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KantWaitForGodot

Nearly Sexless 20y marriage; suspect partner is unidentified ace; what to do next?

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KantWaitForGodot
Posted (edited)

I'm a bisexual cis-male (45), my wife is cis-female (43).  We've been in a committed relationship for nearly 25 years, and married nearly 20 years. We love each other very much, and our values match deeply: we care about the same things, we both work for charities that address important causes, we both don't want nor have children, and we have cared for each other emotionally for this long period through tough problems and extended family situations that were/are painful.  Despite what I say below, I consider her my best possible life partner of all the people I've ever met, and love her deeply.

 

Our sexual relationship has always been difficult, however.  Couples therapists have historically always told us that classic: "sex is the canary in the coalmine of the relationship" and urged us to work on our communication, connection, etc. and that the sex would just "get better naturally" as our relationship and communication improved.  After attempts at couples therapy for years, I have finally figured out this advice is not applicable to us.  Our relationship did get stronger, more solid, and more rewarding, but  the big sexual desire mismatch remained the issue.  I wanted so badly to make it work that I've worked for many years to find various ways to sublimate my sexual desire and "teach" myself to "just not want sex anymore".   However, I admittedly developed much resentment about sexuality over the years, as I do want sex and it's not going away.  That resentment and my wife's own shame for not meeting my sexual needs (because she loves me too, and sees that I'm hurting) has been the main blocker in an otherwise positive relationship filled with good communication and love.

 

A few months ago, things got so difficult that I decided to really begin anew with therapy myself (I've been in therapy pretty regularly for 30 years), and really work on this resentment and my sexual health.  I also read online a lot, and found this forum, which I've been reading for a few weeks.  So, I definitely want to thank you all for contributing to this forum. This forum has helped me understand that asexuality is an identity like any other in the LGBTQIA+ world.  This has helped me get over the resentment -- I struggle with it briefly (a few hours) every once in a while, but it really has been almost entirely gone for months now.

 

Reading this forum has also convinced me of something else.  Specifically, I am pretty convinced based on things my wife has said over the years (and their stark similarity to what I see aces here saying) that my wife is asexual and probably also aromantic. 

 

I did ask my wife to begin couples' therapy (again, we've tried it before), but this time specifically with a sex therapist.    It took some work to convince her; her main comment was "I have no problems with how our relationship is".  She nevertheless agreed, mainly because she saw how important it was to me.  We've had four sessions so far.

 

My biggest problem now is figuring out how to proceed from here.  I've told my wife that while I truly accept her as someone who does not want sexual contact and even rarely wants physical contact.  (I avoided the word 'asexual'; more on that below).  I have assured her I will stop asking for sex, and have kept that commitment for months now.  (Our sex life for the last 10+ years has primarily been "I beg for a week or two and finally she gives in and just lays there, but insists that it be only penetrative vaginal sex and nothing else (including kissing, which she doesn't like), and I try to finish as quickly as possible because I know she is hating every second of it).  When I stopped asking, she immediately began to feel better generally about the situation, but this now makes it even more difficult for me

 

We've had a few conversations about what to do, and my wife's conclusion has been that she "wishes sex work were legal" so I could "go to a professional and get the problem taken care of" as needed.  Through therapy, I've become  really sure that I need to have a regular sexual relationship with someone who romantically wants to have that relationship with me.  So I'm a bit stuck.  We've talked some about an open relationship, but my wife is adamant that she "does not want me to date" and that "other people are crazy and she trusts me but not other people I might have sex with".

 

I think I have two specific difficult problems now.  First, I need to figure out how to explore with my wife that she may indeed be asexual, as I think that would allow her to converse about this not from a place of her failure and shame about not wanting sex, but to more easily let her be who she is.

 

Second, we need to negotiate a solution to my sexual needs.  I love her dearly, and our life together, and I would be completely glad to remain with her as my nesting partner: sharing everything except sexual contact and romance, but my non-negotiable is that I need to be able to pursue romantic and sexual relationships with other people (of multiple genders).

 

I suspect that my wife is afraid that opening the relationship is just Step 1 toward divorce.  I don't want to divorce her; I've had friends advising me for more than 10 years that I should just do that.  I have ignored this advice because I love her so much. 

 

I also don't want to pressure her toward something she doesn't want, and I love her so much that I want her to have the life she wants and have her needs met, and I fully understand that her needs likely include "no sexual contact".

 

Both therapists (mine and the couples one) specialize in sex therapy.  I'm hoping therapy inspires some breakthrough.  But, I'm posting here because there are so many people on this form that have experience about this and might have advice on how to communicate with my wife my suspicions that she may be asexual, how my needs are important too (but I don't need her to meet them if she doesn't want to) and to otherwise really talk carefully with her so that I do not hurt her more.

 

I should add that despite being sexual frustrated for years, I have remained completely monogamous this entire time.  I have had no physical contact other than friendly, public hugs with anyone else since my wife and I decided to date each other exclusively 25 years ago.  There is thus no past infidelity to overcome; only that I've spent years masturbating to porn and sexually frustrated and had admittedly often been irritable due to sexual frustration.  I have apologized for that behavior and have made amends as best I can: I've worked really hard to channel all the current sexual frustration into my individual talk therapy sessions.  But ultimately it's obvious to me that I'm going to remain quite unhappy unless we open the relationship.

 

I've rambled enough; I'd love advice from anyone who wants to share.

Edited by KantWaitForGodot
typos & formatting
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Ennis

Hello and welcome to the forums. :cake:

Reading your story touched me. You care so much for your wife and I'm sure it hasn't been easy for you. I'm sorry that I do not have any advice; I'm only half your age, not sexual, not married - I really don't feel like it's my place. I just want to wish you good luck and I do hope you'll find a way.

 

One question though: Have you ever talked about asexuality with your wife? Does she know it's a thing?

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KrysLost

Best thing you can do is bring up asexuality to her right now.

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KantWaitForGodot
27 minutes ago, Jona Rhys said:

One question though: Have you ever talked about asexuality with your wife? Does she know it's a thing?

We have never discussed asexuality at all.  Admittedly, while I've been a lifelong supporter of LGBTQI rights, I only learned about the "A" in LGBTQIA+ in the last few months.  I had no word to describe what I thought was going on until the last few months. (As mentioned, it was learning that asexuality is  its own orientation was the big help in getting me past my resentment.

 

My wife is also an LGBTQI rights supporter (e.g., she knew I was bisexual when we met and was supportive), but I don't really know if she knows about asexuality at all.  I even asked her to go to the pride parade with me in 10 days in our town (we've not been to a pride event together in 20 years).  But...

15 minutes ago, KrystalLost said:

Best thing you can do is bring up asexuality to her right now.

... ultimately I don't know if she knows asexuality is a thing or not.  I'm sort of hoping that either it comes up in couples' therapy or maybe we find a flyer about it at the pride event in few weeks.  I'm curious to know from @KrystalLost why they recommend that I bring up asexuality right now.  I have obviously considered this many times in the last few months, but my wife already is anxious about the situation and feels very frightened.  There is of course still a chance she isn't asexual.  It seems to me that suggesting to her that she's asexual would be the rough equivalent of saying "maybe you're a lesbian".  I have always felt suggesting to someone else what you suspect is their orientation just never goes well.  I'd be curious to hear from any ace who went through an experience of a partner suggesting to them that they may be asexual and how it worked out, though.

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Grimalkin

I feel for you. This is a really rough position to be in, and it sounds like you've done everything you can to keep your relationship healthy, which I applaud you for.

 

If you're unsure of how to bring up asexuality and your needs to your wife, I would suggest writing her a letter and letting her read it alone while you go for a stroll or something. I say this because everyone needs a while to mull over and come to terms with being asexual, and a lot of people's first reaction is to deny it. Having your thoughts down on paper and not being around gives it all time to sink in, and you can't be interrupted.

 

You're handling an incompatibility of sexuality as best you can, and sadly it's going to be on her now to come to terms with it and brainstorm ways with you to make the marriage work. Asexual people really struggle to understand why sex is so important to sexual people, and unfortunately it can lead to the asexual person dismissing the sexual person's needs as hardly necessary in the grand scheme of things.

 

But she's got to understand that it's not coming up with alternatives that will bring down your marriage, it's inaction on her part. You can't be a team when only one person considers something to be a problem. 

 

I'm sorry. It's rough, and to be honest, you might not get the best advice here; we're hardly professionals, and a lot of us are young, or jaded (or both). But I wish you the best of luck. You sound like a good man.

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Grimalkin

Adding here: you know your wife better than you do. To some people, it might be a relief to learn there's a name for what they're feeling. I certainly felt that way.

 

But if you feel she's too frightened right now, then definitely wait and see. Some tough and Frank discussions about it might be in order, though. Sometimes it's better just to rip the band-aid off.

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Dreamsexual

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KantWaitForGodot
Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, Grimalkin said:

I'm sorry. It's rough, and to be honest, you might not get the best advice here; we're hardly professionals, and a lot of us are young, or jaded (or both). But I wish you the best of luck. You sound like a good man.

It means a lot to me  that @Grimalkin and @Jona Rhys had such nice things to say to me about how I've dealt with things so far.  It's very heartening and nice to read that folks believe that I've done reasonably well in my efforts to have empathy and compassion.

 

As to @Grimalkin's point about "may not get the best advice", I realize that everyone here are not professionals.  We have both my personal therapist and the couples therapist in the mix, so professionals are involved.  What I'm looking for here is reactions from aces/aros who can indicate that, if they were in a situation where they hadn't realized their identity and their partner had suspicions about it, what would they want their partner to do and how would they want their partner to communicate that suspicion, if at all?


The letter idea is interesting, thank you for that, @Grimalkin!  Another idea I'm considering is bringing it up in couples' therapy, as in that case, the therapist will be there to help moderate the conversation.  Thoughts on that?

Edited by KantWaitForGodot
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Dreamsexual
On ‎6‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 10:02 PM, KantWaitForGodot said:

if they were in a situation where they hadn't realized their identity and their partner had suspicions about it, what would they want their partner to do and how would they want their partner to feel?

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Dreamsexual

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Anthracite_Impreza

I think suggesting asexuality might be a good thing. Finding your orientation can be a truly wonderful feeling, and cut down on the feeling of being "broken".

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Grimalkin
10 minutes ago, KantWaitForGodot said:

The letter idea is interesting, thank you for that, @Grimalkin!  Another idea I'm considering is bringing it up in couples' therapy, as in that case, the therapist will be there to help moderate the conversation.  Thoughts on that?

Do be careful with the therapy. It sounds like your therapists are great, so it probably won't be a problem, but asexuality is not as well known as other sexualities and some people just... can't grasp it. They DO think we're broken, or it's hormonal, etc. Fortunately your wife is older so she won't be told she'll "grow out of it"!

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KantWaitForGodot
1 minute ago, Grimalkin said:

Do be careful with the therapy. It sounds like your therapists are great, so it probably won't be a problem, but asexuality is not as well known as other sexualities and some people just... can't grasp it. They DO think we're broken, or it's hormonal, etc. Fortunately your wife is older so she won't be told she'll "grow out of it"!

Yes, I was extremely careful on this.  I'm very confident that both therapists are open-minded that asexuality is an orientation unto itself.

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Ennis

I think I as an asexual would be more comfortable if I had time to wrap my head around asexuality, do some research etc without someone waiting for my reaction.

So maybe you can get hold of some leaflet about asexuality and pretend someone gave this to you at Pride? Just leave it lying around among other flyers for her to find. It would have to be subtle though.

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KantWaitForGodot
Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Dreamsexual said:

Also, although it seems a little out of place, we have a custom of offering new folk cake ... And I really do hope you and your wife can find whatever support you need to get through this.

 

It  briefly felt slightly creepy that you intuited that lemon cake was one of my favorites, but I suspect it was just a coincidence. :)  I promise that I will come back to this thread in a few months and post how it's going.

Edited by KantWaitForGodot
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Dreamsexual
On ‎6‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 10:25 PM, KantWaitForGodot said:

 

It  briefly felt slightly creepy that you intuited that lemon cake was one of my favorites, but I suspect it was just a coincidence. :)  I promise that I will come back to this thread in a few months and post how it's going.

 

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KantWaitForGodot
2 minutes ago, Jona Rhys said:

So maybe you can get hold of some leaflet about asexuality and pretend someone gave this to you at Pride?

Yeah, I am very bad at lying, so I can't "pretend" anything.  My wife is really excited to go to the Pride event, so I'm just sort of hoping someone will be giving out flyers or something like that related to asexuality there so it can legitimately be laying around the house.

 

I think I'm convinced that bringing it up in therapy is a mistake, from your "requiring someone to react" point you made.  I have already told her that "I accept her fully as someone who doesn't want sex", and that went fine, so I think I can continue to say statements like that in the right contexts, including in couples' therapy.  It's the solution I'm now leaning toward based on all your replies.  Thank you all so much.

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Sally

Yes, don't bring it up in a couples therapy session.  If your therapist is not familiar with asexuality, or has inaccurate information about it, that could make the whole situation worse.

 

Tell your wife that something has to change, that you realize that neither of you are going to change how you feel about sex (you need it to happen for you, she needs it not to happen for her), but that if that change does not happen, your loving relationship will be impacted.  Tell her that you don't believe that the change must be her having sex with you; rather, you need to have sex with a third person.  It might be good not to mention "romance", because to many people, their partner experiencing romance with a third person jeopardizes the primary relationship a LOT more than having sex with a third person.  (I.e., it can mean that the secondary relationship has everything, while the primary relationship doesn't, so it will fall.)  I'm wondering, also, about the romance factor: your description of your relationship with her sounds fairly romantic to  me -- you're  not just friends.  

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Dreamsexual

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KantWaitForGodot
Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, Sally said:

Tell her that you don't believe that the change must be her having sex with you; rather, you need to have sex with a third person.  It might be good not to mention "romance", because to many people, their partner experiencing romance with a third person jeopardizes the primary relationship a LOT more than having sex with a third person.  (I.e., it can mean that the secondary relationship has everything, while the primary relationship doesn't, so it will fall.)  I'm wondering, also, about the romance factor: your description of your relationship with her sounds fairly romantic to  me -- you're  not just friends.  

I have already told her that I'm researching open relationships and not yet acting on it until we discuss it fully in therapy, and I've got the books around the house, so she knows I'm definitely going forward with that reearch.  Upthread I mentioned her comment that she's already expressed in the hypothetical situation of legalized sex work that she would like that solution.

 

Yes, my wife and are much more than just friends.  We are life partners but there is no real romance now; she wants no physical touch other than the occasional hug, does not like to cuddle, and for a long period of time we slept in separate beds (although we're again sleeping in the same bed, we don't touch in bed at all).

 

I really suspect my wife's fear about opening up is that, as I said upthread, it will just be a multi-step way to divorce -- where I find someone else and bond with them and leave her.  I am quite sure that won't happen.  I meet and get to know a lot of people in my life because of my work, and after 20 years of meeting lots of new people all the time, I'm utterly convinced my wife and I are a unique match.  Yet, I understand her fears; I just don't know how to assure her that having a sexual relationship with a third person (who isn't a sex worker) will diminish our relationship.  I've also been doing reading in the ethical non-monogamous community and it's clear from that research that it's impossible to convince someone to be ok with an open relationship; they must come to that conclusion themselves.  Given that, I'm afraid to bring up that idea any more than I already have.

 

Finally, it seems like "inaction jeopardizes the relationship more than opening it" sounds too much like an ultimatum to be effective.  Does anyone have a story of such an approach working?

Edited by KantWaitForGodot

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KantWaitForGodot
Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, Dreamsexual said:

It's probably not what you're looking for, but for sexual relief without using prostitutes you might want to possibly consider sex dolls.  I would feel remiss if I didn't throw that in there.

 I agree it's good to throw that in there, and I want to say something here for the posterity of the thread and others who might lurk along and read it: you are absolutely right that this is an essential necessity to explore!  I'll be really frank that one of my "strategies" to be "kind" to my wife was that I used masturbation as a method to "speed myself up" so that when we did have sex, it would last the minimum amount of time possible.  (IOW, I trained myself to ejaculate as quickly as possible during any sexual contact.)  I know she hated it so I wanted to get it over quickly for her.

 

This was really wrongheaded and made things worse.  While sex with a person who wants to have sex with you is a key experience that sexuals truly need regularly, it is also true good masturbation explorations, including trying every darn sex toy you can find (until you find the ones that give you the best experience) is a very good piece of advice for sexuals who are in a relationship with asexuals.  No, it won't solve the problem.  But, if I hadn't done that and changed to focusing on masturbation as something that I would explore to the absolute limits, I am sure I wouldn't have made it this far in my current situation.  I highly recommend lots of sex toys, lots of positive self-loving masturbation to any sexual who is in an asexual/sexual relationship, particularly during the period while you're still negotiating how the relationship will work long term.

Edited by KantWaitForGodot
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Sally
4 minutes ago, KantWaitForGodot said:

I really suspect my wife's fear about opening up is that, as I said upthread, it will just be a multi-step way to divorce -- where I find someone else and bond with them and leave her.  I am quite sure that won't happen.  I meet and get to know a lot of people in my life because of my work, and after 20 years of meeting lots of new people all the time, I'm utterly convinced my wife and I are a unique match. 

But you haven't yet had a sexual/romantic relationship with any of those people, which is what you're talking about.  

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KantWaitForGodot
Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Sally said:

But you haven't yet had a sexual/romantic relationship with any of those people, which is what you're talking about.  

Your point is well taken, and there certainly aren't any guarantees in life anyway about marriage and relationships.  But this circles back to your earlier point: the inaction and status quo may ruin the great thing we have anyway.

 

I'd be curious to read some stories of how long-term sexual/asexual couples manage the rules in an open relationship to protect their primary (non-sex) relationship they value.  I certainly would love to learn from collected wisdom of this community. (I've seen some in threads, but the stories are few and far between).

Edited by KantWaitForGodot

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Memento1

Hi KantWaitForGodot!  Welcome to AVEN.  It's wonderful to read you being so open and honest, and I love your open-mindedness and empathy with this difficult situation.  I feel for you and I'm sorry you're going through this.  I can see it's been very discouraging and painful for you.

 

I personally am ace and in school to become a Marriage and Family Therapist, so I am of the opinion a lot of this would be more ideally brought up with a therapist.  Though of course that goes with the stipulation that it's a GOOD therapist who knows and is accepting of asexuality.  I personally know of several therapists who would probably just screw the situation up further, but just as many who could be an essential guide through these tough conversations.  If you like and trust your therapists, would it be possible to ask one of them how to bring up the subject?  Your wife may be more welcoming of the concept if it's brought up by someone who doesn't have a stake in her sexuality (I personally would have been).  I do think you're probably on the right track of finding some kind of resolution where you can meet your sexual needs outside of the marriage, but getting your wife to be open to the idea will be tricky.  She absolutely will need reassurance of your deep love and intimacy and that this is not you abandoning her.  Again, I think a good therapist would be best here.  They often have techniques for introducing ideas that bypass the automatic defensive reaction.  If it is to work, it will require your wife to eventually come to the table and be honest with herself, and that will take a lot of patience on both sides.  In these kind of situations the asexual partner has usually been silently or unconsciously deferring to their partner's needs for years or decades, and it will take time for them to learn how to balance asserting their needs with being pragmatic about their partner's needs (which will feel a lot like that compliance they hated for so long).  This means any request that comes from you will probably be tainted with a long ingrained history of perceived coercion, and a trained third party can more effectively moderate the discussion.

 

In terms of how to open a marriage when one partner is terrified of the consequences, I feel like the non-monogamous communities would have the best advice, and it's great you're looking there too.

 

Just my two cents, anyways; I am still only in training.

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Moony's Boy Child

@KantWaitForGodot Maybe if you both got to know and trust the person first, an open relationship could work. You could meet the person first and get to know them a little and then if you like them, you could introduce them to your wife. Maybe she will like them enough that she wouldn't mind.

 

I think it's a terrible idea for anyone to rush into an intimate relationship because a romantic partner is someone that you are the most vulnerable with and you need to be able to trust them. I wouldn't have sex with them right away or even really talk about it much in the very beginning; don't risk doing something you may really regret just because you are restless and wanting sex.

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Sally
7 hours ago, KantWaitForGodot said:

I'd be curious to read some stories of how long-term sexual/asexual couples manage the rules in an open relationship to protect their primary (non-sex) relationship they value. 

There can be rules established by the partners as far as behavior.  However, there are no rules when it comes to emotions.  Once you enter a relationship that starts out as secondary, you can't ensure that it remains secondary, or even if it does, that your primary relationship remains satisfactory.  It sounds like you're looking for ways to just add sex to your life, not realizing that another person will be added, and (in this case) her emotions  will -- or should -- count also.  

 

I actually had an experience somewhat like what you're contemplating.  As an asexual, I had a long-term relationship with a sexual man.  We had a sexual relationship, but it wasn't satisfactory, for obvious reasons.  He started another relationship with a much-younger woman, and continued our relationship and the secondary relationship for five years; the latter finally stopped and our relationship continued.  During that time, I was unhappy, she was unhappy, and he was also unhappy because he felt stretched between two women.    

 

I'm not saying that it can never work.  But unless all three people involved are interested in having that kind of open relationship, and aren't  doing it because of lacks in the primary relationship, it's not reasonable to think that it will work well.  So it must be gone into with a big dose of reality.  

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TurnedTurtle
Posted (edited)

@KantWaitForGodot, man, your story has so many similarities with mine.....

 

I don't think my wife is someone who is searching for labels or identity statements, she doesn't need to come out of any closets because she just is who she is. But the labels (newly-discovered) have been useful for me, as they help me to better understand the realities of the situation I am in (a roller-coaster between hope and despair....).

 

So I am a cis-gendered heterosexual male. The way my wife describes her sexual interest would put her in the demi-sexual part of the asexual spectrum, but I think it is possible that even that might be a consequence of cultural programming and she may be more ace than demi.   I also think it is possible that my wife might be a demi-gendered female/nonbinary....

 

I guess I don't see the harm in bringing up the concept of asexuality with your wife. Obviously, you don't want to "accuse" her of being ace, and I would say definitely do not suggest that she is "closeted" -- to me the closet is a place where somebody who knows that their sexual orientation is non-normative actively hides that information from the people around them. As I understand it, it is quite common for asexual people to not realize that they are in fact asexual for a long long time -- there is so much cultural programming to get past, many probably just assume that they are heterosexual just with very low sex drive... -- so thus how can they be in any kind of closet if they don't know and aren't even questioning?

 

So perhaps just have a conversation with her that there is such a thing as the asexual spectrum, that something like 1% of the population falls within this category, that learning about asexuality has helped you to maybe better understand your relationship with her (whether or not she chooses to identify as asexual or not).   I mean here's the thing, as I see it -- it's not about her, it's about you (us). Asexuals are totally fine with a sex-less marriage, they are not missing anything. It is us sexuals who feel the gap. It really only becomes a problem for asexuals when our sexual frustration impacts the rest of the relationship.... 

 

Edited by TurnedTurtle
just tidying up
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KantWaitForGodot
2 hours ago, TurnedTurtle said:

Obviously, you don't want to "accuse" her of being ace, and I would say definitely do not suggest that she is "closeted" -- to me the closet is a place where somebody who knows that their sexual orientation is non-normative actively hides that information from the people around them. As I understand it, it is quite common for asexual people to not realize that they are in fact asexual for a long long time

Yes, "closeted" was a poor choice of words on my part.  I changed the topic to "unidentified ace", as she definitely has not identified herself that way.

2 hours ago, TurnedTurtle said:

 I mean here's the thing, as I see it -- it's not about her, it's about you (us). Asexuals are totally fine with a sex-less marriage, they are not missing anything. It is us sexuals who feel the gap. It really only becomes a problem for asexuals when our sexual frustration impacts the rest of the relationship.... 

I agree with you completely about this. Regardless of whether or not my wife eventually "identifies" as asexual, I'm very glad to have found this forum and e-met so many asexuals here as it helps me understand that very point you're making.  I only regret that I didn't do this research sooner, as it would have saved me years of unnecessary and inappropriate resentment.

 

The next steps seem so challenging to me, though.  My wife and I both are terrified about our relationship and how to save it given the impasse in sexual desire that we are not both facing as simply difficult facts rather than emotional trauma.  That's a healthy step forward, but it doesn't solve the problem merely to recognize it dispassionately.

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MrDane

@KantWaitForGodot you want to save and keep your wonderful marriage and partnership. You struggle with your sexuality and to me, in my struggle, that is directly linked to my ability to cope with life and the absence of sex/romance/‘love acted out’ can lead to a deppresionlike state of mind. I think it is more than fair to want clarity as you both face next phase of your lives. Menopause is just around the corner and it could be nice to know what she expects. 

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wyrdwyrm

I knew about myself before relationships were ever really an option, so I can't give you the first-hand experience you've asked for, but when I shared this part of myself with one of my friends a few years ago, she explored a lot of the information on her own and discovered that she fell under the gray-A umbrella herself. She was already married and not searching for labels, but the revelation gave her a new way to view/define herself and communicate with her spouse.

 

On my end, even if I didn't need the self-discovery, finding a community has been a nice way to see how I fit within it, and find language to define what it is I would want in a relationship - and I've found that being able to share this with close friends has given me a sense of relief in a way I didn't know I was tense before.

 

If I was in your shoes, and didn't manage to luck into any Ace information during Pride, I'd start by telling her that you found this forum and discovered that many of the experiences here seem to mirror your own...and then ask her to check it out to see if she sees what you see. "Some of this resonates with me - what do you think? Could we discuss it sometime?"

You've mentioned already what she dislikes, but I'd also ask what she wants from a physical relationship (what she's curious about, what she thinks might be missing), and what she wants for you in this relationship. If you can keep it light, comfortable, and hypothetical (and free of emotional baggage), you might have a lot of fun in this conversation while you learn about each other.

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