Risky Business

Risky Business

Q: I’m in a bit of a conundrum. I’ve been with my wife for seven years. We have three kids under the age of 9. I work outside the home, my wife stays home with the kids. For the most part, we have a good relationship. I love her, she’s my best friend. But we also never have sex. I get it. Life is busy and taking care of a family is exhausting. At least, that’s what she always says any time I try to initiate sex. She always promises we will get to it later, but it never happens. I’m lucky if we do it more than once every two months. I’m tired, too, at the end of the day, but I still have needs and part of the reason people get married, I assumed, was to have sex with each other. I’ve basically stopped asking for sex, but masturbating gets old after a while. And the resentment I’m starting to feel toward my wife is impacting our relationship. She knows that sex is important to me. I don’t need it every day, but a little more frequently would be nice.

Before I met my wife, there was a woman I knew that was a “friends with benefits” situation. We were very sexually compatible and never had any drama. She and my wife don’t know each other and this woman and I recently reconnected on social media (she reached out to me, just to be clear). I know she would be down with helping me get my sexual needs met and I don’t have any feelings for this woman. I just feel so sexually dissatisfied in my marriage and I don’t want to resent my wife for just having different needs than I do.

This woman lives out of state in an area I travel to for business a few times a month. I know I’m capable of just having good sex and nothing more with her, but I would have to keep this from my wife because I know she would be devastated by it. I don’t want to hurt her, but I also don’t want to hate her and if I could take care of my need for sex on my own, we could go back to the good and happy relationship we’ve always had. What do you think? Am I kidding myself?

She: The question on the table is whether you should have an affair, and add betrayal to the list of struggles in your relationship? I think the first question I would ask you to consider is: how would your wife feel if she found out about this affair? What would it do to your marriage if she found out? I certainly understand the ability to separate sex from love, especially for men, but I’m not sure your wife would be as understanding. You have to recognize and accept the potential consequences if your wife were to discover you were having an affair. Firstly, it typically takes around two years for a couple to recover from infidelity, and this is not fun work. This means at least a year of frequent and often unpredictable anger outbursts, emotional breakdowns, questioning, and emotional distancing. You will be in the ‘dog house’ for this whole time, which can get very old. The amount of shame and remorse you will have to endure will be immense. You will watch your wife in such a deep state of despair and know that you did this to her. You will have to beg your wife to work through this betrayal and to not divorce you (which she may). The woman who is your best friend, the mother of your children, the person you say that you love… you will rock her world, destroy her sense of safety, her faith in you, and your love. She will never look at you or your relationship the same way.

Now let’s talk about divorce. Before you embark on this affair, you must really consider the risks. You may lose everything. You may have to move out of your house, to an apartment that you will have to furnish and decorate yourself. You will have to share custody of your children, they will no longer crawl into your bed each morning to wake you up. Most likely (based on your wife being a stay at home mom), your visitation will be one night a week and every other weekend, with every other holiday. Outside of that, you are going to have to find new ways to fill your time. You will lose half of all your assets, half your retirement, half of your savings. You will have to write out big checks to your x-wife every month, for as long as your kids are under 18, and alimony for half the time you’ve been married.

After you have done this cost-benefit analysis and have really considered all the risks, if you still think a couple of good orgasms are worth it, go for it! My suggestion? If you are not happy in your marriage, fix it or get out. Be a decent person, tell your wife what you need, and be honest.

He: I’m not sure if a rational approach such as a cost-benefit analysis is appropriate in this situation. This is not a business decision, this is a biological drive, like hunger, which is hard to ignore until satisfied. Presidential administrations have been tarnished, prison sentences handed down, careers ended and kingdoms have been lost, all for the sake of a “couple of good orgasms.” Even strong men can show an utter incapability of using rational thought when their penises are involved.

But I will continue Jen’s business-like approach to the issue.

Marriage itself is a cost-benefit analysis. We look at this person who has entered our life and make a decision to reap the benefits of love and companionship, even at the cost of not being able to be intimate with another person for a lifetime. I hate to characterize monogamy as a “cost” but most males consider it as such. This is the pitfall of monogamy- it goes against one of the human male’s purest biological drives. Of course, we like to think of ourselves as masters of our more basic urges, but we are not even close to being there. So let’s look at this issue on reality’s terms: almost all monogamous marriages create some tension, particularly for the male. Yes, monogamy can make anyone’s sex life somewhat routine, but it really sounds like your marriage’s monogamy has gone past monotony, to just plain “not-any” (Ha! Good stuff, Wilson). It sounds like you would like to just get back to good old monotony for a while. So, let’s look at your options:

As Jen pointed out, an affair could wind up costing you everything. This is true, but I would argue that inaction could cost you as well. You could grow old and die, unhappy and resentful. It’s hard to put a cost on that. Being slightly less morose, but still using cost-benefit approach, the cost of an affair may be exactly the same that it would be if you simply grow more unsatisfied with your marriage and ask her for a divorce. The apartment, the shared custody and the lost assets will all be the same- just subtract the shame and guilt.

So, this means that you must act; to try to reclaim your sex-life from the hungry, soul-crushing jaws of your careers, raising children, and grind of modern day life.

Be very clear with her that you are going to create time to be with her alone. This is not family time; this is time for you and her slide back into the more carefree days when you focused exclusively on each other. This is not just for a quick night out to your local Applebee’s for an appetizer sampler, but get out of town for a couple of days to unwind and reconnect. I know that hiring a sitter, or flying a relative, in to take care of the kids is going to be expensive, but recall the above stated cost/benefit analysis, and you will see that the benefits are great, compared to the cost.

Dr. Jen Semmes and Andy Wilson have been (mostly) happily married for eleven years (currently happily). They are the owners of Coastal Counseling therapy center in Carlsbad, California. Jen holds a license in clinical social work and a doctorate in psychology, and is a therapist at Coastal Counseling. Andy just tries to hold it together.
If you, or anyone you know, has a question for ‘He said, She said’ please send a private message to Coastal Counseling on Facebook or email the question to info@coastalcounselinggroup.com.

Disclaimer: This blog and the information herein are for educational and informational purposes only. It is not meant as a substitute for professional psychological or therapeutic services. The self-help information provided by this blog are solely the opinion of the bloggers and should not be considered as a form of therapy, advice, direction, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. Instead, the information is designed to be used in conjunction with ongoing treatment provided by a mental health professional. Use the information in this blog at your own risk. All of the information is provided “as-is,” with no warranties of any kind, express or implied.


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