Open Divorce

by Husband on April 14, 2010

Wow. Well, it’s been nearly a year since “we” started this blog. I say “we” in quotes because Wife never did end up posting to it herself, only me. That was probably a sign right there.

So, to recap: together nearly 19 years now, married nearly 16, “open” pretty much that whole time, with a few years of “don’t ask, don’t tell” at the outset but quickly becoming a full-on open marriage. Until shortly after we started this blog. Then everything came unglued.
I don’t think the blog had much to do with it. But we’re moving into separate homes in the next two weeks and likely getting a divorce later this year. In our characteristically unorthodox approach, we’re determined to do our best to stay friends, but we’ll have to see how that works.
What went wrong? Hard to say. Objectively, anyway. But since she’s never deigned to participated in this would-be joint blog project, I’ll give you my side of the story, in summary.
I don’t mean to condemn open relationships as a lifestyle. We started this blog with every intension to be boosters for the idea. But in 20-20 hindsight, my conclusion, after months of therapy among other reflections, is that the open relationship in our case was a way to bandaid over a gap in our own relationship.
To each his own, for sure — I should be the last to judge — but in my own life going forward, I’ve decided to give monogamy a try for a while.
The whole thing is still surreal. I read back to my original post here, just less than a year ago, on our wedding anniversary, where I claimed “we seem to be one of the happiest, most loving couples we know.” That’s certainly what we believed at the time.
I also said in some subsequent posts that we weren’t in it only for the sex, but that we believe also in open love. Well, that turns out not to have been true for her.
I made some references along the way to a girlfriend I had at the time whom I dubbed “Free Spirit,” and went into a bit of detail about how my becoming increasingly infatuated with Free Spirit had led to some serious strife between me and Wife. As I later learned, after our 19 years together, she had a different view on the open love question; apparently she thought the freedom pretty much ended with the sex.
(For the record, Free Spirit and I are done. We haven’t had contact in more than two months now. It was red hot, but in the end, I’d say she was a bit too emotionally volatile for me. In the unlikely case that she’s reading this, I did feel deeply for her and miss her and wish her all the best, but the last episode of hysterics jolted me out of love.)
From my standpoint today, I’d say if Wife and I were still having sex twice a week, this would all be a non-issue and we’d still be happily married. But from relatively early on in our long relationship, Wife had a different pace of libido. Twice a month worked fine for her. Me, I was sexually frustrated at that pace. She would regularly say, “Well, we have an open marriage, so what are you complaining about? Go get your sex elsewhere.”
But to her mind, she’d be happy for me to have a relationship like something with a call girl.  Sex without attachments. The whole polyamorous concept of “compersion” was one that was lost on her. She was distinctly not happy about my being giddily infatuated with Free Spirit. In the end, she effectively put the kibosh on that relationship.
That was where it all fell apart. Over the years, it had always proven easier for her to strike up outside relationships than it was for me. When we met in our 20s, I lacked self confidence with women.
For years, I was sympathetic to the concept of an open relationship, but where guys were always only too eager to jump in bed with her, women generally did more emotional calculus with me that ended something like “You seem like a cool guy, but I think I’ll get hurt in the end of this, so no thanks.” I repeated found that “I should tell you that I’m married, but it’s okay, because it’s an OPEN marriage!” was a really shitty pickup line. For me anyway.
At a certain point, I made a real study of picking up women, and suddenly in my 40s, I got the hang of it better than ever before. But by then, however, Wife was also in her 40s, and perhaps her self-consciousness about her age or whatever started getting in the way, and suddenly she was much more jealous about my outside romances.
In any event, my outside relationships –beyond one night stands — were still a lot of work and relatively few and far between. When she nixed Free Spirit, the house of cards came tumbling down. It had been something like two or three years between Free Spirit and my previous girlfriend, and I’m not getting any younger. I decided it was too much work to keep trying to line up a mistress willing to put up with the crappy bargain I had to offer her only to have Wife shut it down in the end.
I have been sexually frustrated for years in my marriage. The answer that I should supplement the sex elsewhere, which proved to be a Catch 22 bargain, was just more frustration.
And it wasn’t just the sex. In our brief couples therapy — five meetings was all she could bear — she told the therapist, as she had told me a few times previously: her career was more important than her marriage. That’s pretty tough to recover from. Especially when the relationship is 19 years old and the career is 7 years old.
This is a career taking up about 80-100 hours a week of her time (no exaggeration). So I’m left home alone, lonely, horny, and not allowed to spend as much time with the girlfriend as I’d like to make up the difference, because that would be an insult to Wife.
So I quit. She wasn’t willing to consider compromises to my issues — sex and loneliness — and I was done carrying a heavier burden. I felt like for years I’ve been putting 110% into this relationship and getting at best 90% back. I do still love Wife. We know each other completely and do greatly care for each other. But I feel I owe it to myself not to sacrifice my happiness for the sake of hers.
I crave a relationship that is in balance. I want to be with someone who is horny for me. Honestly, sex matters. If I have one morale to offer from my story, it’s this: Women, fuck your men. I’m sure that goes both ways, gender wise, although the stereotype seems to be of men frustrated that their women are less interested in sex than they are. Wife and I don’t have kids. Maybe that would have made the difference.
But honestly, if you want to keep your relationship healthy, the sex matters probably more than you think it does.
Again, I don’t want to be held up as a poster child for “open marriage doesn’t work.” Our marriage didn’t work in the end, though we had a great run. It’s hard to isolate to what extent the openness was a factor in its demise. And it wasn’t only about sex either. In my telling of our story (she still has access to this blog account, so she can tell her side if she ever wants to), there was an emotional distance, too.
Me? I’m gonna move to Williamsburg and lick my wounds for a while. Then hopefully I’m going to lick all sorts of body parts of several attractive young ladies. And hopefully find one who loves me more completely. And, I suspect, exclusively.
I liked being coupled. I suppose I’m the marrying kind. And next time around, I don’t intend to share. But that’s just me. Good luck to all the rest of you.