Wife Seeks Experimentation

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Dear Hoopers,
We have been together for 14 years, married for 8. We have 4 beautiful kids together. About 2 years ago she had a mental breakdown due to family and living situations. After we adjusted and got her better, things have been amazing. Well she has always said this girl is hot, that one is cute etc. but she asked if I minded if she shared some sexual photos with her girlfriends and  for awhile she would show me their photos and what she sent them. Well that all stopped, and now she has sexual conversations with them, which is fine.

About 6 months ago she reached out and said she would like to explore hooking up with a woman, and that she wanted me there, but I was only to touch and have sex with her. As the search started the rules changed and she then said it would be best if I wasn’t included as that would ruin her experience, but as long as the other girl was okay I could watch. Well we came across a new friend, whom she spends a lot of time talking to, and comes around a lot to hang out. She approached me (friend) about letting my wife and her fool around, and that she has never been with a woman either so would be a good experience for them both, this lead to me being excluded completely. I want to please her, and she assures me that I satisfy her, it’s just the experience she wants, and it doesn’t mean I am second rate. But with changes to the boundaries, and conversations we have had, it’s made me look and feel like a controlling jealous person.

I have not stopped the conversations they have or her sending her pics to girls she knows and communicates with online, but I’m onthe fence about the hook up. Recently she said “I doubt I would even go through with it” “you are always #1 over anyone” “I don’t consider this cheating, I just am attracted to women” and when I said well I am attracted to women too, she laughed and said I know. I asked if she experiments, am I allowed too, and it was a no. She says this wouldn’t be a relationship thing, but the friend tells me “let us have a couple runs alone and maybe we can work you into the mix.” To me that means there is already an emotional attachment. Should this all worry me? Are there boundaries that can be made to accommodate myself and her needs? Is this a sign that she might be growing tired of me? We try and have adult conversations about the situation, and usually leads to “forget I asked, you don’t even understand what I am asking” or me saying go ahead and do what you need to in order to feel happy. I need help!
-Wife Seeks Experimentation

Dear Wife Seeks,
Is it cheating if you know about it? I guess not. It’s more like playing for the other team with permission. Your wife has been pretty open with you about her feelings and has let you know about her wishes. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that she appears to be pulling away from you and towards other people step-by-step. Kind of like very slowly pulling off a bandaid. I’m not saying that she doesn’t love you or isn’t attracted to you. It is still quite possible that she loves you very deeply but is feeling pulled towards women and is having difficulty navigating her feelings. This leaves you in a terribly difficult place. You are trying to play along in a way that keeps you involved but you are on the verge of being excluded. I can’t be sure where this is headed, but the increasing conflict between you two is concerning.

Has your wife experimented with same sex sexual activity before? She seems unsure but excited and is taking you along for the ride. At this time your wife still appears to identify as being committed to your marriage relationship but open to sexual exploration with women. This doesn’t mean that you owe her the right to experiment sexually or that she should be able to explore while in your relationship. As an equal partner in your marriage you have every right to set boundaries about what you think is right and not right.


As an equal partner in your marriage you have every right to set boundaries about what you think is right and not right.

-Dr. Ryan

It is an interesting note that you started your question with your wife’s mental breakdown. These may be completely unrelated, but it does seem important that she seems to have begun seeking same sex sexual activity afterwards. Perhaps her breakdown was a wake up call for her to follow her desires or perhaps her breakdown was related to her feeling sexually repressed. Not sure, but this information may be an important part of understanding your wife and knowing where her head and heart are right now.

Although I wouldn’t condone outside experimentation, this isn’t about me. This is truly about your boundaries and what you are comfortable with. You have a few choices from here. You could absolutely say that you aren’t comfortable with her experimenting and if she does you would consider it cheating. She may respect your boundary and stay faithful to your request. It is also possible that she may leave the marriage or may be sexually active behind your back. You could also say that you are open to a period of experimentation for her to explore what she wants in her life but that after that period she will have to make a clear choice on what she wants. This certainly has risks but leaves some flexibility for you. Lastly, if you are open to her being sexually active with other women on an ongoing basis, you could also work with her to figure out what boundaries you could set that would still help you feel comfortable.
-Dr. Ryan

Dear Wife Seeks,
It sounds like you are open to experimentation but aren’t cool sitting on the bench. In other words, “working you into the mix” isn’t going to work for you. You need to be a bigger part of the equation, am I right? You mentioned not wanting to come off sounding jealous and controlling. I would argue that after being together for 14 years and having 4 children together, this topic would be alarming for most. It’s clear that you love your wife and want to see her happy, but this is a confusing situation to be in. This particular situation can bring up many doubts and fears in the relationship.

A few questions to consider. Are you okay with non-monogamous behavior? Is this just a one-time experimentation, or will the curiosity persist? You have probably already had this idea graze your mind but it is also possible that your wife may be questioning her sexuality. Have you given her a window of opportunity to discuss this possibility? She said that she is attracted to women. Do you know how long these feelings have persisted?


It’s clear that you love your wife and want to see her happy, but this is a confusing situation to be in.

-Kate

However this pans out, be clear in communicating your thoughts and concerns. With all things considered if you and your wife agree that it is okay in your marriage for her to experiment with another woman, I would set some boundaries and sexual “rules” if you will. What is off limits? Is it okay for your wife to continue experimenting after this one time? How involved will you be, if at all? Whatever is established, it’s important that boundaries are respected and ground rules are honored.
-Kate