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Love, marriage and sex

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Wife and I married for over 30 years college sweethearts. Due to complications from chronic disease over the past several years I have been unable to provide for her the physical intimacy she desires. She's a beautiful woman and much younger than her chronological years so I felt it unfair for her to not enjoy that aspect of her life. A couple of years ago I sat her down and suggested bringing another man (a surrogate) into our relationship to make up for that part that I couldn't fulfill. At first she was reluctant but allowed me to go on line and search. After a few bad picks I introduced her to a guy in town and they hit it off sexually. They've been seeing each other for about a year until he was relocated due to his job to another city. She saw him last month but is at a crossroad on whether she wants to pursue someone else, see him long distance or try doing alternative stuff with me (although she admits there's nothing like the real thing). Also, I've become excited about other men interested in her and watching them satisfying her in ways I can't. This has become a bone of contention between us as she feels that I get more aroused watching other men take care of her rather than aroused by her. It has affected our overall relationship and we're wondering what the future holds. We both love each other and want to stay together but we're confused about how to fit her sexual needs (and mine) into our marriage going forward. Also the secrecy and unfortunately contrived stories we tell family and friends is starting to weigh on us as well. Not sure if we could become open about it. Any thoughts, suggestions?

Love, marriage and sex

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Hi Mchelsea, When you said "it has affected our overall relationship" what did you mean? Which of all these uncertainties or issues is causing the most stress? Generally, making major changes slowly (one at a time?) would give you both more time to adjust and evaluate. And there's no way to take back the step of coming out to your friends and family. So that change is more 'permanent' for lack of a better description. What do you want to happen by telling your friends and family? If the two of you don't know right now what form these intimate relationships are going to take, how can you be prepared to respond to questions and criticisms that will inevitably follow? There are polyamory lifestyle support groups and though what you've described isn't the same thing precisely, talking to people in this lifestyle about their experiences may help you. I don't think you should come out to family and friends until you've at least done that. If the stress of the secrecy isn't overwhelming you, then I also think it's adviseable to wait until you're actually settled in your arrangement again before you tell your friends. And who knows, you may end up with a real third you'd want to include in that decision.

Love, marriage and sex

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Thank you for responding. The greatest stress we currently have is the foreboding threat of more sickness heading my way and also the sex issue. She says she can live with the lack there of, but to me it is like she's waiting for my passing to take on with her life. It can be very disheartening to think someone is waiting for you to pass on. I want her and I to enjoy our lives together for whatever time remains. I know she has sexual needs and I think we're closer than apart on solving that but we (especially me) may need some counseling to help bring that about. Also I have anger and control issues that have become dominant in my personality over the years that has most likely been brought out through the last 25 years of sickness and financial stress.

Love, marriage and sex

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Ok. What do you mean by anger and control issues? Can you describe that? It sounds like many of you're concerns are centered on making sure she's happy. Are you sure you understand what she needs to be happy? Could you be focussing too much on sex? What I mean is that there are emotional considerations that may be more of a priority to her than getting her sexual needs satisfied. Especially right now. From what you said, she's had a sexual relationship with one other man for the last one or two years. That amount of time, even in a sexual relationship, is enough that she may not be ready to make another connection yet. She may need time to adjust to, to understand how she feels about, these changes. And since your health is certainly a fear looming over both of you then her worries about losing you too would be adding to her (and your) uncertainties. I would expect you both are also feeling anticipated grief. That's not something either of you will be able to control but you can try to be as patient, gentle and kind to yourselves and each other as possible. Could your emphasis on satisfying sexual needs be a way to cope with or avoid these emotions? Have you considered if it might be causing more stress than satisfaction to have these other relationships be a part of your life together right now? People vary a lot, and can change, in how much their emotions are tied in with sex. If she's more comfortable just being with you and foregoing the sex, maybe you should try to see how that's a choice she wants to make and not a sacrifice. We all have limited time. If she outlives you, she may want to have more memories of being together with you, of being there for you not because you need it but because she needs to do that. If she outlives you, she will be looking back, remembering. Whenever you can, try to let her choose which memories she wants to have now and later and recognize that she's not making a sacrifice by doing that. Does any of that address some of your concerns? What do you think? You haven't said anything more about wanting to tell others and I don't know your circumstances, but I'm going to say this anyway... You are not required to place yourself in a position where others will judge you if you don't want to. This is your life to live and as long as all your choices are fully consensual with the people who are directly involved then you don't owe anyone any explanations. If you choose to tell someone, make sure it's because you and your wife need to do that and not to appease the demands other people make. It's not their life and you're not infringing on their right to live theirs just by living yours.

Love, marriage and sex

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Some great insights, thanks. Regarding anger and control. It's partly a family trait we like to be in control of situations and events, I try to recognize it and go with the flow but it can be annoying. Also, as I mentioned earlier they years of illness, financial stress have taken it's toll and I can be an 'angry old man' and find myself picky and demanding when it even comes to my family doing nice things for me. Not very pretty.

Love, marriage and sex

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Well, chronic illness can be very difficult, painful and frustrating. Needing another's care only makes it more difficult to accept that care. If you find yourself feeling like too much of a burden or thinking that you should be able to offer more, try hard to stop and instead speak to yourself with the same compassion you would show someone you love if they were the one who was ill. By being kinder to yourself, you will be able to be kinder to the people who love you. Often it's more rewarding to give than it is to receive. So when the people who love you are misguided in their attempts to do things for you that are more annoying than helpful, looking past the act to their love and need to help that lies behind it may help you cope with those intrusions. But beating yourself up for slip-ups is probably counterproductive. Try being nicer to yourself when you don't feel well, when you're angry and scared and frustrated. By focussing on an attitude of compassion and acceptance as often as possible for yourself as well as others, I think you'll find a little more peace.

Love, marriage and sex

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Bah Humbug, Shina. And to Prophet Osa, too. Pfft.

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