Q: I found your column after a Google search. I saw your e-mail address at the bottom and was hoping for some insight. My issue is this: Two years into our 23-year marriage, my wife declared that she didn’t want to kiss me or perform oral on me. Several years ago, she had an affair and confessed that she not only kissed this other person but performed oral on them as well. Why them and not me? Should I just go find someone willing to do what I want? I have a high sex drive, but I find that I don’t want to sleep with my wife anymore because there is never any foreplay and a few minutes into it she’s telling me to hurry up. I don’t feel wanted, and honestly I no longer desire her. What do you make of this?
– Hurting Unwanted Husband
Before telling you what I make of your e-mail, HUH, I want to tell you what I wish I could make out of your e-mail: a time machine. If I could turn all those pixels and code and whatever else into a working time machine, I’d drag your ass back to 1996 (and try to talk you out of marrying your wife) or 1998 (and try to talk you into leaving her after two years of marriage). But since time machines aren’t a thing — at least not yet — we’ll have to talk about the here and now.
Your wife isn’t attracted to you, and never was, or hasn’t been for a long, long time. And now the feeling is mutual — you aren’t attracted to her anymore, either. And if you’re seriously wondering why she kissed and blew that other person — the person with whom she had an affair — when she hasn’t wanted to kiss or blow you for 20-plus years (“Why them and not me?”), HUH, the answer is as painful as it is obvious: Your wife was attracted to her affair partner (that’s why them) and she’s not attracted to you (that’s why not you).
Now, it’s possible your wife was attracted to you a long time ago; I assume she was kissing and blowing you while you were dating and during the first couple dozen months of marriage. (She wouldn’t have to announce she was going to stop doing those things if she’d never started.) But at some point relatively early in your marriage, HUH, your wife’s desire to swallow your spit and inhale your dick evaporated. It’s possible her desire to swallow/inhale the spit/dick of her affair partner would have evaporated in roughly the same amount of time, and she would have lost interest in him and his dick and his spit, as well. Some people have a hard time sustaining desire over time — and contrary to popular belief, women have a harder time sustaining desire in committed, romantic relationships than men do. (Wednesday Martin wrote an entire NYT best-selling book about it, Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free
Of course, it’s possible your wife isn’t the problem. You may have said or done something that extinguished your wife’s desire for you. Or, hey, maybe your personal hygiene leaves everything to be desired. (I’ve received countless letters over the years from women whose husbands refuse to brush their teeth and/or can’t wipe their asses properly.) Or maybe you’re emotionally distant or cold or contemptuous or incredibly shitty in bed. Or maybe you’re not the problem! I don’t know you, HUH, and other than the very few details you included your very brief letter, I don’t know what’s going on in your marriage.
But I do know this: If you can leave, HUH, you most likely should. But if you decide to stay because you want to stay, or because leaving is unthinkable for cultural or religious or financial reasons… well, seeing as how your wife hasn’t wanted to fuck you for decades, and seeing as how you no longer want to fuck your wife, you should release each other from the monogamous commitment you made more than two decades ago.
If you can adjust your expectations — if you can both agree to define your marriage as companionate, i.e., you’re friends and life partners, not romantic or sexual partners — you may be able to appreciate your marriage for what it is. But to do that, you’ll have to let go of the anger and disappointment you feel over what it’s not.
And to be clear: If your marriage is companionate, you should both be free to seek sex with outside partners.