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Locks, Ships, and the Sexless Non-Marriage

Do you think that for a relationship to be ultimately successful, the man has to like the woman more than she likes him? My mother (married for 36 years) swears by this rule, and I’m curious to hear a man’s perspective.

Nothing against your mother — she sounds lovely! — but this just seems silly. First of all, how would you measure such a thing? With calipers? A kitchen scale? “Hey, honey, could you come over here a minute? Need to check to see if you like me more than I like you. Oh, while you’re at it, I need 6 ounces of guanciale.” I don’t believe we have this technology yet. But I’m pretty sure Iran is working on it.

Second — and most importantly — even if you had this knowledge, how would you walk around all day with it? How do you face your partner with this knowledge? “Oh, man, I like her just 300 nanoloveprotons more than she likes me. I bet she’s cheating on me.” In the end, how is that knowledge supposed to HELP?

Love may be a battlefield, but relationships aren’t a competition. (Parenting is!) You’ve got enough to worry about without constantly second-guessing the water levels of your mutual liking. As I said last time, love isn’t built for this kind of over-analysis. I mean, I haven’t seen anything from Nate Silver yet. You love your partner, you trust that they love you, you don’t check a graduated cylinder for empirical evidence. Now that probably sounds all squishy and uncomfortable. Good, then you’re doing it right.


Your mother probably swears by that rule because she thinks your father likes her more than she likes him. The reality is: he likes football even more. That’s what keeps a marriage together for 36 years.

I’ve been having an affair with a married man for about 10 months. I know it’s wrong. I’m not going to give a long backstory to try and rationalize it. I’m ending it. My question is, do I let his wife know what’s been going on? We live in different states and there’s very little chance that she would ever find out otherwise. I know his address and his travel schedule — one well-timed package would do it. But to be honest, the only reason I’m considering telling her is because of some destructive impulse; I can’t say I’m trying to help her out in any way. I know I’m not the first person he’s strayed with, and I suspect I won’t be the last. Do I owe it to her to tell her? Or am I just trying to take the ship down with me?

Jesus, what’s with all of the philandering? This column is called Ask a Married Dude, not Ask a Homewrecker. I’m married, and I’m barely qualified to comment on marriage, so that doesn’t make me an expert on cheating. Any more than sleeping with a married guy makes you an expert on marriage.

Yeah, you owe her something. A fucking apology. But you don’t get to deliver that. Only her friends or family qualify to be whistleblowers, and you are neither of those. You are just someone who fucked her husband. I’ll pause here to let that sink in.

Are you so vindictive that you want to just throw the fact that you slept with her husband in her face? Did Brooke Hundley inspire you? There’s nothing noble about any of what you are doing. You cannot control what happens with his marriage, and guess what? You don’t get to. At least you acknowledge that a “destructive impulse” is what’s guiding you, and at some level, I suppose I get that. Want what you can’t have, therefore you’re going to scuttle the ship? You’re lashing out, maybe because you’re pissed at yourself. The difference is how you act on those impulses.

The best thing you can do is walk away, do not look back, and start figuring out how you’re going to participate in healthy relationships going forward. There’s nothing healthy going on here.

What’s your favorite memory of your own wedding?

Here’s the part where I’m supposed to say that there were so many wonderful memories of my wedding that it’s almost impossible to pick just one. There were! We got married in Eastern Europe (that’s right, I’m a mail order groom), so it was like going on a very cool vacation where you happened to get married while sightseeing in nice clothes. We had never set foot in the church we were married in until our wedding day, which was amazing, because we’d seen every church in town up to that point. It was built in the 1600s.

So, my favorite memory? I got tattooed the day before our wedding while my wife-to-be met with the priest. Kidding, honey! That’s my second-favorite memory.

One of the unique parts of getting married overseas was getting to experience local customs as a part of the wedding festivities, which were meaningful because my wife and I both have Baltic heritage. So I think my favorite memory was participating in a tradition where we affixed a padlock to the railing of a bridge in town, engraved with our names and wedding date. My wife and I refer to these as wedlocks, and weren’t sure how it all started, but we’d noticed padlocks with names etched in them locked to bridge railings all over Eastern Europe.

On the way from our wedding ceremony to our reception — which was at a medieval castle, no big deal — we stopped the bus carrying the wedding party and guests to secure our lock to the bridge railing. Everyone joined us, we took pictures, and passersby shouted congratulations and honked car horns. There were other newlyweds there as well, so it felt like we were participating in something communal even as gaijin. My wife and I selected a spot, attached the lock, kissed the keys and tossed them into the river below.

Can’t wait to go back and see if it’s still there.

Okay, so this is sort of grim. Maybe? I don’t know. And I know that it’s not as if one person (you) will have the answer, or even that there IS an answer, or … okay never mind. Just, more than looking for an answer-answer, I wanted to get this out there. So. I love my girlfriend. (I’m a guy.) We’ve been together for three years; I’m 31, she’s 32. I know she wants to get married. But the problem is that we don’t have sex. Or, we’ve had sex twice in the past year. One of those loving-roommate situations/problems that everyone somehow seems to have. So my question is: is this too soon to be not-having sex? The answer is to talk about it, I know, but talking about the root of why you’re not having sex is so much easier said than done, especially when the answer is something along the lines of “ehhh I just don’t really feel like it,” “Yeah, me neither.” But it’s still the answer, right? I would want to have more sex, but she usually just falls right asleep. And it’s kind of sad, but I’m not really that bothered. There are definitely other people I’d like to have sex with, as anyone/everyone in relationships likely feels, so it’s not like I’m asexual (far from it). I guess I’m just curious on your thoughts of when it’s too soon for the loving-roommate situation to set in.

Oh, dear. Yeah, this is sort of grim, but let’s talk through it. Short answer: yes, it’s not only “too soon for the loving-roommate situation to set in,” it’s unfortunate that you accept the “loving-roommate situation” as an inevitable or natural outcome of a long term relationship.

Yes, Madeline Kahn’s Mrs. White in Clue claimed that life after death was as improbable as sex after marriage. That’s cliche and funny, and a great comedic device. That doesn’t make it reality.

Was your sex life always like this? Or has it degraded over the years? Sure, there are plenty of obstacles that can get in the way of gettin’ busy once you’re settled down in a nice, committed relationship: parenting, work, too much booze, stress, familiarity. But like any other obstacle — the people who slowly walk up the steps of the subway station like zombies fiddling with their phones — they have to be overcome to get where you want to go. You just need to figure out which texting zombie is getting in the way of you guys makin’ bacon. Talking about it helps, even if it’s kind of awkward and clinical. Spontaneity could help as well, since it breaks up traditional patterns and rekindles the spark of you guys doing it on the kitchen floor during The Amazing Race. Are you still trying, or have you already accepted some sort of self-imposed fate here? You both could be lying there in bed at night, so horny for each other that it’s actually affecting the tides, but waiting for the other to bust a move. Make a move, and if you are constantly rebuffed, you may need to take matters into your own hands. No, not like that, I mean confront the issue directly, openly and honestly.

Now, your texting zombie (man, I’m really running with this metaphor, eh? Okay) might be something deeper and scarier that involves psychology or hormone imbalances or the fact that your relationship may have run its course. But you need to find out what it is. You clearly aren’t content with the current state of your sex life, and that’s no way to enter into marriage, much less another year of your relationship.

Previously: Bob and Eli.

A Married Dude is one of several rotating married dudes who don’t claim to know everything about marriage. Do you have any questions for A Married Dude? (300-word max, please.)

Photo by Patsy Michaud, via Shutterstock


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