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My wife wants an open relationship, I don't

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Question - (15 December 2017) 23 Answers - (Newest, 19 December 2017)
A male United States age 41-50, anonymous writes:

My wife insists on a open relationship for her but not for me. I am very resentful about this but she says its this or nothing. I love her but I am going nuts.

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A female reader, CassieMosswing United Kingdom +, writes (19 December 2017):

CassieMosswing agony auntYour letting her abdicate her responsibility of this marriage? Oh, as long as she doesn't come back home to nag you. Everything is fine. What world are you living in? You don't mind being a doormat? This is aberrant behavior when your pretending to be ok with this. You're therapist will say the same thing...that your being played and to leave the marriage.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (19 December 2017):

No, you're holding back. If you were okay with this, why are you seeing a therapist? I'll move on. I should help those who are willing to be open and honest.

Your post opens in three sentences. Then your follow-up post concludes in five sentences. I know when we've been played.

I wish you the best, dear sir!

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A reader, anonymous, writes (19 December 2017):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

She has had 3 "encounters" with other men resulting in sex. One twice. I am finding it not as hard to deal with as I thought.

She seems happier and other than my bruised ego it has made for a more peaceful home life. I am dealing with it by seeing a Therapist and discussing this with a few choice friends.

PS I have never cheated on her having no desire to do so.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (19 December 2017):

This is the beginning of the end of your marriage.sorry.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 December 2017):

I wrote an answer earlier about how you have a legitimate right to feel the way you do. But then you defensively wrote back that wouldn’t provide any additional information. That defensiveness does make me think that she may have a legit reason to feel the way SHE does about wanting an open relationship for herself. At the least you don’t seem like a open person who is willing to do some self-analysis and introspection which I think is important when you are on a relationship.

Have you tried to find out WHY she feels the way she does? If you truly love her then you’d want to ask questions and at least try to see where she is coming from before deciding on what you will do.

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (17 December 2017):

Ciar agony auntI'm pretty sure you've posted about this before.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 December 2017):

Did you cheat on her by chance ? If you did then I can totally understand why she is asking for this . In fact it sounds like perhaps this may be what happened and you are leaving these facts out ?

CN you give us some background as to why she feels this is a fair thing ?

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A female reader, NORA B Ireland + , writes (17 December 2017):

She may love you ...but she is not in-love with you.The relationship is over.Do not waste time on a person who Only loves herself.Move on..Move out,she is not worth another thought.Give yourself Time and Space to heal and start afresh.After all there is ONLY 2 in any loving relationship.Kind wishes.NORA B.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (17 December 2017):

I find this really disrespectful to be forcing this on you and acting like it isn't cheating when it is cheating (esp if the other person isn't okay with it). I agree with the posters who say tell her "then I'm choosing the 'or nothing' if you can't respect the vows you said to me".

What I would be curious to know is why does she want an open relationship? Just curious, but have you ever cheated in the past (even long ago) and now she is curious about experiencing others too? Or is this just totally out of the blue? Has she always been more of a sexually adventurous type? Are you two suddenly experiencing problems in the bedroom?

What I would want to know is what is the driving force behind her wanting to make this open...is it sheer boredom or is there something more complex going on, like some sort of mid-life crisis?

Either way I would put my foot down and insist on fidelity or nothing. However, I would talk to her and ask her why she suddenly feels the need for this.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (17 December 2017):

Okay, what did you do? You owe us a backstory, and don't leave out any mitigating facts that would make a wife come out of the blue; and decide she wants an open-marriage. My friend, that doesn't just happen.

This sounds tit-for-tat or a woman scorned. You may as well come out with it; we don't know you and nothing anyone of us can say can judge you more harshly than the women married to you who wants an open-marriage.

Spill it! I won't judge, I'll be gentle.

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A male reader, TylerSage United States + , writes (17 December 2017):

TylerSage agony auntSo let me get this straight...

Your wife...insists on an open relationship for her....but not for you...and demands you give it to her?

Your wife sounds like a very selfish person.

It seems she is after something you can't provide. The first step here is to sit and talk with her and discover why she insists on being with other people. Usually when women want to see new people it's because they aren't getting what they need from their current situation. Judging by the fact that she told you this and even demand you give it to her may mean she plans to do it regardless. It appears she has put some thought into this. You may need to look into yourself and the relationship and see if there is anything you can do to spice it up or you could suggest some counselling.

I hope everything works out as it should.

Wife or no wife, don't let her to take advantage of you.

All the best.

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A female reader, CassieMosswing United Kingdom +, writes (17 December 2017):

CassieMosswing agony auntThe fact that she brings this subject up...means she's made her decision anyway to cheat on you. She doesn't love you enough to control herself. The marriage use to be something special but...love on her side has...been demolished. Everyone said how headstrong she is by going through with this open marriage with or without your permission.

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (16 December 2017):

Ciar agony auntI'd be very careful about calling her bluff as a means of scaring her into backtracking. This isn't something she just came up with. She's been thinking about it for quite some time. This blunt all or nothing ultimatum tells me either answer works for her.

As Garbo says, she's going to get what she wants one way or the other.

The only thing you need to ask yourself do you want HER enough to forego exclusivity or do you want exclusivity enough to forego her?

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A male reader, CMMP United States + , writes (16 December 2017):

Basically, like all marriages after awhile, she's bored. She probably does love you, she just wants some excitement in her life. She wants to keep you around to provide stability, and add other people for entertainment.

Unfortunately you have to make a choice. If you stay and say no to her, she's going to either kick you out or cheat on you behind your back like most people. At least be grateful she's not doing that.

For some couple's an open relationship works well. If you're not willing to try them you're going to need to make the difficult choice to move on. Don't stay and be constantly hurt because you can't bear to lose her.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (16 December 2017):

My wife insists on an open marriage for her but not for me. That sentence should tell you everything you need to know about which direction your marriage is going.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (16 December 2017):

Your marriage is basically over....I’m sorry.

You have two people who want two things that are not compatible. She’s given you an ultimatum and will not budge. I would’nt throw an ultimatum back at her. But I wouldn’t stick around, you are completely in the right to stand up for yourself and your feelings on the matter. If you feel resentful now, these destructive feelings will only get worse when she follows through, if she hasn’t already. So save yourself the heartache, both for yourself and her.

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A female reader, Dionee' South Africa +, writes (16 December 2017):

Dionee' agony auntSo basically she gave you an ultimatum... it´s her way or the highway?! Honestly, she doesn´t respect your union and the vows that the two of you recited for one another means absolutely nothing if she is willing to throw away your marriage because she wants to experience what it would be like to be with other men. I say, your marriage is over just by her saying all that she did and forcing this open relationship thing on you. Clearly she isn´t on the same page as you are. It´s over.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (16 December 2017):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntI am so sorry. You may love her, but she obviously does not love you enough to stay faithful. She obviously cares more about screwing around than about your marriage.

It takes two to make a relationship work and she is not on board here. Much as you may love her, watching her doing what she wants will destroy you. PLEASE love YOURSELF enough to realize this is not going to end well and take a firm stance.

In your shoes, I would say to your wife, "I love you too much and value our marriage too much to allow this. Either you give up this notion or our marriage is over and you can go and do what you like." Hopefully this will be a wake up call for her, but I wouldn't bank on it. I suspect she has her eye on someone else and this is her way of having her cake and eating it. Hold your head high, know your worth and don't allow her to treat you like a doormat.

Again, I am so sorry. Very painful but sometimes you just have to walk away.

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A female reader, Andie's Thoughts United Kingdom + , writes (16 December 2017):

Andie's Thoughts agony auntSadly, she's too selfish to care how you feel. She's probably already cheating and wants belated permission. I think your best bet is bet is to call her on it. Don't give in, though.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (16 December 2017):

A woman who loves you would never insist upon an open marriage.

I would not want any other men touching me if I loved you. Impossible. All my ties are to you. Physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual. And my body belongs to you. Only you. As does my heart, mind and soul.

Conversely, it would be far too painful and impossible for me to see the man I love with any other woman. If another female so much as looked at you too long, I'd rip her eyes out. Sorry, but a jealous woman is a woman who loves you. And under no circumstances, would she ever share you.

Your wife isn't attracted to you anymore but she likes the benefits of being married to you. Like your house, kids, possessions, family trips, financial security, status, comfort, stability etc.

Cake and eat it. She's selfish, self absorbed and cruel to your feelings and heart.

If you say no and stay, she will do it behind your back if she isn't doing it already.

By putting up with her abuse, you show her you're her puppy dog/doormat.

Nobody is worth comprising your self respect and self love. Especially not a woman like this. She is sucking the joy out of you. The pain she is inflicting on you eats away from the inside out. What kind of a person puts her life partner through this kind of torment with a complete disregard for their feelings?

You don't just put your spouse out to pasture because they don't light your fire anymore. Nobody will after you are with them in a long term relationship for years and years. Anybody is exciting in the beginning. It is an unfair comparison. You can never be brand new again. But they can never give her all the years of love and devotion you have given her. Those are irreplaceable. Relationships take commitment and mutual respect. These are the vows she took. They are meant for life. The rules don't just change when you get bored or hit a bump in the road.

If you want to play the field, you have no business being married and dragging another person down with you.

She isn't going to cut you loose because she's getting stability from you. And you're tried, tested and true. Maybe she doesn't think she will ever find a better life partner or somebody who puts up with her the way that you do. But she sure does think she will find a better lay.

Are you going to stand by and let her do that to you?

Time to wear your big boy pants.

I'm not sure about anyone else but the moment my spouse told me he wanted an open relationship would be the moment our marriage was over.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (16 December 2017):

Honeypie agony auntYep, I'm with YouWish

I'd call her bluff and say "or nothing." If she still insists.... maybe it's time to file for divorce. You can't MAKE her want to work on the marriage but you can decide if you are willing to give up your own standards over some sexual fad she all of a sudden has developed. She obviously doesn't CARE what you feel about so... what does that tell you?

I also agree that she might already BE cheating and just want to be "allowed" by you to do so, so she stops feeling guilty.

This is now how a healthy marriage works.

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A female reader, YouWish United States + , writes (16 December 2017):

YouWish agony auntI'd look her in the eye and say "Or nothing". You both spoke some vows forsaking all others and to be faithful to one another. She can't emotionally blackmail you into submission.

Why would say say that she wants an open relationship, but you can't open it yourself?? I think she is ALREADY cheating on you, guy.

Love doesn't mean getting kicked around and cheated on. Tell her it's marriage counseling and monogamy OR NOTHING.

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A male reader, Garbo United States +, writes (16 December 2017):

Garbo agony auntShe will get her "open" relationship one way or another. Whether you agree or not she will do it. So start thinking of what you will get because she does not care what you want. She does not care if you love her. Start loving yourself. If you don't want this sort of relationship than be sure you are firm and reject it then move on. Whether you accept or reject she will do it so I'd say be proactive, get rid of her and move on.

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