I have been married for 17 years. We have two young children. I am fun, friendly, and open. My husband is calm and passive. We used to have a good time together and I am still very attracted to him. I have always been GGG. He, conversely, has no sexual urges and never—NEVER—responds to me any more. We have vanilla sex every few months. He rarely finishes; I usually do because I know how to do so. There is no foreplay; he is not actively engaged. We don't even kiss deeply. It has become progressively worse with every passing year. He has escalated from being a heavy drinker when we met to a full-blown alcoholic now, which has intensified our other problems. He covers it up well in that he holds a job and is attentive to our children. He does not become abusive or violent but simply drinks until he passes out.

We are in counseling now but I can't break through. I asked him for a divorce; he declined. I have since told him that I will not initiate sex any more. I can't face his rejection anymore. I've taken over the family finances since he put us into crushing debt by avoiding creditors and the IRS. I am, ultimately, setting myself up to leave him and take the children with me.

I go to Al-Anon and have been secretly seeing another man. We met online; there are no strings and no future so it's casual and refreshing. The sex is very good—he's enthusiastic and grateful—and the conversation is even better. I know this makes me a CPOS but I am so desperate and lonely. He makes me feel strong and beautiful and worthy of love.

Dan, I just want your opinion. I made this bed—do I really have to lie in it? Does "for better or worse" mean that I have to stand by a selfish bastard of an alcoholic? Am I a hypocrite for attending counseling with him, knowing that, unless he has some enormous turnaround, I'm going to leave him?

To Have And To Hold

My response after the jump...


You are not a cheating piece of shit (CPOS).

That term—which I coined, THATH, giving me the final say about its uses and application—refers to serial cheaters who either 1. don't have the balls/ovaries to negotiate an honest open relationship or 2. don't want their partners sleeping with other people even as they sleep with other people themselves. And while some would argue that you could've or should've negotiated an open relationship with your train wreck of spouse before taking a lover (and I've advocated giving a vague heads up in certain circumstances), THATH, I don't believe that someone who has been essentially abandoned sexually—and had their sense of sexual self-esteem and their sexual self-confidence shredded by years of rejection—should be faulted for seeking sex elsewhere.

I've also instructed lots of married folks trapped in sexless or nearly sexless marriages to do what they need to do to stay married and stay sane. In your case, THATH, you're doing what you need to do to stay married (at last for now) and stay sane and you're doing what you need to do to stick around long enough to give your selfish, irresponsible, reckless drunk of a husband one last chance to salvage this marriage.

And for the record...

You don't have to lie in this bed, THATH, and you don't have to stay with a selfish bastard of an alcoholic. "For better or worse" is a nice idea, a perfectly lovely thought, and a goal most married folks aspire to. But FBOW is not something any individual married person is condemned to; it is not an emotional or sexual death sentence. And if attending counseling sessions with a spouse you intend to leave (barring a miraculous turnaround) makes you a hypocrite, THATH, then you can take comfort in knowing that you have tons of company. When a married couple sits down in a counselor's office at least one person on the couch is already convinced it's over. Often both are.

So cut yourself some slack and file this thought away for later: You don't need your husband's permission to divorce him. If you ultimately decide to end it, THATH, don't ask your husband for a divorce. Give him one.