Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas

 

I've been married for five years and our sex life has never been very good but I love my wife very much. However, last week she suddenly dropped a bombshell. She told me there is a man she really fancies, someone she met at her yoga class, and that she wants to have an affair with him. She says why don't I find someone as well and then she won't feel guilty. I've told her OK, because otherwise it's over, but what can I do? I don't want to lose her. But I don't like the idea of an open marriage. Yours sincerely, Brendan

Virginia says... Has it occurred to you that one of the reasons your wife doesn't enjoy sex with you is that she feels you're rather spineless and passive? Has it crossed your mind that one of the reasons your marriage isn't working is because you too willingly cave in and let yourself be trampled over like a doormat? Do you realise that when two people marry, they don't just meld into one amorphous whole, but become partners, and, although united, are still fundamentally separate people, each with their own self-respect?

Finally, have you thought how incredibly unflattering it must be for her to hear you say "fine" when she suggests having an affair? Your response shows one of two things. Either you care absolutely nothing for yourself, and are prepared to be trampled into the dust on a whim. Or it shows that you don't love her at all, and are, effectively, saying, "sleep with who you like. It doesn't matter to me."

Imagine how she'd feel if, before all this had happened, you'd said that you wanted to lead separate sexual lives. She'd have felt rejected, unloved, and second best. Do you want to be married to someone who knows that's how she's making you feel?

This suggestion of hers is telling you something and you're not hearing it. She's either saying: "I'm certain you don't really care about me – just an idea of me. I'm going to test you to the limit. Let's see how you react to this totally unacceptable idea and then I'll see how good our relationship really is." Or she's saying: "Sorry, Brendan, but our marriage over. I don't want to tell you directly, so I'm telling you indirectly."

And how are you supposed to react? Go off and have sexual relationships with women who might well fall for you and be hurt when you say that actually you want to stay married? Her behaviour will, if taken to its ultimate conclusion so you're having affairs outside the marriage, lead you to behaving like a monster to other women.

It's not too late to put your foot down. Say: "I simply cannot accept this insulting proposition. If you decide to go ahead with this, it's the end of our marriage. Either you give up this man and we go for counselling, or I'm off."

I know you don't want to do this. And it may well mean it's all over – in which case, better it's over now than later. But there's a very small chance that this move could actually save your marriage rather than end it.

Are you man or mouse?

 

Readers say...

Put your foot down

The whole point of marriage is to have a loving and caring relationship between two people and you not being open to the idea of an open marriage is completely understandable. You need to tell your wife you are angry and hurt and that you don't agree with what she is proposing. If you think this all stems from your sex life, maybe that is something that the pair of you need to talk about and spice up. Don't let her have an affair and don't let her make you have an affair when you're clearly just scared of losing her. By letting her sleep with another man you have effectively lost her already.

Name supplied, by email

 

Look after yourself

Let your wife decide and do what she wants – and you do what you want. You are not responsible for any guilt that she perceives about her own thoughts, words or actions – you are responsible for you! Your wife may get closer to this man – or she might realise what she has with you is worth building on – and you both then start appreciating each other and find a way to enjoy your sex life.

Vivienne Brown By email

 

Next week's dilemma

Dear Virginia, For the last three years, my husband has forgotten our wedding anniversary, though we've been married nine years. It is coming up again and I find I am dreading the disappointment of him forgetting again. I know it's silly, and everyone says it's clear he loves me, but it means so much to me, and when he forgets we always have a terrible row. He says I should remind him, but if I remind him, then there's no point... he should remember of his own accord. I don't know how you can help me, but does anyone else feel like I do? Yours sincerely, Nollie

What would you advise Nollie to do? Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas @independent.co.uk, or go to independent. co.uk/dilemmas. Anyone whose advice is quoted will receive a £25 voucher from the wine website Fine Wine Sellers (finewinesellers.co.uk)

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
people
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Support Technician (2nd Line / Server Support) - Bedford

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: 2nd line IT Support Techn...

    Teacher

    £100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

    Year 3 Teacher

    £100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

    Science Teacher

    £100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Are you a qualified science t...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments