My wife is not interested in sex. She never really has been, but ever since we’ve had kids, she’s just unavailable for me. We have a great partnership otherwise, and have no real interest in divorce. I really love her and the family we’ve built. But I’m completely unfulfilled physically. I don’t want an open relationship. I know that I could not handle the jealousy of that, but I am thinking about allowing myself the pleasure of female companionship when and if it is offered to me. I do not travel often for work, but could increase that, and I think that would allow me the freedom I need to remain in my marriage. My question to you is this: do you have any other ideas before I give this one a try?
– Frequent Traveler
Do I have any ideas before you cheat on your wife? Seriously? You are leaving this up to me?
Okay, if I get to be in charge, my answer is an emphatic “NO.”
No, you do not get to allow yourself the “pleasure” of extramarital companionship. No, you do not get to change your work schedule to allow you more time to roam the hotel bars and airport concourses, hoping that something is “offered” to you. No, you do not get to rationalize that this is the only way to maintain your marriage and that “otherwise” great partnership.
I’m saying no to all of those things because it’s a delusion to think that stepping outside your marriage for physical pleasure will do anything but harm your relationship with your wife. It will. The fantasy of it already has harmed your marriage, I would bet. So let’s stop playing pretend.
You have at least a tiny sense of self-awareness that helps you see that you, yourself, could not handle an open relationship. That’s good news, because open relationships take a lot of work and self-examination, and you don’t sound up to that challenge. Let’s be clear: the female companionship of your dreams is one-sided. It’s easy. It has no strings. Of course it sounds amazing, but even if you find it, when that fantasy is over – SCENE: when you come home from the fake business trip and are met at the door by a screaming kid – you will put Wife in the position of being a disappointment or, worse, the object keeping you from returning to that fantasy space. And then you have resentment, a toxic chemical that you ought to be familiar with already, since that’s what has fueled this storyline about being able to find physical fulfillment outside your marriage without an impact on that partnership.
So let’s look at dealing with the existing resentment before you add more to the mix. Take your Great Partnership to a sex therapist. You need an impartial, skilled guide to help you with this conversation. Honestly, the conclusion could be that you actually do get what you’re dreaming of whenever you are on a “business trip.” But you don’t get to skip the hard work to negotiate that agreement without deeply damaging the family you say you value so much.
Stacy Notaras Murphy (www.stacymurphyLPC.com) is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to stacymurphyLPC@gmail.com.