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My wife and I were married straight out of college. At the time I knew she suffered from a potentially debilitating mental disorder, so I came into the relationship with my eyes fully open. Since then, nine years and two children have followed. About two years ago her disorder began to get worse. Suicidal ideation, hallucinations, delusions, and the like. Her psychiatrist put her on a new medication that for the most part has eliminated her symptoms. She has gotten her life under control and is doing much better. But here’s my problem, and I feel extremely selfish for this: One of the side effects of the medication is a complete loss of interest in sex. She is still loving and affectionate, but her libido is nonexistent. We have discussed this many times—and argued about it. Over the past six months, we have reached a tacit agreement: I don’t ask, and she doesn’t pretend. I am 32 years old and married to my best friend, who wants nothing to do with me sexually.
Divorce is not an option. My children are my life. In addition, my wife needs me—and I take the “for better or worse” part seriously. More important, I love her. In short, I am looking at forgoing sex for the rest of my life. I am successful, intelligent, ambitious, kind, and better-than-average in the looks department. I am flirted with frequently in my daily life, and I find myself increasingly desperate for even a small taste of sexual intimacy. What am I to do?
—Desperately Seeking Anything
You’re to fuck other people, DSA.
You write that you take the “for better or worse” part seriously, and that’s admirable. I fully support your decision to remain in your marriage, stand by your wife, and be there for your kids. They all need you, and they all need you at home. But that “for better or worse” stuff? It doesn’t apply just to you, DSA; it also applies to your wife.
So, yeah, it sucks to be married to someone who, as the result of a necessary medical intervention, is completely uninterested in sex. That definitely falls into the “worse” column. Likewise, it sucks to be married to a man who, to preserve his own sanity, occasionally has sex with other women. That falls into the “worse” column, too. But you have needs that have to be met, DSA, and meeting them isn’t just about satisfying your need for sexual intimacy. You’re feeling “increasingly desperate” about the prospect of “forgoing sex for the rest of [your] life.” If you don’t find a nice woman you can be sexual with—perhaps someone in a similar circumstance?—your desperation will eventually reach an emotional crescendo and you will sabotage your marriage. So do the right thing and fuck other people.
Yeah, yeah: Adultery is wrong. But when you consider the damage that divorce would do to your wife and kids, a little adultery is the lesser evil. So don’t ask and don’t tell and don’t get caught, DSA—although you might want to say something to your wife now, something you can remind her of if you do get caught, something along the lines of, “I’m not going to pressure you about sex anymore, but you have to know that if and when opportunity presents itself, I don’t think I’ll be able to help myself.” You’ve resigned yourself to living with this “worse”; it is not too much to ask your wife to resign herself to the probability that you will, at some point, fuck someone else.—Dan
About a year ago, I moved abroad to be with my boyfriend. Now we don’t have sex anymore! I confronted my partner about this, and he admitted he is having impotency issues. He is 35, drinks and smokes a lot, and has a stressful job, and I think these are the reasons for our lackluster love life. How serious is this? I don’t think I can survive without sex. He is eight years older than I am and claims that sex is no longer important to him. Does he not love me anymore?
—Between a Rock and
an Unhard Place
How serious is this problem? Deadly serious, I should think, because you say you “can’t survive” without sex and he’s apparently not willing to make any effort or changes (drinking and smoking “a lot” can impede a man’s ability to get it up), just excuses. Does he not love you anymore? Dunno, BARAAUP, but he clearly doesn’t love you enough to take your unhappiness at the current state of your love life seriously. DTMFA.—Dan
There is this girl who is dating a friend of mine, but we all hang out at least once a week. Their relationship is “on-again, off-again,” mainly “off” when my friend is sleeping with other girls. When we hang out, with or without her boyfriend around, this girl is always talking about how she wishes her boyfriend were more like me, didn’t use drugs, and so on. She also seems to always find ways to be in physical contact with me—sitting next to me, leaning on me. I am in love with her. I am also married. I’m a 24-year-old guy, and my wife and I have been married for two years. We dated for eight years before that. (Yes, we started dating when I was 14.) I thought I was in love with my wife, but now, with this new girl, I feel so much more that it makes me wonder if either one of us ever really experienced true love.
The most sensible option, of course, is to assume that this is just a fleeting crush and continue my married life. The other option is to talk to her about my crush and see if she feels the same way about me. There’s no sense getting a divorce only to find out that this girl doesn’t really like me, right? What do you think? My wife and I have no children, so that’s not a concern.
—Torn Married Man
First off, TMM, I find it odd that your wife either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that you hang out with a cheating, drug-abusing buddy and his long-suffering girlfriend at least once a week. If she knows and doesn’t care, it’s entirely possible that she wants out of this early, ill-advised marriage just as much as you do.
So what do you do? Talk it out with your crush—she may be all over you because she’s into you or she may be all over you because she sees you as “safe”—that is, married—and therefore not a potential boyfriend. And just because she tells you she wishes her boyfriend were more like you, TMM, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s attracted to you. Anyone who repeatedly takes back a cheating, drug-using boyfriend has a taste for bad boys, something you’re definitely not. So while she may regard you as a better man, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re her type. She may just be relying on you—aka using you—for emotional support while she gets her kicks from her bad-boy boyfriend.
Regardless of what the crush says, you need to talk with the wife, too. You don’t have to share all the details, but before you have kids, a frank conversation about how young you married and what you may have missed out on by doing so (true love?) might be a good idea.—Dan Savage
Dan Savage’s new book, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family, is on sale now. Send your Savage Love questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.