New poly with asexual wife
I just wrote that subject line and thought to myself, "boy are you screwed!" (no pun intended).
I'm a woman who has been with my wife for over a decade. My wife went through menopause about 5 years ago and lost her sex drive almost completely. I've been patient, she's gone on hormones, but finally we (actually she) decided enough is enough about two weeks ago. After another couple of months to grieve (I'm smart enough to know I'm not dateable right now) that my wife doesn't feel like being sexual with me (or anyone) any more, or rarely, if so, I've made it clear that I'm going to need to see other women. She's not crazy about the idea, but gets that it's necessary, and is good with it as long as I'm discreet. I have no idea how to do that. My standard mode of being is to be very forthright, so 'sneaking around' will feel wrong to me.
The ideal scenario for both of us seems to be for us to stay as primaries and for me to form a secondary relationship with another woman, hopefully someone poly herself. I'm Wiccan, and my religion is very poly-friendly, and I know a couple of poly people casually. I've been considering poly as an option for awhile now, long before my current partner, and even tried it briefly with an earlier partner, but it turned out not to be a fit for her.
Where I'm having problems, beyond the grief, is how or whether to 'come out' when I'm ready to do that. I live in a reasonable sized city, but still, the lesbian community is a small and chatty one, and I don't want to be gossipped about. As well, my wife and I are well known as a couple, and she's quite private. If word gets out I'm dating other women, I fear it will be interesting news. I'm sure she doesn't want everyone to know she lost her libido, for example. I'm not big on being closeted, but I'd like some privacy while I figure out what the hell I'm doing. Because of this, and the fact that a lot of my friends are our mutual friends, I've only told one friend what is going on, and I feel pretty isolated. The friend I told is mono, and I can tell by her face she thinks that the poly thing is a bad idea and I'm just in denial that I'm getting a divorce.
My wife and I are good partners to one another, and have a lot of family and other glue tying us together, but I fear sometimes that going poly is a way of just bargaining with the inevitable, that we're doomed. We are the first lesbian marriage most of our family have ever experienced, and her family are so good to me, that we both feel like we would lose something irreparable if we gave each other up as family. I have a feeling this could work, but not a lot of logic to back it up. Are there any other people out there married to asexual people, who have other partners?
The odd thing is, this all feels like the hand of the Goddess here, if that makes sense, that we're letting go of what has died, but allowing things to be reborn in another form. What I do know, though, is that I don't think I can be monogamous again with someone else even if we do split up.
I know this is kind of a light discussion area, but I didn't have any place I could get out of my head what is going on with people who might potentially understand. I feel so sad and lost.
(doing my bit to help myself and the world be a bit more grounded...)
I'm sorry that you're dealing with a difficult situation. I don't have any experience with asexual marriages but from your post you do sound conflicted. I think it is possible to do what you're suggesting but I also don't think it's the only path. It might end up being that you and your wife will transition into being friends or something else entirely. In your post, you go back and forth a few times being having a poly relationship and stepping out of it entirely. The one thing that sounds clear is that you are interested in poly regardless of what else happens. There is no right answer for what to do with your wife, only the one that works best for you. I would imagine that it would be very difficult to live with some one that you very much desire to be sexual with them but to have it always be off the table. That imbalance would concern me. Even if you get to have girlfriend who is sexual it still won't mend that imbalance on it's own unless you really are at peace with not being sexual with your wife.
I think that any one involved in any kind of alternative relationship has to prepare for the possibility that people can find out and probably will eventually. And sneaking around does suck. I was in that situation previously and it really wore on me. If you like to live in the open, that is something you should consider. Some poly relationships are very much on the down low and some are really open. There's a whole spectrum. You have to examine the price of admission to be with your wife and decide if that's what you want. Don't stay in it for the sake of your families. But if it's where you really want to be, then go for it. :)
Asexuality is something that people identify as. Just like some women identify as being a lesbian. It doesn't come on later in life. If you do some research on line you will see that there is a large community of people who identify as such. There are some threads here about asexual people who identify as poly. If you do a search for "asexuality" you will find them.
I suggest that you look for your nearest community and make some friends. There might be more bisexual women who are interested in starting a relationship with you more than lesbian women but be sure you know that anyone you involve yourself with in the poly community would want a relationship before sex... at least that is most common.
Maybe you should look towards the swingers community instead. Single women are welcome over single men or maybe your wife would go with you as support... there is no reason to look around your area... maybe a trip is in your future. Take the wife. Make a week of it. ;) I don't mean to make light, but it could be fun! And could be something that is very bonding.
What you would be going through is what any married couple would be going through when first embracing polyamory -- the need to keep it a secret. Many folks just cannot be out about it, because it would put them in a precarious position in so many areas of their lives. So, on the one hand, you know it's do-able.
On the other hand, I can understand how you really don't want to be closeted in any way. You have likely worked hard and moved forward with much courage to be out in your community and families as a lesbian, and as a lesbian who is married to your wife. In that sense, my usual response, to say "fuck what other people think," doesn't quite work. I have heard many times how judgmental the lesbian community can be toward women who are bi, even, or who somehow don't live as or represent lesbians the way they "should." However, you need to pursue what will make you happy and satisfied, so some attitude of "fuck everybody else's judgments" does apply. You will be like balancing on a high wire for a while until you find a comfortable place of equilibrium. Your wife may also reach a more comfortable place with it, too. It's also possible her sex drive will return. I am recently post-menopausal and my sex drive has been through the roof.
I feel for you. I think, you may want to investigate whether or not you have any poly groups locally. You can find them through Tristan Taormino's Opening Up » Resources » Local Organizations or Loving More » Local Groups and Communities, and also Meetup.com. Attend some events and befriend some polyfolk. See if you hit it off with anyone who is openly poly and invite them into your social sphere. Maybe if your friends in the gay and Wiccan community get used to seeing you with happy poly people, it won't be so strange if and when you find an OSO. Start talking more to your acquaintances whom you know are poly and pick their brains about how to move forward, since they may know some of the people you are hanging with. You can ask them to be discreet; they're most probably used to that.
Letting my ignorance show here, but wouldn't your Wiccan friends be at least poly-friendly if not necessarily poly-practicing? [Assumption on my part here: that you've got Wiccan friends and aren't isolated in that way, as well...]
I'm sorry to read that you're doubting the future of your marriage to your wife.
So why should you give up on your relationship with your wife??? Are
I have several questions, considerations to put to you:
a) How's your wife going to feel if you split? I can imagine her feeling: "Well, I'm not good for sex, so I'm unloveable." I'm not saying that this consideration should keep you with her (out of pity or a sense of responsibility), but it leads to the next question:
b) Do you REALLY love her? Because
i) if you do, why do you consider splitting up?
ii) if you don't, are you maybe using her asexuality as an excuse to get out of a relationship where the love has gone?
c) She wants you to be discreet. You YOURSELF "don't want to be gossipped about". You're worrying about
d) She's making a brave step, allowing you to have (an)other partner(s). Sounds like a caring, as well as brave, person. Maybe she'll be brave enough [when the time comes] to come out about your poly situation.
e) If we go back to my premise about polyamory being more about Love than about Sex, she might become interested in another [asexual but deeply emotional] relationship for herself. How would you feel about that? Because if you couldn't deal with it, I think that you should give yourself a good look in the mirror. (I'm hoping that you'd be as fine about it as she's being with you on this.)
f [for "final point" - and "for now"]
I write all the above from the point of view of someone who has several times been the less-highly-sexed in a relationship that mattered a lot to me. You and/or your wife might be interested in my thread Polyamorous and celibate.
I really hope that it all works out for both of you (and whoever else becomes involved:D).
I had the same thought as RP. If you were to date a bisexual woman as a secondary there is less of a chance that word would get out in the lesbian community. I would also assume that in a city as big as yours that there are lesbians who are not in contact with your social circle. It certainly makes things more complicated when you're searching for a secondary partner while also trying to keep things on the dl.
I have a question... is your wife not interested in sex (as in no "desire") for sex, or can she no longer *enjoy* sex. So, if she gets started, does she get aroused and have orgasms? Or does she not have the same feelings anymore?
And has she discussed these issues with her doctor, or (better yet) a sex therapist? There are a lot of hormonal issues that can come up (anytime in life) with women that affect their desire, their sensitivity, their bloodflow, etc. And there are a lot of knowledgeable people out there that could help figure out what's up and see if there might be some recourse.
If it's low desire, well-- that happens to most of us at one point or another. Desire actually runs in two directions-- desire leading to sexual contact and sexual contact leading to desire. Some people are more one way than the other, and there's nothing wrong with either. But a lot of women think if they don't feel desire all by itself (getting horny) then there's something wrong and that means they don't want sex.
Mind you, if she's decided she doesn't want to work on this and is happy being without sex, that's a different story, and her choice.
I just hate to see people resolve to situations that are fixable due to lack of the correct information and resources.
In any case, if she is interested in finding out more she can find an AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists) certified sex therapist by going to the website.
Thanks folks for all the feedback and advice. The heart connection and love are important to me in my sexuality, and I think having a secondary love relationship would fit me where I'm at better than more casual hooking up or swinging.
Having identified as bi at one point in my life, I agree that bi women would be a good fit for me and my situation compared with lesbians on a lot of levels. I don't expect that I'm going to go out and sleep around casually (not that there's anything wrong with that). I just want to desire and be desired again, and be able to act on that in the world, to connect with other women in that way. Monogamy was something I fell into with my wife, more by her choice than mine, and because for the first several years our sex life was so rich, I didn't miss having other partners. Besides, it was what was expected.
About my wife's loss of libido - she's still working on trying to get it back, but not particularly urgently from my perspective. She mostly thought it would resolve on it's own once she got through menopause, so we spent about 4 years just waiting, and then more recently she's gotten some medical help with it. She's correct in saying it's something she has to work on in her own way. She's gone to her doctor, who has done some helpful things, but mostly the information about loss of libido in menopause seems to be 'lots of women in menopause lose their desire; live with it'. I've asked several menopausal women I know, and 8 out of 10 of them said, yes they'd lost their libido mostly and it's a relief for them. They seem about as disinterested as my wife is in doing anything drastic to get it back. So I'm not feeling really hopeful.
About my use of the word 'asexual'. I understand that it's used to refer to someone who may maintain romantic and cuddling relationships with others but isn't interested in sex, which fits my wife. I get that it's a lifelong identity for some and if people think my use of the word to describe my wife is disrespectful to those who identify that way, I'll find another term.
I'm a decade younger, and my desire is still fine, and she went through early menopause, which exacerbated things. We've been trying this and that for about 5 years now, and I just can't respect myself and wait any longer. She has very bravely been honest with me about what she's up for and not up for. We still cuddle and kiss and have a lot of affection for one another, she's has been willing to have sex with me occasionally (every couple of months), and has an orgasm when we do, but it's a far cry from our former sexual connection. 'Willing to' is so vastly different from 'wants to' that it still makes me cry. Our current arrangement is that I will not initiate sex (it is just too painful for me to be turned down all the time, or to maintain that hopeful place) and if she wants to she will initiate. If she's only having sex to please me, we need not to be having sex. We haven't tried the sex therapist, but we've agreed that she's the lead on her own process and body, so she'll have to decide on that.
I've taken some steps to connect with the local polyamorous community in my city, and I'm thinking about which of my poly or poly friendly friends to talk to. I need to talk to my partner a bit and agree on what I will give as a reason for our shift, because friends will ask and I need to have something to say. My fear is that some will assume it's me wanting to cat around and her giving in, but it's a lot more complicated than that. I know coming out is a process, and definitely 'fuck what they think' is a good strategy. However, I have a conservative, private wife whose boundaries I need to respect too, so I'll have to feel my way on this one with some consultation with her.
Anyhow thanks for the feedback. I'm doing a bit better today. Weekends are hard, with a lot of time for all the layers of feeling to hit. I'm mostly focused right now on building some support for myself, as my wife can't be expected to be the sole place I bring my grief and sorting out to.
I was in your wife's shoes not so long ago. I had lost all desire for sex completely. My lack of desire and my inability to deal with it really damaged my wife. My desire started to return - for reasons I don't fully understand - about six months before she moved away for a dream job. We agreed to try opening up our marriage as a way to cope with being in a long distance relationship. We broke up a few weeks ago.
Opening up our marriage didn't lead to the end of our relationship. However, what it did was spotlight every deep issue we had between us. For instance, I began seeing men. This made her feel even less confident - that I was enjoying sex with someone other than her, and that someone was male. Our sex life was better - in that we were having sex - but it wasn't great. She thought I was happier without her, which wasn't true, but she ultimately decided she was happier without me.
Now, you and your wife are not doomed just because I couldn't save my relationship with my wife. It can work but be prepared for every issue you can think of, and more you can't, to be painfully front and center.
Finally, lesbian communities need to grow the fuck up. It's great that you and your wife are known and liked in your local area. It's great that your families are intertwined (I'm going to miss my in-laws). But it's for damn sure that you are not the only lesbian couple dealing with no sex/lack of desire and you are certainly not the only one to ponder that, perhaps, non-monogamy may be useful.
You are not obligated to be anyone's damn role model.
Also, newsflash, you're already being gossiped about. I seriously doubt that your community is completely unaware that you and your wife are having issues.
You can be respectful and kind as you start to date others. You can be private and go slowly. But you should not be secretive. 'Discrete' means you have something to hide which is a terrible way to begin anything. It will harm you, your wife, and whomever you end up seeing. That doesn't mean you need to tell everybody everything but if you act like someone cheating or lying, well that is how you will treated. Would you really want to worry about being 'caught' out on a date by acquaintances? Do you want them to run to your wife and tell her 'all'? It's a small lesbian world. I can guarantee that scenario will happen sooner or later.
I wish you all the best.
Thanks for this. I agree with a lot of what you've said. Thanks for the warning about it bringing up our issues, I kind of expected that ;). I've been thinking that we need to make sure we put attention into the things that do work for both of us, and make sure those stay nurtured, and we reinforce our importance to one another. We're actually quite a solid couple in a lot of ways, just not with the sex, which is why we wanted to find ways to stay together but be honest.
I'm sorry that you and your wife broke up. I'm sure you have your own grieving going on right now, since it's so recent.
I like the what you said below and agree with it. I lost almost all of my own family tragically, and my wife's family have been a very nourishing replacement, so they're a lot harder for me to let go than it would be for most people.
"Finally, lesbian communities need to grow the fuck up. It's great that you and your wife are known and liked in your local area. It's great that your families are intertwined (I'm going to miss my in-laws). But it's for damn sure that you are not the only lesbian couple dealing with no sex/lack of desire and you are certainly not the only one to ponder that, perhaps, non-monogamy may be useful. You are not obligated to be anyone's damn role model. "
"You can be respectful and kind as you start to date others. You can be private and go slowly. But you should not be secretive."
I also agree about what you've said above. I wasn't planning to behave as if I am ashamed, but it's a good reminder. I do need to figure out, with my wife, how to talk about it with integrity. Any suggestions?
With my lesbianism, I'm fully out, and if I'm in an environment (say work or a more conservative straight social situation) where I hadn't planned to mention it, but if asked something directly, I generally come out rather than do a pronoun dance. I'm assuming I'll do the same with this, but my wife is more tolerant of being closeted, which is funny since she's quite butch and it's no secret to anyone who sees her.
You're right though, I'm going to have to figure out what to tell people when I start dating, so they don't think they have to protect my wife from me cheating. And also I don't want any other women I become involved with to feel like they have to be secretive iether, so it's a bit of a challenge.
Does anyone have any examples of how they explain to mono friends what they're up to? Particularly if one partner is a lot more private or the non-monogamy is assymetrical?
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