I'm still married, still in the house, and DW and I are still talking. Ten days ago, my run of eight-plus years as a Sugar Daddy came to an abrupt end when DW unexpectedly opened my mail and saw hotel charges on a credit card bill. The conflict that has ensued has consumed nearly all my energy; we have still been able to work, still earn a living and pay the bills, still able to spend time with family and friends. For the first week, however, DW's fangs and claws would come out at night, after the kids were asleep, and she'd wake me up to talk. "If I'm up, you need to be up," she said.
The questions kept coming and coming: "Were you wearing your wedding ring when you were with her?" ("I wore it when we first met, but I would take it off when we were together.") "Where is your condom supply?" ("She kept them for me.") "How much time did you spend each day talking to her or texting her?" That last question prompted her to demand that I add up all the time I believe I'd spent on my time with Mel, and devote that much time to her and the kids, uninterrupted and without my phone. "No problem," I replied.
She said she still cries every day, but not just about what I did. She cries because she says she feels like she failed as a wife because she couldn't give me the sex I wanted or needed. I told her I understood how she felt, because at times I felt I failed as a husband because I wasn't earning enough to support the family such that she wouldn't have to work (she had more in common with some Sugar Babies than she even knew). She wants to talk to her friends, and I encourage her to do that, but she resists, saying, "They'll hate you and I don't want that." I told her that they could hate me if they chose, but I believed that if we worked things out they'd come back around.
On the night before Thanksgiving, before leaving to pick up my kid from athletic practice, DW and I stood in the kitchen going through these feelings and demands and actions again. I have resigned myself to the likelihood that DW will spin this around and around in her head for some time to come ("I keep envisioning things that you've done with her"), and so I knew I just had to stand there and take it in, and offer my opinions if she asks me for them.
At one point, however, I sensed an opportunity to bring to her something that had been on my mind for years. "Sweetie, we're going to get through this, and I'm going to regain your trust; of that I'm certain. We'll have a loving, peaceful, and close family for years and years. But even after that, there will still be an 800-pound gorilla in the room that we need to address. And I'm not sure you're ready to hear it."
"What's that?" she asked.
I took a slow breath in and out. "The fact that we're sexually incompatible." She stopped looking at me and looked at the floor, which meant for me that I'd hit on something that had been on her mind as well. I continued: "We haven't been compatible in bed for years. All the things about sex that you love -- the closeness, the touching, the kissing, the emotional bonding -- I love all that too, but it's not enough for me, at least not now while my body still works. And all the things I love about sex -- which, to tell you the truth, is pretty much anything a man and woman can do together -- is too much for you. You can come around and find your desire again, but I'm not going to be satisfied anymore with what we had been doing before it all got shut down." She nodded slowly and looked back up at me.
"So what do we do?" she asked.
"First we get through this. There is time to discuss everything else later. But we're going to have to resolve the issue at some point if we're going to survive."
"Are you saying that you'll want a divorce if we can't resolve it?"
"No," I said, "because I don't think failure is an option for me. We have to resolve it. But this is going to be really hard. We're going to have to redefine what it means to be married to each other."
I let that hang there as I kissed her and held her before I left the house. We haven't revisited that discussion, but it's never going to go away now. Despite the fact that I was scared, and sad for her having to deal with her pain and anger, I was exhilarated that, finally, I'd been able to tell DW exactly what had been on my mind for years. I was someday going to have the open marriage I've wanted for so long. I certainly hope that the marriage lasts forever, but regardless, it will be a marriage that will honor my terms, how I define myself as a man.
Last week's Thanksgiving festivities were particularly stressful on her. Not only were we all observing the holiday for the first time without her father, but she said she'd have to put on a brave face less than a week after her life came tumbling down on her. Her mother, her sibling, her relatives, my relatives, our closest friends -- all would be there and know nothing of what had happened. Further, one of my closest friends, who had nowhere to go this year, was there, and he knew. DW told me later that she couldn't look him in the eye without feeling shame. I do my best to reassure her that no one would judge her harshly in any way, I mostly just say "I understand" and "I'm sorry."
The list of demands has been slowly growing. Already I've closed the credit card and paid off the balance. Already I've ended things with Mel. Already I've returned the money I spent on hotels and ancillary things to the family. Already I've gotten tested (all results so far have been negative, as expected). Already I've drained my personal bank account. Already I've turned over all relevant online passwords. Still to do: write the checks to the kids' college funds for the money I spent, close my checking account, go to a ritual bath and do a spiritual cleanse before we can be intimate again, add up the time spent on activity with Mel. There are a few more things that are too personal to list here.
I've started seeing a therapist (of my own volition since DW refuses to go to counseling). This mystifies her because she doesn't know why I'm doing it. Last night I explained, after my first session, that I wanted to sort out feelings for myself and get some validation for my own feelings about it from someone who can offer perspective in a way that she couldn't. I offered again to go to counseling with her or to pay for individual therapy for her, but she has so far refused. I'm not giving up there. I don't foresee my therapy going longer than three or four sessions, but the money I'm spending will be added to the total I've already paid back.
What she also heard me say was that I was firmly committed to the marriage. That got a weary chuckle. "I know how that sounds right now," I said, "but I'm not sure it helps for you to laugh it off." The truth is, I said, that I had grounds to leave the marriage years ago. There have been lots of men who have walked over less. My friend Luke stuck it out, I said, only to have his wife (DW's closest friend) cheat on him. I even could have refused to end things with this girl, and yet I did it without hesitation because she doesn't really mean anything to me. "It's you I want. It's you I've always wanted. You're wary of what I've said, and that's fine. Look at some of the other things I've done. Those should count for something." She can be mad all she wants, she can withhold trust if that works for her, but she needs the facts, and I'm giving them to her.
Reflecting back on the last week, I have to say that I'm feeling more and more confident each day that we'll survive this. Of key importance, beyond all the tasky stuff I have to do, will be my support for her emotional health. I will continue to suggest that she sees a therapist or that we go to counseling together. I have already proposed, and she has accepted, that we will go on a date every week. It's important that she find those parts of me she fell in love with -- they've always been there, after all. More than all of this, however, will be my continuing to listen to her and to honor her. I'm a problem solver, and I want more than anything to solve this problem. But I can't. Only time will heal this wound, so I stick to what I can control: my territory, maintained impeccably; my listening without judgment; my caring; my cooperation without compromising who I am; my making sure she knows my feelings, without emotion; and my continued efforts to think up new ways to make her happy.
I'll continue to post more as time permits and/or as things develop. Sorry there aren't going to be any hot sex stories for awhile.