June 19, 2013 at 9:00 pm EDT | by Michael Radkowsky
What she doesn’t know …
married, wedding rings, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Dear Michael,

I met my wife, Kim, in college eight years ago and she was my first girlfriend.  We have a very good marriage, but sex has gotten to be less exciting than it once was.

Through my work, I’ve met Margo. I like her as a friend, but even more than that, I’ve been feeling increasingly attracted to her. I thought she was straight, but a few weeks ago she told me that she thinks I’m hot, which was pretty cool to hear.

I want to stay married to Kim: we have a lot in common, great friends, a home, two dogs and dreams for our future. But I’m really tempted to sleep with Margo. On the plus side, I think it would be very exciting and add some badly needed spice to my life.  Kim is the only woman I’ve ever been with. On the minus side, Kim is very clear that she wants a monogamous relationship. But I don’t see how my sleeping with Margo would be some big detriment to my life with Kim, and in fact I think I would be happier (and therefore a better wife) if I had better sex.

I haven’t discussed any of this with Kim because I don’t want to hurt her or worry her. She might think I was going to leave and that’s really not my agenda. Or she might get mad at me, which I would rather not deal with. I’m seriously considering starting a sexual relationship with Margo. I know Kim wouldn’t like it, but if she didn’t know, I’m not sure what the problem would be.

What’s so great about monogamy?

Michael replies:

A better question: What’s so great about honesty in a relationship?

If you begin a secret affair with Margo, you might be happier or more sexually fulfilled in some ways, but you certainly would not be improving your marriage.

Aside from creating a more distant relationship with Kim through keeping an important secret from her, you would be changing the basic structure of the relationship without telling her. Kim should know if her wife is having sex with someone else, so that she can decide if she wants to stay in such a marriage. Not telling her would be disrespectful both to Kim and to your relationship. While you state that you don’t want to hurt, worry or anger Kim, consider the possibility that you’re trying to figure out how to have your cake and eat it, too, given that you want to stay married to a woman who doesn’t want an open relationship and you want to have sex with another woman.

You say nothing of how Kim feels about your sex life and your relationship so I gather that the two of you haven’t talked about these important topics. If you do decide that you’d like to improve your marriage, you should speak with Kim about your boredom. You would be taking a step toward a more intimate relationship and perhaps toward a spicier sex life, as you and Kim would have the opportunity to figure out, together, what you might do about the doldrums you are in. But, given that you don’t mention wanting to have a better sex life with Kim, is it possible that you aren’t interested in that possibility? Or that both of you are avoiding this topic because neither of you believe that there is hope a better sex life with each other?

Which brings us to monogamy: While our cultural norm is that couples have monogamous relationships, it is difficult and there are disadvantages. The main one, which you are experiencing, is that sex with the same partner can become rote and dull, while seemingly more exciting potential partners beckon.

Yet a monogamous relationship offers some advantages. It will give you the possibility of a closer relationship, because when you step out for sex, you put your focus and fantasy on someone other than your partner, endangering your commitment. It will push you to find ways to make sex interesting and satisfying with one partner — precisely what you are having difficulty doing as you consider seeking sex elsewhere.  And, of course, because we humans are usually wired for feelings such as jealousy and heartbreak, when you commit to monogamy you will reduce the likelihood of wounding your partner in a certain grave way.

There are advantages and disadvantages to either route; you get to decide how you want to play it. But no matter what you decide, please move forward with honesty. It is your best shot for better relationships and for self-respect.

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