I sat directly across from Hubby in a restaurant the day after he made his big admission to me (read Kat's Big Surprise if you need to come up to speed with that). It took me about 24 hours to process what he had said to me and to think through how I should respond. It seemed like this would be the best opportunity I would ever have to ask for an open marriage and have any chance of actually getting one.
Soon after he sat down and we ordered some water and tea, I started the conversation:
Kat: Honey, I have an idea. Since it seems like we both want more sex and a different kind of sex than we can get with each other, what would you think about trying an open marriage? We could both have sex with other people, but we would establish some boundaries that work for both of us, and the best part would be that we wouldn't have to lie to each other. We could be honest and upfront about what we were doing. What do you think?
I could tell that he was shocked. He wasn't expecting this. He wasn't expecting the blow job and sex the night before, either, but he jumped right on board with that. This was different. His jaw dropped a little bit and he just stared at me for awhile. I didn't fill up the silence with talk; I just waited for him to say something. Eventually, he spoke.
Hubby: I don't want that.
Kat: Why not? You told me you've been having sex with other women for years. That is clearly what you want, so why not do it openly?
Another long pause. Wow, he really wasn't ready for this.
Hubby: I could be ok with being honest with you, now that I've already told you, but I don't want you having sex with anyone else. I'd be too jealous.
Seriously? Did he just say that he wants half an open marriage? His half is open, but my half is not? Now I was speechless. Fortunately, he continued.
Hubby: What I mean is that if you started sleeping with other men, you'd find someone you like better than me and you'd leave me, and I couldn't handle that. I don't want you to leave me.
How does he do that? How does he take a moment when I am really frustrated by him and turn it into a tender moment? It's a gift, I swear.
Kat: I'm not going to leave you. I've told you that. No matter what. That's a non-issue. I'm talking about a way for us both to be happy and have our needs met while we're together.
Hubby: Can't we find another solution besides an open marriage?
Kat: I'm listening....
Hubby: We could go to counseling.
Kat: Okay. You know I'm not opposed to counseling, but how is that going to make you want to have sex with me rather than other women.
Hubby: I've wanted you all along. Sex with you has always been better than with anyone else.
It's official, I'm confused.
Kat: If you wanted sex with me all the time, why have you turned me down so much? And why did you propose that we stop having sex altogether?
Hubby: I thought it was a burden for you. You work so much and you're always so tired. I didn't want to make things harder than they already are for you.
Not buying it, but go on, I thought.
Hubby: ...and you know my desire has decreased a lot anyway recently.
Oh, don't even pretend to go there....
Hubby: I was thinking that if I stop doing it with the other women then maybe you and I can have sex more because I won't use it all up on them.
Kat: Okay, but haven't I made it clear to you that I want more sex? How could I have said it differently, or shown you differently?
Hubby: Yes, you said it, but I didn't really believe it because you were so tired and busy with the business.
Kat: So, you're saying that you paid multiple other women for sex for years because you thought I was too busy and tired, even though I told you otherwise?
He went on to explain how he felt insecure about asking for sex because he couldn't handle the rejection, even though I had never turned him down. It was still a fear he had. Sex with those other women was easier because it was just a business transaction; there was no emotion involved. There were no feelings to be hurt. And they never turned him down, so he didn't even have to worry about that.
Yeah, I thought, we need some counseling.
In the meantime, we agreed to communicate better about sex and to make time for it every night, in case one of us wants it. That means going to bed earlier, being prepared for it.
He agrees to stay open minded about the open marriage concept. I agree not to start telling him about rendezvous I may or may not be having until we decide on the whole open marriage issue and have a counselor.
Most importantly, we both agree that the conversation is not over.
It has been about two weeks since that conversation and hubby has been more affectionate and sweet to me than he has been for years. He's bringing me coffee in the morning, making breakfast on the weekends, and helping out more in general.
And we've had more sex in the past two weeks than we've had in the last 3-4 months.
We start counseling soon.
He's very happy.
The problem now is that I'm not. It's not that I'm unhappy because I'm not. But the sex is exactly the same as it has been for years. No change. No variation. Actually, there is one pretty significant change. I can't seem to cum with him anymore. I've been married long enough to know not to make any rash decisions based on a feeling or temporary issue. There's more conversation to be had. There's counseling.
Most importantly, there's time.