Back in September I wrote Fulfilling Desires vs. Respect and Love. Doug had come into the forums upset that his wife would not do something for him sexually that he wanted. He pushed and pushed and she still wouldn't do it, despite saying she would consider it. I advised Doug that it was unloving and disrespectful of him to push his wife to do something that she clearly was not comfortable with and did not want to do.
We've recently had someone come into the forum from the opposite side of that equation, the side that is being disrespected. Scott and his wife have entertained a fantasy in the bedroom of having another man join them. Initially this turned both of them on, and it was just talk. Then Scott's wife asked if they could make it a reality. Scott asked if she had someone in mind, and when she very quickly mentioned a specific guy, Scott suddenly felt insecure about the whole idea. Then his wife told him she wouldn't be able to do it the way they had fantasized, the way they had talked about it, she wanted to have sex with the other man without Scott there. Scott reluctantly agreed, but told her the other man must know that he knows. The other man balked, saying it would be difficult to see Scott at the company Christmas party if they did this before then, so it would have to be after. The further into planning this got the less OK with the idea Scott was. So he told his wife the whole thing was off, and now is feeling guilty for denying her something she wanted, and worried that she would go through with it behind his back.
My initial advice to Scott was:
Talk to her, talk to her, and talk to her. You two have been open enough to share this fantasy and, for a moment, entertain actually bringing it to reality. Now is NOT the time to stop talking to each other. Tell her how you are feeling, let her tell you how she's feeling. I think this conversation is more vital than any other you've had about this topic, because now it's about the feelings you're both experiencing as a result of almost going through with the fantasy. This is the real life side of that fantasy, and it needs to be discussed.He came back a few days later concerned that if he doesn't let her go through with it then he will always wonder if she will do it behind his back, or if she is secretly pining for this other man. Now his wife has told him that she thinks she might have feelings for this other man. Scott seems to believe that if she doesn't explore this they will never be able to move passed it, and he will always wonder and be afraid. So Scott has told his wife to do what she feels she has to do.
I've told Scott:
Frankly, I think you need to grow a pair. There's nothing wrong with wanting monogamy, and if you aren't comfortable with her having sex with someone else she should respect that. You shouldn't have to sacrifice your desire for monogamy because she's got a crush on someone.Scott feels that telling her it's not OK to have sex with this other man will mean living the rest of his life afraid that she's really in love with someone else. He believes that if she goes ahead with this now then it'll either be over between her and the other man, or it'll be over between her and Scott, but at least he'll know where he stands.
Here's my response to that:
So she sleeps with him, comes back and tells you she doesn't want to end your marriage. What then? Will you honestly be able to trust that she's never thinking about him or someone else? Will you honestly be satisfied with that? Or say she comes back and says she wants to continue to see him, but she loves you too and doesn't want your marriage to end, will you be able to live with that? Or she comes back and ends your marriage to be with him....will you be able to forgive yourself for giving her permission?Scott's wife is showing him zero respect and love when she expects him to tolerate her having sex with someone else knowing that he's not OK with it. I understand they entertained a fantasy, and that she's curious about this other man, but what she's asking of Scott is outside of his comfort zone and if she loves him she'll respect that boundary.
The seed of doubt has already been planted in your head. Her sleeping with a guy she says she might have feelings for isn't going to do anything to quiet your fears. More likely it will make it worse.
If you aren't OK with her sleeping with another man there is nothing, let me repeat that, nothing wrong with that.
Every relationship has boundaries, whether it be a marriage, friendship, familial relationship or coworker relationship, and there is nothing wrong with that. Most importantly there's nothing wrong with enforcing the boundaries in your relationships.
Unfortunately for Scott I think his wife already crossed one of his boundaries, and I'm afraid there may be no coming back. My advice to Scott is to stand firm on that boundary. If he doesn't then he's shown his wife that he doesn't respect himself, and she in turn will not feel she has to respect him. He's setting himself up to be walked on.
Please, love yourselves more than that. Respect yourselves enough to demand respect from those around you. There's nothing wrong with saying "I'm not comfortable with this and I want it to stop." Someone who truly loves you will not want to continue with something that hurts you.
With love and respect,
Scott came back to the forum. In the past several weeks, while waiting for an opening with a marriage counselor, he and his wife have been talking a lot. Scott sees his wife as "georgeous, smart, tough, a ton of fun, loving, hardworking, and for the last five years, a wonderful mom to our son." However, he's learned recently that she doesn't believe any of that. She thinks Scott is blinded by his love for her and wouldn't give her a second glance if he weren't married to her, and that nobody else finds her attractive. This is why she pushed for the fling with the other man, to prove to herself that someone else finds her attractive, someone who isn't blinded by love, someone who isn't bound to her by marriage and parenthood.
As is often the case, is seems that Scott's wife's disrespect for him really started from a lack of love and respect for herself. Scott is hurt that his love and attraction for her isn't enough to show her that she is wonderful. Myself and others have told Scott that nothing he says or does can improve her self esteem, she needs to learn to love and respect herself with or without attention from a man.
There needs to be more love and respect in Scott's marriage, and it all needs to start with self love and self respect. I hope Scott and his wife are able to find their own inherent value.