Polyamory approaches? Help!!
My wife wants to have "other sexual experiences", and I could use some guidance and insights.
Here's the super-duper short form of the story:
- A relationship that started at age 17 in high school.
- Married at 22, we are now 52/51.
- Sex never "great" nor very frequent.
- By the time our son was born at age 40...sex was reducing down to < 10 times per year.
- I started philandering soon after that because I am very sexually charged, and sex kept dropping (the low point: 3x/year!). My perception then (since proven wrong!): my wife just isn't interested much in sex, and this is the only path that both would give me a life with my child (I believe very strongly in the need for a two parent home for a child, with both a male and female parent). My (erroneous) belief at the time: counseling would just be a method for me to "get comfortable" with the fact she isn't very sexual, and I'd end up being the classic sex-less husband. There was no way I could be that. So I took the "wrong path". Part of my mind set was "she doesn't want any sex, so I'm not really taking anything away from her. I'll just quietly take care of my need." Along the way she contributed to that thought process by suggesting at one point "just take care of it yourself", by which she of course meant masturbation, and I thought "no way in hell am I going to be a sexless masturbating husband for the rest of my life!". My ego absolutely needed the stroking of someone who found me sexually attractive and fulfilling, and I went out and found people who gave me that.
- After about 9 years of that, wife ("C") discovered I'm having outside sexual relationships (which, by the way, are of the "fuck buddy" type along with occasional prostitutes, no "love affairs", by design if you will).
- We enter counseling; this is now about 17 months ago. Since that point I've been strictly monogamous.
- After 2 months in counseling or so, sex with C become torrid: frequent (as often as 5-7 nights running without a break) and hot. Since then, pretty continuously frequent and hot.
- About the same point C states in counseling that since I've had all these "other experiences", she'd like to have some too.
- After a few weeks I say "okay, if that's what you really want, I won't say no".
- C goes into a huge frenzy of outside activities and personal transformation. Salsa dancing, pool, tennis, gym. Her body shifts from a bit overweight at 140+ lbs to a toned and sleek 116-122. She's "hot" again, and I do love that...but the outside activities are really taking serious time away from me and family.
- She doesn't do anything overt to move forward her interest in outside sexual experiences.
- Her time spent in outside activities becomes extreme, and starting about 4 months ago, I start raising this as a serious issue in counseling.
- The salsa was up to 4x/week, and sometimes she was bailing on me (i.e., on a Saturday night, out to the store then from there to the salsa club and then home at 2am), or on a commitment to be home with child (who is 11 and doesn't absolutely need someone home so it's not a flagrant violation) to go out salsa dancing.
- One night when this has happened I go to see what this "just dancing" as she puts it is all about. I watch her for an hour dance with one and only one guy ("I dance with lots of people!"), and they are all over each other, super super intimate, long deep soul stares, his hand caressing her cheek, not to mention the general sexy body rubbing aspect of the dance.
- The immediately leads to "crisis" as I project potential scenarios that "explain" this, mostly around the probability she's been seening THIS GUY extensively multiple times per week for months now. I am completely flipped out, and feel betrayed, as I really had no idea that this "just dancing" thing (as she put it to me many times) was so...so...so much NOT "just dancing"!
- Turns out there isn't any "real relationship" there, I had the "bad luck" of seeing her with "Mr. Cuban style" and yes she likes to dance that way, but it's not with everybody and she only sees him on Monday nights. She agrees to bring the salsa down to once a week, and only at the dance studio, not anymore at bars (due to my concern that puts her too much in the "line of fire" of sharks).
- I "wake up" a bit to the fact that I'm "obviously" (to me) just not getting it done with her in the intimacy department. I ramp up my game fast. I start (and have continued) romancing her, daily, I'm working hard to keep the house clean, I'm dating her more, etc. She responds positively with even more passion.
- I finally "get it" that I'm not the Great Lover, and start working to improve my skills and address he "forever" gripes ("you just want to dive into the tits and cunt so fast!" kind of stuff). Our sex gets even better.
- I realize and accept that I'm frequently a jerk to her, and don't treat her with Great Respect, typically verbally. Not that I'm an outrageous jerk, but...I'm can be pretty cutting. I vow to fix that, and have been, even apologizing a few times since when I've backslided.
- She starts have occasional "cathartic releases" in the come down periods right after the peak of orgasm (C.R. => a deep emotional release, basically she just loses it emotionally). It's pretty awesome really. I take this as a very positive sign that my work on myself and my relationship to her in all things is having an effect.
- Along the way over the last 3 months we have, at my gentle urgings, been doing a bit more roleplay things. Her general preference is "straight sex" but she seems to enjoy the occasional times we do the roleplay thing. We play both sides of power exchange at fairly mild levels.
- She is very clear that our relationship is "primary", "committed", etc. She does love me deeply, and I believe fully that she isn't looking for any kind of "alternative".
Sorry, that wasn't as brief as I wanted!
So now back to her desire. I read "Opening Up" and give it to her to read, and suggested that as she reads it we talk about it, chapter by chapter (she reads very slowly compared to me, getting through a book like that for her is a multi-week process, I downed it in 3 days).
Prior to some counseling discussions about a month ago, her view was that she'd like to have "secret affairs", because "that's what you had and it would be exciting". Fortunately the counselor was crystal clear as we got into that: "secrets between a couple is death". She's grokking that now and accepts that it has to be fully open, though we are still far from exactly what that means pragmatically.
Discussions both outside and inside counseling have led to her saying she doesn't want to meet someone for the express purpose of "having sex", she wants to have a "friendship" that can develop into a sexual relationship. (I had been promoting the idea of the former, thinking it would be far less threatening to me than a "real relationship".)
Last night's counseling session was largely focused on this subject. When he asked C to "imagine what it would be like", C described it as "romantic, hollywood, exciting".
This is where I kind of lose it. As I've said to her, "hey, sounds like what you want is ANOTHER serious rommantic love affair, which means ours isn't sufficient. What is it that is lacking in ours?"
Note that 6 months ago, I'd have been able to identify all kinds of areas where I'm not getting the whole job done with her. Now...well I'm ain't perfect but compared to 95 and maybe 99% of the husbands out there (now, yes I ack I "fucked up bad" but that's in the past and it had its drivers etc.), I'm pretty darn seriously "good". IMO. So I think I have some legs to stand on when asking the question, "what's lacking?".
Her answer is "no, I'm looking for new and different sexual experiences; I'm 51 and I've only had you, and you've had all these others, why should I too? But I can only do it the way that I can do it, and that's as a element of a friendship, as a part of a deeper relationship."
She is accepting of the critical need to have "all this stuff worked out" before venturing forth, and on top of that, she can be really slow to get things going in her life in general. But I realize I can't bank on her not moving forward! Indeed, that's why I got the Opening Up book and have pushed to have her read it, I was afraid she might just jump into something without any real deep consideration of all the issues and impacts.
On the other hand, I blessed the Good Doctor last night when he said clearly to her, "you can understand why K would be concerned: you've gone into these other new activities in your life and they've become very large and you've had a problem containing them; it's reasonable to be concerned that that could happen in this area too." She replied how she could see that and accept it coming from him, and acknowledged she'd probably be arguing against that if I said it.
It's one thing for her to go have some "point sex". It's another to have an ongoing "outside lover". My concern is that from what I'm hearing, it's likely to be another man with whom she FIRST develops a deep relationship, based on a LOT of time spent that in general is an issue between us (too much time in her outside pursuits, not enough time with me and family), and THEN she adds in sex. The result is likely to be LOVE, and serious desire for LOTS OF INTIMATE TIME with outside man. Or so my thinking goes, anyway. And I'm certainly far from comfortable with that, it feels extraordinarily threatening.
And I still have this general feeling of "why am I inadequate?", not as it relates to her wanting "new sexual experiences", but to why it has to be a full blown romantic affair.
Okay, that's it for now. Insights, guidance, suggestions, are all welcome. I apologize again for the length of this thing.