My Wife Wants to Open the Relationship. Is Our Marriage Over?

MY WIFE WANTS TO OPEN THE RELATIONSHIP. IS OUR MARRIAGE OVER?

Cheryl Fraser

Jamie slumps on my therapy couch, his head in his hands. “My wife says her attraction to me has waned. She asked me if we can open our relationship, but that’s not something I want. What do I do?” 

As a psychologist and sex therapist, I work in the world of sex and intimacy every day. I consider my job as a psychotherapist, author, and educator especially important because we don’t talk about sex enough–even with our partners. 

There is so much mystery and shame around exploring our sexuality. I’ve heard dozens of spouses confide that they don’t feel passion for their mate anymore. They bravely share their fantasies about finding sexual excitement in new ways. So I’m eager to help Jamie understand the challenges of long-term love and explore how he and his partner might move forward.

Even though his wife’s concerns have thrown him into a panic, I reassure him that sexual desire disconnect is a common problem in long-term love.  His wife, like many people, longs for the easy excitement and horniness she felt when they were dating. 

In the beginning, attraction comes easily. Lust is a biological cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin, hopes, and expectations garnished with a giant splash of novelty. And it’s powerful. When we’re drunk on love the object of our affection grabs us like a rottweiler does a squeaky stuffed toy.

His wife used to daydream about him and feel a delicious sense of thrill. Sexual arousal flushed her body during a business meeting. The passion was visceral, and it felt fantastic. 

But after a while novelty wanes, the relationship settles down, and the erotic is replaced by the every day. I call this Marriage Incorporated: two people love each other but their relationship becomes a business instead of a romance. Kids, careers, soccer practice, tax returns, and peeing with the door open. They do everything together but each other. 

Sex falls way down the priority list. And when they do make love, it’s pretty boring. The typical sexual encounter in a long-term relationship is less than seven minutes from nudge to snore. Last week, one patient told me when her wife wants sex, she asks, “Is your mouthguard in yet?” So much for romance! 

What’s more, the infrequent sex may lead to orgasm but it’s devoid of passion, creativity, and sizzle. There are no surprises in the predictable routine of “nipple, nipple, crotch, goodnight.” 

And gee whiz, one day couples realize they’re not attracted to their mate. Marriage Inc. has replaced Passion Inc. 

Here’s what Jamie’s wife did right.  She started the conversation about attraction, passion, and their sex life. This is the best-case scenario. She didn’t cheat. 

Sneaking around for secret sex is a common way that a partner who has lost attraction recreates sexual thrill. Because even though 95% of people in ongoing relationships state they want sexual exclusivity, reported infidelity rates range from 20-50%.

So research on sex, desire, and monogamy challenges us to face the facts. Wanting monogamy is one thing—actually creating sustainable passion is another. It’s more normal than you think someone to fantasize about sex outside their relationship. 

But instead of having an affair Jamie’s wife is proposing an open relationship, or consensual non monogamy (CNM). The details are worked out by each couple, but the basic idea is simple: partners openly agree to engage in sexual exploration with other people while staying emotionally exclusive. 

While he may be shocked that his wife is floating the idea, approximately 4% of North Americans are in a CNM relationship, and up to a quarter of men and women report being willing to at least consider engaging in this alternate relationship model. 

As difficult as it is, together they are starting to face the facts, which is what I hope all couples with sexual desire disconnect will do. His wife longs for more sexual passion but she doesn’t want to leave the marriage. She thinks new experiences will satisfy her. And they might, but only for a while. Novelty, by definition, doesn’t last. 

So if we need novelty to “make us” attracted, we have to keep seeking new partners, new thrills, or new taboos. So what can you do about it?

Talking honestly about these big—and very threatening—feelings and ideas is a brave and intimate act. And it can be a pivot point to a far more satisfying relationship. But not an open relationship. Because Jamie wants monogamy. And that’s okay. 

As with any sexual behavior, don’t agree to something you don’t want. As a sex therapist I am not opposed to open relationships on a philosophical level, but in real life, this model doesn’t work for most couples. In my clinical experience, even when the terms are negotiated and both partners are on board, jealousy, guilt, and unresolved relationship issues often tear couples apart in an agonizing failed experiment.

But what if he can become the new partner she seeks? Instead of opening their marriage to other people, what if they open their marriage to each other?

If his wife is willing to play ball, I suggested he commit to changing their relationship from the inside out and vow to re-ignite desire, attraction, and sexual thrill with each other. Since almost all of us want monogamy, but passion fades with familiarity, the challenge is to make monogamy hot again.

Five Tips to Make Monogamy Hot Again

Bring Buddha into the bedroom
Mindful sex makes the familiar exciting again because attraction is all in your head. When you nibble a delicious chocolate truffle, you enjoy it fully here and now, even though you’ve had hundreds of chocolates before. Why? Because paying attention to this truffle with mindfulness makes the familiar experience fresh, alive, and sensory-each chocolate tastes new and interesting. 

You can create erotic novelty the same way by getting your head into bed. Research shows that mindfulness practice increases sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction.Instead of kissing someone new, kiss your same old partner for the very first time in this moment. When you are mindful of lips, tongue, heat, and breath, excitement can surge, and this kiss feels new and exciting. Experience the thrill you used to feel, one kiss, one breath, at a time. Pleasure is available right now, with the one you are with.

Treat sex like exercise 
Just do it. Sure, in the lustful dating days spontaneous desire swept you away and you tumbled into bed like a pair of mating otters. But in long-term relationship, it helps to schedule sex. Just like you do with the gym, commit to your sexual workouts, get going even when you don’t feel like it, and afterward you will always be glad you did.

Make a weekly sex date and no matter how tired you are, or how compelling the couch and Netflix seem, honor your commitment to your passionate life. Couples who make love on schedule often discover they start having sex in between sex dates—it’s as though their sexual fitness increases.

Have gourmet sex
Complacency and laziness lead to boring sex. Many of us forget the vast possibilities for sensual exploration that two bodies multiplied by five senses offer us. When is the last time you licked the back of your partner’s knees, or blew gently on their neck?

The erotic menu is vast. So stop relying on fast food. Shake up the old routine of “nipple, nipple, crotch, goodnight.” Get creative and curious and vow to surprise each other with a lingering five course sensory feast. Give each other a slow, erotic, sensual massage, or visit a love shop and get some sexy toys to bring the play back into foreplay. 

Explore your dark sexual energy
When a person seeks an affair or open relationship, they are longing for the excitement of the taboo. And let’s face it—taboo is sexy. We all have what I call “dark sexual energy.” This is the raw, primal aspect of our sexual desire. But often we hide this side of our sexual self from our partner. So, instead of denying this part of your eroticism, take a risk and share it with your mate. Tell them, in explicit detail, one of your secret fantasies. 

Now there is a difference between fantasy and reality, so you may not choose to act this scenario out, but it can be highly arousing to expose our deepest sexual desires to our beloved. And explore something new—visit a fetish party together dressed in leather and lace, or have a quickie in the spare bedroom at your boss’s dinner party. Create excitement with sexy scenarios. Kick Marriage Inc. in the butt and re-ignite the fire of lust.

Expand your orgasms with tantric sex
The typical climax orgasm lasts for 7 seconds for men and 21 seconds for women. Imagine extending that to minutes, and beyond. If regular orgasm is a firecracker, tantric orgasm is a bonfire. You can learn to play with your sexual arousal by changing how you breathe, connecting more deeply with your partner while you make love, and staying intently conscious at orgasm (instead of swooning into fantasy or zoning out).  

Read my book or take a course in tantric sex. With practice, you can experience orgasm all over your body and have multiple waves of pleasure. Put the OM into Oh My.

Why Couples Stop Having Sex: The Paradox Of Yes In Saying No

WHY COUPLES STOP HAVING SEX: THE PARADOX OF YES IN SAYING NO

Kyle Benson

Sexual desire is leaving the American bedroom faster than a Kansas tornado will rip apart a house.

Long-term relationships, far too often, experience a dwindling sex life. “Experts” often blame the coals of passion on women; their vanishing libido post-marriage. Their keen focus on raising the little ones while ignoring the man next to them.

The lack of female desire is a profitable industry. Thousands of books, full of “theories” on why women lose desire, fill bookstores. Meanwhile drug companies with pills like Addyi are “closing the gap” with a Viagra like pill for women.

But can a pill really put women in the mood?

I don’t think so.

Whispering desires of sex

The problem is that women (and men) need to feel safe to explore their sexuality. The last thing they need is to feel criticized for saying, “not tonight.” Being human is complex, especially with waves of emotions and desires crashing into our bodies. Being in a relationship is even more complicated; it requires two people to work with each other’s shifting emotional realities, both together and individually.

Far too often, I see a resentful woman with little sexual desire for her partner, married to a resentful man for her lack of desire. For a couple to have sex often, neither partner should meet the other’s “no” with rejection, anger or withdrawal.

Neglecting your partner your love, an emotional connection, or physical contact for saying “no” to sex will make saying “no” easier the next time. Ironically, the partner who was rejected by their partner must offer a positive response back to their partner. This is the paradox of sex in committed relationships.

Let’s Play This Out In Two Scenarios

Meet Chris. Chris loves Lacey. Chris understands that he needs to accept Lacey refusing to have sex tonight, but in his mind that doesn’t make it okay.

A ring does not guarantee sex

He believes the wedding band on her finger means her body is his right. He believes that her refusal denies him the thing he feels entitled to. So Chris tries to convince Lacey again and again, hoping his next attempt will “push her over the edge.”

Unfortunately, the sexual edge he is pushing her over is not a healthy edge. If she has sex with him, it’s because he couldn’t accept her “no.” This leaves her to resent him. While their genitals may be fornicating, the love and connection in both of them is numb.

If Chris can’t convince her to change her mind, he starts to act like a sad puppy. He sulks, whines, and may even bite her with criticism. He might even ignore her altogether.

Whatever happens, his negative response to her “no” is punishing Lacey. The subcontext of his actions are sending the following message: “It’s not okay for you to say no. It’s not okay for you to be your own person with a desire that doesn’t match mine.”

Obviously, none of this is going to put Lacey in the mood.

In fact, it will do the exact opposite. It will escalate the tension and resentment between them. It will reduce her desire to have sex the next time he asks.

Over time, Lacey turns into a sexually dormant women. She is emotionally blocking her erotic nature by the wall of her resentment.

Let’s Explore an Alternative Reality

As Lacey turns down Chris for sex, Chris accepts it. Just like that. He doesn’t hold a grudge or make up a theory that she is cheating on him. He doesn’t view sex as a right or an expectation he deserves when he wants it. Sex, for both partners, is a choice made every single day. It is not a mandatory obligation.

For example:

Lacey: “Not tonight. I feel sick from dinner.”
Chris. “I’m sorry, babe. I hate that feeling. It makes me not want to do anything either. I love you.”
Chris’s caring response is a far cry from the traditional “you always feel sick” complaint.

This caring response is far more effective. Receiving a positive response from Chris for turning down sex does not cause Lacey to say “no” more often in the future. His actions reinforce that he loves Lacey despite not getting what he wants.

His words remind her at her core that their sex life is about making love, not increasing the frequency just so Chris can release his sexual tension. To her, saying “no” lead to Chris making her feel loved.

Sex becomes more frequent in a relationship of loving responses. It cultivates trust and togetherness, leading to more erotic and passionate lovemaking.

Whether we realize it or not, we constantly rate our relationships. We value our partner’s responses in every single exchange we have. We are constantly reinforcing or amending the “story of us.”

According to John Gottman’s research, it has to be okay, even rewarding, for either partner to refuse sex.

Paradoxically, this leads to more sex. Many people find this confusing. I know I did. But relationships are complicated. That’s what makes them beautiful. They require understanding and working together.

For couples who are coping with a decline in a desire, how could your relationship change if you allowed each other to be as you are?

If you make it more than okay for either of you to say, “not tonight,” there will be many more nights when both of you will say “YES.” Female Viagra isn’t needed to fix low desire; just the pill of understanding and empathy.

Three Steps to Help the Rejected Not Feel Rejected

  1. Don’t take the “no” personally. Realize that a lack of a sexual desire for you isn’t all about you. Stresses from work, health issues, and general exhaustion drain us from having the energy to get it on. For most couples, I recommend using an arousal scale. It allows partners to realize that desire can be different among partners at the same time, but doesn’t mean that the relationship is any less passionate. It just means you’re not getting it on tonight.
  2. The Curiosity of Rejection. If you become angry, frustrated, or resent your partner, become curious as to why. Why is being told no to sex once such a big deal to you? Sex and love are full of private meanings. In my early twenties, sexual rejection meant I was inadequate and unworthy of love. Sex was validation for my self-worth, not a mutual act of appreciation and love.
  3. The Mirror of Reflection. If this rejection bothers you, ask yourself how this reflects on you. On your relationship. Recall the happy moments in your relationship to help cope with the feeling of rejection. Realize that your partner doesn’t want to hurt you and is merely telling you how they feel. Their behavior has little to do with you and more to do with them; just as your behavior and feelings have more to do with you than your partner. Reflect, ponder, and get to know yourself better.

Sex requires communication, understanding, and appreciation, even when things are not the way we want. Love is about loving your partner unconditionally, with or without your genitals touching.

How to Keep a Guy Interested: 30 Effortlessly Easy and Sexy Ways

HOW TO KEEP A GUY INTERESTED: 30 EFFORTLESSLY EASY AND SEXY WAYS

Team Lovepanky

Want to know how to keep a guy interested in you no matter what? Here are 30 sexy ways to make yourself dreamy and desirable in your man’s eyes.

Many girls may assume that guys are fickle and have a low interest span.

But in reality, guys are no different from girls when it comes to staying happy in a relationship.

Guys, just like girls, love novelty.

And they always want to be with a girl who’s desirable, and one that’s envied by other girls and desired by other guys.

Do you want to be that girl?

How to keep a guy interested

To keep a guy interested in you, you just need to remember a few ways to keep his interest aroused and his desire in you peaked.

Here are 30 sexy ways to do just that!

Use these tips on how to keep a guy interested in you, and you’d see how easy it can be to make him want you all the time.

#1 Be spontaneous. Shock him, awe him, make plans for the evening or plan an entire elaborate date by yourself. Surprise him and never be too predictable.

#2 Don’t change yourself. Stay true to the real person that you are. Don’t change yourself constantly assuming he doesn’t like your personality. Be creative, but stick to your comfort zone.

#3 Take initiatives in bed. Your guy may like taking control in bed, but when you dominate him and show off your confidence, he can’t help but be awed by your confidence and sexiness in bed.

#4 Smell great all the time. Always smell great around him but don’t overpower subtle fragrances with sickly sweet perfumes though. Always smell good, and pay special attention to your personal hygiene and body odor.

#5 Awe his friends. Men are competitive. As long as he thinks he has the best girl in his social circle, he’ll always cling to you and want to be with you. Awe his friends and make them think you’re a great girl, and you’ve done a great job.

#6 Learn to seduce him. Seduction doesn’t stop in bed. Be sexy around him and be creative wherever you go.

#7 Show interest in his hobbies. A guy would absolutely love a girl who shows interest in his special hobbies, be it playing on his Xbox or climbing a mountain. Men want to spend their lives with a woman who truly understands them and connects to them.

#8 Don’t be a drama queen. It’s alright to throw a fussy fit now and then if your guy disrespects you. But no matter what, don’t exaggerate a situation or blow it out of proportion just to prove a point. Guys can see through the acts of even the best drama queens.

#9 Be his shoulder to lean on. Give him your strength and support when he’s low on morale. Reassure him and help him confide his problems to you. Be his confidant and his warm pillow when he’s in the dumps and he’ll treat you like a goddess.

#10 Be his arm candy. Look good in his arms when both of you are together. Get a new hairstyle now and then, look fashionable and classy and he’ll never want you to leave his arms.

#11 Be financially secure. Be in control of your finances and have a well settled job. Guys love a girl with a steady head on her shoulders. At the same time, they stay a mile away from careless spendthrifts!

#12 Have intelligent conversations. A guy may want an arm candy when he’s on the streets, but he also wants a lover who can communicate with him and have intelligent conversations at the end of the day.

#13 Win over his family. Guys are attached to their families and a few guys are even loyal mama’s boys. Make his family and friends think you’re a catch and he’ll definitely love you more.

#14 Help him deal with life. Men may behave like the saviors of the world. But inside, they’re still little boys who need a cuddle and a hug now and then. Help your man deal with the issues life throws at him.

#15 Public display of affection. Your man may shy away from a bit of PDA, but he still loves it when you cling to his arms like a damsel in distress. It makes him feel more powerful and sexy!

#16 Stroke his ego. If you want to keep your guy interested and happy, learn to stroke his ego. Compliment his achievements and give him a pat on his back when he’s proud of something. Make him feel like a man and he’ll stay your man.

#17 Be independent and dependent. Confused? Be dependent when you’re with him. Be independent when you’re by yourself. It’ll make him feel more like a man when you’re around without really feeling like you’re needy when he’s busy doing something else.

#18 Be happy and interesting. Be interesting and creative with your life. See the happy side in everything, even in the most mundane of days. When you’re an optimist, your infectious happiness will definitely rub on to him.

#19 Don’t make him feel insecure. Flirt with others and talk to men, but never at the cost of his insecurity. When he’s around, hug him close and he’ll swell with affection for you.

#20 Don’t be easily available. Spend time with him, but don’t be ready for him at his beck and call. Be there for him, but make him miss you when you aren’t around.

#21 Be smart and sassy. Don’t ask stupid questions. Guys may like a dumb bimbette at first, but they’re not looking for a long term relationship with them.

#22 Don’t be clingy and needy. Guys like a damsel who needs their help. But that stops once the infatuation period is over. Show him that you’re self reliant and he’ll always look for ways to help you and please you.

#23 Be sexually innovative. Know your moves in bed and everywhere else. Have sex in different places, role play with him, wear an apron and nothing else while cooking something special, tie his hands to the bedpost… You get the drift, don’t you?

#24 Be a good cook. No matter what people say, the adage, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach still holds good.

#25 Learn to think like a guy. Guys and girls don’t always think along the same lines. Learn to think like him and his eyes will well up with happy tears to have the love of a woman so special.

#26 Don’t ever be a pushover. Don’t be the submissive wife. You don’t need to sit at his feet to earn his respect and love. Instead, be opinionated and throw him around when he throws his weight around you.

#27 Whip him when he can’t behave. Treat him like a spoilt child when he doesn’t behave. Ignore his childish behavior or scold him when he behaves like a slob. Be unpredictable and rude when he misbehaves, and he’ll fear you and respect you at the same time.

#28 Make him proud of you. Guys may be shallow at first sight, but they still want a girl they can respect and admire. Be an achiever and a girl he can look up to in awe.

#29 Respect yourself. You’re not a doormat. Let him know that you have the strength to move on if he does something stupid or treats you badly. Always make it look like you’re the biggest prize he’s won. You don’t have to call yourself a prize in front of him, but show it to him by ignoring him or pushing him out of the bedroom when he misbehaves.

#30 Make him dependent on you. As long as he thinks he can’t live without you or if he feels helpless without you, he’ll always stay interested in you.

Pick the traits you can use and you’ll see how easy it can be to keep a guy interested in you. But never let him use you or treat you like a pushover. And don’t think twice about punishing him or putting him in his place when he doesn’t treat you right.

Earn his respect and love. And let him earn yours. Treat him with love and affection, but only if he deserves it. After all, as long as he fears losing a catch like yourself, he’ll never put a toe out of line, would he?

These 30 ways on how to keep a guy interested in you will work perfectly, just as long as you remember that everything in love has to be mutual. Make him treat you right, and show him how special and nice you can be if you choose to!

5 Signs You’re Addicted and 15 Ways to Get Over Porn!

addicted to porn

5 SIGNS YOU’RE ADDICTED AND 15 WAYS TO GET OVER PORN!

Team LovePanky

Having trouble with your porn addiction? Use these 15 tips on how to stop watching porn and get your life back in order by dealing with the addiction.

Do you hate the amount of time you spend watching porn every day?

Watching porn isn’t wrong if you’re old enough.

And it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

But if you feel like it’s taking away a lot of your time and you’re left frustrated as soon as you finish the deed, here’s what you need to do to get your furious hands under control and wean yourself off the habit over time.

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18 Critical Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

unhealthy relationship signs

18 CRITICAL SIGNS OF AN UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP

Natalia Avdeeva

Even the healthiest of relationships could start to turn bad over time. Use these 18 unhealthy relationship signs to decipher your own love life.

A healthy relationship is every couple’s fairytale storyline.

After all, all of us want our love lives to be filled with bliss and happiness.

But other than a lucky few, most couples lose their way along marital or relationship bliss and end up taking the unhealthy path towards bad romance.

It’s quite sad really, because as lovers, your partner and you do try to make the relationship work.

You may try hard to understand each other and communicate with each other.

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How to End an Affair and Get Over It Completely

how to end an affair

HOW TO END AN AFFAIR AND GET OVER IT COMPLETELY

Team LovePanky

Even the best of us can go astray and tread into the wrong path. Are you ready to walk away from an affair? Find out how to end an affair and get over it.

Knowing how to end an affair just isn’t easy.

You may feel guilty about it, but like an addiction that’s hard to resist, an affair can control your life and eventually dominate it and tear it apart.

Wanting to end an affair is the first step, and it is the right one.

If you’re determined to end an affair, we’ll tell you how to go about it the right way.

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To Cheat or Not to Cheat? – A Guide to Make Up Your Mind

to cheat or not to cheat

TO CHEAT OR NOT TO CHEAT? – A GUIDE TO MAKE UP YOUR MIND

Alina Andrew

Temptations are all around us, and it’s easy to have a sneaky moment without getting caught. To cheat or not to cheat, we’ve heard that before. But what should you really do?

To cheat or not to cheat, that is a pretty big question.

But as a matter of fact, it’s not a question at all.

It’s a nagging thought that crawls into your conscience each time you’re presented with an opportunity to get into someone else’s bed.

So should you cheat?

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Affairs in a Marriage and the Big Role of Egos in It

affairs in a marriage

AFFAIRS IN A MARRIAGE AND THE BIG ROLE OF EGOS IN IT

Team LovePanky

Affairs in a marriage are heart shattering, but are you upset about the heartbreak or are you furious because you’re a loser who was kept in the dark?

Talking about affairs and the way they change lives is sensitive and subjective.

Affairs happen for many reasons, but they have to end someday. It has to end in a relationship or end up breaking one.

They always have repercussions.

No matter how tiny the spark of infidelity is or how big, it always leaves a scar.

After an affair, some relationships bloom and get better. And some others, well they just wither and die.

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Should You Confess to Cheating on Your Partner?

confess to cheating

SHOULD YOU CONFESS TO CHEATING ON YOUR PARTNER?

Team LovePanky

At times, we’re all faced with life altering questions and we’re lost for answers. If you ever find yourself cheating, should you confess to cheating on your partner?

Making up your mind on whether to confess or not is one of the most disturbing phases in a relationship.

Well, of course, so is getting into an affair in the first place.

But let’s not pretend like we’re all angels here.

Having an affair is inevitable, and it can happen even to the most loyal of partners.

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20 Sexual Problems in a Relationship You Can Avoid

sexual problems in a relationship

20 SEXUAL PROBLEMS IN A RELATIONSHIP YOU CAN AVOID

Jana Snow

Sexual intimacy is just as important as love in a happy romance. Watch out for these 20 common sexual problems that can damage your relationship.

Most couples assume that true love is all it takes to hold a romantic relationship together forever.

But in reality, a happy romantic relationship or a marriage needs more than just love.

It needs a healthy dose of sexual intimacy too!

Love could help both of you live together comfortably in each other’s company.

But if you want your relationship to feel exciting, passionate and memorable every single day, you definitely need to focus on sexual intimacy just as much as you indulge in romantic gestures.

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