I'm a 32 year old married man. My wife and I have been married for 10 years and together for 12. She is from a small conservative town in the bible belt with very conservative parents. When we started our courtship my wife was a virgin with virtually zero sexual experience and only one serious high school boyfriend before I came along. She swears she never even masturbated! I had a bit more experience with a handful of partners. My future wife and I initially had a consistent and fulfilling, if vanilla, sexual relationship that—with some occasional masturbation—satisfied my libido. After the wedding this continued for the first couple of years in our relationship. Things gradually trailed off (as they so frequently do), but we discovered that if we cracked open a bottle of wine and rented a couple of porn flicks for us to watch together, about once a week we'd have some good sex. It was like pulling teeth to get my vanilla wife to tell me what she liked in porn, but I was able to gradually figure out, based on how she responded to the videos, that she preferred scenes with multiple women together and minimal male involvement.
I'll pause here to add that my wife, due to her conservative background, horrible childhood teasing, and verbal abuse from her older brother, has some serious body image issues and was initially barely able to discuss sex. Even now, she won't tell me her fantasies and isn't able to give me much direction beyond saying (quietly), "Mmmmm" when I find the right spot or "not like that" if my efforts aren't doing it for her.
A couple more years go by and our porn and wine routine wasn't happening very often either (despite my best efforts) and I found my advances rebuffed what seemed like more than 90% of the time. My wife then confessed to me that she found intercourse unpleasant and always had. With my encouragement she raised this issue to her gynecologist but was told everything checked out 100% normal and healthy. With more discussion she explained that intercourse feels to her like moderately unpleasant friction (not medically alarming sharp pain) and that the angle, depth, or other variations we tried at best gave her no positive sensations and at worst made her feel like she desperately had to urinate. Penetration from toys of various sizes yields the same sensations which she doesn't enjoy. I'd always known she was not able to orgasm from penetration (I'd learned enough to know that was normal and had a past girl friend that was the same) so fingers, tongue, and toys all made regular appearances to give her orgasms in a majority of our sexual encounters. I tried to be as flexible and considerate as her very vanilla preferences would allow. After making her confession about disliking intercourse, it was pretty much off the menu except for special occasions (think 4-6 times a year) and oral was a bit more frequent, but in total we were down to having any type of sex once or maybe twice a month.
My wife also happens to have a semen phobia.
She doesn't like semen on her, in her, and absolutely nowhere near her mouth. A few years into our marriage she even started saying things like, "I don't really like penis, they're ugly and creepy and do nothing for me." And, "semen is nothing but wiener snot." I wasn't getting what I needed, I felt like I was always being rejected, while my wife was telling me she was perfectly happy with how much sex we were having. Eventually every time I would raise the issue it became an argument. So fast forward through 3 years of fights and resentment... I found myself idly browsing our state divorce laws... "just in case."
About a year ago I discovered Savage Love. I saw my story reflected in so many of the emails and calls you write and podcast about. I started to follow your advice. I wasn't ready to divorce and I didn't want to cheat so I started the conversation with my wife about a monogamish relationship. It was helped along by my wife meeting a friend that was openly poly, and that served as a jumping off point for our discussions. We didn't exactly want to be poly, open, or swingers but we both saw the potential of trying something different. We experimented together by hiring a pair of attractive female Tantra instructors we found online to teach us a couples Tantra session that ended up being a very hot experience that we all enjoyed.
I realized, after hearing as much from you, that it wasn't really that my wife didn't want sex, it was that she didn't want the type of sex we were having, and that she wasn't comfortable enough with herself to admit to anyone what type of sex she did want to be having. Here is what happened next, my wife, after 8.5 years together, finally came out to me as bisexual 6 months ago. In fact, she self consciously revealed that she'd been caught looking at lesbian porn when she was a teen around 15 and was chastised so strongly by her parents that she swore off virtually all sexuality. She bottled it all up and did everything she could be bury her attraction to women. She told me that she'd always wanted to be with a woman but she thought that was impossible for so many reasons. I immediately gave her my consent for her to explore that part of her sexuality. We set some basic ground rules and she set up an OKCupid profile and off she went into the internet wilderness to find herself a female partner (or maybe just a hook up or a FWB).
She's had some success including a one time hook up with a friend that made it clear that not only was she attracted to women, but the sex got her extremely turned on and she very much likes pussy. She'd hoped that could turn into a semi-regular thing but it turns out that it came with drama and baggage that made the sex not worth it. She has been on a couple of dates arranged online and so far none of them have panned out like we may have hoped, but it hasn't been very long and she's still looking.
So, now what do I do? I've been hoping that this revelation will work out for me (having an occasional threesome is pretty high on my wish list) and the hope is that if she reconnects with her sexuality and releases it from the self imposed cage, it will be great for our sex life together as well. I posed the question to my wife about creating my own OKCupid profile and potentially seeking outside sexual experiences to help with the mismatch in libido, but she got jealous and immediately made me delete it. She isn't willing to let me have any encounters without her, and (for now at least) she says she isn't prepared let me participate (or even watch) when she is with a female hook up. I was present for her one successful lesbian encounter and she asked me to leave the room when things got heated. I spent several hours hearing them passionately fuck one another from the next room (personally getting incredibly turned on in the process), but when it was over she went straight to bed without so much as a hand job for me.
We've since had two legitimate offers from unicorns that were completely willing to be our third (score!) only to have my wife shut the door on the idea because she wasn't comfortable. She says that maybe, one day, if everything goes right... she might be ready to let me have the same type of freedoms she has now, but I don't know what to do in the interim. I want to cum in a girl's mouth from time to time and maybe try some anal or light bondage - hand cuffs, blindfold, and a flogger maybe? (none of which she is willing to explore with me). How long should I be patient and wait for her to work through her shit? Once she does start having semi-regular girl-girl meetups, is it reasonable to insist on some flexibility for myself too? When it is fair to lay down an ultimatum that my needs and fantasies start to get met too?
If going down this road does not end up improving our sex life together, especially the frequency, and I'm still sexually frustrated, but otherwise happy, should I really leave this nearly decade long relationship? In a divorce, I'd obviously be the bad guy to all of our friends and family that don't understand the situation, and emotionally—and financially—a divorce would wreck me.
And finally, the elephant in the room... is my wife actually a lesbian that ended up married to a dude because of her cultural and family issues? Does she want to stay with me for the emotional, financial, child rearing (we don't have any kids yet but we both want them—presumably together), and social normative benefits? If we divorce I wouldn't out her because I know how much damage that would do, but if I don't I'll look like a monster to everyone that knows us. Leaving just because I was only getting begrudgingly laid once or maybe twice a month is not grounds to divorce is it? If I do stay—which is what I want—what is fair for me to request as allowances for the types and frequency of sex inside and outside of our marriage?
I'm extremely attracted to my wife and frankly I'd be perfectly content having sex with her and only her if we could get back to having sex a couple of times a week and add some mildly kinky stuff, but I'm worried that she may opt for a virtually sexless companion marriage and maintain the current 4-6 times a year which certainly wasn't what I signed up for. I want to be supportive and patient and wait until she is comfortable, but I can't wait around forever. I'm young, childless, and I have disposable income to enable me to do this stuff now. If I'm too patient and wait around too long any of that could change. I certainly don't want to bring children into the equation until I feel confident I'm not dooming myself to 20 more years of sexual frustration.
My real question and what this all boils down to is this, how long should I be willing to accept an unfulfilling sex life and a double standard of one sided non-monogamy?
I Need Real Insight
I can't tell you how relieved I was when I got to "we don't have any kids yet" in... what was it? The eleventh or twelfth millionth paragraph of your absolutely epic letter? What a fucking relief it was to read that. No kids! Whew!
Okay, INRI, here are your options...
1. Divorce your lesbian wife right fucking now.
2. Demand a companionate marriage arrangement. That would mean you two get to be lifelong friends and partners, you'll always be there for your lesbian wife, you'll remain "socially normative" and all that other good stuff, but you'll both understand that your marriage is companionate, not exclusive, meaning you'll be just as free to fuck other women as she is. And your freedom to fuck other women starts right now—right fucking now—not at some indeterminate date in the distant future when your lesbian wife decides she's concept of her heterosexual husband getting to fuck other women too. If your lesbian wife won't agree to a companionate marriage right fucking now, INRI, then see option one.
And a final word of warning...
If you don't divorce your lesbian wife—which is what I think you should do—your lesbian wife will one day divorce you. Because sooner or later your lesbian wife is going to meet a woman she really wants to be with—a wonderful lady with a vagina packed with delicious lady vagina snot—and her parents will either be dead at that point or she will have finally worked up the nerve to face down their judgement and you'll wind up divorced anyway. So you might as well get it over with now.
UPDATE: I agree with Reverse Polarity:
You do realize that divorce isn't just for people who are total assholes to each other, right? Divorce also works for people who's lives have just gone in different directions, and their marriage no longer fits their needs.
It is perfectly okay to love your lesbian wife, and remain good friends with her for the rest of your lives. But if you ever want a fulfilling sex life, you're going to have to find it with someone else. And so will she. So just divorce her already and stay friends. You'll both be much happier 5 years from now.