here in the overall relationship. And that may be exactly why he married you."

So many emotional hoops for you to jump through, huh? You write how loving everyone is, how sharey and fair. That you think you will be financially destitute if you leave is inherently NOT fair. Because - why? There are no laws protecting your financial interests in this house or marriage??

Don't be scared because you live in a conservative area. Do research. Get thee legal help. Inform yourself. Get some leverage. You need options so you can think this through clearly.

At 35, no, you should not stop having sex with your spouse.
posted by jbenben at 3:10 PM on June 3, 2016 [11 favorites]


He is not sure that he can give me the level of touch that I have requested.
This stood out to me, anonymous. It sounds like your husband is already moving the goalposts and it concerns me that you're attempting to change a basic, fundamental way of thinking about your relationship and he's... not even sure he can compromise? More than that, it sounds like you are basically already in a sexless, companionate marriage by his design, and now you're trying to catch your emotions up to this dynamic. This is backwards.

Intimacy is not just about sex. It sounds like your relationship lacks both.
posted by sm1tten at 3:10 PM on June 3, 2016 [14 favorites]


You will only be at peace with this decision when you feel you aren't forced into it.

I hope you are in therapy for yourself, because if you really feel you are financially dependent on this marriage then it will be very difficult for you to sort out what you would want if you were not dependent. And I believe your key to calm is to figure out what you really want most.

In an ideal world, your husband would trade your willingness to try a companionate marriage in return for his providing you a post-nuptual agreement which would give you financial independence if you found it didn't work for you. This would be the best way you would both have something at stake, and you could decide if it made you happy or just "not poor and miserable".
posted by frumiousb at 3:21 PM on June 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


It hurts me that he doesn't want to be sexual with me. I am not sure that I can handle the companionate marriage that he has stated he wants us to transition to. He is not sure that he can give me the level of touch that I have requested.


I think this is the heart of the issue that you'll need to find a way to address.
posted by aniola at 3:51 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm approaching this from a very relationship anarchist /polyamory friendly perspective.

What a sad situation -- I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. Even if everyone is basically an ok person, these kinds of conflicts between loved ones are really difficult and painful.

My strongest suggestion is that need to strongly consider working really really hard so that you can feel certain that you are financially independent. You also need to try to see a way in which your relationship with your wife could continue absent a romantic live-in relationship with your husband.

Feeling like you're actively choosing this situation will make it easier to deal with, I think. I had a romantic situation that was somewhat predicated on me needing a place to live and it was very, very difficult to get over issues with the relationship while I was dependent on the other person -- he never held it over me, but I felt like I was trapped. It wasn't always a conscious issue, but it cast a pall over the entire relationship and made it very hard to feel like conflicts ever ended -- because there was always the feeling that they only stopped because I had no choice but to stop them. That's a miserable way to feel in an intimate relationship.

Given that experience, my guess is that you feel upset and uncomfortable with this despite everyone being pretty okay, because the situation is one where you feel seriously pressured, into accepting a relationship that it doesn't sound like want. You are under significant pressure to be around someone who you feel is rejecting a very deep part of you, and rejecting that part of you in large part because of abuse that you could not control. It has to feel extraordinarily painful.

You deserve the ability to make decisions about your relationships based on what you want and what you need. You should be free to choose without feeling like asking for what you want--which might be to move on from this close of a relationship or to move out of your shared home.

You might still choose to stay with your husband, but you'll never truly feel okay with it until it's genuinely your choice. There are some things about this being "not your choice" that you can control, or at least try to control.

It is also well within your rights to ask your spouses to help provide you with the freedom that you need to make this choice with a minimum of situational coercion. I am very worried that you say that you would lose your relationship with your wife if you split up with your husband. To me, that is not fair to you as her spouse -- again, I come from a relationship anarchy philosophy, but I don't feel that it's appropriate or loving for two people who are both YOUR spouses to insist on them as a package deal. That's their choice, of course, and they don't have to continue to be in a relationship with you should they both choose not to be, but I find it to be really unfair to you that it's the default, status quo. If you've never discussed this with them, I would suggest that you do discuss it, and give them the opportunity to address it.

Your husband can't unilaterally "make" your relationship be exactly how it was, except with no sex -- you have to be okay with that. And you deserve -- and should ask for -- the right for all of your concerns to be fully considered, including your concerns about what would happen to you if you decided it wouldn't work for you. Not getting that chance is a demonstration of a lack of caring for your well-being, and is likely contributing to your sadness -- but this is something you need to proactively ask for and communicate your need for to your husband and wife.

You are married and to some extent, your husband and wife have an obligation to try to help support you financially if the relationship doesn't work for you.

All that said, if you did freely decide that you want a "companionate" marriage, you would likely still have some profound grief to deal with. It is incredibly sad to have to choose between having the type of marriage that you want, and being married to the person you want to be married. It is something that is worth mourning.

To the extent that your husband does not seem to be mourning it, perhaps you feel odd or bad, or like you should "just" replace the sex -- but that's not fair to you. People are not fungible and interchangeable. He's playing dumb a bit here, I think -- it's not complicated to understand that you might care about having sex with him, instead of with other people. After all, he cares about who he has sex with -- he's not having sex with you, and if it were all the same, wouldn't he be? He really needs to put his empathy hat on with a little more effort here.

You can want what you want and it's completely normal and okay to be sad about not getting what you want.

Hang in there.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:52 PM on June 3, 2016 [12 favorites]


It sounds like you've lost more than just sexual activity with your husband. It sounds like your relationship has dropped in emotional intimacy because you no longer feel desired by your partner. He probably still makes you feel valued but for some people, that desire bit is key. It's OK to not be OK with a sexless arrangement with someone you want to be sexual with. It's also OK to be going through a mourning period because your relationship has changed so substantially from what you imagined it to be when you first started.

It sounds like you want to be a priority in someone's life and want that person to also prioritize your sexual needs instead of brushing them off with "we're poly, go bang someone who understands you". Right now your husband is brushing you off and your boyfriend isn't really prioritizing you. You deserve someone who makes you feel seen and who accepts you and who thinks you're hot and who wants to have sex with you, because that's what you want. It's OK to be upset that your partner is brushing you off when you're seeking the fulfillment of one of your needs.

You can't reach relaxed zen acceptance mode without going through the bad feelings. Right now it sounds like you're trying to push your feelings away so you can act like everything is fine because you don't want anyone to worry and because being poly makes this complicated (I am also poly, highly enmeshed intimacy circles make relationship upheavals VERY hard to navigate). You need some physical and mental space so that you can process your feelings, especially the bad ones, and explore your options, especially the scary ones.

You need to get out of your house so that you remember that the world exists outside of your small group of people. If you can get away for a weekend, that would be awesome. If not, a day at the library or the park would be just fine. Bring a notebook and write down your thoughts, if you find that helpful. Ask yourself what you would want if you could have anything. Identify parts of your life that you feel are lacking. You don't have to make any decisions, just explore some possibilities and daydream a little. If you were to add a new dating partner, what would you want them to be like? What do you want out of your relationships and what are you currently settling for and is it enough?

I do platonic affection quite well and really enjoy non-sexual romantic relationships but not everyone is like that and I've had several relationships end because people want sex that I cannot provide them. You don't need to mold yourself to your husband's needs when it means that you don't get what you need. You don't need to make yourself small enough to fit. Your partner should be invested in making space for you, should care about you getting your needs met, and should be willing to make big changes to support you (because that's what being partners - part of a shared thing - is). It sounds like your relationship right now makes you feel like you need to fold yourself as small as possible to keep from rocking the boat and, poly or not, not currently able to support yourself financially or not, you deserve better than that.
posted by buteo at 4:00 PM on June 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


Breaking up is not an option. I'd lose my wife, and everything I value about my marriage to my husband, and I would very likely be throwing myself into poverty, or at least massive financial uncertainty, as I can't live in the city that I work in on my own salary alone, and moving in with my boyfriend is not an option (his other girlfriend would never allow it, although we get along fine).

Woah woah woah. Back way up. Why are you assuming that if you decide to end things, HE keeps the house and the joint property and money and the wife and YOU get zilch?
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:08 PM on June 3, 2016 [27 favorites]


This may be a basic reference for you already, but have you read Taormino's "Opening Up"? I met my partner when I was a professional gay slut and he was just coming out after a 20+ year heterosexual marriage with kids. Our role reversal was very quick: I became fixated on monogamy and he wanted the open gay relationship he'd long fantasized about. We struggled, and tried opening up the relationship as a stopgap measure to try to resolve the conflicts that emerged (as in, he kept seeking secret liaisons, wouldn't tell me about them out of fear, then I'd test positive for an STD, meltdowns would ensue; repeat). This book was a good guide of suggestions and anecdotes--not scientific, mind you--but something is better than nothing. Ultimately trying out the compromises and boundary-setting steps outlined in that book helped us come to a happy agreement on our kind of Aspirational Monogamy-Type Thing: he doesn't do anything involving mucous membranes touching and gets to keep it a private secret, but if he crosses that boundary he has to tell me immediately, in advance if at all possible, so we all know the right precautions are taken to safeguard everyone involved.

But I am worried that we will slowly grow apart, or that the strain of wanting to have sex but feeling like if I even try he will reject me, will hurt our marriage.


I suspect youknow that this is a constant source of anxiety in relationships, and there's no cure for it. Only practice at comfort, and a plan agreed to in advance on how to deal with these feelings (and crises), all dependent on your level of willingness to compromise. It's tough, and it's admirable, and it's the human condition.

He's playing dumb a bit here, I think

Two way street (I hope that doesn't sound harsh). Talk it out, maybe read this book together, see what you come up with. You shouldn't feel compelled to go fully outside your comfort zone, but there's something to be said for testing out the realities that outline where those hazy borders actually lie in practice rather than in theory. I hear all the time that wanting monogamy is a patriarchal, outmoded thing of the past, but I don't give full credence to that assessment and, whatever the case, it's something I still desire genuinely. So we can aim for what we want and be happy hitting close to the bullseye while practicing and aiming for it in the future. But ya gotta talk about what you're aiming for to get better at it.

Be well!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:30 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Our lack of sex doesn't appear to either of us to indicate a looming, secret problem in our marriage

Of course it does. This is your denial speaking.

Your husband is sexually controlling. He's into D/s but can't stand it when you initiate. He says he loves you but has zero interest in something that's central to your happiness and well-being.

I'd also bet large money that he is so happy with poly as he practices it because he can't handle actual sexual intimacy. Note that I have over two decades worth of experience in open relationship and know dozens if not hundreds of poly people, so it's not a knock on poly. His inability to comprehend sex as anything but a physical release is a huge waving red flag that matches the one from the preceding paragraph.

Not worth spending the rest of your life like this.
posted by Sublimity at 4:36 PM on June 3, 2016 [23 favorites]


This may be a basic reference for you already, but have you read Taormino's "Opening Up"?

I feel like a person in an established plural marriage with a long-term boyfriend besides has probably already read Opening Up.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:08 PM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


I hate to be this blunt to you, for it feels like I am being cruel... I'm sorry. Your husband has 4+ women he is choosing to have sex with. You are not one of them. He is increasingly stating- pretty bluntly and up front, with his words- that this pattern will continue. In fact, he will devote less of his attention and romantic energy to you. I think the phrasing of your question reflects knowledge that this is true. I'm not sure he WANTS to change to meet your needs.... I'm reading between lines there, but it sure sounds like he is ok with not meeting your needs. And, being a slight ass, why not? He's got a good life.

I'm genuinely anti-divorce.... but sometimes it does happen. Sometimes it is necessary. Sometimes walking through that fire is the right choice. I can't speak to your situation, but I do believe sometimes, there are sacrifices you shouldn't make, for your own sake.

Ok, to try to answer the question you asked..... look at the worst case scenario. Your husband never gives you the physical affection you need, ever again. No touching, no kissing, no hugging, no sexual intimacy. Can you deal with this? Should you? I would be hurt and need to grieve (and be angry) if my main partner rejected me like that.

I suppose therapy could help, if he is willing to work. But those are two big 'if's there. You can attempt to set aside your needs from him, and receive them from the other partners in your life. (I acknowledge its not the same thing)

I really wish I saw some middle ground between 'give up your hopes that he will ever meet those particular needs' and 'leave' but.... I don't. Physical touch is my main love language, and being rejected in that way by my primary would be a deal breaker for me :(
posted by Jacen at 5:55 PM on June 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


This guy doesn't sound like much of a "husband." Maybe a metamour that you and your wife share, but he doesn't sound super interested in being married to you in a husbandly sort of way. I don't know if it's worth divorcing, but maybe "downgrading" your relationship to live-in friends who share a love is more where this is all going.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:00 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


We both believe that finding a marriage counselor who won't just tell us to stop seeing other people would be extremely difficult in the conservative area where we live. He doesn't see the need for counseling but is willing to go if I insist on it.

I don't think you should stop seeing other people. I think you should see way more people. You should keep dating and date people who can help disentangle you from the financial side of this and who can be kind, loving, funny, sexual, and affectionate with you. You should date people who not only tell you that you are sexy but who make you feel it. You should see people who would be in a position to see you as a primary partner, not just people who already have wives and girlfriends.

As an outsider, it seems like your husband has set up a situation where he gets all of his marital-type needs met, including living partners and sexual partners, and where you are secondary in every arrangement. He's made you superfluous, whether by design or by accident, I'm not sure.

And that leaves you as vulnerable as a woman in a very traditional patriarchal monogamous marriage. Right now, you have no choice but to accept the arrangement--to accept that not only he will not fuck you, but that increasingly, he won't even touch you. That sounds very unfair and very hurtful, no matter how many boyfriends you are allowed to have.

As others have said, the assumption that you will be financially destitute if you left is probably not grounded in reality (unless you have a pre-nup that says explicitly that). But I understand that it's hard to leave and to face the grief and fear of the unknown that comes with that. So don't, yet. Work on yourself--forwarding yourself financially, finding warm, supportive friendships and sexual partners who are not entangled in this situation. At this point, I wouldn't even be thinking about your husband, because he's clearly not thinking about you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:06 AM on June 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


There are poly and kink friendly therapists who work over Skype!
posted by Mistress at 3:49 AM on June 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


This may be a basic reference for you already, but have you read Taormino's "Opening Up"?

I feel like a person in an established plural marriage with a long-term boyfriend besides has probably already read Opening Up.


I'm happy to let the anonymous poster make that determination. The book isn't a universal resource, and I don't get the impression that people in nontraditional relationships are issued a reading list when they first get their membership card in the mail. I didn't. Advice was always better than an eye roll when I sought input, so input I provide.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:03 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


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