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Old 10-16-2011, 11:14 PM
Rootlet Rootlet is offline
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Unhappy 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.

Rootlet
(doing my bit to help myself and the world be a bit more grounded...)
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:29 AM
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Hi Rootlet,

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.
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Old 10-17-2011, 05:30 AM
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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.
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Old 10-17-2011, 07:06 AM
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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.
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Last edited by nycindie; 10-17-2011 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 10-17-2011, 11:23 AM
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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.
Quote:
I fear sometimes that going poly is a way of just bargaining with the inevitable, that we're doomed.
And I take heart from the following:
Quote:
we both feel like we would lose something irreparable if we gave each other up as family.
There's something that I keep repeating on this board: Polyamory isn't [just, or even mostly] about Sex, it's about Love. RedPepper's suggestion to try swinging might work, but that solution implies (to me) that your wife would be saying: "I can understand that you want/need sex and I can't give it [as much as you'd like] to you, so it's OK for you to look for that elsewhere... but make sure that you don't get emotionally involved with anybody else!" Personally, I couldn't accept this condition: I'd prefer to forego on the sex than restrict it to the purely physical.

So why should you give up on your relationship with your wife??? Are
Quote:
We are the first lesbian marriage most of our family have ever experienced, and her family are so good to me
the ONLY reasons
Quote:
that we both feel like we would lose something irreparable if we gave each other up as family
? Are you really staying together because of having to prove that lesbianism is viable long-term and because of wanting to retain the warmth of her family towards you? [If so, it WOULD be healthier, more honest, to call it quits.] But I read that you and your wife still love each other, are "good partners to one another", so I think that what's keeping you together is more than how other people see you. After all, you've stayed together for 5 years after the sex went cold, so...

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
Quote:
how or whether to 'come out' when I'm ready to do that.
[I added the underlining there.] This is cliché advice, but well, why DON'T you cross that bridge when you come to it? Why borrow tomorrow's worries when you're going to be dealing with other [heavy] stuff now?

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"]
Quote:
we're letting go of what has died, but allowing things to be reborn in another form
and yet
Quote:
my wife doesn't feel like being sexual with me (or anyone) any more, or rarely
[again, my underlining] Is she doing [rarely] something that's distasteful to her, for your sake? Or has her sexuality not quite disappeared? In which case, it's not dead and shouldn't be "let go".

+++

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).

Hugs,
MFFR
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Old 10-17-2011, 05:28 PM
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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.
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Old 10-19-2011, 08:27 PM
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Magdlyn Magdlyn is offline
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Hi Rootlet, welcome to the board.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rootlet View Post
I just wrote that subject line and thought to myself, "boy are you screwed!" (no pun intended).
At least you haven't lost your sense of humor completely, even if it's dark!


Quote:
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.
That sounds very hard for you. For about half your relationship, your wife has been asexual!

Later in the thread, you say your wife went through menopause early. May I ask how early, and what was the condition that led to early menopause? Were her ovaries removed? Did she have a hysterectomy?

Quote:
...she's gone on hormones...
Which hormones? Estrogen, progestin, or both? Testosterone? In the US Estratest (estrogen and methyltestosterone) is not approved for treating low libido in women but can be prescribed for hot flashes and lack of vaginal lubrication. A "side effect" of this can be an increase in libido.

Does she see a doctor who specializes in lesbian health? Is her doctor aware her loss of libido is affecting her emotional relationship with you, her partner?

Does she have high blood pressure? Is she depressed and untreated? This can cause lack of desire. Is she on SSRIs? Some of these can ironically cause lower libido, but some don't. She can have her doctor prescribe a different one and see if her libido increases.

Quote:
but finally we (actually she) decided enough is enough about two weeks ago.
You say she lost her libido 5 years ago, and for 4 years you both "just waited" for it to return. If I am doing my math right, she tried different therapies for one year and then gave up. She rewarded your 4 years (helluva long time) of waiting with one year of trying this or that therapy, including hormonal therapy, but not counseling/sex therapy?

Are you angry? Do you have a loss of self esteem? 5 years of being rejected sexually sounds insanely hard to me.

Quote:
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'm sure she doesn't want everyone to know she lost her libido.
Has she said that? I don't know. If any of your lesbian or Wiccan friends are peri or post menopausal, I am sure it wouldn't come as a huge shock. Women's libidos are notoriously tricky.
Quote:
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.
Does your wife think you two are doomed to break up because of her loss of libido (which could still be treatable)? Is she ready to take on polyamory and all its attendant challenges (jealousy, time management, NRE, the "gossip" you mention, coming out as poly, etc) when your main motivation is looking for the sex she won't give you? Does she have no sense of personal responsibility in all this?


Quote:
I know this is kind of a light discussion area
No, it isn't.
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Old 10-19-2011, 09:37 PM
Rootlet Rootlet is offline
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Hi Magdlyn,

No, I haven't lost my sense of humour, fortunately...

My wife started going menopause starting at about 43 and has been completely menopausal (no period) for a few years now, I forget how long. Just natural early menopause, which tends to hit harder, I've read.

All I can say is that we weren't culturally prepared to figure this stuff out. People say 'lesbian bed death' happens. People say 'it's normal to lose interest in menopause'. People say 'insomnia and stress will do that to you'. Doctors give you ten minutes and don't ask or answer nearly enough questions.

She was on testosterone, which did nothing, and is now on natural progesterone, which helps her sleep and reduces the hot flashes (hot flashes suck, as if you try to cuddle she gets all sweaty and clammy, which means we weren't cuddling either. That at least is fixed.). She is also on intravaginal estrogen which helps the vaginal lining get back to optimum. I thought about depression, but she also has chronic arthritis pain and trouble sleeping. Her blood pressure has always been low. Since we've been sleeping apart, she's getting more sleep and is feeling better. The hope is that that will help with her libido too, but I'm not holding my breath anymore.

Things just kind of crept up on both of us, until one day I realized that we had stopped having sex, and that I was too young to be celibate. It took awhile to recognize and sort it out from the 'stress at work' or hot flashes or whatever.

Yes, it's been hard. I'm mad and I'm hurt and I'm sad and frustrated. But now I'm hopeful. She's doing what she needs to do to look after herself and so am I. I'm feel hope about getting back in touch with some juicy parts of myself that haven't been expressed lately - and I mean much more than my sexuality. It's hard to articulate, and probably will be for awhile as I sort out how I'm feeling.

As to, does my wife think we're doomed? I don't think so. Does she bear personal responsibility in this - yes I think she feels guilty, and honestly doesn't know how to resolve what's going on for her. For a long time she didn't do enough to try to fix things, and I still resent that, but she's doing a lot more lately, which is helping. Am I still hurt, yes, which is why I'm not rushing into anything until I feel more grounded. I'm figuring out what I need to do for myself and this is what I've chosen to do for now. I don't know if she's ready to take on polyamory, but we'll figure that out too.
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