DH chatting online and not sure how I feel

(25 Posts)
OpenedTheDoorBut Thu 22-Jul-21 11:33:08

I don't know exactly how I feel about this or if I'm being U or not (I know this is relationships).

Backstory: DH and I married nearly 20 years, teen DCs. Great relationship but the familiar story of sex life taking a big hit after we had the kids and never really recovering. Every so often we'd talk about it, agree we should be having more sex, would usually do so immediately after the talk and then it would slide again. We recognised that while we're a great team outside the bedroom and we do both enjoy sex when we have it, we've lost that sexual spark between us. A little under 2 years ago we agreed to try opening up the marriage. We didn't really set any clear parameters around what that meant in reality (with hindsight this may have been a mistake) because while we did both agree to it, it was still a theoretical thing. Then of course Covid hit so I didn't really think about it any more and we continued having sex once every few months or so.

Fast forward to now. About a month ago I discovered my DH has been chatting with a woman online, since around Easter. I knew something was up as he was on his phone even more than usual. It's a mix of very sexual stuff and everyday friendly chatting. They haven't met, she lives overseas. We talked a lot about it when I found out, he was sorry he'd gone behind my back and that he'd taken a few silly risks (e.g. where some of the photos / videos were taken from) but he did remind me of our agreement to open things up a bit sexually, and he sees this as part of it. We ended up having sex that night, then he suggested it again a couple of weeks later, about a fortnight ago now, but I wasn't in the mood. He's fine when that happens btw, doesn't sulk or guilt trip or anything, I can tell he's a little disappointed but he doesn't take it out on me.

I know he's still chatting to her, and I haven't insisted he stops but I can't work out how I feel about it. We did agree to a more open relationship and he hasn't slept with her. In some way it even takes the pressure off me a little bit. But I also feel jealous that he's been giving her attention instead of me, and finding her more attractive than he does me. Sometimes I think he'd want more sex with me if he wasn't w*nking over her, but then when he suggested it the other night it was me that said no, and I know he'd had the chance to do stuff with her earlier but hadn't taken it so he was choosing me that day. I just can't get my head straight over how I feel about it all. I think if I asked him to stop talking to her he would, but then I know how we've been for the past 10, 11 years before she ever came on the scene so I'm not sure what's the point because it wouldn't magically make us fancy each other rotten and want loads more sex again...which is why we agreed to try an open relationship in the first place. I'm just going round in circles with it.

OP’s posts: |
Palavah Thu 22-Jul-21 11:38:59

Sheesh. I think the thought of my husband spending time and attention (sexual and non-sexual) on another woman would make my fanny close up.

I think you were really close with this Sometimes I think he'd want more sex with me if he wasn't w*nking over her.. Hut he said it was me that said no

I think you'd be much more inclined to have sex with him if he wasn't wanking over her. If he was spending that time trying to make you laugh instead of her. If he were asking you about your day and listening instead of her.

Palavah Thu 22-Jul-21 11:40:34

And i would add, just because you agreed in principle to opening up doesn't mean you can't change your mind. If the purpose of opening up was to improve your sex life and that hasn't happened then try something else.

OpenedTheDoorBut Thu 22-Jul-21 11:56:09

Palavah

And i would add, just because you agreed in principle to opening up doesn't mean you can't change your mind. If the purpose of opening up was to improve your sex life and that hasn't happened then try something else.

That's one of the things I'm confused about...if I'd said yes the last time he suggested it, we'd have had sex twice in three weeks which has been unheard of the last few years. So it could have done but it was me that said no, IYSWIM? And it wasn't because I was in a snit about her or I was trying to punish him or anything like that, I was just tired after a couple of drinks with a friend and wanted to go to sleep.

OP’s posts: |
HollowTalk Thu 22-Jul-21 11:58:35

Why on earth did you think introducing others into your marriage was going to help your sex life?

Palavah Thu 22-Jul-21 11:59:52

You sound a bit confused and anxious about it. Which doesn't sound like a recipe for feeling sexy.

SarahDarah Thu 22-Jul-21 12:13:38

HollowTalk

Why on earth did you think introducing others into your marriage was going to help your sex life?

Exactly confused

OP, why have you not focused prioritising gradually having more sex with each other (and thus build up the spark) instead of spending years just pointlessly talking about it. Or is that too obvious a solution?! confused

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OpenedTheDoorBut Thu 22-Jul-21 13:19:48

OP, why have you not focused prioritising gradually having more sex with each other (and thus build up the spark) instead of spending years just pointlessly talking about it. Or is that too obvious a solution?!

That's a little harsh, we have tried things, toys etc. We have tried to commit to more sex but it's easy to let the good intentions slide (and to be fair to my DH, it's usually me who isn't in the mood rather than him).

OP’s posts: |
tarasmalatarocks Thu 22-Jul-21 14:00:04

I’ve known very few situations where an open marriage has actually improved sex lives for a couple and the problem is it’s usually because one person is keener on it than the other. It sounds fine in theory but in practice if actual chatting/feelings become part of it then someone usually feels very hurt

Sugarntailsnluvlyspicysnails Thu 22-Jul-21 16:42:27

I think that the fact that it has been the same woman definitely makes it worse even if you had agreed to it. There's a connection between them and it doesn't sound like you agreed to that. But yes, totally get your point, if he put that much effort into you then maybe you'd be more inclined to respond favourably. When he does initiate is it " fancy a shag, love" or is he tactile and attentive? That tends to have an effect. Either way, if what he is doing is hurting you and he wants to stay with you, he needs to stop. And you need to try to wrap your head around whether too much damage has already been done. I'm sorry you're going through this.

crosshatching Thu 22-Jul-21 16:54:08

Op do you feel sexy in yourself? I mean by that does the idea of sex or feeling desirable take up your much in your head? It's really easy for kids, jobs routine etc to push out all those other needs.

Your H is thinking about himself and his needs right now. If this isn't a direct deal-breaker for you could you instead take some time to think about what yours are? Are you even aware you might have some?

PicaK Thu 22-Jul-21 17:02:46

Opening up sexually to other people is a very different thing to the emotional affair that he's having.

crosshatching Thu 22-Jul-21 17:23:44

Sorry, more questions (and certainly not expecting you to feel you should answer). How did you feel about the question of opening up the marriage? Did you feel you should say yes? Were you excited about the possibilities and opportunities it might give you?

Thinking of you OP, this is a tricky scenario to navigate.

sadie9 Thu 22-Jul-21 17:38:12

OP I bet you a fiver it was him that suggested 'opening up' the marriage. I wonder if most of the time he's not actually 'relating' to you is he, he's just telling you neutral stuff about his life.
Therefore, you'd end up feeling ignored and dismissed and who wants to shag someone who seems like they only want you for your vagina.
It sounds very passive if you have gone along with this plan. It'd be unusual if both partners had the same 'idea' about something like that at the same time. If you'd really wanted it, you'd have had a one night stand by now, covid or no covid.
"a few silly risks". Really? Silly risks? Your husband is talking dirty and w***ing over another woman and sending videos of himself, and what do you do. Maybe you go and make his dinner and put a wash on.

Make an appointment with a counsellor and go and discuss how you really feel about this. Your life partner has brought someone else into your relationship and you are 'allowing' that to happen.
You are entitled to not want sex, but this is your life too. You need to go and find out what it is you want out of life. Because your DH has taken a certain path and you need support to deal with this.

SarahDarah Thu 22-Jul-21 17:38:47

OpenedTheDoorBut

*OP, why have you not focused prioritising gradually having more sex with each other (and thus build up the spark) instead of spending years just pointlessly talking about it. Or is that too obvious a solution?!*

That's a little harsh, we have tried things, toys etc. We have tried to commit to more sex but it's easy to let the good intentions slide (and to be fair to my DH, it's usually me who isn't in the mood rather than him).

@OpenedTheDoorBut Well to be blunt, the problem seems to be you in that case, not him. You keep choosing to deprioritse intimacy and sexual activity so it's no wonder that he's enjoying it with another woman. You dont seem to care that much about your relationship otherwise you'd put the effort in. You might want to.reflect on why that is With?

With teens you have more time compared to having very young kids. I would also advise stopping contraception if you're on it, including coil etc. because all these artificial hormones can mess up a woman's sex drive/desire.

SarahDarah Thu 22-Jul-21 17:42:58

PicaK

Opening up sexually to other people is a very different thing to the emotional affair that he's having.

But sex and emotions go hand in hand. Hormones released during sexual activity and intimacy create bonding between two people. It's how nature works and how we're created. It's only in the last few decades that some people keep trying to pretend that the two are completely separate, but that's just not reality for most people.

TheFoundations Thu 22-Jul-21 17:49:32

I don't think you're confused at all. If you were ok with it, you wouldn't be posting here. You don't it. It makes you uncomfortable and you'd rather it wasn't happening.

That's the top and bottom of it, isn't it? Once you take out all the 'Oh no, I'm really confused, I don't know what to think, perhaps I'm making a mistake, I'm not sure if I'm being fair' stuff?

You're mistaking how you think you should feel for how you actually feel. Stop should-ing.

TheFoundations Thu 22-Jul-21 17:50:31

*you wouldn't be posting here. You don't like it. It makes you uncom

canigooutyet Thu 22-Jul-21 17:58:18

For many I have found it's the fantasy that appeals to them when they think about including another person into their relationship. For many once the reality sets in problems arise. You cannot just say lets have an open relationship and leave it at that. Comparisons start to be made, one often feels rejected, jealous etc.

Would you prefer he meets randoms and has one nite stands?

Many people cannot engage sexually without getting to know someone. Many aren't on their best performance without getting to know someone first.

She's not even in the same country and you are already starting to have issues with this. How are you going to feel when they finally meet up?

Oh and it's not only the man that suggests these things. It's one of the reasons why I remain single so I don't have to think about a partners feelings or them always wondering what I am up to when not in their company. So they cannot go through my phone to catch me out on something they claimed to be fine with. I get bored of the same person even with toys and stuff.

MsDogLady Thu 22-Jul-21 22:14:34

Your H now has a girlfriend/mistress. He is building emotional and sexual intimacy with her, and she holds a place of importance for him. If he is channeling so much energy into developing their relationship, I would assume that he is always thinking of her.

You are (understandably) feeling unsettled and unsafe with the way this arrangement has unfolded. This path is sabotaging your emotional health and damaging your marriage/family. In your shoes, I would refuse to move forward with it.

OpenedTheDoorBut Fri 23-Jul-21 12:12:08

Thank you for the thoughts and comments. He was the one who suggested an open relationship but I could understand why which is why I agreed, because if we can't manage to have as much sex with each other as we think we should want/he wants but we don't want to split up, there aren't many other options.

When he does initiate is it " fancy a shag, love" or is he tactile and attentive?

Usually the latter, to be fair to him. But what a PP said about how do I feel about myself has a lot to do with it, I think. I never really feel sexy or comfortable with my body. I am quite a lot overweight although I am trying to lose weight. I go to the gym now they've reopened and go swimming occasionally, we go cycling together sometimes at weekends but I haven't always eaten healthily through lockdown so I know I put a bit more on. Again, to be fair to DH he always tells me none of that matters but when I saw their messages and saw his 'girlfriend' is slimmer and fitter than me, it's hard to believe it.

OP’s posts: |
SorryWoman Fri 23-Jul-21 12:21:30

"Sometimes I think he'd want more sex with me if he wasn't w*nking over her"

But you weren't having sex even before he met her?

crosshatching Fri 23-Jul-21 13:54:54

It's really hard to fancy someone else if you don't fancy yourself first and very easy to lose sight of yourself in a busy family/work schedule.

Do you have a sense of how serious this thing is with this other woman? I know you agreed to opening up the marriage but was it that or split up? How would you feel about being single? I don't necessarily mean think about divorce, but could you imagine yourself single. What would you prioritise for yourself? What would you do differently?

You need to find ways of raising yourself up to yourself and figuring out where the negative voices that tell you who you are are coming from. I realised going through a similar thing that I had been conditioned to put myself and any wants or needs behind other people's. As a result I was hopelessly out of touch with who I was as a person when I wasn't being Mum or Mrs Crosshatching. It's taken some time to unpick some of that and things are better. It took a lot of quite painful talking though.

I wish you luck 💐

dryasaboner Fri 23-Jul-21 15:38:43

It sounds like the classic I don't want him but don't want anybody else to want him scenario

If you can't cope with this how about asking him to end it yet absolutely committing to having regular intimacy and not putting it down the bottom of your priority list

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Fri 23-Jul-21 17:02:42

You sound very, very sad, OP.

Do you know when and why intimacy became something that you wanted less of?

What you say about your husband doesn't sound very bad, he sounds attentive to you, reassures you - but at the same time there is this elephant in the room which is that he wants more intimacy/sex - and you don't. Neither of you are wrong.

I think you've persuaded yourself that opening up the marriage is the key to saving it but I agree with PP, unless it's something that both parties actively want, it can drive an enormous and painful wedge in between you. That said, you absolutely shouldn't be having sex that you don't want. It's a difficult one.

You mention that you're not happy with yourself. What do you think would make you feel better about yourself? You're doing exercise - you get endorphins from that, as well as improved health and fitness. What else do you enjoy?

I think that it's time for you to focus on what you want, let your husband carry on - but quite quickly you will need to establish some new basis for your marriage because an important part of it has stalled and it can't stay like that indefinitely. Something will happen - either you'll get fed up or he will - and things will change. It's not really going to be possible to backtrack on this arrangement because your husband is getting something from it; he may not want to close that door again.

I wish there was a simple answer and by god do I wish there was a pill that we could take to reconnect feelings and emotions from those heady days of being head over heels in lust and love...

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