Saturday, March 17, 2007

Hypothetically Speaking

The other day a friend and I went to lunch. We were chit chattin' and catching up. After our lunches arrived, she had a serious look on her face. I told her to tell me what was bothering her.

Background - She is a lovely lady, who is married to a great guy of 9 years. Both have fantastic careers, and they have a small child. They live in a nice house..etc, etc. You get my point.

She looks at me and tells me that she is thinking of getting a lover. My jaw hit the floor.

So, I asked her to tell me why.

She began to share with me about the details of her marriage. She loves her hubby to death, but there is no passion, no desire, no sex between the two of them. When the act is done, is in a perfunctory manner. They do not want to get a divorce, but she states "she still has needs." I asked her if they had thought about counselling, she said he doesn't think there is a problem, so therefore doesn't think counselling is necessary. I also asked her if they have tried to spice it up a bit. She told me, she got some sexy under things, he won't try toys, and laughs when she springs some new little action on him. He says that after being married that many years, it is just not as important as it once was!

I asked her if she thought he was cheating on her. She said absolutely not. He is home every single night. He calls her during the day to tell her he loves her, he still does small things just to say " I love you" etc. He just has zero sex drive. I then told her that he should be checked out by a doctor, because medical conditions can effect a mans desire. She went back to her earlier statement that he doesn't think anything is wrong with him. I told her to talk to her own doctor about it, he might have some suggestions.

We talked further about the possibility of her taking a lover, she asked me my opinion, and I gave her my opinion. But I am curious what opinions of other people are. I know what I think about the importance of sex and passion in a marriage, but I want to know what my community of bloggers think. You guys are great and I really want to know if others think as I do, or if I am just a crazy person.


The Lone Beader said...

How old is she? And, does her husband know this?? I have heard of some married couples who see others outside the marriage, but it is agreed upon. I think in that case, it might be OK....

Everyone's situation is different, but if that were me, I would have to get a divorce because part of me is unhappy, and I do not believe in cheating.

Bardouble29 said...

LB- She is 33. Her hubby is well aware she is unsatisfied with their intimate relationship. Though, I don't think he yet knows she is thinking about lovers. I think she was just bringing it up to me to see what I thought.

Jay said...

Boy, I just don't know what I would say in this situation. I am adamantly opposed to adultery. But, I do kinda see where in certain situations a person gets driven to it by the lack of passion from his/her partner.

Personally, I think that if there is dissatisfaction with the physical side of a marriage and the other person completely refuses to make any effort then a divorce is perferable to adultery.

Unless, as Lone Beader says, both sides agree to seeing people outside of marriage.

Bardouble29 said...

Jay - From a mans point of view...why would you refuse to seek help? Is it pride or something more? Scared?

Em said...

Barb, this is a tough one. I wonder why she brought it up to you? Was she secretly hoping you would give approval and thus relieve some of her guilt about her thoughts? Or was she hoping you would talk her out of it?

Either way, she is thinking of taking a lover...and that seems like it can only make things worse. She may feel better physically, but as she becomes more connected to the lover, will she feel less connected to her hubby? Will it cause her to be a bit more withdrawn at home? Keeping that kind of secret can't be easy. She would be second-guessing her conversations all the time.

I think passion and sex and intimacy are critical in a marriage. And it sounds like she has tried to work on this. Maybe she should go to therapy alone and get some guidance about how to work through this issue. It won't go away. Her needs are very real.

I wish her luck. And I wish you luck as her chosen confidant.

susan said...

Wow, tough situation...

I think that cheating is the wrong approach. That can only start a horrible cycle of lies and guilt...and probably the end of the marriage.

If her husband won't go with her for counseling, I agreee that she should go alone. Then she can figure out what she really wants to do.

Best of luck to her.

Bardouble29 said...

Em - I think so brought it up to me to see my take on the situation. I know both her and her hubby very well. Maybe she needed somone to bounce off of to keep her sane.

Susan - I agree she should go to counseling on her own also, and I told her so. There are so many avenues she can pursue.

Wizened Wizard said...

Let me think this through...

Right now she has (presumably) one problem: her needs are not being met. Her husband has(again, presumably) one problem: lack of sexual desire for her.

Seems to me that his lack of desire is either a physiological problem, a psychological problem, or possibly he is being passive-aggressive and trying to get out of the marriage by getting her to leave.

Fix his problem, and her problem is also - she says - fixed.

If she finds a lover, he still has his problem - unless he's wanting to get out of the marriage - and then she has swapped the sexual need problem for the problem of living lies.

Sex and passion are necessary in a marriage, but they can be done without temporarily. If he had an injury that prevented him from engaging in sex, would she seek a lover? (I doubt it).

The fact that he's home every night and does small things just to say "I love you" could easily be guilt-driven. If they are having perfunctory sex, then his "equipment" isn't the problem, which leads me back to the thought that he needs to see a psychiatrist. Maybe he's realized he's gay, or maybe he has some deep-seated sexual baggage that's come home to roost.

The marriage is in trouble, and you say there's a child involved. They both owe it to that child to make every effort to fix it or at least understand that it can't be fixed. Taking a lover will not help and in fact will probably delay a true resolution of the problem.

You sound as though you are a good friend. You listened - and heard - what your friend had to say, and you gave her good advice.

Bardouble29 said...

Wizened- Very well said. What you said is about what I told her. I told her that is was ultimately her decision, and that I would not judege her, but that it solved nothing of the root of the problem.

Kati said...

Personally, just me, but I wouldn't. DH and I both share the "you can look but you can't touch" philosophy. I mean, there is SOOOOO much more hinged on this than just good sex. It could (probably would) ruin all the good parts of her marriage, and just so she could get her release. If it were me, I'd talk to my family Dr and hopefully be given written materials for the hubby to read, letting him know that it CAN be medical.

On the other hand, if he's not willing to TRY to accomidate her needs, that's rather selfish of him, too. (Same thing I tell myself when I'm just not in the mood, but I know it's been a while since DH got lucky, and there's no PHYSICAL reason I don't feel like it.) Sometimes just going for it, helps.

Really, if he refuses to seek help, then I don't know what to suggest. I'd be reluctant to have an affair, seeing as how much else is riding on whether she does or does not have an affair.

(Heck, for that matter, why not invest in some REALLY good toys, and let the DH know that if he won't help out, then she'll do the job herself. He may see that regular sex IS that important to her. But, that way she's also not renegging on marriage vows.)

Enemy of the Republic said...

Well, marriage is a tough, tough, gig, and a spouse cannot be all things to the other person. Oftentimes we are sold a bill of goods prior to marriage that it will answer all of our problems only to discover that more problems remain. I really don't want to speak directly about either member of the marriage--I've been married long enough to know how hard it is, and that there are many ways one person can both break vows and hurt the other as nobody else can. When people ask me advice, I never know what to say because I often feel like I am barely squeaking through myself.
I hope that makes sense.

Anne said...

I would have told your friend exactly what you did. Cheating will solve nothing. She will be throwing away an otherwise (seemingly) good relationship and a family for her child. It kind of sounds as if there's something on his mind that he's not telling her. It could be any number of things. He's probably embarrassed or scared of her reaction, or not ready to think about it himself. I hope she gets that counseling, and I hope one day soon he will be ready to listen and communicate more openly.

Mayden's Voyage said...

Hey Bardouble- thanks for the visit to MV :)
"Sigh"-About your friend...
Just recently I read Lady Chatterly's lover.
The notion of "taking a lover" sounds like "taking an asprin" for a headache- a remedy of sorts.

With women, a lover is rarely a "remedy"- we get deeply connected emotionally when we get close enough to a man to be free with him physically. I've yet to meet a decent woman who could just have sex for pleasure with's almost always more serious than that.
I do think that if her room-mate husband (because that is exactly what it feels like- been there~) understood that his wife was going to seriously start looking for another man to replace him in the bedroom- she would have his undivided attention.
My guess is though she is bored with her husband- and feels like there is no way (no matter what he does) she will ever be really attracted to him again like she once was.
He is a good provider, a good friend, and a good dad...probably a "Saint"- which is pretty hard to find fault with, except when it comes to passion.
It's astoundingly hard to be in her position- young enough to still be full of energy and love, and yet be tied to a child and a man who don't fulfill her in all ways- and looking ahead to the future with no small amount of dread for what the next 20 (and more) years will hold.
They both need help- or will end up with a disaster on their hands.

Your friend is the ONLY person in the world who can make herself happy. Husband, lover, kids...nothing else can do it. That's a sobering thought- but the more I repeat it to myself the more truth I find in it.

I have more sympathy for your friend than you can imagine- I'm married to a Saint too~ 18 years.
Thankfully- I have managed to tarnish his halo a little :)
But it's been very difficult for me. My heart- though I don't know your friend, goes out to her.
She is lucky to have a friend like you...
sorry this went on so long! :)

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I think sex is something that is important in a relationship. It bothers me that this womans husband is not willing to spice things up for her. Sex may not be important to him anymore but it obviously is to her if she is seriously considering taking on a lover.

His attitude seems a little inconsiderate in this matter. He sounds like an excellent husband in all other respects but I think he needs to understand how important this is to her. I don't think she should get a lover outside of the marriage but I think she should let him know that she is seriously thinking about it.

Maybe then he would realize that even though sex doesn't mean much to him it is important to her and will be willing to work on things a little.

Bardouble29 said...

Kati- I think for her this situation she is in is more than just her looking for release. She described this as an emotional connection that has also been lost. I personally think she is going through a form of the seven year itch.

Enemy - I truly understand why you have a hard time giving advice. I too was hesitant to talk to her at first, becuase of my own failure at marriage, but she wanted to see what I thought of it from a moral measure and as a friend.

Anne- Well said, even though men are known to be 'fearless', they seem to have a harder time expressing themselves in an open manner when it comes to intimacy.

MV - I even asked my friend about what would happen if she fell for the guy, instead of just lust. She really didn't have an answer for me. Thanks for much for coming by to visit!

Whim - My final advice to her was to sit down and have a true heart to heart with the man. I offered to take her lil one for the night. I told her that she needed to get through to him if it was the last thing she did.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I want to echo what MV said--I think she makes some good points. For me it will be 17 years tomorrow--oh my Lord! But I don't think divorce equals failure. Some marriages just shouldn't be. In those cases, staying together is failure. I saw this with my folks. I will only say this about sex and passion: they reflect love that is already there. A husband loves differently from a wife, but the love is no less. But it may not be what the other needs. Does that make sense?

Bardouble29 said...

Enemy - I was taught growing up that divorce was a sin against God. But I am divorced and it was a good thing, not a bad thing. I think there are times that people do more damage staying together than being apart. I agre that men and women love differently. That is part of what balances a relationship.

Jay said...

Bardouble: I really don't know why guys refuse to go to counseling. Part of it is pride, but part of it is worrying about how it will look to others.

Men are especially worried about it becoming known at work. As unfair as it is, men get punished by their employers if they are in any kind of counseling. Especially by male bosses.

When it come promotion time a male boss that knows that a male employee has beein in any kid of counseling will hold it against him.

Bardouble29 said...

Jay - wow! I didn't think stuff like still happened. Geez! No wonder men are so opposed to counselling.

Dorky Dad said...

Has she talked with him about this? As for getting a lover, that's rather ridiculous. He'll ultimately find out and the marriage will be over.

RockDog said...

Hey Bar!

This may shock you coming from me, but there is never a reason to look outside of the marriage for sexual satisfaction.

Open marriages are very rare and work for even less people.

She has an issue and if left unresolved will eventually strain their relationship...and probably result in ending it.

While I agree 100% with Jay about the publics view on males getting counceling...if the marriage is important to him, then he will go.

I'll leave my soapbox here if anyone else would like to use it LOL!

Have a good week!

Kati said...

Ah, yeah.... That good ol' seven year itch. Been there, done that. Actually went through it at a point where I was actually almost hating the DH because he pressured me to leave a job I loved and take a job I hated, just for more money. I had an admirer at that job, and I tumbled the idea over in my head, and came to the conclusion that I couldn't be any more sure about a relationship with that admirer, than I was about my relationship with DH. And I didn't want to screw up my life worse than it already was, and ruin DD's life. Nothing came of that infatuation, I got my current job, and my relationship with DH is going pretty dang strong again.

I hope your friend doesn't screw up what IS good in her life, and rides out the storm, seeks some counceling if possible, and finds herself in a relationship that is better than it was before.

Blublood said...

I agree with you completely in that she should ask for medical advice and so should he.

There are many factors in a mans sex drive and that doesn't mean anything has to be wrong in the relationship or necessarily with him physically.

Things just happen sometimes but we live in a world with so many in's & out's as far as technology and medicine that there is almost always an answer...

Good Luck to your friend...


skinnylittleblonde said...

I came, read, re-read & left the other day without posting a comment, but I guess now the time is right by me.
I think she should not have an affair. That would be breaking her vows, but also punitive to her spouse & eventually to herself. Personally, I look at sex as a 'bonus room' in house of marriage. I look at trust and honesty as the fondation and things like communication as the kitchen & so on.... integrity, respect, intimacy(apart from sexuality), common goals & such as our living spaces.
That being said, as much as I love having a bonus room & as indulgent as it may be, I know that it could never stand without a proper fondation.
I know that not all folks have bonus rooms but they still have love & all the other things that it takes to have a rewarding life, home & love. They have a strong fondation.
Your girlfriend will do what she decides regardless. You can only hope to open her mind to ideas or things she has not already thought of or acted on.
I recently had a peer who was having an affair with a man who was in an 'open marriage.' After 6 mos. together, she had to dump him. His wife booted him out & she suddenly found her 'perfect' boyfriend not-so-perfect. he started wanting to spend the night & just hang-out, the gifts & golden treatment she rec'd as the other-woman turned into just plain old-fashioned 'boring' behavior... burps & all.
I just had to shake my head & say 'well, I guess his wife thought she'd found someone to pawn him off on, in you.'
Yadadadadayada...sorry so long! :)

Bardouble29 said...

To All - Thanks, for the comments and the open honest opinions. It funny that sometimes I feel like an old fashioned fuddy-duddy...but as I all the responses from my bloggerhood, I see that more or less there are many others who like me feel that vows and such are meant to be kept.

Since this blog, my friend updated me. She sat down and had a heart to heart with her hubby. She laid it out that it was either they sought help together ot she would possibly looking to get out of the marriage. She happily reported that even though he is still claiming ot have nothing wrong, he agreed (grumpily!) to go to counseling.

Jay said...

I agree with Rock that your friends husband SHOULD put the marriage first and go to counseling. I was simply giving you a reason why some men are afraid to do so.

captain corky said...

I think your friend could be getting herself into trouble by seeking a lover. It's hard to keep emotion and sex completely separate in my opinion. I think there is definitely an issue that this guy needs to address.

just me said...

Taking a lover because your marriage is not as satisfying as it once was, is a huge mistake. It destroys trust, the very foundation of a good relationship, and taking a lover is never as wonderful as it seems. When my ex-husband began to feel more like my brother than a husband, and he refused counseling, that was it. End of marriage.

I would advise this lady to explore other avenues of self-expression, other interests. Sounds like she lives too much for her husband and not enough for herself.

I also think men have performance issues, and oddly enough don't want to be viewed as a sex machine. We woman seem to think sometimes that men can perform on demand, and that is a huge responsibility for any guy.

But, like others have said, it is nice that you are there to listen, and shoot her straight. Very few in this world have friends that close.

Kati said...

Glad to hear that the hubby has agreed to go to counceling. I hope he's open-minded and takes to heart the fact that his wife is THIS concerned about the status of things. And, of course, I hope they find a councelor who actually helps them work things out and improve their marriage.

Fi said...

Fascinating discussion piece Bar. I don't feel qualified to comment about marriage as I'm not in that club myself although I am in a committed relationship. I'm glad the hubby is going for counselling I think it would reflect badly on his love for your friend if he continued to refuse to get help. I hope they work things out. A sexless relationship sounds like hell to me, very frustrating and something that demands attention and a soloution, otherwise it's just a friendship.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I'm a little late in this post and don't have anything new to add about this situation. I am strongly against adultery. Yes, sex and passion is important but the lack of it is no excuse for adultery.

I have to agree with wizened that there doesn't seem to be anything physically wrong with him if he still performs "perfuctory" as you said. It just sounds like he's lost interest or isn't attracted anymore. If that's the case the problem is much more deep-seeded than passion/sex.

kate said...

Glad her husband will go to counceling... although I am not sure that is the answer AND they may need to try out several shrinks before they get one they both relate to!!! I also think she has lots of issues going on and would benefit from individual sessions (with a different person) too.

Its tough to really know from one persons side of the story, what is truly going on.

In any event, I ditto what MV said... will take it a bit further too... I wonder if your friend has in fact already taken a lover. (I bet that she has some intimate connection with someone already... its rarely about the sex as much as it is about the feeling of being desired and wanted )

I just dont know how you get back passion and desire. I really honestly dont. Counseling or not... I hate to say it but you either agree to live unfulfilled or you move on.

My question to you is... Do you think that most people live with passion and desire in their relationship forever or does that fizzle out over time? When you are 60 should you expect your marriages to still have that?

Please keep us updated!