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  #1  
Old 08-24-2009, 12:40 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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Can you maintain a friendship with someone you had an affair with while trying to fix your marriage?

I'm hoping for opinions from both sides on this, but we'll see.

In this situation, a spouse (Spouse A) has developed a deep friendship with someone that inadvertently turned into an affair (the sex was technically allowed, but falling in love was not). The marriage has been turned upside down as a result (there were many problems in the marriage before, most caused by Spouse B, but the affair caused everything to blow up), and the two spouses are now separated, but trying very hard to put things back together.

Spouse A has promised sincerely to leave behind the sex with 3rd party. However, the friendship with that party remains very important. The 3rd party, oddly enough, was cheated on before, and the spouse who had the affair finds the counsel of the 3rd party very important and useful for perspective. In addition, Spouse A enjoys activities with the 3rd party that Spouse B doesn't have any interest in.

Spouse B has agreed not to stand in the way of Spouse A's friendship under the understanding that Spouse A can rein in any feelings of being in love and simply enjoy the friendship and counsel of the 3rd party. But Spouse B still expresses disbelief that such a reining in is possible, and doubts Spouse A's ability to honestly evaluate Spouse A's emotions and capabilities at this time.

So my question to you is, is this a circumstance where it is possible for Spouse A to maintain a friendship with the 3rd party without doing further, and possibly irreparable damage to the marriage?
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  #2  
Old 08-24-2009, 12:44 PM
Cat Fight Cat Fight is offline
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Sure they can stay friends. But that marriage that the spouses are trying very hard to put back together? Not going to happen.

Last edited by Cat Fight; 08-24-2009 at 12:44 PM..
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  #3  
Old 08-24-2009, 12:49 PM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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No, absolutely not. It is possible that years later, after the marriage has been patched up, they may meet again, and be friends, but there should be an absolute cut-off while they are trying to patch up the relationship.
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  #4  
Old 08-24-2009, 12:52 PM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
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I think that if you're talking about the type of marriage where sex with a 3rd party can be "technically allowed," you really have to explain the context. It's like one of Skald the Rhymer's science fiction hypotheticals to most married people. It's as foreign to me as if you were asking how I thought it would work in Saudia Arabia. Under what terms are they polyamorous?
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Old 08-24-2009, 01:18 PM
fisha fisha is offline
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Not possible.
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Old 08-24-2009, 01:23 PM
mswas mswas is offline
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I'm confused. If they are broken up, and there were problems with the spouse then why not simply go for the affair and build a relationship with that person?
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  #7  
Old 08-24-2009, 01:25 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harriet the Spry View Post
I think that if you're talking about the type of marriage where sex with a 3rd party can be "technically allowed," you really have to explain the context.
The two spouses agreed to an open marriage a while back, meaning that each were allowed to pursue sex outside of the marriage. However, both spouses were novices and very naive about it. They didn't understand that it was a mistake to pursue open marriage as a solution to the marital problems they were having. Spouse B had zero interest in open marriage to begin with, but went along with it because of the knowledge that Spouse A was unhappy with their sex life. And both spouses failed to create a solid set of ground rules for the terms of the open marriage.

Both spouses walked away from the agreement with different ideas of what would happen. Spouse A felt the agreement was to be able to pursue sex outside of the marriage without any restriction other than that Spouse B was not to know about it. Spouse B thought that Spouse A could go out and experiment and not tell Spouse B about it, but that if Spouse A wanted further such relationships, then perhaps the two spouses would have to come together and discuss what it meant for the marriage.
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Old 08-24-2009, 01:28 PM
janeslogin janeslogin is offline
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Does a divorce irreparable damage a marriage? Or, in other words what was the purpose of the marriage?

I knew this man who bought his wife a house next door and moved his wife and kids there because they clashed all the time over almost everything.

After the kids went to university she divorced him and remarried. When I met him they still lived next door to on another, still had a joint bank account, still entertained the now adult kids together.
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  #9  
Old 08-24-2009, 01:28 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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Originally Posted by mswas View Post
I'm confused. If they are broken up, and there were problems with the spouse then why not simply go for the affair and build a relationship with that person?
The problems are out in the open now, whereas they weren't before. And both spouses believe they are problems that can be addressed and fixed to the point where both spouses can truly be happy together.

As for the affair, Spouse A enjoys the time with the 3rd party, but doesn't believe that that relationship would be romantically fulfilling on any kind of long-term basis. In fact, the 3rd party has been heavily encouraging Spouse A to work things out with Spouse B because that's what seems most likely to make Spouse A happy in the long term.
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  #10  
Old 08-24-2009, 01:28 PM
Giraffe Giraffe is offline
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Originally Posted by Asimovian View Post
there were many problems in the marriage before, most caused by Spouse B
Based on this single sentence, they should really just get a divorce. A polyamorous relationship where one person is perceived to be the cause of problems and unhappiness and the other one is falling in love and having sex with someone else is, in a word, a mess. I'm guessing they'd both be better off in the long run if they saw the writing on the wall and split up now.

But, if they do want to save it, Spouse A can't continue the "deep friendship" with Friend C.
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  #11  
Old 08-24-2009, 01:31 PM
Giraffe Giraffe is offline
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Also, I know you're trying to frame this as a hypothetical to get more impartial advice, but you're really, really obviously Spouse A in this scenario so it'd probably be easier (and you'd get better advice) if you just dropped all the Spouse A stuff and said "I" instead. Just my humble opinion.
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  #12  
Old 08-24-2009, 01:32 PM
pepperlandgirl pepperlandgirl is offline
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I don't understand why the two spouses are trying to make things worse. it sounds like the relationship was falling apart even before the introduction of The Friend and the attempt at an open marriage. If the relationship is worth saving despite the various issues, then Spouse A should dump the friend. If Spouse A is not willing to make that sort of sacrifice for the sake of a marriage, then I would doubt Spouse A is really committed to fixing things.
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  #13  
Old 08-24-2009, 01:34 PM
DianaG DianaG is offline
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Hmm... call me old fashioned and unreasonable and irrational and all, but no, you don't get to continue to hang out with the person you cheated on me with while we "work on" our marriage. I'm a bitch like that.
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  #14  
Old 08-24-2009, 01:36 PM
MoodIndigo1 MoodIndigo1 is offline
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No. That person has to be completely off this couple's radar for a long, long time if you hope for the rebuilding of the marriage. Plenty of fish in the sea, such a "friend" is not indispensable, if he/she is really a friend at all.

As for the spouse who is contemplating keeping a friendship with an ex-lover while mending fences with a spouse, he/she is not realistic and wants to keep the cake (have your cake and eat it too?).
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  #15  
Old 08-24-2009, 01:42 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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When these people grow up, they'll understand that things like this (naive, poorly planned polyamory) almost always turn out this way.
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  #16  
Old 08-24-2009, 01:43 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giraffe View Post
Also, I know you're trying to frame this as a hypothetical to get more impartial advice, but you're really, really obviously Spouse A in this scenario so it'd probably be easier (and you'd get better advice) if you just dropped all the Spouse A stuff and said "I" instead. Just my humble opinion.
You have it backwards, friend. I'm Spouse B. And I'm not just saying that; there are those here who know me, as well as another thread I started a few weeks back that would make that pretty clear.
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  #17  
Old 08-24-2009, 01:46 PM
Transistor Rhythm Transistor Rhythm is offline
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This one gets a simple, "of course not."
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  #18  
Old 08-24-2009, 01:56 PM
Heart of Dorkness Heart of Dorkness is offline
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So basically, A upset B, not by having sex with 3rd Party, but by falling in love with 3rd. A now wants to remedy the situation by ceasing the not-upsetting thing (having sex with 3rd) but still maintaining the upsetting thing (the relationship with 3rd). And the reason A wants so badly to maintain the relationship with 3rd is that it provides A some important things that are lacking from the relationship with B.


Yeah, that's not going to work.
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  #19  
Old 08-24-2009, 01:59 PM
Telcontar Telcontar is offline
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Originally Posted by Asimovian View Post
The problems are out in the open now, whereas they weren't before. And both spouses believe they are problems that can be addressed and fixed to the point where both spouses can truly be happy together.

As for the affair, Spouse A enjoys the time with the 3rd party, but doesn't believe that that relationship would be romantically fulfilling on any kind of long-term basis. In fact, the 3rd party has been heavily encouraging Spouse A to work things out with Spouse B because that's what seems most likely to make Spouse A happy in the long term.
3rd party should go on a long vacation.

My perspective: Spouse B agreed to an open marriage without especially wanting to (the "don't tell me" clause seems to often end badly). Spouse A then had sex with someone that s/he had a deep emotional bond with. Spouse B feels replaced in every possible way.

1.) Spouse A may very well be fooling him/herself into thinking that they can keep their feelings for 3rd party on a leash. Even if no infidelity occurs, the emotional connection of the 3rd party can compete with Spouse B.
2.) Spouse B may believe 1 even if it's not true.

If putting the marriage back together is priority 1, then the 3rd party needs to be much less available. Think of it as a cooling off period or whatever. I'd say that the friendship is possible, but that it needs to be put on hold.
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  #20  
Old 08-24-2009, 02:09 PM
Vihaga Vihaga is offline
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Originally Posted by Heart of Dorkness View Post
So basically, A upset B, not by having sex with 3rd Party, but by falling in love with 3rd. A now wants to remedy the situation by ceasing the not-upsetting thing (having sex with 3rd) but still maintaining the upsetting thing (the relationship with 3rd). And the reason A wants so badly to maintain the relationship with 3rd is that it provides A some important things that are lacking from the relationship with B.


Yeah, that's not going to work.
Heh. Started typing, but exactly what Heart of Dorkness said. In what way is Spouse A trying to fix the marriage if they're maintaining a friendship with 3rd party when the non-sexual relationship between A and 3rd party caused the problem in the first place?

Agreeing to those terms was perhaps an unwise thing for Spouse B to do, especially given that Spouse B doesn't trust Spouse A to hold up his/her part of the agreement.
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  #21  
Old 08-24-2009, 02:38 PM
redtail23 redtail23 is offline
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From my experience in a similar situation, I'd say no.

Spouse B is going to feel justifiably threatened by the continued relationship. This will continue to cause problems in resolving the trust and communication issues in the marriage.

Spouse A is going to divert time and energy from the marriage into the side relationship, which is counter-productive to fixing the marriage problems.

I would also agree that Spouse A is not really able to accurately judge their own emotions and levels of involvement in this situation. I suspect that Spouse A is underestimating the impact of this friendship on the marriage. If Spouse A is using this friendship as a "safety valve" or "sounding board" or "marriage advisor" for the marriage, then that is energy and intimacy that should be put into the marriage to make it work instead of into the friendship.

Can the marriage reach a stable balance where it continues to limp along, even with the continued friendship? Yes, undoubtedly. Question is whether that's the desired result.

Spouse A needs to be willing to put the marriage first, which means stopping contact with the friend for some (lengthy) period of time until the marriage issues are resolved. Depending on how things are going in the marriage, then limited contact might be resumed at some point well down the road, with restrictions tailored to the comfort level of Spouse B .

If friend is truly concerned for the welfare of the marriage, then friend should be willing to go along with this.

OTOH, Spouse B needs to acknowledge the major sacrifice being made for the marriage, and make commensurate efforts to meet Spouse A's needs for companionship. If Spouse A can give up a close friend for the marriage, then Spouse B can put the effort into becoming interested in activities that Spouse A enjoys.
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  #22  
Old 08-24-2009, 02:43 PM
Heart of Dorkness Heart of Dorkness is offline
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Originally Posted by Asimovian View Post
You have it backwards, friend. I'm Spouse B.
I thought you were A as well, and it's because you make yourself sound entirely sympathetic to A's point of view, desires, and needs, and not at all to B's.

It would be one thing if you were simply trying to adopt an unbiased tone, but beyond that, you:

1) assume the blame for most of the problems prior to the affair
2) "went along with" an unwanted open marriage because A was unhappy with your sex life, and
3) have agreed not to stand in the way of A's maintaining an Affair-Lite with the 3rd party

That is all very disturbing to me. I have to wonder why you seem so willing to sacrifice yourself to hang onto A. You have to consider your own happiness first in this or any relationship. It shouldn't matter to you whether you think, or the 3rd party thinks, or even A thinks that working things out with you "seems most likely to make Spouse A happy in the long term." A is clearly capable of looking out for A's happiness - long term, short term, and eveything in between. Your only concern should be whether you'd be happier with A or without A - not the A you want, but the A you have.
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  #23  
Old 08-24-2009, 02:46 PM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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Abso-fucking-loutely not.
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Old 08-24-2009, 02:50 PM
Merneith Merneith is offline
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Originally Posted by Asimovian View Post
You have it backwards, friend. I'm Spouse B. And I'm not just saying that; there are those here who know me, as well as another thread I started a few weeks back that would make that pretty clear.
So, Asimovian, what are -you- getting out of this relationship? She's not happy with your sex life and she doesn't enjoy your activities. What -does- she want to do with you?

And how is settling for all this better for -you- than dumping her and finding someone who's enthusiastic about you?

As for the question, no, it won't work and Spouse A has a hell of a lot of nerve to ask if she's really serious about maintaining her marriage.
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  #25  
Old 08-24-2009, 02:51 PM
johnpost johnpost is online now
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open marriages seem to most often work best with lots of communication. sometimes rules, restrictions and explicit guidelines are needed for success. continuing communication and possible restructuring likely might be needed.

some open marriages are 'sex only', 'affection only', 'companionship only' or some mix or variation. all depends on the people and where they are at in that point and time.

i would treat this as similar to an open marriage because that is where it came from and it has elements that are or are close to that in the wide spectrum that it can be.

talk about where you are at now, where you want to get to, how you want to go there. you might have regular talks based on a time frame as well as feeling the need to have a talk. you might define level of allowed closeness or time spent of your spouse with the 3rd person.

guidelines and structure can add a lot of stability and security that wouldn't be there just winging it. based on your story doing the more structured thing would be best.

wish you well in working things out.
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  #26  
Old 08-24-2009, 02:51 PM
Giraffe Giraffe is offline
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Originally Posted by Heart of Dorkness View Post
I thought you were A as well, and it's because you make yourself sound entirely sympathetic to A's point of view, desires, and needs, and not at all to B's.

It would be one thing if you were simply trying to adopt an unbiased tone, but beyond that, you:

1) assume the blame for most of the problems prior to the affair
2) "went along with" an unwanted open marriage because A was unhappy with your sex life, and
3) have agreed not to stand in the way of A's maintaining an Affair-Lite with the 3rd party

That is all very disturbing to me. I have to wonder why you seem so willing to sacrifice yourself to hang onto A. You have to consider your own happiness first in this or any relationship. It shouldn't matter to you whether you think, or the 3rd party thinks, or even A thinks that working things out with you "seems most likely to make Spouse A happy in the long term." A is clearly capable of looking out for A's happiness - long term, short term, and eveything in between. Your only concern should be whether you'd be happier with A or without A - not the A you want, but the A you have.
Wow, this is almost word for word what I was going to post once I saw that Asimovian was in fact B not A.

Asimovian, you seem to be bending over backwards to see things from A's point of view (e.g. A has activities that B doesn't enjoy, so cutting out fuck-buddy friend would be unfair) to the point that I think it's clouding your perspective. Heart of Dorkness is 100% right -- you have to make your happiness in a relationship your first priority. It's not selfish, it's the key to having a good relationship -- when you're with someone who compliments you and makes you happy, you'll make them happy. If you and your spouse are incompatible sexually and incompatible with your hobbies and having relationship problems on top of it, what is the draw? Love isn't itself enough, in fact sometimes it's the glue that keeps you stuck in a mostly miserable situation.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
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  #27  
Old 08-24-2009, 02:54 PM
Hampshire Hampshire is online now
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I question what any party in this whole mess wants out of the situation at this point.
If I was Spouse A and left my partner to look for physical happiness elsewhere and at the same time found intellectual happiness, what would make me want to go back to Spouse B?
If I was Spouse B and my partner left to find physical happiness elsewhere and at the same time found intellectual happiness, why would I want them back if I had nothing to offer them?
If I was 3rd party and had an intellectual bond with Spouse A that started as a physical relationship, why would I still want to be involved with them in a "friends" only realtionship?
I think everyone needs to figure out what the hell they want out of this whole ordeal.
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  #28  
Old 08-24-2009, 02:58 PM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
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Yuck, that sounds like a mess. Are they trying to get back to monogamy or polyamory?

I think this could work out one of two ways.

If the two spouses have a serious grounding in shared values, including the value of a monogamous marriage, and they really commit to saving it with the help of counseling, it could be saved. I'm sure marriage counselors have seen bigger messes cleaned up before. In this scenario, the 3rd party would need to be out of the picture.

On the other hand, maybe they try to make a go of it as the 3 of them. There's nothing here that makes the 3rd party seem like a bad person. If you're going to be polyamorous, how would you want to be polyamorous differently? If you can only be polyamorous with people you don't really like, that sounds unpleasant. OTOH, I'm no expert on polyamory.

And then there are at least the 50 ways Paul Simon sang about that this could end.
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  #29  
Old 08-24-2009, 03:09 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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This is just a hunch, but is 3rd party a woman?
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  #30  
Old 08-24-2009, 03:26 PM
Nametag Nametag is online now
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Robert Heinlein, the grandmaster of science fiction, polyamorous fiction, and wish fulfillment, once defined love as a condition in which another person's happiness is as essential to you as your own.

By this definition, A does not love B; neither does B.
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  #31  
Old 08-24-2009, 03:50 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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Sorry for the absence. To address some points.

First, Diogenes, no, the 3rd party is very much male, but I can see where you might get that.

To all of you who suggest I should be putting my happiness above anyone else's at the moment, I actually agree with all of you. There isn't any way for me to capture here (nor do I particularly wish to) everything that has gone on in our lives in the three and a half weeks since I first learned the affair was happening, but I can try to summarize a few things for you.

First, and maybe most importantly, since I started this thread, I have learned from her that she now realizes on her own that her friendship with this guy is not healthy for our marriage, and that she needs to put that on hold for the foreseeable future. Learning that from her has softened my opinion quite a bit, because up to this point, I have been of the mind that she really and truly doesn't get it. Maybe that's changing.

Second, in terms of me taking responsibility for a lot of wrongs in the past, that's not me trying to skewer myself for any particular reason other than that I believe it to be true. We went to a couple of counseling sessions together when this news first broke, and I figured out through some side reading I did that I have really ignored her pleas for certain changes in our relationship. We've been together nearly 13 years, and married for 10 of those, and I have missed a lot of signs over the years that I get now. It's very easy to say that her having an affair was the wrong solution, and everyone agrees with that, including her. But I bear a lot of responsibility for not listening to what was being said to me, directly and indirectly, in this marriage. And I'm not going to shirk that.

As for the sexual incompatibility...well, that part is difficult. It isn't that we aren't capable of enjoying sex together -- we can, and do, and even that has improved quite a bit in the last three weeks or so. What I have learned in the past few weeks (and always suspected in the back of my head) is that she has never had a "chemical" attraction to me -- that raw physical appeal where the very scent of someone turns you on. I've always had that for her. And the question we both have to ask ourselves is, are we willing -- and are we able -- to continue our relationship going forward with that knowledge. There's no magic pill to solve that problem. Her answer to that question seems to be yes, particularly since there has been improvement in our sex lives as of late. I'm not sure what my answer is yet.

The goal for the two of us is monogamy. I never wanted anything other than that, and she is fully aware now that there is no way this marriage survives in any other form. There is a certain amount of security in the amount of love we have for one another and the lives we have built around each other, certainly. But beyond that we really do make each other happy in other ways. We are of very similar intelligence, and so we enjoy our conversations very much. We have the same senses of humor, which also goes with the conversations, but it also means we share many of the same friends, the same taste in movies and TV shows and books...many of the same intellectual pursuits, in fact. And we're both computer geeks to an extent. So if I've given the impression that there is love in our relationship and nothing more to offer one another, then that is false. It is true that we don't have many of the same hobbies in common, however.

If I'm forgetting to address anyone else's specific points, I apologize. I made myself sound like Spouse A as an effort to not try to draw sympathy to my own side. It is not that I completely sympathize with her points, believe me. But I do make a genuine effort to try to understand where she's coming from, whether I agree with it or not.

Last edited by Asimovian; 08-24-2009 at 03:51 PM..
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  #32  
Old 08-24-2009, 04:21 PM
Telcontar Telcontar is offline
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Asimovian, good luck to you.

It sounds like sex might actually have been a big part of your problem. One point that you may not have considered:

Good sex is like a good golf swing; you're not born knowing how to do it and plenty of people have made $$$ trying to give people advice on how to do it better. If you haven't already, put some effort into researching this the same way you would any more intellectual topic.

In a pleasant bit of synergy, psychologists are always talking about the value of "novel" and "exciting" (in the sense of physiologically arousing) activities in maintaining interest in relationships. :-P
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  #33  
Old 08-24-2009, 04:33 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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Telcontar, to the extent that the "mechanics" of sex or creativity within have been a problem, I agree with you. Those problems are addressable, and already have begun to be addressed, with some notable success.

As I said, though, the bigger issue is, am I going to be able to go forward in this relationship knowing that we don't have that chemical connection that partners have? There are women out there with whom I would have such a connection. But am I willing, and should I be willing, to give that up in order to have everything else that I know is possible in this relationship? I have deep love, a lot of fun, security, and a physically gratifying sex life. But can I survive and be happy without having that emotional connection that is missing?

I've talked to a lot of female friends about this, many of whom have told me that they don't have that raw chemical draw to their own spouses, but that they don't feel their sex lives are lacking in any way. So I'm not concerned about her end of that. When she says that she can still be happy without feeling that for me, I do believe that's possible. This is about me. What does that do to my ego? Is it worth it? Short of having her magically feel that kind of attraction to me, are there things we can do to improve our sex lives from my point of view?

These are some of the things I need to continue to think about.
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  #34  
Old 08-24-2009, 04:40 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is online now
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Originally Posted by Asimovian View Post
But can I survive and be happy without having that emotional connection that is missing?
You said what was missing was a chemical connection. Why do you conclude that there is anything emotional about that type of chemistry, and thus a lack of emotional connection? In my experience, it is quite the opposite: the two don't have much to do with each other. And as per
Quote:
I have deep love, a lot of fun, security, and a physically gratifying sex life.
it seems you feel there is an emotional connection.

Edited to add: consider reading The Five Love Languages. It's a bit cheesy and a bit jesusriffic, but there's still some very good info there.

Last edited by Hello Again; 08-24-2009 at 04:42 PM..
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  #35  
Old 08-24-2009, 04:47 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Originally Posted by Asimovian View Post
As for the sexual incompatibility...well, that part is difficult. It isn't that we aren't capable of enjoying sex together -- we can, and do, and even that has improved quite a bit in the last three weeks or so. What I have learned in the past few weeks (and always suspected in the back of my head) is that she has never had a "chemical" attraction to me -- that raw physical appeal where the very scent of someone turns you on. I've always had that for her. And the question we both have to ask ourselves is, are we willing -- and are we able -- to continue our relationship going forward with that knowledge. There's no magic pill to solve that problem. Her answer to that question seems to be yes, particularly since there has been improvement in our sex lives as of late. I'm not sure what my answer is yet.

The goal for the two of us is monogamy. I never wanted anything other than that, and she is fully aware now that there is no way this marriage survives in any other form. There is a certain amount of security in the amount of love we have for one another and the lives we have built around each other, certainly. But beyond that we really do make each other happy in other ways. We are of very similar intelligence, and so we enjoy our conversations very much. We have the same senses of humor, which also goes with the conversations, but it also means we share many of the same friends, the same taste in movies and TV shows and books...many of the same intellectual pursuits, in fact. And we're both computer geeks to an extent. So if I've given the impression that there is love in our relationship and nothing more to offer one another, then that is false. It is true that we don't have many of the same hobbies in common, however.
Since you put it like that, sorry, not likely.

You two may be best friends, intellectually compatable, secure with each other and in tune with each other's likes and dislikes. But if one partner isn't sexsually attracted to the other, there will always be a fundamental imbalance in the relationship.

Now it could be that with a lot of counseling and therapy, the two of you may achieve a sexual dynamic which makes her happy (and doesn't make you unhappy.) But if not, then there's going to be a big hole in what she considers important in a relationship, and it's going to manifest itself EVERY time she meets someone she feels a spark for.

I'd say that in addition to relationship therapy, the two of you should also look into some sort of sexual counseling to determine what she feels is missing in her relationship with you, and whether or not it's something the two of you can correct.
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  #36  
Old 08-24-2009, 05:01 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
You said what was missing was a chemical connection. Why do you conclude that there is anything emotional about that type of chemistry, and thus a lack of emotional connection? In my experience, it is quite the opposite: the two don't have much to do with each other. And as per
it seems you feel there is an emotional connection.

Edited to add: consider reading The Five Love Languages. It's a bit cheesy and a bit jesusriffic, but there's still some very good info there.
What is misssing for her is a chemical attraction to me. She has decided that is not important to her. The fact that she doesn't have that for me, however, causes an emotional reaction in me every time we have sex. A reminder, every time, that there is imbalance in our relationship, as kunilou put it. Because I have a feeling for her that she is incapable of reciprocating.

With regard to The Five Love Languages, I've read it. Our counselor assigned it as homework. And it was reading that book that caused me to have the reaction I referred to earlier in terms of recognizing how I'd missed out on providing her with so much of what she'd asked me for previously in this relationship. That's the "side-reading" I was talking about. And for the record, I'd recommend the book to any couple -- you can easily take or leave the religious aspects of it depending on your own personal bent. I found it rather illuminating.
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  #37  
Old 08-24-2009, 05:02 PM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
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Well, one thing about that chemical, physical attraction is that it doesn't always last. So her situation with "chemical guy" 3-5 years from now might be exactly the same as her situation with you. That's something for her to consider.
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  #38  
Old 08-24-2009, 06:16 PM
purple haze purple haze is offline
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Asimovian, do you have any idea what a catch you are? You're obviously a very intelligent, caring person, and she should be thankful to have you in her life. Really. You deserve everything good that life has to offer, including a fulfilling relationship. I hope that everything works out for you - this is a terrible test for any marriage.

I should know. No, we never experienced polygamy or affairs or anything even close, but my husband and I had a rough time of it a couple years back, and I was on the edge of leaving. We were able to work things out and now love each other more than ever. Our marriage is strong and he's my best friend. I don't doubt that we will have conflict in the years to come; we're very different people. One thing that I have learned from all of that mess is that sometimes you have to fight for what is really important to you, even when you don't think you can deal with it any more. If you're both willing to put up with the stress, frustration, grief and anger to work towards something better, then that's a positive sign - even if it doesn't feel like it at the time.

It's good that you vented here about what is going on - I know it helped me when I didn't want to talk to friends and family IRL about things that were deeply personal to me.

The sexual/chemical stuff is an interesting point. It sounds like she's been candid with you; maybe a bit too candid. There are some things that are better off unsaid. She needs to resolve this issue as soon as possible so that you can both move forward. Also, the other guy shouldn't be a part of her life any more. I know that you want her to be happy, but it's time to be assertive here and tell him to get lost. If giving up this other relationship is very difficult, that should tell you all something right there.

Good luck. I really hope this all works out for you. If you ever need anything, feel free to PM me.
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  #39  
Old 08-24-2009, 06:34 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purple haze View Post
Asimovian, do you have any idea what a catch you are? You're obviously a very intelligent, caring person, and she should be thankful to have you in her life. Really. You deserve everything good that life has to offer, including a fulfilling relationship. I hope that everything works out for you - this is a terrible test for any marriage.
I appreciate the compliment (very much), but I want to be careful to point out that the same applies to her. Just because a mistake has been made here doesn't mean that she isn't a wonderful person. If she weren't, it would have been very easy to just walk away from the whole disaster. As is, there is going to be a lot of pain and suffering and a LOT of hard work on both of our parts if we're going to turn our marriage around. But there's a reason I happen to think that's worthwhile. And the same goes for her. If I had nothing to offer her, she could have just packed it up and left me altogether when I screwed up and she got frustrated. But she didn't. She's still here, and still trying to make it work.

<shrug>
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  #40  
Old 08-24-2009, 06:55 PM
anu-la1979 anu-la1979 is offline
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Wow, I am out of the loop and you didn't say anything when I ran into you a few weeks ago...when you're feeling up to it, email me and I'll take you out for a lunch. You've certainly listened to me b*tch about my ex enough.

1) For starters, I think you need to go on a good long vacation somewhere wild. Australia. What do I know...though...when I dumped my boyfriend I sat down and took the GMATs and now I'm stuck in application hell.

2) My sister was with someone for a really long time with whom she felt she was not "truly" attracted to and eventually broke up with him when they started discussing marriage. I felt really really bad for him at the time but I think I would have felt worse for both of them if they had wasted their 20s on one another and then divorced. She went on to marry someone she did feel that way for (and honestly, I think my sister's college BF was Not Annoying the way my brother-in-law is and they're equally attractive but Bro is her choice and she has that "connection" so it's her choice/life).

I think that it's very dangerous when one partner is like "I love you, but I feel like I'm settling because..." and that because is a) combination of longtime guilt combined with affection and/or b) they don't feel they can get anyone better or they're afraid of being alone. I'm sure she's a great person. My sister is a really nice person, actually, esp. to her partners-my brother-in-law is very lucky. But I doubt she would have been good long-term for John. I'm not certain they would have reached this type of implosion (as we were raised rather conservatively with heavy doses of religion) but she would definitely have divorced him by now.

Longterm, I think this arrangement is dangerous because it creates an imbalance where one person feels like they're doing a lot of sacrificing and the other person feels guilt over being sacrificed for-and I think it results in outbursts of drama. And honestly, do you want to be settled for? It doesn't seem like a great option to me.

I'd take this time apart not just to focus on putting your marriage together, but thinking about what you want out of life. Are you comfortable where you are? What's missing (I mean, beyond the current seperation from your long-time spouse). Are there places you'd like to visit, degrees you'd like to earn, any other things you'd like to do? You may still love her but I think both of you need to re-evaluate what a long term marriage would entail for the both of you and if both of your needs are going to be me without resentment on someone's (or both of your) parts.
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  #41  
Old 08-24-2009, 10:00 PM
CaveMike CaveMike is offline
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In answer to the OP: no. The fact that she had sex with this guy and the fact that you both agreed to an open-relationship have nothing to do with this question. If you two are truly trying to rebuild your marriage, then neither of you can have such a strong friendship with anyone but each other. If you convince yourself otherwise, then you will guarantee failure. And since he is such a good counsel, the 3rd party should understand this and get out of the way.

With the sort of problems you are describing, it is unlikely that either of you is responsible for more than 50% of the blame. Assigning more blame to the other person is an obvious recipe for disaster, but assigning yourself more than 50% is really just as bad. Neither party can start with the moral high-ground.

One easy thing you should do is quickly get interested in the following:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asimovian View Post
In addition, Spouse A enjoys activities with the 3rd party that Spouse B doesn't have any interest in.
Finally, I think the posts by Heart of Dorkness and Hamshire were very well put.

Good luck!
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  #42  
Old 08-24-2009, 10:47 PM
Telcontar Telcontar is offline
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I think you may be overly relying on the word chemical, Asimovian. there are many kinds of love, and many sources of it. The physiological "wow, i want to hit that" reaction is really sensitive to all sorts of random shit (which is why it's a crappy thing to use as a basis for a relationship). Are you sure this isn't "you've lost that loving feeling" rather than a semi-permanent state? If it's the former, a steady diet of fun times and hot sex might make a world of difference.

I've noticed that my own brain chemistry is highly malleable in this regard, assuming that I'm attracted to the person at all. Not sure how it works for the rest of humanity though.
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  #43  
Old 08-25-2009, 01:15 PM
Mom-of-Andrew Mom-of-Andrew is offline
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It may be a moot point now, as your lady has agreed to sever ties to Friend, but I couldn't do it.

I was spouse A, and I attached myself to a close friend because I didn't want to leave DH but was desperately lonely. I tried to maintain some sort of relationship with Friend, because I felt guilty for dragging him into the mess I had created. But I was too dependant on him emotionally to be able to have any contact with him while working on relationship with DH. So I had to walk away. It was a train wreck.

Asmovian, Don't beat yourself up for not understanding her signals. The Love Languages book will give you insight, and I second your endorsement, but as humans we are each responsible for communicating that we need something -- even if we cannot articulate precisely what we do need. Unless your lady begged you to go to counseling for months and you refused (I tried for 6 months in my case), cut yourself some slack.
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Old 08-25-2009, 01:35 PM
Shot From Guns Shot From Guns is offline
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Cheating doesn't always have to be about having sex. It can be about sharing things other than your genitals with another person that you should be sharing with your spouse.

An "open relationship" only works when the relationship is stable to begin with. If it's just a way to dodge issues, it's only going to make things worse.
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  #45  
Old 08-25-2009, 01:57 PM
An Arky An Arky is offline
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No effing way.
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  #46  
Old 08-25-2009, 02:35 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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anu-la1979, I know that when I ran into you was very close in timing to when this all happened, but I think we chatted beforehand. I definitely wasn't trying to keep you out of the loop. I will take you up on your offer soon -- our office is moving up the street at the end of this week, but when we're settled in a couple of weeks, you and I can get together. Thank you for the offer! As for the "settling" issue, I've raised that with her several times. She seems pretty confident that that ISN'T what she's doing here (although she's obviously changed her mind about several things throughout this process). I agree that her settling for less than what makes her happy is going to end up being bad for both of us in the end. But for now, all I can focus on is what's going to make ME happy, and I have to let her worry about her own shit for the time being.

Mom-of-Andrew, she was actually the one who wanted to avoid counseling at first. We went a few years back briefly to work on some communication issues, and it helped some, but she was very anti-counseling in general. There finally reached a point about a year and a half ago where she was willing and wanted *me* to go to try to hash out some issues, but I ended up not following through on it. My bad, definitely, but I also felt like she wasn't serious about it because she had been so against it before, and because she wasn't willing to come with me.

Even now, when I've tried to convince her that she needs counseling as much as I do, she is very resistant. We went twice together before the separation, and now I'm going on my own right now. Her form of counseling is solitude, journaling, and playing her guitar. I'm not saying she isn't able to make progress on getting her head straight that way, but I still wish she was seeking professional help.
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  #47  
Old 08-25-2009, 03:38 PM
anu-la1979 anu-la1979 is offline
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Oh, that's not what I meant at all-more like, if I had known you were going through this I would have been more supportive or taken you out for a beer right then and there instead of running away muppet style screaming "GMAT in 2 days, smell ya later!"

Like I said, when you're feeling up to it, let me know and we'll go to the Standard for a recuperative brewski or catchup or whatever. Best of luck with the counselling.
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  #48  
Old 08-25-2009, 03:44 PM
Shodan Shodan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asimovian View Post
What is misssing for her is a chemical attraction to me. She has decided that is not important to her. The fact that she doesn't have that for me, however, causes an emotional reaction in me every time we have sex. A reminder, every time, that there is imbalance in our relationship, as kunilou put it. Because I have a feeling for her that she is incapable of reciprocating.
Then ISTM that it is important to her.

I have not been in your position. But after thirteen years together, I don't find it surprising that there is less "raw, chemical reaction" than at the beginning. IME after a certain number of years, the physical attraction is differently based than it was early on. Which is both good news and bad news. The bad news is that it is not going to be like it was in the first couple of years.. The good news is that it doesn't have to be like it was in the first couple of years.

YMMV, void where taxes or prohibited, professional driver on closed course, kids, get your parent's permission before calling, etc.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #49  
Old 08-25-2009, 03:58 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telcontar View Post
The physiological "wow, i want to hit that" reaction is really sensitive to all sorts of random shit (which is why it's a crappy thing to use as a basis for a relationship). Are you sure this isn't "you've lost that loving feeling" rather than a semi-permanent state?
I missed this earlier and wanted to address it in case it's relevant to anyone.

According to her (and I believe it because I've always felt it from her), she has NEVER felt that way towards me. She loved me in spite of it, and partially because we got together so young that she didn't realize she was capable of feeling that for anyone. She just thought that's how it was supposed to be, up until she ended up with the recent guys she's slept with. So now she knows she's capable of feeling that raw spark with *someone* -- just not me. And she has been rather insistent that she *does* think I am physically attractive. I just don't cause the same spark in her on sight that she does for me.

So it's not that she's lost some sexual attraction for me. It has always been this way. And she claims that despite knowing now that it is possible for her to feel that spark for someone else, it isn't worth trading for everything that she and I have in our marriage.

I hope that is somewhat clarifying.
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  #50  
Old 08-25-2009, 04:09 PM
Mom-of-Andrew Mom-of-Andrew is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asimovian View Post
There finally reached a point about a year and a half ago where she was willing and wanted *me* to go to try to hash out some issues, but I ended up not following through on it. My bad, definitely, but I also felt like she wasn't serious about it because she had been so against it before, and because she wasn't willing to come with me.
<snip>
I still wish she was seeking professional help.
Same here. We started out in couple's therapy, but DH is also a mental health professional and had a higher level of certification that the counseler. Guy was intimidated by DH and sessions ended up being, 'What's wrong with MoA? Then DH decided guy wasn't doing any good and I should find a therapist on my own, as I was the one who needed to be 'fixed'.

I found a therapist with a certification that DH would respect, and I went alone. It was remarkably helpful for a while. I was able to get him to come with me a couple of times to tell him stuff that I didn't have the courage to say on my own.

I'm not in therapy currently, but I do use friends as a sounding board for things. And I come here (especially to the Pit) when I need my ears pinned back over something. Introspection can be useful, but you really need an outside opinion now and then to keep you from the minutia of your own navel lint.

Perhaps you could point out that SO was using Friend as a sounding board, and now that she has stopped talking to Friend she might try counseling? Even peer counseling might give her some perspective.
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