A friend of a friend was looking for advice on her current situation. Her husband had been having troubles with erectile dysfunction for a while and while prescription medicine solved the problem, it was no longer working. Add to it that his doctor had just confirmed it would be a permanent issue, and my friend was feeling disgruntled. Her husband suggested that she go out and find someone else with whom to have sex and she was wondering whether or not this is a good idea. She certainly wished for sexual intimacy and was considering sex outside her marriage but wasn’t sure.
My first reaction was that there may be other activities husband and wife can do together. Oral sex and mutual masturbation both popped into my mind. Use of toys is also something I would advocate. A hollow dildo may work for some while others just might use vibrators and regular dildos. Use with her husband or alone, this friend might not feel as much of a need to seek sexual gratification after all. Furthermore, I encouraged her to research alternative treatments for ED such as acupuncture or herbal remedies. I’m no doctor but it certainly seemed like all involved parties gave up on finding a solution, not just for his ED but for achieving sexual intimacy together, rather quickly.
I next wondered if their relaitonship was stable and whether extramarital sex, even if condoned by her husband, would cause further strain. As I inquired further, it became obvious that everything wasn’t peachy keen. She and her husband were no longer sharing the same bed, resulting in an even further loss of intimacy. While she felt willing to look into other ways they could be intimate together, he had already written off the subject. It was clear, not being able to perform in bed had done a number on his ego and confidence, thus it was affecting their relationship.
As this information came to light, my opinion quickly changed from “this might be a plausible solution” to “This couple needs therapy, not extramarital sex.” What they had both perceived as problem in the bedroom was really a larger problem with their relationship, of which sexual frustration was only a symptom. It seemed to me, that by considering she have an outside sexual encounter, this couple was only putting the cart before the horse. By working on meeting each others’ emotional needs, I have a feeling the wife will feel less of a desire to have sex with others and they might be able to substitute other activities for vaginal sex, instead.
Now, in their specific situation I would strongly encourage therapy and, if he was not willing, she should go alone. I would not recommend that she continue with the idea of sleeping with others, at all. Still, were their relationship strong and healthy, it may have worked out as long as they were both sure about what they want and made sure to vocalize it.
While what he was suggesting might be a completely selfless sign of love, it could also mean a test. If she had sex with another man, he might judge her as failing or not loving him enough despite his flaws. Or perhaps he really isn’t comfortable with the idea at all but feels he must do something so that she does not leave him for something better. Either way, even a stable relationship would suffer. This is why it’s important to be honest not only to our partners but to ourselves.
It may take a little soul searching in order to really know whether or not he is okay with his wife having sex with another man and it even may be difficult for her to come to terms with the idea. Feelings like jealousy, resentment and poor self worth may surface here but they are all surmountable. If you’re Is it absolutely possible to put aside human traits of jealousy and possessiveness? Sure. Do we all have the will to do so? Not usually. If either partner is uncomfortable at all, it’s not something which should be acted upon, at least yet.
Furthermore, it doesn’t hurt to analyze the desire to seek out sexual fulfillment elsewhere. If this woman had done so, she would have discovered that she was not looking for sexual gratification alone; rather, she was looking to fill the emotional loss she was experiencing due to her husband pulling away. While he might be okay with her being in a sexual relationship with someone else, would he feel the same about her being emotionally intimate with another?
Which leads me to my last point: it’s vital to discuss (and agree upon) expectations and guidelines. The more she talked, the more it sounded like she was looking for a full time boyfriend but I could not help but wonder if this is what her husband had in mind. Perhaps he expected her to only have no-strings-attached one night stands. Perhaps he expected they would only have vaginal intercourse or not engage in activities which he felt we special to them (whether sexual or otherwise). Does he expect them to use protection? If so, what kind? Will she tell her new beau that she is married? Discussing when, where and how these trysts can occur not only helps to make sure all parties are on the same page but can help to shed light on whether or not everyone really is comfortable with the situation.
While I think this arrangement can work for some people, I think it doesn’t work for more people. I think certain conditions must be “met” before a couple should consider this. Other activities should be considered first, the relationship must be stable and healthy, both partners must be accepting of the idea and completely honest about their feelings and it’s a good idea to discuss guidelines and expectations beforehand.
If you have been successfully involved in a similar arrangement, it’s extremely likely it’s because you gave it some thought and followed these guidelines. Many of these considerations are those which belong in any relationship (honesty and communication) and others can be effective in negotiating open relationships or threesomes as well.