In a relationship jam? Lemme unstuck your life: [email protected].
Q: My husband and I are 11 years apart; he is 51, and I am 40. We have been together for 10 years, married for 9. I love this man with my heart and soul, he has been nothing but wonderful and supportive of me since the day we met. However, I have been recently considering having an affair.
The reason for this is simple: In the past two and a half years, we have had sex exactly three times. And each of those three times it has been worse and worse of an experience. I am 95 percent certain he has erectile dysfunction, but he is either scared, or mistrustful, of doctors as he refuses to go for anything that isn’t life threatening (we were in a car accident a year after we got married, and he kept saying that, if the car was still drivable, we should just go home, rather than to the hospital. Thankfully, I didn’t listen as I had a mild concussion, and he eventually had to have physical therapy on an injured leg). I really think that he thinks since sex is off the table for him, it should be for me as well. Well, I have been good this whole time, but ‘helping myself’ only does so much — I need more.
So I have come up with a somewhat of a perfect solution. At the Christmas party for my work last year, I had a majorly satisfying mini make-out session with a coworker. He’s 35 and also married, but he is unhappy too (I’ve met his wife, and she is an unpleasant thing. I don’t doubt their marriage is not perfect). Kevin, however, works at a branch office 70 miles away, so it would be a friends-with-benefits situation that could never go beyond a simple fling here and there. And that’s all I really want — just someone to come by every month to have a few hours alone with and take the edge off. I think it would be great for the both of us, and, offering this plan up to him, I am certain he would jump at the chance, but then I keep reading these advice columns and articles about how terrible and awful people are who cheat on their spouses.
I don’t love my coworker. I don’t want to ruin his marriage or mine. I don’t want to run off into the sunset like some cheesy movie. I just want a part of adult life that I am being refused right now. Is that so bad?
—Ignored For Too Long
A: No. That is not so bad. And you are not a bad person. But…
You cannot do this thing. And not just because cheating is morally wrong and a betrayal of trust — which I’m sure you already know — but because of the factor of the unknown. You open your letter with how much you love your husband, and how his refusal to go to the doctor has been ever-present in your relationship. There was no way for you to know the many ways this flaw would manifest itself over your years together.
And in that same way, there’s no way for you to know how your decision to become involved with your coworker will play out over time. You know your husband far better than you know your coworker, and still your husband’s choices have led you to this unexpected place of unhappiness. You didn’t expect it because you only have control over your choices. The other person in the relationship and how they’ll behave is an unknown variable. How can you be sure your coworker won’t develop romantic feelings? How can you be sure he’s not ready to blow up his marriage and yours? How can you be sure he won’t crisscross your work and personal lives?
You can’t know any of these things. And is this even what you really want? There’s nothing wrong with having an open marriage, if it’s from a place of honesty and trust, but if it’s just a means of avoiding the problem instead of fixing it, you’ll be miserable again soon enough.
IFTL, you have got to find a way to make that stubborn man of yours go to the doctor. You want and deserve all of him. You have every right to demand that of your husband. Make it clear that this is as much about his health as it is about your need to feel loved and wanted. If he won’t go for himself, maybe he’ll go for you and to save your marriage.
P.S. The American Cancer Society recommends men begin getting screened for prostate cancer at age 50. So, he’s already got two good reasons to call the doctor. •