Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Open Marriage Watch: Darkness Creeps In

Today will mark eleven weeks since DW and I began talking about redefining our marriage to include non-monogamy.  During that time, we've discussed the basis of our incompatibility, the introduction of a second woman in our bed, the possibility that an extramarital partner can also become a friend, and the introduction of alternative means to have sex with each other. Jade has returned from traveling and wants to resume an arrangement with me, and I can't see a good reason to say no. And, predictably, I've reached a point where, because Jade is ready and available, I am starting to push hard to resolve this issue.

Having a non-monogamous relationship makes perfect sense to me. For one thing, DW is really not all that interested in sex, while I love it. She's engaging in sexual play with me not because she wants it for herself, but mostly because she knows I want it, and she's worried about my seeking that fulfillment with other women. For another, I know that there is a zero-percent chance that Jade, or any other woman for that matter, could or would ever replace DW. On that point, however, I will say this: if DW continues to resist the idea of an open marriage, her worry will actually come true, as I will eventually find my way to another woman, as a single man.

This is where the darkness is starting to creep in. I don't think I can be any more plain about what I want, but in all this time I've stopped short of saying that if she can't trust me to put her first and keep her safe, and if she can't support me in being the man I want to be, then there's no point in continuing counseling, and we might as well start seeing lawyers instead of therapists. From the beginning, since before we started counseling and I was seeing a therapist myself, I've maintained that if DW can't work around my terms and accept and support me for who I am, then I'll have to leave the marriage. It may not happen right away, but eventually I can't remain in a marriage where my wife continues to think I'm going to betray her.  Some people might argue that ten months is not enough time for her to get over what I did, but in my view, the biggest thing she has to get over is the way she contributed to the problem, not my actions. I did what I did in reaction to her shutting down, both sexually and emotionally. I have never, ever been shy about telling her how displeased I was with our sex life, even before she said she didn't care if she ever had sex again, and suggested that I find a girlfriend, nearly ten years ago. Her response, nearly every time, was along the lines of, "I'm sorry, but I'm so stressed and tired, I have nothing left at the end of the day for you." From that day nearly ten years ago, our sex life went from boring and dispassionate, to boring and almost nonexistent, to painful and actually nonexistent. I certainly took care of myself over those years, and I won't pretend here that it never happened, but I never stopped trying to work things out with DW, and I even pressed her to consider open marriage more than five years ago. But again, she would just shut the discussion down and refused to talk any more about it. Since I knew I was continuing to show up for her and the kids even while I was seeing other women, I eventually just carried on and took care of my needs.

Today we have another session with the therapist. I'll continue to probe for answers to my questions, particularly around her worries about what an extramarital arrangement looks like in her mind. What she has to hear from me is that I envision nothing changing between us. Safety, putting her first, and showing up like the loving husband that I am.  That's my mantra. If she can't see it now, she might not ever see it.

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