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Take Care

Joe Newton

I have a partner of several decades who needs me, as I am his primary caregiver and he’s been going through a prolonged health crisis. But we have been sexless for two decades. There are multiple reasons for that, on both sides, some of which include the fact that I’m just not that physically attracted to him anymore, even if I once was, even if I love him, even if I still feel sexual desire, just not in his direction. I have no interest in renewing our sexual relationship, especially not now, given the condition he’s in. I don’t even know if he’s capable anymore. But I don’t want to give up being a sexual being. I also don’t think he would be open to opening the relationship and allowing me to get my needs met elsewhere. He’s very traditional in that sense, and I’m scared to ask. I think it...

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...very traditional in that sense, and I’m scared to ask. I think it would break his heart. Yet, at the same time, he’s kind of getting his needs met via porn, which he hides and he’s very reluctant to talk about, although I understand. Not because I watch or enjoy porn, but because I understand he has needs, and I am not fulfilling them. I guess in his mind it’s different because he’s not engaging in a relationship with someone else, so it’s not cheating. Although I could argue that the amount of hours he spends watching porn and the extreme types he views certainly feels like something close to cheating to me. Not quite sure what I’d call it. I kind of mind when it’s bordering on jailbait and/or violent situations, I do find those subjects more problematic, but I’m trying really hard not to judge, even when it’s more disturbing to me, because I don’t want to add to his shame. These are just fantasies, and he wouldn’t act on them. He can’t act on them. So, I am trying not to mind, and consider myself grateful that he is getting his needs met somehow, and I’m off the hook. My question, I guess, is how do I broach the topic that I have needs, too? And maybe get permission to get them met elsewhere without hurting him? I’m not going to leave him. I can’t. That would be cruel. But I don’t want to spend the rest of our lives (and his might not be that much longer) living like a nun. Married Or Martyr So, you don’t wanna meet your husband’s sexual needs, assuming he’s still capable of being sexual; in fact, the thought of being sexual with your husband — who you hint is on his way out — is so unappealing that you don’t wanna risk broaching the subject of sex, MOM, for fear he might get ideas about being sexual with you. But you can risk monitoring the porn your husband consumes, MOM, porn he tries to hide from you (unsuccessfully), porn you could help him hide from you (by turning a blind eye), and porn you should be grateful he has access to (porn meets needs you don’t care to). While you were once sexually attracted to your husband, MOM, at some point you transitioned from sexual and romantic partner — or presumed/default sexual and romantic partner — to caretaker. Even people who enjoy strong sexual connections with their long-term partners sometimes have to make that transition, and the sex usually dwindles away. But sex hasn’t been an important part of your marriage for a long time, and you’ve now taken on profound obligations and responsibilities that transcend sex; you’re not there to get him off, you’re there to see him out. That’s a loving thing to do — or it’s a thing that can be done lovingly (some people are monstrous to their dying partners; please don’t be one of those people) — and the less resentful you are about the pressures and deprivations that come with being a caretaker, the more loving a caretaker you’ll be. So, there’s your rationalization, MOM. If discreetly getting sex elsewhere without seeking your husband’s permission — thereby sparing your husband a painful and pointless conversation — will bring you some small measure of happiness, I think you should go ahead and get sex elsewhere. It’s entirely possible your husband is no more interested in being sexual with you than you are with him — it’s possible he prefers porn at this stage of his life — but regardless, MOM, your husband didn’t ask for your permission before he figured out a way to take care of his own needs. He did what he needed to do. You should do the same. P.S. But for the love of Christ, MOM, stop looking at his browser history or dusting his DVD collection or whatever it is you’re doing that forces you to think about the porn your husband is watching. If his porn preferences bother you, there’s an easy for fix for that: respect his privacy. P.P.S. I honestly can’t understand why people whose marriages have been sexless for years or decades but who choose to stay together don’t explicitly release their spouses from monogamous sexual commitments. Here’s the situation: I’m involved with someone who is depressed, and I don’t know how to help him. His depression has caused him to lose the ability to experience pleasure, for the most part. He’s on anti-depressants, but not the kind that impact your libido. How do I lift his spirits and get him to enjoy sex again? Blues Clues “It can be very difficult when someone you love needs help but won’t get it,” said John Moe, host of Depresh Mode, a podcast that tackles depression with humor and without stigma. “You can only lead the horse to water, right? It’s a tricky move that depression pulls where the disorder sort of builds a protective shield around itself where the person is so devoid of hope and self-regard that they don’t think help is either possible or deserved, when in fact it’s both.” So, while your partner is already on antidepressants and therefore has sought some sort of treatment, if he’s still struggling with depression — and having no libido can be a sign that someone is struggling — he may not be on the right antidepressants and/or antidepressants aren’t the only treatment he needs. “When I was at my low point, before diagnosis and before treatment, I didn’t think I was worth getting better,” said Moe. “Finally, my wife said, ‘If you don’t love yourself enough to go see someone, do you love me and the kids?’ I said sure, of course. ‘Then do it for us,’ she said. And I did. The other line I know sometimes works when people don’t want to get help is to just ask how the status quo is working out of them. Like what exactly is so great about the current situation that you want to hold on to? Not so much about sex, really, but getting help can to a better mental state where sex becomes more feasible.” Follow John Moe on Twitter @JohnMoe and the DepreshMode podcast on Instagram @depreshpod. I’m active-duty military, and my wife is as well. We are apart for now, but she will be where I am in September. I made a huge mistake. I was scrolling on Reddit and came across a subreddit that was intriguing. All I wanted was to get a release through photos. The stranger on the other end asked for my WhatsApp information so they could send me photos. I ended up sending an inappropriate picture back to get a “rating,” and wound up in a blackmail situation after the recipient of my photo threatened to send it to my wife. Obviously, I didn’t want that to happen, so I sent money but this person on Reddit still sent a screenshot to my wife. I told my wife I messed up bad. I feel so angry and resentful towards myself and I’m in therapy now working through my issues. I have an unhealthy relationship with porn and I should have sought out help before I ended up sending an inappropriate photo to a stranger on Reddit. My wife knew I watched porn, and she was okay with that, but she isn’t okay with this. I love my wife and I don’t want it to end over a single penis picture sent to a random person. I didn’t seek a conversation or anything else from this stranger. I’m trying to understand and forgive myself. I just feel so much anger towards myself. What can I be doing to earn my wife’s trust back? Was it cheating? I guess my biggest question is, why did I do this? Picture Include Consequences You had your dick in one hand and your smartphone in the other — smartphones induce stupidity — but you also sent it because you wanted to feel wanted. Sometimes a married person in a monogamous relationship needs to have their desirability affirmed by someone who isn’t their spouse; sometimes we need to hear we’re hot from someone whose job it isn’t to tell us we’re hot. People used to get that need met by strangers in hotel bars or people they briefly interacted with at work — people used to get that need met in ways that didn’t create a digital trail — but nowadays we get that need met online. So, instead of flirting with someone you were never going to be in the same room with again, PIC, you connected online with someone you were never going to be in the same room with at all, ever. Was it cheating? Well, I wouldn’t consider it cheating, PIC, but I’m not your wife. As a general rule, I think monogamous couples should define cheating as narrowly as possible. Touching someone else with your dick? Obviously, that counts. Flirting with a stranger you’re never going to meet in person? I don’t think that counts. If we want monogamous marriages to survive routine temptations, online and off, we need to round things like this — what you got caught doing — down to stupid-but-forgivable rather than rounding them up to cheating-and-unforgivable. But once again, PIC, I’m not your wife. Once the woman you married gets past her initial shock and anger, I would hope she could see that you were the victim here — the victim of your own poor judgment, and a victim of revenge pornography. Don’t do that thing where you’re so theatrically angry with yourself that your wife feels manipulated into comforting you. Let her be angry, apologize to her, and then, when things calm down, talk about what you did (flirt) and didn’t do (cheat). You sought affirmation from a stranger, which is something your wife has probably done herself, and that stranger turned out to have an ulterior motive and a vindictive streak… and the dick pic you were stupid/horny/needy enough to send them. If your wife can forgive you for flirting with a stranger like this, then this marriage can be saved. If she can’t, then this marriage — and any future marriage your wife might enter into — is probably doomed. Got a problem? Everyone does! Submit your written question for “Savage Love” now! Or…

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