marriages—do they ever work?
After 16 years and one kid, my husband and I are considering
an open marriage. Over a year ago, I met another man who I
was attracted to and wanted to fuck. I had met men like this
throughout our marriage, but never did anything because I
was married and respectful of the monogamous relationship
we had. I would just bring that “crush” energy home and take
it out on my husband. Our sex life has always been OK, nothing
mind blowing, but steady.
Well, we hit the inevitable rut that couples sometimes get
into and I was bored and frustrated and wanted more than my
husband was giving me. I asked, but he just wasn’t interested
in exploring anything more than the vanilla sex we were already
having. I gently tried toys, porn, going out to bars and checking
out others for three-ways. He wasn’t interested. So I made
peace with the fact that I was stuck with a vanilla guy and
just focused on the other parts that worked—good partner,
good man, steady guy. A little boring, but better than a drama
Then about a year ago, I met someone who turned from a friendship
into a strong attraction. Instead of having an affair, I told
my husband that I wanted to be able to pursue sex with this
person since I wasn’t getting what I wanted at home. Husband
got pissed and said no way (no surprise), but that if I did
do anything, he didn’t want to know about it. Don’t ask, don’t
tell. I didn’t do anything out of respect for him, but it
made me resentful. So I decided to ask for a divorce before
entering into an affair, and about five months ago my husband
and I separated. I have been seeing the other man during this
time and the sex has been amazing—he’s doing the things that
I begged my husband to do with me. My husband has been miserable
without me and has agreed to an open marriage so we can still
be together, be a family, and I can be free to have an outside
relationship. My husband is also free to have an outside relationship.
He now accepts that I’ve been with another man (whom he has
met) and that I am capable of loving him as a husband while
having a sexual relationship on the side.
This has been a long letter, I realize, but all I want to
know is if this is a recipe for disaster. Am I fooling myself
about the reality of opening a marriage up to include outside
lovers? Does it only sound good in theory?
To Find Happiness
marriages work, TTFH, but only sometimes—just like, um, what
are those other things that only work sometimes called again?
Oh, right: closed marriages. Will your open marriage work?
I couldn’t tell you. But I can tell you something that you
already know: Your closed marriage definitely wasn’t working.
You were no longer willing to settle for the sex life you
shared with your husband, you decided to separate, and you
were headed for divorce. Then your husband concluded that
being together and being a family was more important to him
than being sexually exclusive. And so you’re back together—for
Will it work out over the long run? It could, TTFH, but only
if you keep those lines of communication open, treat each
other with love and respect, and make sure that, emotionally
if not sexually, you are each other’s top priority.
And if your open marriage doesn’t work out, if it’s a disaster,
what’s the worst that can happen? You wind up getting a divorce—which
you were about to do anyway. So I wouldn’t say that openness
is a threat to your marriage, TTFH. I’d say it’s your marriage’s
I just started dating a great girl who is significantly
younger than me. I’m 35 and she’s 20. As a longtime reader,
I know and agree with your “campsite rule” about having sex
with younger people: I have a responsibility to leave her
in better shape than I found her. Part of that is easy—be
honest, caring, open, GGG, etc.—but I would like to humbly
request that you ask your readers who have been in relationships
with a large age gap what their partners did for them that
left them better off? Or worse off? Love the column and podcast!
my campsite rule—which applies to older folks sleeping with
significantly younger folks—doesn’t merely require that you
be honest, caring, open, and GGG, OLD. It also means that
you do all you can to make sure this young woman emerges from
this relationship with no STIs, no fertilized eggs, no restraining
orders, no emotional trauma, and with improved sexual skills.
To aid you in doing that, I’m happy to invite readers to serve
up specific, real-life examples of older partners honoring
the campsite rule. Were you once involved with a significantly
older partner? Did you emerge in better shape? Please write
in and let us know what your older partner did right—or wrong.
I’m a loyal fan and a physician who cares for people
living with HIV. I was reading a column from a few months
back and appreciated your candid response to an HIV-negative
man who was embarking on a new sexual relationship with a
known HIV-positive man.
However, I would have hoped that you would touch upon what
a guy should do if a condom does break. According to CDC guidelines,
if a person receives HIV medicine within 72 hours of a condom
breaking or another “exposure,” there is evidence that you
can actually prevent HIV infection. Of course, these medicines
have to be taken for 28 days, have lots of side effects, and
are not always effective. I would never promote unprotected
sex with the idea that you could just take the medicines afterward
and have no worries. The medical world has termed this “postexposure
prophylaxis.” It has been the standard of care since January
I was just hoping that you would share this with your readers.
From the number of patients I continue to see, I am unsure
if this is public knowledge.
for sharing, PD.
Now for a little sex-positive journalism: Recently, the sex-negative
journalism of a certain teeveenewz reporter—Kandiss Crone
of WLBT News in Jackson, Miss.—annoyed me so much that I devoted
an entire column to slapping Crone around. I even urged my
readers to send Crone angry e-mails and, er, used sex toys.
Perhaps I went a little overboard. Crone isn’t the only “journalist”
out there doing idiotic, sex-negative work. Fact is, most
of what gets written and published about sex is negative and
This sad state of affairs inspired the National Coalition
for Sexual Freedom, the Center for Sex & Culture, Babeland,
and journalist Miriam Axel-Lute to launch the Sex-Positive
Journalism Awards. By drawing attention to good, sex-positive
reporting, the “Sexies” hope to promote fair, accurate, and
nonsensationalized coverage of sexual topics.
fact that sex-positive journalism is so rare means we need
the help of all of you readers out there to help us turn up
those gems of good, objective, sex-positive reporting,” says
Axel-Lute. “Especially in mainstream sources.”
I’m proud to have been asked to serve as a judge for the first
annual Sex-Positive Journalism Awards. The deadline for submissions
for the first annual “Sexies” is March 23, 2008. (The piece
must have been published during 2007.) Anyone can submit a
piece for consideration at the “Sexies” website: www.sexies.org.
Anything by Kandiss Crone is, of course, ineligible.
a new Savage Love podcast every Tuesday at www.thestranger.com/savage.