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Copy/post I submitted on one of the other forums, my SO seems to think I might get better insight on this forum.  I'm not nearly as familiar as what goes where here.

 

So without being too long-winded... my wife and I have been together for 22+ years, we have a wonderful life together, we've raised a wonderful child and enjoy each other's company very much.  This story has been told so many times here and while it feels unique to me, I know it is hardly unique to everyone else here.  Sex in our relationship crept to near nonexistent over a period of time and over the past few years, my wife has found a name for what her life experience is in the realm of sexuality and that is asexual.  I am very much not asexual.  I've gone through all the grieving periods, I guess, and managed to come around to understanding and treating my wife with the respect she is absolutely entitled to (not that it was ever my intention to be disrespectful, but I think a lot of you know how conversations around this topic in a marriage can get).  I do my best to be reassuring and supportive while expressing how I feel about things.  

 

The advice around mixed marriages of this sort generally seem to be 3 things: 1. get a divorce, 2. accept celibacy or 3. open the relationship.  I am not excited about any of these.  Divorce is a non-starter for the both of us, I enjoy spending time with my wife more than I have ever enjoyed spending time with anyone else.  I listen to a lot of other men who seem to be always looking for excuses to get away from their wives and that is not my experience at all.  Accepting celibacy just seems... bleek.  We have talked a few times about opening the relationship, my issue with it has always been that it would seem unfair to me if I were to pursue other romantic/sexual interests if I am not willing to accept her doing the same, and so long as we've been together I have never been in an emotional place where I am okay with that.  Yesterday, we were discussing our differences (not too long after making love for the first time in a while) when she brought the subject up again.  We didn't get too deep into it, but did discuss trust and how we feel about the foundation of our relationship.  It had me wondering today... while I don't feel she is eager to run off and find another partner (being asexual) , I would have to accept that as a possibility if I were to dip my toes into these waters.

 

I guess I am curious if anyone reading this is currently, or was, in a similar situation?  Did you take your SO up on the offer?  How is that going early on and what are some of the things that have surprised you?

 

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TurnedTurtle

I am in a similar situation. My W and I had given some consideration to opening up but had ruled it out, leaving us (me) with just the options of splitting up or continuing on with the status quo. I have been avoidant about committing to either option -- stalling and not making a decision,  which is in effect a decision itself, and it feels crummy!  But I've recently come to the conclusion that I need to take some kind of definitive action to change my crummy circumstances (it won't happen magically on its own), and that neither of the options currently on the table (splitting up or continuing the status quo) are acceptable -- so I have asked that we re-consider the possibility of opening up (just yesterday morning, actually).

 

Of course there is all kinds of backstory and context, I won't get into that right now. And rather than her offering this option, it is me now asking. I think she understands logically/intellectually why, but emotionally I think it is tough for her - the prospect of jealousy, sure, but perhaps moreso feelings of inadequacy....

 

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Mountain House

Yes.  Yes.  Surprised by how entangled we had become.

 

My wife and I talked about what opening up meant to us for a year.  When I got to the open for me open for you conflict and thought through the possibility that she could find a lover and have sex with them while not having sex with me I fell into the place she started in - why aren't I enough?

 

Surprised by how much we operated our relationship by assumption.

Surprised by her acceptance of her being open to finding love.

Surprised by how much this process has improved our communication.

I was really surprised when during one of our RADAR meetings she started with, "Okay, I've been thinking about boundaries and here's ..."

 

Start with the essay The most skipped step when opening a relationship.  Some people feel this essay is a bit condescending so ignore that and capture the gist.

The book that my wife preferred is The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory by Dedeker Winston.  We found it at a local library.  It's good.

I also am a big fan of Dedeker's Multiamory podcast.  You can find it at multiamory.com.

 

5 hours ago, fblthp said:

I enjoy spending time with my wife more than I have ever enjoyed spending time with anyone else.

Me too.  Our marriage has transitioned and we both believe our relationship is stronger for it.

 

I remember reading a comment by @anisotrophica while back that just being open could reduce the pressure one feels in the imbalance.  I thought that was whack.  In fact in our communicating about the possibility I pre-apologized to my wife for becoming a crazy date addicted idiot kid in a candy store.  But @anisotrophicwas right.  Once it happened I suddenly had patience for it and really spend my time honing what it is I am looking for and taking my time finding it.

 

And that I can talk to my wife about what I feel when I see people or read profiles is still kind of mind blowing.  She laughs at me and I love it.

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1 hour ago, Mountain House said:

Yes.  Yes.  Surprised by how entangled we had become.

 

My wife and I talked about what opening up meant to us for a year.  When I got to the open for me open for you conflict and thought through the possibility that she could find a lover and have sex with them while not having sex with me I fell into the place she started in - why aren't I enough?

 

Surprised by how much we operated our relationship by assumption.

Surprised by her acceptance of her being open to finding love.

Surprised by how much this process has improved our communication.

I was really surprised when during one of our RADAR meetings she started with, "Okay, I've been thinking about boundaries and here's ..."

 

Start with the essay The most skipped step when opening a relationship.  Some people feel this essay is a bit condescending so ignore that and capture the gist.

The book that my wife preferred is The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory by Dedeker Winston.  We found it at a local library.  It's good.

I also am a big fan of Dedeker's Multiamory podcast.  You can find it at multiamory.com.

 

Me too.  Our marriage has transitioned and we both believe our relationship is stronger for it.

 

I remember reading a comment by @anisotrophica while back that just being open could reduce the pressure one feels in the imbalance.  I thought that was whack.  In fact in our communicating about the possibility I pre-apologized to my wife for becoming a crazy date addicted idiot kid in a candy store.  But @anisotrophicwas right.  Once it happened I suddenly had patience for it and really spend my time honing what it is I am looking for and taking my time finding it.

 

And that I can talk to my wife about what I feel when I see people or read profiles is still kind of mind blowing.  She laughs at me and I love it.

I don’t know how to reply won’t using the quote button, forgive my ignorance.

 

I’m gleaning from your statements that you are allosexual with an ace spouse? Are you both exploring partners outside of the relationship? If so, how did you deal with jealousy?

 

I have so many questions, not sure if I’m really sold on taking the leap, so I’d like to learn what I can from the experience of others.

 

Love the Medium article, had me chuckling more than once. I’ll check out the book and podcast. Thanks for the links. 

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Mountain House
1 hour ago, fblthp said:

I don’t know how to reply

For small bits highlight what you want to quote and the application gives a "Quote Selection" button.

The big button quotes the whole.

 

1 hour ago, fblthp said:

you are allosexual with an ace spouse?

We've come to the label ace-spec and we're okay with that.  We've come to accept the definition of asexual as argued by @AceMissBehaving and we agree that my wife is not asexual.

 

1 hour ago, fblthp said:

Are you both exploring

We are both free to.

 

1 hour ago, fblthp said:

how did you deal with jealousy?

By each learning how our individual emotional machine works and expecting that it might happen.  Recognizing that feelings are valid but feelings are not fact.  Communicating with each other.

 

The Jealousy Workbook by Kathy Labriola

 

1 hour ago, fblthp said:

I’d like to learn what I can from the experience of others.

  My experience with this is laid bare here on AVEN.  As re the experiences of many.  It's pretty helpful to read through because the choices we all make differ for reasons so don't just key on me.

 

1 hour ago, fblthp said:

I have so many questions

AVEN is a great place for questions for asexuality related questions.  It is the only place I have found as pretty much most of the rest of society does not understand asexuality at all.

 

Some of us here have worked toward ENM based relationship styles and are pretty happy to share what we know but I think Polyamory.com is a better place to ask poly specific questions.  I've recently started a podcast called Normalizing Nonmonogamy that has opened my eyes to another ENM world called swinging. (it wasn't what I thought it was)  There are many forms of ENM and everyone does it different so research.

 

And before you ask, I'm pretty sure polyamory is where I fit.  Sex and emotional bonding are pretty tied together in my psyche.

 

1 hour ago, fblthp said:

Love the Medium article, had me chuckling more than once

Uh, yeah.  Me too.  The spear of truth.

 

Communication skills 101 for all relationships no matter the style:

Learn to speak the hard.

Learn to hear what you don't want to hear with grace.

 

Gets easier with practice and will blow your mind how much it improves a relationship.

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@fblthp I've been practicing ENM for 2 years now. It's been both liberating and incredibly challenging. My wife repeatedly expresses relief that she doesn't feel guilty or pressured about sex, but there are complications -- she still isn't ready to meet the sexual/romantic partner that I've been with for almost that whole time, I haven't been able to come out to my teenage kids, and spending almost every night in bed with my ace wife has become more - not less - heartbreaking for me.  And recently I've been coming to grips with the fact that I probably am monogamously oriented at heart  -- monogamously oriented, that is, toward my lover who I do have a sexual relationship with.  For a time, opening up brought me and my wife closer together emotionally.  But recently it's been harder, because I've learned that what I was missing was even more important to me than I thought. 

 

I see my lover one evening a week (not overnight) and go on occasional vacations.  These vacations are, frankly, heaven, because we can move freely between sexuality and everyday sorts of activities.  Sexuality becomes an integrated part of life, not an optional add-on or a problem to be solved.  

 

Lots of healing has happened, and lots of buried grief has also bubbled up. I started out thinking - what a great solution, I can love my wife for who she is, and still get my needs met.  But recently I've also learned that it's possible for two things to be true -- there is nothing wrong at all about my wife's asexuality, and at the same time the marriage has wounded me deeply.  We've tried so many things over the years, so much therapy (SO much!), we've had so much care and respect for each other, we've had so much fun being friends with each other, but the sexuality mismatch is an even bigger problem that I always thought.

 

Here's a pretty good summary -- I recently asked my wife how therapy is going for her, and what sort of a place she's in.  She said "I've realized that I need to stop trying to be something I'm not."  Bingo.  That's exactly how I feel.

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36 minutes ago, RDIAG said:

@fblthp I've been practicing ENM for 2 years now. It's been both liberating and incredibly challenging. My wife repeatedly expresses relief that she doesn't feel guilty or pressured about sex, but there are complications -- she still isn't ready to meet the sexual/romantic partner that I've been with for almost that whole time, I haven't been able to come out to my teenage kids, and spending almost every night in bed with my ace wife has become more - not less - heartbreaking for me.  And recently I've been coming to grips with the fact that I probably am monogamously oriented at heart  -- monogamously oriented, that is, toward my lover who I do have a sexual relationship with.  For a time, opening up brought me and my wife closer together emotionally.  But recently it's been harder, because I've learned that what I was missing was even more important to me than I thought. 

 

I see my lover one evening a week (not overnight) and go on occasional vacations.  These vacations are, frankly, heaven, because we can move freely between sexuality and everyday sorts of activities.  Sexuality becomes an integrated part of life, not an optional add-on or a problem to be solved.  

 

Lots of healing has happened, and lots of buried grief has also bubbled up. I started out thinking - what a great solution, I can love my wife for who she is, and still get my needs met.  But recently I've also learned that it's possible for two things to be true -- there is nothing wrong at all about my wife's asexuality, and at the same time the marriage has wounded me deeply.  We've tried so many things over the years, so much therapy (SO much!), we've had so much care and respect for each other, we've had so much fun being friends with each other, but the sexuality mismatch is an even bigger problem that I always thought.

 

Here's a pretty good summary -- I recently asked my wife how therapy is going for her, and what sort of a place she's in.  She said "I've realized that I need to stop trying to be something I'm not."  Bingo.  That's exactly how I feel.

There’s so much truth here which leaves me wondering about your path forward…

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@RDIAG This is what my wife fears happening.  I've never felt like sex itself must be contained to relationships and, when I was in my teens, did engage in sex that had no (to very little) emotional attachment and it was ... fine.  If I was to try things out, I'd rather be in a FWB position and definitely upfront about there being nothing serious.  I am guessing this is a typical starting point?  It sounds like from your experience, and other similar ones I've read, the pain never really stops it just finds new places to live.  Does it look like your marriage is headed to splitsville?  

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16 hours ago, Traveler40 said:

There’s so much truth here which leaves me wondering about your path forward…

Yeah, the thing about truth is that it exists whether you acknowledge it or not.  

Path forward?  I know we need a change in living arrangements, eventually.  Both of my partners are open to nontraditional arrangements, but it appears that my kink (as it were) is vanilla domesticity with a sexual partner.  It's what I long for.

 

At the same time, my younger son is going through intense mental health and substance use challenges.  Like the kind that may lead to involuntary confinement.  So we're constantly lurching from emergency to emergency and it's hard to make long-term plans of any kind.  Both my wife and I are taking turns getting away and taking care of ourselves, each in our own way.  Stress intensifies my need for physical intimacy, but it seems to have the opposite effect on her.  It's just a hard year, overall.  

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11 hours ago, fblthp said:

@RDIAG This is what my wife fears happening.  I've never felt like sex itself must be contained to relationships and, when I was in my teens, did engage in sex that had no (to very little) emotional attachment and it was ... fine.  If I was to try things out, I'd rather be in a FWB position and definitely upfront about there being nothing serious.  I am guessing this is a typical starting point?  It sounds like from your experience, and other similar ones I've read, the pain never really stops it just finds new places to live. 

I didn't mean to alarm you, but I did want to be blunt.  Your wife's fears are reasonable.  

In our case, I don't think any of our difficulties are caused by ENM, but the difficulties that were already there are exposed.  And they can't be healed until they're exposed.

 

I do know people who have succeeded with the FWB approach. I also have friends who are succeeding with polyamory. Both are legit.  You might ask yourself what it is about sex that you miss, and whether emotional connection is a major piece of that.  My therapist asked me recently to reflect on the question - what is the deeper meaning of sex for me?   

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48 minutes ago, RDIAG said:

Path forward?  I know we need a change in living arrangements, eventually.  Both of my partners are open to nontraditional arrangements, but it appears that my kink (as it were) is vanilla domesticity with a sexual partner.  It's what I long for.

Yeah, “path forward” was my gentler way of asking if divorce was the likely outcome.
 

What you said hits home and feels right on my end as well.  Unconventional living arrangements will likely be our default, but we aren’t in a hurry. However it morphs, we plan to let it drift with as little pressure as possible.  

 

Sorry to hear about your son. It’s good you’re all there together in support of him and each other. 

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