Dec 01, 2008
Well, this has been an unexpected weekend! Let me tell you what has happened...
On Saturday night, towards the end of the evening, my wife asked me if I fancied having sex. This has happened 4 or 5 times since the beginning of this year, when she first told me that she wanted to separate. It has always been clear that it was entirely platonic - that is, it was just sex, because we enjoy doing it together and felt like it, but it did not mean that we were back "together", or the relationship between us was any different come the morning. Fun but meaningless, if that makes sense. However, it hadn't happened since it came out into the open that she had been sleeping with other men on her weekends away, and her subsequent declaration during counselling that it was definitely over between us and we weren't going to get back together; up to that point I had still been hoping and working for us to get together again, and she had (apparently) been at least open to the possibility, if not particularly hopeful. Since that time, and since giving up trying to rescue our relationship, I'd also given up any hope or expectation of having sex with her again, so I was somewhat surprised, particularly since what she was saying indicated that this wasn't just a one-off, but looked forward to more occasions in the future.
So, naturally I said yes (well, I'd have probably said yes to anything after a 4-month drought...). And we did, and a good time was had by all involved (and that's as much detail as you're getting!!). And afterwards, beyond the indication that this could continue to happen into the future, I assumed that, as before, nothing had actually changed in our relationship.
But the next morning, Sunday, we were talking. I'm hesitating to put this out there, because I'm sure there will be some, maybe plenty of you, who will condemn this and say that I shouldn't have agreed to this, or that I'm being an idiot, or something. But anyway, here goes. Basically she asked if I would be able to have a relationship with her, but with her having the freedom to sleep with other people occasionally, on a strictly sex-only, no emotional relationship basis. The freedom naturally applies to both of us, although I'm sure we both realise that I'm not so likely to take advantage of it.
Well, naturally, it's not exactly what I want (although I'm sure there are men out there who would regard blanket permission to have no-strings-attached sex with whoever they wanted, while maintaining their marriage, as perfect!). However, I do still love her very much and want to have a relationship with her. I do understand why she wants to be able to do this. I won't go into details here, it'll probably sound like I'm making excuses for her behaviour, but I accept and understand her reasons and they make sense to me. I also don't see those reasons as necessarily a threat or barrier to us having a decent and full relationship. You'll have to trust me on that one (or not, if you don't want to!). I have always said that the pain of betrayal I feel has been more to do with the deception, the lying, the secrecy, the pain of being suspicious without knowing for sure, the denials, than the actual sex - particularly once I understood the situation, the lack of emotional content to her relationships with the guys she's been with. So the deal is that, if either of us does anything with anyone else, we need to be open and honest about it - not every detail, just that it has happened or is planned to happen, no lies about telling the other person we were somewhere else with someone else when we weren't. And, of course, suitable precautions must be taken against diseases or other undesirable outcomes...
OK, it's not the traditional view of how a marriage or long-term relationship should be. I guess it comes under the heading of what some would call an "open relationship", so it is a concept that other couples have tried and has worked for them. I think if we can be honest and open with each other, then the wedge driven between us by lies and secrecy can be avoided. I think I can live with this deal, or at least I want to try to. I may never take advantage of it myself, but who knows?
She also said that she doesn't necessarily see this as a definite commitment for ever, for the rest of our lives. I suspect, as a determined and strongly independant-minded person, she always found that aspect of being married uncomfortable - not that she had specific plans or expectations to break up at some point in the future, or that she didn't think that being together for the rest of our lives couldn't happen, just that she found making a commitment that would cover the next 60 years or more of her life was somewhat constraining, even slightly suffocating, and she couldn't be that certain what the distant future would bring. But the flip side of this is that she is envisaging us staying together, and being together, for the forseeable future; the future will bring whatever it may bring, we cannot predict it. This certainly is a change from a few weeks ago when she couldn't envisage us still sharing a home in 5 years time.
That was as far as the conversation got - at that point I had to go to work (yes, on a Sunday! Doesn't happen often, but there's a crisis on, great timing eh?). So, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure where we are now. Is this full marital relations resumed, for the foreseeable future? Do we stay where we already were, sleeping separately, not snuggling or kissing or acting lovingly and intimately, but getting to shag occasionally and staying this way for several years to come? Somewhere inbetween? Or do we say we don't know exactly what it is but we'll play it by ear and see how it goes? None of the above?
Ideally I would have liked to discuss this with her last night, but she was very tired and coming down with a cold, so it wasn't really a good time for a deep and serious conversation. Although we did discuss sex again, which is promising ;). Again, because of her tiredness/cold, I didn't bring up sleeping together, either for sex or just to sleep in the same bed.
So, I don't really know exactly where we stand right now, or what the future will bring, but things are definitely looking up!
I'm not posting because I'm after any advice. I've made my decision, I know what I want to do here. I'm only really posting because it helps me to be able to put my thoughts down in words, because somehow it feels good to share my feelings with this community of people I'll never (likely) meet, and because I really appreciate and I am boosted by the support of those who have been kind and supportive to me here before.