Here's the Thing: Don't Sleep With Your Wife

Trying to bribe people into having another kid with you is...unhealthy.

A NICE ONLINE FRIEND:

I'm a cis/straight man who has been married for almost 8 years (to a cis/straight woman) and have two young kids (one is under 2, the other is under 5) with my wife. Before agreeing to having a second one, which I was unsure about (though I love them so SO much now), we talked about it at length and decided that we would have two, total. This was agreed upon to the point that I had already had my consultation with a urologist about having a vasectomy before the second one was born, and had talked with my wife about getting the procedure done when the second baby was about three months old. A few days before the procedure, my wife asked me to hold off because of some other family stuff going on, and in the last few months has started aggressively campaigning to convince me to try to have a third kid, which is something that I am pretty firmly not into, for various reasons, including our financial reality. We've gone to couples counseling a few times to try to work through this so that we don't resent each other for being at opposite ends on a pretty important relationship issue, but she's really dead-set on convincing me, which is where my question finally comes in. 

My wife is so passionate about convincing me to say yes that she's begun to almost try to bribe me, for lack of a better term. She bought some non-refundable tickets for a long-weekend vacation alone for me, to give me "a break" and more to the point of this email, she's started offering me sexual rewards. Our sex life has been stalled out mostly for five years or so, since we became parents, though we have gotten back into it a bit recently. But now she's offering to spice things up, try new things, indulge my "wildest fantasies," and has even offered me an open relationship if that's what I want (which, I had never considered, but I don't think I do). There are certain fantasies that I've thought about trying for a really long time but have always been too shy to ask about, and it's nice to even have the opportunity to maybe have a more frank discussion about some of that stuff. Anyway, this is all fairly appealing to some degree, but also feels really wrong, like I'm taking advantage of her and she's also trying to manipulate me? That said, all the talk of it has left me very horny, and I don't know what to do! 

SOPHIA:

I feel like you might need some distance from this situation to realize how fully fucked up what your wife is doing is. Don’t get me wrong, I have some sympathy for her; she wants something so so so so bad, and probably feels like she can’t help herself (she can, of course). BUT what she’s doing is manipulative and borderline assault-y. If you’re having a hard time seeing that, imagine if a woman wrote in and said that her husband was trying to manipulate her into getting pregnant how would you feel? Grossed out and uncomfortable, right? That’s how we all feel reading about your wife.

It’s great that you guys are getting therapy, but I’m not sure if couples therapy is the way to go here, at least not yet. As many therapists will tell you, you can’t go to couples therapy with someone who is abusive, and I feel like your wife is inching towards that.

While I get the lure of fantasy is enticing, I strongly recommend taking a complete break from sex until she respects your wishes at minimum or until you get a vasectomy (which, by the way, you may want to get without her OK at this point; it is your body and you are in charge of it). I would say out loud to your wife something like, “I hear your grief about us not having a third child. I love you and I would love to work on that with you. I am not willing, however, to have sex with you right now while it feels like you’re trying to convince me to get you pregnant, which I have made it clear I am not comfortable with.”

The harsh, sad reality is that she doesn’t want to explore your sexual fantasies with you as much as she wants to trick you into agreeing to a third child; that’s fucked up and sad. I think you need to step back and look at your marriage as a whole and the role that sexual dysfunction plays in it. You’ve got issues with weaponizing sex, withholding sex, manipulation, lack of interest in sex outside of pregnancy. Is this a good sexual relationship? Is this sustainable? I’m not saying you need to leave your marriage, but I am saying your marriage is full-on dysfunctional right now; these are not small problems and you need to get your wife to understand that.

Ask someone to babysit the kids and sit her down and talk about how serious these issues are, because sexual coercion and disagreeing about the number of children you want (when you’ve already compromised AND made your boundaries clear) is messed up and it’s going to take a LOT of emotional, painful work to undo. But first she has to agree that there is work to be done; she has to be able to see how much she’s hurting you and your guys relationship.

Jerk off for now; don’t sleep with your wife, yet.