I can only imagine how hard that must have been to hear. On one hand, most of us would say we want our partners to always be honest with us, but on the other disclosures like this can lead to feelings of worry and inadequacy if we're not careful.
So let me first of all say that it is very normal for human beings, even very committed and happy partners to have moments where they notice an attraction for someone else. Quite honestly, the brain can't help it. It sees something good looking and it pays attention. And when we pay attention to something good, our brains send out neurochemicals associated with that happy thought...and we get a rush of what your girlfriend is labeling "a crush."
The difficulty here is deciphering whether she was just attempting to honor her commitment to you by sharing this feeling OR if she is continuing to feed those feelings.
I would encourage you to thank her for being honest if you haven't already, and ask her to further describe the nature of these feelings and what she'd like to do from here.
As weird as it is to say, at the end of the day, what helps the most is typically reassuring yourself that you WILL be okay not matter what! That it is worth it to invest in your relationship and give it your all and if someday, god forbid, this woman chooses to walk away, then she is not the one.
Will it hurt? Of course. But is it the end? Hell no! There are 7.5 billion people on the planet and I firmly believe statistically speaking alone, there are at least several hundred thousand that could be AMAZING partners for you.
Cheering you on,
Tamara Powell, LMHC
P.S. You might enjoy this excellent book by Esther Perel for further inquiry into the fascinating world of love and mating behaviors: "Mating in Captivity”
Piggybacking on the other respondent's suggestions, I also agree that most couples could use more frequent and more bonding communication in their relationships, and this is a GREAT place to get the ball rolling towards reconnecting.
Surveying the demographical data on long-term relationships, it's pretty common for couples to start to struggle around the 7-10 year mark and in fact, that's often when first time divorces happen. And for lots of reasons...most of them having something to do with beginning to take one another for granted and no longer doing the little things that nourish the relationship and light our partners up. Seems like you've encountered this in your own relationship...where he appears to be neglecting your need for emotional connection with him.
Doesn't have to be this way though. And from my own personal clinical experience, I can tell you that when even ONE partner is willing to make some small but powerful changes, they can often ripple outward to the other partner and bring about miraculous outcomes!
So my encouragement to you is this - if you're still in love with him...even a little bit...and you're down to try something new, there's hope! As hard as it may be, I would ask you to try and focus on YOUR own side of the street when approaching him. Use an open and curious approach with him.
Ask him what he thinks he needs in a marriage.
- What is it about you he fell in love with?
- What helps him feel more fulfilled as a man and as a husband?
- What little things that you have done over the years does he appreciate?
- "The Secret to Desire in a Long-Term Relationship" (Ted Talk) by Esther Perel
- "Getting Together & Staying Together: Solving the Mystery of Marriage" by William & Carleen Glasser
- "Divorce Busting - A Step By Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again" by Michelle Weiner-Davis
- "The Relationship Cure: a 5 step Guide to Strengthening your Marriage, Family, and Friendships" by John Gottman & Joan DeClaire
- "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" by John Gottman & Nan Silver
- "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman
First off, don't blame yourself or be too quick to jump to any scary conclusions. Human sexuality can be incredibly complex at times (e.g., what turns us on at one time may not be what turns us on the next time).
There could actually be a number of things going on including him having performance anxiety...maybe he had a bad experience with a previous partner that's left him scared to try again (we call this operant conditioning).
It could also be that he puts you in a different category than previous lovers. Sometimes I refer to this as the "hooker-housewife mentality" where a partner somehow gets the idea that when we truly fall in love, we treat that one differently; almost up on a pedestal. Drives many partners crazy until they're aware that this is going on and give their boyfriend/ girlfriend permission to enjoy both the naughty and the nice with them.
It could also be that he's not even aware that he's not doing these things. If you haven't asked him yet, you might try gently approaching the subject when you're not already in the bedroom or trying to get in on and inquire what he most enjoys about sex with you (or has enjoyed in the past, or thinks he might enjoy). You can also share your favorite highlights of sex with him. Give him an ego boost and tell him what he does well while then asking him if he'd be down to go downtown. "Baby, it REALLY turns me on when you kiss me during sex."
If you continue to get the impression that it's somehow only about YOU or that he's just really hesitant to talk about sex in general, you might see if he'd be cool to chat with a counselor who specializes in sexual intimacy.
Oh my goodness, my heart goes out to you!! I pray you have other strong and supportive loved ones or friends surrounding you. If you are in school, please consider speaking with a counselor on site who can help give you some good coping mechanisms as well as other resources.
I believe most therapists would agree that this type of behavior is indicative of emotional AND verbal abuse. And quite often the two overlap because someone who is being yelled at and demeaned is also frequently having his/her emotions preyed upon as well.
Emotionally Abusive Statements
Sexually Abusive Statements
Financially Abusive Statements
Societally Abusive Statements
Threatening and Intimidating Statements
Spiritually Abusive Statement
It's been my personal clinical experience that children who are experiencing the types of things you describe often say they feel misunderstood, lonely, or scared and don't want to make things worse by standing up for themselves.
Even if you feel you can't defend yourself outwardly, that doesn't mean your father's awful and toxic behavior is something you should ever internalize (i.e., believe to be true) which is why I hope you are surrounding yourself with people who will speak life and positivity back over you.
We are ALL worthy of respect, love, and kindness. Don't ever forget that!
My love and light to you hon.
Tamara Powell, LMHC
ABSOLUTELY. Having someone who's outside the situation and, even more so, with knowledge and experience in human behavior and relationship dynamics such as a counselor can do wonders in helping us feel less alone in frustrating situations like the one you're currently stuck in with your mother.
A professional can also assist you in finding some assertiveness techniques, communication strategies, and coping skills to help you find your voice and stand your ground in a way that feels most authentic to you.
In a healthy parent-child dynamic, there comes a normal developmental shift when, as the child reaches each new stage of maturity and responsibility, the parent backs off to provide a more supportive role instead of directive role. We call this "redefining relationships." (We also do it with our friendships and colleagues here and there over time as needed). It's absolutely vital.
Sounds like your mom may have missed that memo.
Like many parents, she may feel your behavior and choices is a direct reflection of her. Or that her role as your mother allows her greater latitude than it should. Or like many other people in general, that her way is the ONLY way.
Regardless, this is YOUR life. And as far as we know, it's not a dress rehearsal. You certainly don't want to wake up some 50 years from now regretful or resentful.
That being said, there are certainly ways to show her love and respect while doing what makes you happy.
I would encourage you to Google therapists near you whose bios resonate with you and what you're looking for and start on a the journey towards a new chapter of freedom and hopefully a deeper, more satisfying mother-daughter relationship for both of you.
Tamara Powell, LMHC
Not at all my dear.
Human beings are complex creatures, and in my opinion, our issues interconnect in a very nuanced web between our levels of being (for example, mind, body, and spirit). Everything you bring up affects all three. The truly beautiful thing about the human body is that when you begin to work on one, the others improve as well!
I would encourage you to seek out a counselor who's style and approach speaks to you and start with whichever issue feels most pressing to you. A skilled therapist will flow with you at your own pace and make recommendations to other professionals (e.g., physicians, holistic practitioners, EMDR specialists for trauma etc) as needed to complement the psychotherapy work you're doing with him or her to help you find the total healing you seek.
I wish you well on your journey!
As someone who specializes in sexuality and polyamory, I can tell you that your experience is incredibly common.
It can be helpful to keep in mind that alcohol lowers our inhibitions, and for first time threesomes or any new sexual behavior really, we humans tend to enjoy a little extra oomph to our courage levels. That being said, it also lowers our ability to make well thought-out decisions. This combined with the brain rewarding novelty (new lover, new experience with our partner etc.) and maybe even some over-zealousness and performance anxiety could likely explain why your husband was on her more than you. My encouragement to you is to try not to overthink it at this stage. Now, IF you two choose to bring her or someone else into the bedroom again and a similar thing keeps happening, I would definitely push the issue and see what's up from his perspective.
The empty feeling could be any number of things including:
- Fear that "you're not enough for him"
- Fear that "she's better than you" in some way
- Fear that "if we keep doing this thing, he will need it and what happens if I no longer want it?"
- Opposite fear of "what if I now want her more than him" or "if I want the threesomes and he doesn't?"
- Fear of "does this mean our sex life isn't good enough as it is?"...."do we have to always add a little spice to keep it hot?"
- “Love in Abundance: a Counselor’s Advice on Open Relationships” by Kathy Labriola
- “The Jealousy Workbook: Exercises and Insights for Managing Open Relationships” by Kathy Labriola
- “Rewriting the Rules: an Integrative Guide to Love, Sex, and Relationships” by Meg Barker
- “More Than Two: a Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory” by Franklin Veaux & Eve Rickert
- “The Game Changer: a Memoir of Disruptive Love” by Franklin Veaux
- “The Ethical Slut: a Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Adventures” by Dossie Easton & Janet Hardy
- “Opening Up: a Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships” by Tristan Taormino
- “Open All the Way: Confessions From my Open Marriage” by Sadie Smythe
- “Henry and June: From ‘A Journal of Love’ – The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin (1931-1932)“
I love that you are so thoughtful and proactive about this! If only every client came in as solution focused as you, my job would be so much easier.
I would second Robin's suggestion of reading ANYTHING by Gottmann. He's fantastic.
Other favorites of mine are:“Getting Together and Staying Together: Solving the Mystery of Marriage” by Dr. William & Carleen Glasser
“Eight Lessons for a Happier Marriage” by Dr. William & Carleen Glasser
“Hold Me Tight” by Dr. Sue Johnson
“Divorce Busting: A Step-By-Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again” by Michele Weiner-Davis, M.S.W.
“The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman
“The Flight from Intimacy: Healing Your Relationship of Counter-Dependency – the Other Side of Co-Dependency” by Drs. Janae & Barry Weinhold
I'll also add to Miriam's assertion that your partner is the expert on her. You can help things along by becoming a better expert on you as well.
What is it that you are craving and likely trying to get your need met in potentially unhelpful ways from your girlfriend or in ways she doesn't understand or vibe with?
If you can better explain your own needs while trying to understand hers, you all have a recipe for great success! When both partners seek to serve one another and stay curious about each other in the process, intimacy abounds!
Best of luck my friend!
And if you get stuck, of course seeking help from a professional is always a great idea too. ;)
We women really do tend to struggle with the comparison game. And Hollywood culture hasn't helped with romantic comedies and song lyrics telling us that when a man appears evasive, there's something to worry about.
It's been my clinical experience though that most women value transparency and security in their relationships. So you might try sharing a little bit more about your history with this woman. For example:
- Where did you meet her?
- How long were you friends before you decided to call it quits?
- Why don't you want to be friends with her (i.e., what do you mean by "kind of crazy")? I promise this tends to matter to women.
- Were you ever intimately involved with or even attracted to her?
Now, IF she's more concerned that you might be taking this woman's calls behind your back, while I'm not typically a huge fan of sharing passwords or phone records, you might print them off and highlight this female's number and show your girlfriend that you absolutely are telling the truth.
And if you really want to step it up, I would be intentional about doing all the little things that you know your girlfriend loves that helped make her fall in love with you in the first place (e.g., little love notes for her to find or sweet text messages, buy a rose or her favorite flower, have her car detailed, do the laundry...date nights...you get the idea).
Bottom line - show your girlfriend why out of all the women on the planet that you could be with, you CHOSE HER. And would continue to do so all over again. AND why you love HER as a person. This will help her trust what you're saying.
Best of luck to you!
Depending on your own sexual history and what you grew up expecting to be "normal" in the bedroom, I can easily imagine that this came as quite a shock to you!
It DOESN'T necessarily mean, however that your husband is: gay, bisexual transgender, or even necessarily a cross-dresser etc. unless he has already told you so. I agree with the other poster who recommended you try and ask him more questions with an open and curious attitude and see if he might be open to explaining more with you.
That being said, what we also know from research is that frequently what turns us on isn't always what we identify as. Lots of people have fantasies or even sexual behaviors they may enjoy from time to time without considering themselves to be a part of any label or subculture. For example, many women are okay with having their hair pulled or bottom spanked during a particular rowdy sexual encounter but certainly don't consider themselves kinky, submissive, or anything else.
It could be that your husband enjoys pretending/ fantasizing that he is something completely different in the bedroom from time to time from what most other see him as outside in the corporate world or in other roles he plays as husband, father, son, friend etc. Many of my kink clients are drawn to their particular fetish simply because it's the opposite of what their life typically entails (e.g., a high profile CEO who is always responsible for making the decisions enjoys being at "the mercy" of someone else once a week).
Each of us has a sexual script - a blueprint if you will of what we like and don't like in the bedroom and also what we have each come to see as being "normal." It's also an internal guideline for how we each define our role in sexual expression, sexual orientation, sexual behaviors, sexual desires, and how big a part our sexual identity plays in our everyday lives (Gagnon & Simon, 1973).
You've been clued into the fact that your husbands greatly differs from yours on the surface level at the moment.
ALL of us are sexual beings yet none of us is exactly identical to one another in our sexual definitions and script expectations. It's like our own sex fingerprint.
In my role as a couples counselor, I often help partners become aware of their own sexual script and explore where it overlaps their partners and where it may always differ. If a couple is able to successfully navigate formulating a plan for both to feel validated and sexually satisfied, the relationship thrives.
Most counselors would agree that a healthy script includes:
- Both partners taking ownership for the couple's sexual experiences.
- Both partners learning to communicate openly and honestly about their feelings.
- Both partners learning to meet one another's - needs, desires, and wishes while making sure his/her own needs are being met.
If "pegging" your husband as it's called is a hard and fast no for you, that will likely need to be respected as it may be too far off your own sexual script. However, if your husband is for sure absolutely adamant about "needing" to dress in a female fashion and/or be anally penetrated, you may seek professional counseling to help navigate how both of you will come to an agreement about fulfilling these desires in a way that doesn't hurt either one of you or the marriage.
My warmest wishes to you both!