I wrote in a while ago with a fairly incoherent question of the “I think I’m maybe asexual but I already got married with the usual implicit understanding that sex would be part of the relationship” variety with a hefty side of “what is wrong with me and how do I not be this way” and other identity issues… I’ve kind of come to grips with the reality that, my personal label issues aside, the kindest thing to do is accept that sex is something that will not be happening for the foreseeable future and figure out how to move forward with the practicalities of making this marriage with a man I love less of an extremely unsexy anxiety limbo.
My desired outcome: husband and I stay in our loving partnership, he gets his sexy needs met with a sexy friend (or a few sexy friends?), I stop feeling utterly horrible and like I’m holding him against his will in my frigid financial clutches (Ed. note: LW is the breadwinner right now), everyone wins. Now how do I start making that happen? I need a script to bring this up with my husband, that regardless of our history this is how things are now, and I love him dearly and want his sexy needs to be met however he feels comfortable… just, y’know, not with me.
I also feel like I should have at least a few initial strategies for how to find him a low-stakes sexy playmate (OKCupid? Craigslist? How does Tinder even work?), since pressure to make friends or otherwise put himself out there socially is a huge anxiety trigger for him. I don’t want to micromanage him through the entire thing (I’ve thought a LOT about what my boundaries would be for this), but it would be nice to be able to approach it with “look, this doesn’t need to be so fraught, people do this all the time, here are some options for finding someone.” He’s my first and only partner, and we met in college, so I’m a little inexperienced in the “arranging casual sexy things as an adult” arena.
How do I negotiate all this?
— Ace Wife
Dear Ace Wife,
Before you worry about how to use Tinder, I recommend that you tell your husband where you are with sex and give him some time and space to think about what he wants.
“Husband, I need to tell you something important. I have slowly realized that I am asexual, and what that means for us right now is that I don’t see myself having sex with you in the forseeable future. I am open to lots of solutions, including maybe you seeking other sex partners to meet your needs. I want to tell you that I love you, and my choice would be to stay married to you and spend my life with you. I need to be honest with you about what’s going on with me, so that we both can take care of each other and make good decisions for ourselves.”
Put it out there, answer whatever questions he has, and then give it some time. Consider couples’ counseling and possibly individual therapy for both of you. If he says, “I want to talk more about this ‘other partners’ thing,” you can explore the mechanics and the poetics of how to get that done. He may want to stay in the marriage on your terms, and he may not. He may find a perfect sex partner or partners to meet his needs and create equilibrium in your marriage, or he may not be open relationship-inclined. Other people, including your husband, including these theoretical “other partners,” are universes unto themselves and it’s impossible to predict or control how that will all go. While it’s tempting to offer your husband solutions, you have to give him some room to fumble around the way you’ve been fumbling around behind the scenes in figuring out your identity. The work you’ve done on yourself, on knowing your own desires and boundaries, won’t be wasted.
Be brave, be honest, be loving, and be patient. I hope both you and your husband get the love that you want and deserve.
Now is the time here at Captain Awkward Dot Com where I hold out the tip jar for the summer pledge drive. Every bit helps, and I’m very grateful for the continued support of the community.