My wife and I have been together for 7 years. She was 18 when we met. I was 20. We married in 2012 on the top of a pretty hill at our favorite park and have had a wild, adventurous ride since. We’re in love. It’s not the Drug-Store-Teddy-Bear-on Valentine’s-Day kind of love. We have the epic-life-chats while-snuggling-our-five-cats-in-our-old-man-pajamas kind of bond.
It’s refreshing to have something this solid in your twenties when everything else in that decade is usually uncertain.
So, when my wife came to me one day and said that we needed to talk, I was a little nervous. We don’t keep secrets from each other. In fact, over-sharing is more our forte. I knew that the night before she’d been drinking and drawing in her art journal, but she did that a lot. Keeping an art journal is her coping mechanism; going to the gym is mine. I have no idea what she puts in her journal, and she has no idea what I can squat. But other than the two of us needing some extra space to deal with life’s general bullshit, everything had been normal.
That afternoon, the love of my life told me that, during the previous night’s drunken art session, a coworker of hers had sent her a photo of his penis and then, passively, asked her for a threesome.
I immediately turned the brightest shade of red and shot down the idea. We’d been asked to have threesomes before and had always found the idea weird because you’re stuck with three possibilities.
1) The third party wants to indulge the toxic masculine fetish of having two women at once.
2) The third party is attracted to the challenge of bedding a married couple, usually with no thought of the potential damage this can do to their relationship.
3) The third party is legitimately attracted to both of you (I think this is hardly ever the case).
We never really discussed our sex life, or rather, our lack of one. At the time, I was dealing with some body image issues and she was on medication that zapped her libido. So while our marriage was otherwise healthy, it was pretty dull in the bedroom. We joked about it, but usually with nervous laughter and a quick change of subject.
We have always talked about attraction quite a bit and were very secure in the romantic aspect. I pointed out people I found attractive in a wistful sense, and she did the same. We laughed about our celebrity crushes and our beautiful friends. We even handed out faux “Hall Passes” for all genders. But the difference between romantic and sexual attraction is pretty large. I can be sexually attracted to someone and never view them as anything other than a friend. However, romantically, I only have that bond with my wife.
I know polyamory is valid; however, it’s just not for us. The idea of kissing other people doesn’t bother me at all. Sleeping with someone else would be another discussion for us. Not out of the question, but definitely not a decision to make lightly.
After a few minutes of mulling it over, I decided on a compromise: she could fool around with him sometime in the future, but I did not want to be there. I couldn’t deny her an opportunity to try something she had an interest in just because I was shy and self-loathing. The request had been for both of us, but I suspected that it was only truly meant her for and I’d been included to make her more likely to agree. She told him the plan and we set a loose date about a month away. I assumed that would give us enough time to talk about any doubts and fears we might have.
Not even a week later, I was having panic attacks and nightmares over every possible outcome: Was she going to leave me? Was this man going to take advantage of her? What if I got jealous?
To put it bluntly — I was a hot mess.
My anxiety and fear were making me sick. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating, and I couldn’t focus on anything. The day he planned to come over, I went to the gym. Two hours and a 1000 calorie burn later, I was exhausted, nauseous, scared, and I still had an hour to go before he even came over.
I called my sister and my best friend and the three of us formed a plan: I would buy some booze and snacks, we would all go to my sister’s apartment, and they would help me deal with whatever the night brought.
As I headed up the stairs to my sister’s apartment, my wife sent me a message to say the guy had arrived and they were making small talk. Previously, we had all agreed there would be no penetration. The potential dangers (pregnancy and STDs) were too great and it seemed too intimate for people who were just co-workers. I also specified that nothing would happen in our bedroom; that was our space and I wanted to be able to sleep there without thinking of him.
The minute I opened the door, my sister (bless her, I think I scared her) brought out wine glasses and tried her best to distract me while I got ridiculously drunk on $5 Moscato. My best friend sat next to me and braided my hair while reminding me that everything was okay and that what I was doing was so very nice and trusting. She was a very sympathetic and supportive ear and, for the first time, I was finally able to talk about my feelings without fear of judgment.
My phone was going off with Snapchats and texts from my wife, but I asked my friend to look at them first, just in case they were too graphic for me. I wanted to know that everyone was okay — physically and emotionally — and while I didn’t expect anything pornographic, I was in a very vulnerable position for me. But instead of a reassuring message, my wife and her coworker asked, for comfort’s sake, if they could move into the bedroom. Without considering the ramifications, I agreed.
I sent a few drunk messages, mostly to people I knew were either in long-term relationships or were very sex-positive and wouldn’t judge me or my wife. A few even confided in me about their own lives and experiences with letting a partner experiment and that meant the world. Talking through my pain as it happened was crucial because I was vulnerable, probably more than I had ever been. The people I consulted took very good care of me; their words kept me sane and, for that, I truly owe them.
In the end, the evening was over before I really knew it. By the end, I was much calmer. Actually, I thought that I was already over it. But, I was wrong. There were emotions and feelings that I still needed to process along with some problems I needed to reconcile with myself. Here are just a few of them:
The idea of my wife sexually interacting with someone was really hot to me. I also had a weird sense of pride because she overcame some personal reservations and fears to do this.
When I got home, I told her to brush her teeth because I’d been sent a photo of her giving him a blowjob and it grossed me out. I also made her change the sheets because he had unsuccessfully tried to go down on her and the thought of that made me not want to even sit on the bed.
I was kind of upset because we had agreed that he was not allowed in the bedroom because it was our space. But, they had asked me after I had been drinking so I agreed. That was a mistake. I made a boundary and I was too eager for her to have a good time to realize that boundaries were in place for a reason.
As soon as we got into bed, I became emotional. We started to have sex and I got aggressive. It wasn’t unwelcome but later on I recognized this as my way of fucking her when he wasn’t allowed to. I cried the whole time, but it was definitely the most emotional sex I’d ever had. It was also the first time we had been intimate in months.
Almost immediately after we finished, I rolled over and had the most intense panic attack of my entire life. I curled into the fetal position, clenched every muscle I had, and stuttered out meaningless insults to myself for almost 10 minutes. My wife held me and whispered to me the entire time. But, after it passed, my leg muscles were torn and I was a mess. Two hours at the gym and the wine on an empty stomach were not helping. I fell asleep for almost 12 hours, and didn’t move once throughout the night.
When I got home that night, I plopped down on the sofa and looked at her. I won’t lie. It fucking hurt a lot. My wife, who said that she had no sex drive because of meds, was fucking hot for some guy she barely knew. Not for me, but for someone else she wasn’t even close with. It took me a few weeks to understand that sexual tension is just that — sexual. I’ve definitely had it with people, but at the time I wasn’t seeing it that way.
Every fear I had bottled up came crashing down. My wife had let someone who wasn’t me touch her. I said some not-so-nice things. I called her cheap, I told her that she had broken all of my trust, and I told her that we were blocking him on every social media site ever.
Once I started to see her as a victim, I realized how many red flags we had ignored the entire time. From the pushy photographs while intoxicated to crude messages that appeared later, we had overlooked every sign that this may not have been the right person to do this with. He had not been sincere is his intentions and I realized this all at once.
This whole ordeal started because she was healing from a childhood fear of men. So, in a desperate attempt to prove it to herself, she ignored all the signs that this guy’s intentions were not as pure as we’d thought. He had been too sweet and said all the “right” things to weasel his way into the situation. Afterwards, he pretty much treated us as free porn stars. He asked for risqué photos, which I am comfortable sending to about 2 people, neither of which were him. But, being with my wife made me feel attractive. So, we complied, reluctantly. Then we started receiving messages along with photos that were very inappropriate and unsolicited.
The next few days I was full of shame but, not for the reason you’d think. I was ashamed because I had overreacted to the whole situation. Once my hormones had calmed down, I felt pretty badly about my actions. I had nearly slut-shamed my wife and I had dived back into self-loathing tendencies. I am a ridiculously forgiving person and I was struggling with holding a grudge — something I literally never do.
I felt like I overreacted and was being petty. I was ashamed of the big deal I had made. In retrospect, nothing was as big as I had made it out to be. Important? Yes. But, the fear that my wife would leave me was unfounded and the product of my insecurity. I felt ashamed because I had talked about nothing else for days and I had ignored any of the joy my wife was feeling. Even if the person ended up being a horrible choice, the fact that she was able to be naked with a man meant the world to her. She had conquered her fears, and she had gone through a self-love phase. She walked with pride and I had missed a lot of it because I was sulking. Now, she’s so very confident and it’s so cool to see.
Weeks went by and my wife and I talked about it every day to varying degrees. It’s turned into a joke and we’ve now told almost everyone we know, just because it was something important for us. We want to be a source for answers. And although I don’t have immediate plans to experiment outside of our marriage in the future, the permission is there and it means a lot to me. I’m proud of my marriage and the stability we have to be able to do things like this.
In the end it was definitely one of the most emotional experiences of my life but I was just the bystander, really. It made us have conversations that we really needed to have and for that my marriage is stronger than it’s ever been. Plus, my wife got the answers to her questions and I found out that I am not sexually broken. Also a guy got a one-time bro-job by a chubby tattooed babe, so I think everyone came out a winner, really. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who’s in a committed relationship but not too often. You don’t ever want to lose sight of your own partner. It led me to some very good self-discoveries and I’ve made so many unexpected but very treasured friends because of it.