Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Did Ecstasy Make My Husband Cut Himself?”

I have gone through a very traumatic six weeks. I am a 33-year-old woman who has been married for 14 years, and I have a 5-year-old son. My husband, “Fred” (34 years old), and I were monogamous for the first year or so of our relationship and explored the swinging lifestyle before we got married. We have, over the years, organically moved into our current style of open marriage, which has included both of us pursuing long-term relationships outside of the marriage. I had a 6-month relationship with a guy from my past and it was lots of fun and full of silliness. However, things weren’t as good for him as they were for me and he ended this relationship late March of this year. Just three days following this breakup I spent the week visiting my parents (8 hours away) with my son. When I got home 24 hours later, my son and I were involved in a car accident that took a toll on me and the whole family.

My husband, who used to be a frequent cutter in his teen years, has cut himself twice in the 16 years I’ve known him. He is not an alcoholic. He is not addicted to drugs. He is a very upstanding father and husband. He’s held his current engineering job for well over a decade which allows me to be a stay-at-home mom, to garden, and to not have to do a job I hate on top of the full-time parenting and homemaker positions I hold. Recently, my son spent the weekend with a friend while my husband and I went to a festival together. At the festival we partook in some Ecstasy, and it was his first time ever doing it. I know that Ecstasy causes a drop in serotonin and can cause depression, but I was completely unprepared for what happened with my husband. The following day we packed up, picked up our son, and headed home. I went to sleep after getting our son into bed (8:30 p.m.) and left Fred to surf the web. At 4 a.m. I awoke to an empty bed and went to find Fred. When I found him, he was drunk and in the bathroom puking. I have only seen him that drunk a handful of times in 16 years. I noticed some bite marks on his arm, and through both a series of conversations with him while he was sick and going into his email account (I fully warned him before I went snooping) I found a picture of his arm emailed to a girl who we are both friends with. His arm was covered in shallow cuts and blood. I found out he also had over a dozen more self-inflicted cuts on his abdomen and chest.

I was initially angry with the girl he sent the image to because I thought she was encouraging this, and I didn’t want to see my husband’s part in it. Several days after I found my husband by the toilet, I finally emailed her and told her that I was uncomfortable with their relationship and that I changed their chats to be on the record because I’m worried about Fred. Things fell apart between Fred and this other woman after that. I have such a hard time not taking on the blame for that happening. I tell myself that I’m not the one who screwed that up, but that if I could have just kept her out of it from my end things would have been okay between the two of them. My husband does not have all that many friends because he is a very private person. I have a huge circle of friends and had many people whom I could lean on during this tough time, but by my emailing her and voicing my problems, I’ve taken away one of the few people he had. How do I move past the guilt? — No longer Ecstatic

You know, of all the things you discuss in your letter here — your extramarital relationship that ended against your desire, the car accident, the Ecstasy, your husband’s erratic behavior… the drunken puking and the dozens of cut and bite marks all over his body — I would think the least of your worries would be your husband’s relationship with this other woman. I mean, I get that you’re in an open relationship and it has worked for you all these years, but maybe it isn’t working so well anymore. Maybe what triggered your husband’s depression wasn’t so much the Ecstasy, but feeling like you were more connected to someone outside your marriage than to him. That you begin your letter with an account of your six-month extramarital relationship ending signifies that it was kind of a big deal to you. Otherwise, why include it? And if I, someone who doesn’t even know you, can pick up on your feelings about this other man in a short letter, then imagine what your husband has picked up on. Maybe — just maybe — the woman your husband needs to “lean on during this tough time” isn’t that girl he’s been emailing, but YOU.

I’m not telling you that it’s wrong for you to have an open marriage. I’m not even judging you for your drug use (though I do think that as a mother of a five-year-old, you might want to make sure at least that one parent isn’t tripping his balls off should an emergency arise). What I am saying is that your lifestyle, no matter how awesome it may have worked in the past, is not currently a happy one. Your husband is crying out for help. He needs you. He needs you to check in to your marriage and to him. If you want to erase the guilt you feel for having some part in your husband having too few people to turn to, be there for him. Be the support he needs. A person doesn’t really need a huge circle of friends like you have if he has one great, wonderfully supportive person in his corner. After that, everything is gravy.

The way to start being the person your husband can count on is to talk to him. Express your concern. Let him know you’ve missed connecting with him. Tell him how much you care. Start there and maybe move toward finding a professional he can talk to about his depression and anxiety. For now, the thought of other partners needs to be the furthest thing on your minds. Focus on each other and re-building your bond. And if you decide to keep your marriage open or to move into a different kind of relationship altogether, it needs to be a decision you re-visit together and through deep, honest, open dialogue. Your husband needs to be heard — he’s crying out to be heard. So start listening to him.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter and ‘like’ me on Facebook.

106 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Amanda July 6, 2012, 9:15 am

    This letter was very difficult to follow. LW, keep your private business between you and your husband. If you went into your husband’s email account while he was sick and then ruined his relationship with this other woman, then you owe him a sincere apology. Couples therapy and personal therapy for your husband would undoubtedly benefit your relationship.

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  • mandalee

    mandalee July 6, 2012, 9:27 am

    I agree with Wendy that your husband is crying out for help. Your letter was a bit hard to follow, but from what I take it: your husband suffered a breakup, instead of being there for support, you went to visit you parents for a week and then got into a car accident, which further complicated things So, I’m assuming you weren’t there for your husband when he was going through something, which you didn’t mention, but you did mention your 6 month “silly” relationship.

    I could never function in an open marriage, but know some people who do. From what I understand, your primary relationship (the one with your husband) is usually held above and prioritize above all others, since he is the man who shared vows with and are raising a family with. Therefore, his mental well-being and needs should be above everyone else you’re in a relationship with. He shouldn’t need to depend on sending pictures to someone else outside the marriage of his self-inflicted wounds, he should be speaking to YOU. If he’s not, then there’s a problem.

    With the drug use, self-inflicted wounds, depression, and all these other things going on, I think it’s time to close your relationship for a bit and be a wife to your husband. Therapy and some quality time together might help stabilize his mental health and your overall situation.

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    • avatar

      cporoski July 6, 2012, 10:26 am

      You are so right. I don’t think open relationships work indefinately. What might have been good for them in thier early 20s wont work in thier 30s. Close this up for awhile.

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    • avatar

      6napkinburger July 6, 2012, 10:56 am

      I think the LW went through the breakup, not the husband. I couldn’t tell if the husband ended LW’s relationship with other man, or if other man ended LW’s relationship with other man, but either way, I did not read that the husband had a breakup that the LW wasn’t there for.

      However, if the husband did feel the need to end LW’s relationsihp with other man, it might have been nice for LW to find out why and work that out with husband at the time. but if other man broke it off, I don’t think she was at all in the wrong.

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      • avatar

        MMcG July 6, 2012, 11:06 am

        I think the LW had the breakup, not the DH. In fact, now that I’ve read this letter several times (yeah undertime at work!) she doesn’t specifically reference any relationships the husband has had during their marriage… just that he had a friend and she cut that cord. Perhaps her open marriage wasn’t as open as she thought… between that and the “organically moved” comment this husband might have just wanted a plain old wife to support and kids to have, and has been miserable.

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      • mandalee

        mandalee July 6, 2012, 11:29 am

        Yeah, reading it a fifth time, I get that now. The round about writing in this letter threw me off. It just seems like a mess at this point. The only one who seems happy with this arrangement is the LW. The husband is clearly not, for whatever reason. That should be the main focus of this letter. Instead she rambles on about herself, her situation, forever, that it’s hard to find what is really bothering her. She seems extremely inward focus at the moment, when she should be focusing on her husband.

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      • avatar

        MMcG July 6, 2012, 12:07 pm

        @Mandalee. Agree on extreme inward focus!!! I just did a quick find search (because that was a better use of company software than me writing a memo;-)) and the LW mentions herself 35 times, poor Fred gets 5 mentions. For someone who is so guilty and worried about her husband she sure seems to talk about herself an awful lot!!

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      • avatar

        cporoski July 6, 2012, 11:42 am

        Yes, I don’t think this is open. at least I don’t think it is anymore. Maybe at the beginning they were both in this but not now.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. July 6, 2012, 12:28 pm

        This happened to a couple I know. After they got married and had a kid, she decided she wanted to have an open relationship. This was not something they had discussed prior to getting married. He went along with it because it was something she wanted, but he wasn’t really into it. It was a disaster. There was even a suicide attempt.

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      • avatar

        a_different_Wendy July 7, 2012, 1:22 pm

        That would be a good example of a couple doing it all wrong. If he wasn’t into it, he shouldn’t have gone along with it, and she should have seen that he wasn’t okay with it and pulled the plug. Seem like the biggest problem there was a massive lack of communication (which is the absolute most essential thing in an open relationship)

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  • Budj

    Budj July 6, 2012, 9:28 am

    I couldn’t possibly add anything to WWS. Mmmm adding new context to acronyms.

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary July 6, 2012, 9:36 am

    To answer your question about your husband’s cutting: yes, ecstasy can cause a short-term drop in serotonin. But this is usually experienced as a short-term “downer” (as one may experience with cocaine) rather than a long-term period of depression, but everyone reacts differently to drugs. Not to add in the fact that since ecstasy is always sold in different batches and doses you never really know what you are getting. It’s probably not a good idea for someone who suffers from depression or has a history of self-harm to partake in recreational drugs due to unexpected reactions such as the one your husband experienced..

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    • avatar

      cporoski July 6, 2012, 10:28 am

      I did E in college and it took two days afterwards to be “right” again. So I am confused about the timeline but this might fit in and it might not.

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    • avatar

      MsMisery July 9, 2012, 1:06 pm

      Sometimes telling people what side effects to expect about a drug can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like before dropping acid, “Man last time I did this I saw dinosaurs coming out of the drive through speakers!” Then all your friend will see is dinosaurs.

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  • Leroy

    Leroy July 6, 2012, 9:46 am

    Fred’s got a terminally self absorbed wife that he’s supporting, who sleeping around on him and CANNOT GET TO THE F-ING POINT when communicating. That’s why he’s upset.

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    • avatar

      MMcG July 6, 2012, 10:43 am

      +1

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl July 6, 2012, 10:46 am

      It’s not “sleeping around on him” when they have a mutually agreed upon open relationship and Fred had just ended his own relationship with another women.

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      • avatar

        cporoski July 6, 2012, 10:57 am

        When I read the letter, It says he is “friends” with the girl. He is not in a relationship. It says that he has been with people in the past. My guess is that she is more “successful” in the open relationship then he is. She gets to sleep around and since he is shy and private, just accepts it. My guess is that this whole thing stems from the fact that he doesn’t like this lifestyle and can’t bring it up.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl July 6, 2012, 11:13 am

        Yeah, the letter isn’t really clear on if the husband had a relationship that ended as well. But the wasy the LW presented it- it was a mutually agreed upon open relationship. So even if the husband wasn’t as “successful” finding other partners, the LW isn’t “sleeping around”.

        But it is possible that the husbands self esteem issues and depression have prevented him from voicing his dislike of the life style. If he has never voiced a dislike/discomfort (regardless of the reason why he hasn’t voiced it) we can’t shame the LW for living a lifestyle she thinks her partner is ok with.

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        MMcG July 6, 2012, 11:17 am

        @GatorGirl: I agree about the self-esteem issues, but I just can’t get past their ages! What was ok when you were 19 may not be ok when you are 34… but if you go decade without saying anything, then nothing is going to change and I fear that maybe this has been building for awhile.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl July 6, 2012, 11:31 am

        I totally agree. In my opinion the open relationship status should be evaluated regulary, twice a year or something, to make sure BOTH partners are happy. I guess I’m just defending the LW because if her husband never spoke up, she can’t be blamed 110% for thinking everything is ok. I definitely think she has made her fair share of mistakes in the relationship too, I’m just talking in regards to Leroy’s “sleeping around” comment.

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      • avatar

        painted_lady July 6, 2012, 11:42 am

        I think it’s never a bad idea to regularly check in with your partner no matter what kind of marriage you have. And yes, given that having an open marriage can cause problems not seen in closed marriages – similar to marriages with stay-at-home dads, marriages where one partner has gone back to school, queer-identified marriages, etc – and that there are usually few available examples to draw from, maybe it’s even more important.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl July 6, 2012, 12:15 pm

        Oh I totally agree that ALL relationships (dating, married, closed, open, gay, straight, whatever) should have regular “check ins”. Goodness if you’re single you should have a regular check in with yourself to make sure what you’re doing is working for you.

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      • avatar

        cporoski July 6, 2012, 11:52 am

        I saw your other comment about the age and you are right. I think this relationship is in a transition. I was way more wild at 20 than at 33. At 20 I feel like I needed validation from the outside world versus in my 30s I didn’t need attention from strangers.

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      • avatar

        MMcG July 6, 2012, 12:18 pm

        YES!! It seems that between the early start and lack of relationship experience (the LW has never been in a “closed” adult relationship, she might want to give it a try or have tried pre-marriage, but what’s done is done) that this LW is still living her life like nothing has changed in the last 14 years… and the validation needed to still be the “cool, fun, party girl” seems to be taking a priority over the marriage and child.

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      • avatar

        cporoski July 6, 2012, 11:50 am

        This is the second letter this week about open relationships. I have to say that as an old fogie here, I do not see how the long term works. So, my friends all have kids. They complain about not having time to get haircuts and not getting a momments peace. I cannot wrap my head around the idea that you can juggle multiple sexual partners with this. Maybe it is less frequent than I am thinking. But how does she have time?

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson July 6, 2012, 12:06 pm

        I ALWAYS think this. Ethan and I joke that we would love to have the time to cheat on each other – we’re just forced to trust each other because neither of us have enough time for ourselves and each other let alone added a new player to the game. I mean obviously we’re joking – but seriously?!? Where do people find the time to get themselves into these situations. I mean they are parents too! Like at half time at soccer games? But it doesn’t sound like they just bang it out – it sounds like they have full on other relationships. Exhausting!

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl July 6, 2012, 12:18 pm

        I agree. We don’t have kids yet and we often feel like we don’t have enough time together. Some weeks we’re so busy we litterally have to schedule time for sex, where would we find the time to have a second relationship!

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      • avatar

        cporoski July 6, 2012, 12:27 pm

        right, so if she is out, that means the husband is at home. So that is one sided. I mean, once a week I go to Zumba after work and my husband has Knights of Columbus. So does that mean that she gets one night a week and so does he, but they are different nights? Do they shower before going to bed together? Where do they tell the son they are going? If a kid has an event after school, do they decide who goes and switches thier appointment? what do the other lovers say? Do the lovers meet the spouses? I am so confused.

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      • JK

        JK July 6, 2012, 12:26 pm

        My best guess is that the kid gets passed on to someone, so mummy can “have fun”. I mean sometimes I have to leave the girls with my mum to get some proper cleaning done!

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    • avatar

      Nadine July 6, 2012, 10:47 am

      She’s not ‘sleeping around on him’ when they have an open relationship. I agree she is the one who can sort this, and the husband is the one who needs support, but shaming her for her lifestyle is not helpful here.

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      • avatar

        MMcG July 6, 2012, 11:01 am

        I have to ask, How is it an open relationship when she has interferred with his personal communications and got rid of his friend? Maybe the friend was a bad influence, maybe not, but that seems like a drastic step to take when you’ve been enjoying the fruits of your own open relationship…

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      • avatar

        Nadine July 6, 2012, 11:05 am

        She was a worried and stressed wife, trying to figure out what had gone wrong and what she could do. The woman she emailed was a friend, not a lover, and therefore is exempt from the rules of open-ness regarding sexual relationships outside the marriage.
        Not the same thing at all.

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      • avatar

        MMcG July 6, 2012, 11:09 am

        @Nadine: except there is no evidence that the husband continued the open relationship past the marriage… she doesn’t state anything about any relationships he has been in or women he’s been with (beyond the “cutting” friend who may be trying to help!?!) Who knows… I’m betting that not only was she more successful in the open relationship department, she probably hasn’t been intimate with her husband for awhile… otherwise she would have seen the cuts!!!

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      • avatar

        Nadine July 6, 2012, 11:21 am

        Why on earth would she have to report all of his relationships? She mentions her own most recent one only in keeping with the hellish six weeks she mentions in her first sentence. She is describing her emotional turmoil. You are seeing things in this letter that are not there, possible blinded by your prejudice against her open marriage.

        also re: your comment below – he hadnt cut in sixteen years when she left him to spend a week away. He is her husband and father of their child, I hope you think your co-parent capable of taking care of their own child for a week.

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      • avatar

        MMcG July 6, 2012, 12:28 pm

        @Nadine: Please don’t put words in my mouth, I am in no way prejudiced against open relationships or marriages, but thanks for leaping to that conclusion with no basis whatsoever. I merely indicate that there is NOTHING in the letter that demonstrates that the open relationship was anything but one-sided. I’m also not questioning his ability to parent, or her need to have a week away… I’ve got a big mouth and plenty of opinions – don’t you need making them up for me:)

        What I am questioning is if I take the LW at her word and she was concerned about her husband in anyway… and had been having a terrible 6 weeks… she should have talked to her husband of 14 years instead of seemingly ignoring her concerns in favor of a good time. I’m not sure if taking X, which she thought could have a bad impact on depression – which she knows her husband has a history of – would be the way I would go about improving the relationship. As I mention somewhere else here… she doesn’t ever actually express what her husband feels or thinks at all – it’s all her her her. The impression I get – which could be wrong – is that this couple has not had a regular check-in in years and it is woefully overdue since it seems like they aren’t even reading the same book, much less on the same page.

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      • avatar

        MMcG July 6, 2012, 12:30 pm

        *don’t need you

        ugh… typing too fast

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      • avatar

        MMcG July 6, 2012, 12:33 pm

        BTW – taking a wild guess that you are or have been in open relationships, so maybe you are taking this personally?? I’m not trying to offend anyone, or criticize anyone’s choice of lifestyle… it’s just given the information provided I don’t get the impression it was an informed adult decision… I think they started being non-monogamous barely out of high school and have no idea how to have an intimate, trusting relationship. He obviously doesn’t trust or feel close to LW – or he would have come to his wife for support and comfort when he started cutting again – which is a shame and doesn’t have anything to do with an open relationship or not.

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      • avatar

        Nadine July 7, 2012, 7:29 am

        Nope, I’m happily monogamous and have been for five years. I just think its tough to tell off a LW for writing about herself in a letter where she is asking about what she herself can do. Her lifestyle is none of our business, unless so far as if affects her problem. I agree they need to cool it and focus on each other and not outsiders, but condemning the whole thing and saying it doesnt ever work and their mutually agreed-upon marriage rules are faulty when there is no evidence of that – is terribly judgemental.

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      • avatar

        Nadine July 7, 2012, 7:31 am

        Saying she doesn’t write about how her husband feels in a letter when her entire problem is not knowing what to do regarding his feelings is a bit silly.

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      • avatar

        MMcG July 6, 2012, 11:10 am

        Also, if I’m worried and stressed about my child’s father and his history of depression and cutting… I don’t leave him for a week and then take him to a concert to blotto his mind. There is just no evidence of functional communication anywhere in this letter

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    • avatar

      Jiggs July 6, 2012, 10:50 am

      I agree except for the “sleeping around” part; if they’re in a mutually agreed-upon open marriage she’s not doing anything wrong by pursuing other men. But it might be time to consider closing it at least for now until they can strengthen their own relationship.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest July 10, 2012, 1:06 pm

      This is a first I think…100 likes!

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  • avatar

    bethany July 6, 2012, 9:50 am

    I can’t begin to pretend to actually know anything about how open relationships work, but from what I’ve gathered, you need to be VERY open with your spouse, and you need to be very honest. It sounds like neither of those things are happening right now… So, do WWS, and really focus on your primary relationship- the one with your husband. It sounds like, for whatever reason, he’s going through a rough time, and you need to put your personal desires on hold for a while to focus on him (and your child) for a while.

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  • avatar

    Desiree July 6, 2012, 10:03 am

    I wonder if in the midst of all this drama the parents have sufficient time/energy to give their child proper attention.

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    • avatar

      spark_plug July 6, 2012, 10:35 am

      When I was in my early and mid 20’s, I def spent some time partying and doing things I shouldn’t have, so I’m not going to judge the OP. As fun as those days were, I don’t do them anymore because the consequences of something going wrong on my life now due to too much partying aren’t worth it anymore. When you’re not in your teens/early 20’s, its much harder to start over with career, family, relationships and health.

      As I said, I partied a bit much so I’m going to judge that aspect – but IMO, any grown women with a 5 year old child that takes drugs and encourages her husband to do the same when he has a history of depression needs a hard slap in the face. I get it, the LW is “different”. She goes out and has fun and an open marriage and goes to festivals instead of soccer games. Maybe she thinks of herself as a hippie or a free spirit. That’s great.. I never want to be boggled down by rules of society either. But if you’re a 33 married woman with a 5 year old child, it’s time to start acting like a wife and a mother. This is the kind of drama that goes with 20 something year olds. Doesn’t this sh!t get old after a while?

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  • avatar

    EmFerg July 6, 2012, 10:05 am

    I feel confused after reading this letter. She’s definitely right to feel guilty, although I”m not sure if she’s guilty over the right thing. Reasses where you are in your marriage and how it doesn’t seem like you’ve been a full partner in it for the last 6 months (possibly longer) and the fact that Fred brings more to the relationship than you do. Not just because you may have ended his online relationship. There’s so much going on here I don’t even know where to begin, so yeah WWS.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh July 6, 2012, 10:12 am

    Even though you letter was extremely hard to follow I think like Wendy has said it seems that your marriage isn’t in a very good place. From what I have gathered from others talking about their open marriages the marriage itself has to be strong for it to work. It kind of sounds, at least from your latter, like your marriage is an after thought. Just talking to Fred might help some. Asking him what he’s thinking and feeling and maybe getting Fred some counseling so he can deal with some of the issues he’s been having.

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    • katie

      katie July 6, 2012, 10:53 am

      this is exactly what i thought- the marriage is an after thought, while the other things -drugs, partys, other relationships- are being given more weight.

      i admit i dont know much about open relationships and open marriages, but this sounds exactly the opposite of what your supposed to do.

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  • avatar

    lemongrass July 6, 2012, 10:16 am

    To answer your original question: I used to cut myself in my early teenage years. I did a lot of ecstasy in my late teenagers years. The down after doing it never made me cut. CLEARLY there is more going on. You two need to hightail your asses into therapy- if not for yourself but for your son.

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  • avatar

    Nadine July 6, 2012, 10:17 am

    This is very tough to read about, and must be very hard to live through. I think focus on your husbands mental at the moment, and the other things will fall into place. I don’t have anything against drug use, until it stops being fun, and I’m sure you have realised now that Ecstasy is not the drug your husband ought to take. No high is worth that sort of a come-down.
    I also dont care about your open relationship, except to agree that it is time to prioritize your primary one with your husband, and make sure he is capable of being a husband and a father. The best way to do this will be to be capable of being a mother and wife. Talk to your husband about therapy, and try to get him to go. Clearly his need to cut has not been ‘cured’ or he has at least relapsed. He will need to lean on you, and you will need to be his support person.
    Let go of the guilt about this other woman. He needs YOU anyway, and although you went about it wrong, you acted out of love and worry, so let that assuage your guilt.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay July 6, 2012, 10:29 am

    It’s hard for me to form a solid (and useful) opinion on this because it’s so different from my own life, as I don’t do drugs or prefer to have open relationships. It doesn’t really matter what caused your husband’s problems at this point. The key is that you put aside the drugs and extramarital relationships for a while in order to make sure he’s OK and help him get back on track. I agree with what Wendy said about having at least one parent sober in case an emergency with your child comes up. But beyond that, I think there’s even more reason to make sure you all are on an even keel because I can’t imagine having parents who are leading themselves down self-destructive paths can very attentive to a young child while dealing with all their problems.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B July 6, 2012, 10:37 am

    I am having a very hard time with this LW. Good Lord woman! Your husband is cutting himself. He needs help. If he and your marriage mean anything to do, please put your focus on him. If this means giving up your extracurricular activites, then that’s what needs to be done. Wendy is right. The person who is supposed to be helping him through this is YOU.

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  • avatar

    MMcG July 6, 2012, 10:41 am

    I am utterly confused by the letter, and some of the details, so I will just focus on the portion that I believe I understood at the beginning:

    “I am a 33-year-old woman who has been married for 14 years, and I have a 5-year-old son. My husband, “Fred” (34 years old), and I were monogamous for the first year or so of our relationship and explored the swinging lifestyle before we got married. We have, over the years, organically moved into our current style of open marriage, which has included both of us pursuing long-term relationships outside of the marriage.”

    If I am reading this correctly, you were monogamous for a year and then explored the swinging lifestyle prior to marriage — my issue is that based on your age, what you are describing occurred in your teen years!?! You got married at 19… so if I back that up, when you were both in High School you were monogamous, then around 18 (or graduated) you both started fooling around with other people. That just doesn’t sound good in my mind – it sounds like neither of you really had the time to grow and figure out what you wanted in a relationship, or not, and then you tied the knot. And WTF does “organically moved into your current lifestyle” mean??? Did you ever talk about it, or did you just get married and kept swinging and never really talked about it??

    It sounds like both you and your husband seek comfort and pleasure and enjoyment from people outside your marriage, not inside… maybe he’s changed his mind, maybe going through a bad breakup made him realize that he’s the father of a 5 year old and he doesn’t want to keep living like this anymore… and I assume you both stopped swinging while you were trying to have a baby or was that an accident!?! (not trying to be snarky, I have no idea how it would work given the chances for someone else to become the daddy). I don’t know, it seems like the LW and her husband never learned to rely on each other and really be partners, and have never really talked about what they want in their lives and future. I would recommend some counseling pronto, to try and figure out whether you’ve grown apart or have different needs, or if things have changed since you had a child, etc. etc…. I sense some immaturity, communication issues, and given the real possibility that your husband is depressed it could only help!

    Also, second/third/fourth WWS about both of you not tripping your faces off at the same time in case of emergency!

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary July 6, 2012, 11:01 am

      Yeh…Can you imagine if that kid had broken his leg at the soccer game and neither parent could come to the ER because they were on Ecstasy???

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        MMcG July 6, 2012, 11:14 am

        I KNOW!! I mean, I am not a prude in anyway when it comes to drinking or drugs… but one of the parents has to be functional enough to make medical decisions, or have signed over that right for the weekend!!!

        Also, as I’ve mentioned above, I now don’t think the husband went through a breakup… but I still think he is miserable in a marriage that doesn’t suit his needs (if he even knows what that is)

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        cporoski July 6, 2012, 11:38 am

        In thier defense, what if they went on a vacation that required a flight home? They wouldn’t be there either. It seems crazy that they are dealing with these things in thier 30s. I feel like hang overs alone are so much harder as you get older that it isn’t worth it. If it was me, I would switch to pot.

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        MMcG July 6, 2012, 12:40 pm

        if they were within an airport, they are also within reach of a phone. I’m not trying to go crazy on that point, but in reality if you were going away for a length of time really far away I think you would want to put things in place just in case… that may be the lawyer in me though. Damn lawschool screws with your brain and makes you not trust society…

        I agree – smoke a doobie if you need to relax at the end of a hard day – but taking X (which I’ve taken before) for the first time at 34 just seems like a big leap to me.

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      spark_plug July 6, 2012, 12:49 pm

      This is a great point. The LW has spent about one year in a monogamous relationship her entire life. I’m assuming its the first year of her relationship. Considering that it really takes a while to get to know someone and pass the “new relationship/honeymoon stage” – which is generally so exciting that monogamy isn’t an issue – it doesn’t seem like this couple was ever in a ‘real’ relationship.

      I don’t know much about open relationships, but I assume that couples need variety in a relationship so they decide to seek others. That’s fine.. but in order to make that decision don’t you actually have to be a couple for at least a bit to first establish that base? A year of dating when you’re 18 or 19 is not establishing anything, IMO. It sounds to me like they met, start dating, probably started getting antsy – which of course happens in any relationship esp when you’re young – and opened their relationship.

      If you’ve been seeking outside company for the entire duration of the relationship – and have never had to completely rely on each other, have tough discussions about sex, compromise, sacrificing your own desires to make another person happy, get frustrated with each other and so on… even though you’ve been married for 14 years, how does this bond happened?

      I’m just very confused. Again I’m not against open marriages – but I am really confused about someone who’s 33 years old and spent about one year in her entire life being monogamous (and that year was in her teens!). Much less throw a child into the mix.

      LW – I think you really need to figure out what’s going on with your marriage, your husband and yourself. I agree with everyone that therapy sounds like a great idea.

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    • avatar

      KattyMari July 16, 2012, 3:20 pm

      If you read the letter clearly she states: “I have a son”, “my son and I” I don’t think it’s his son. No wonder his women doesn’t want to leave her open relationships. She doesn’t work, had a baby with some other man and is free to come and go with other men as she pleases. She is doing all this damage to her husband. Poor guy he needs to voice his feeling and leave her.

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  • Budj

    Budj July 6, 2012, 10:43 am

    Food for thought…did it ever occur to the LW that her husband called off the extramarital relationship? This would add more support to them focusing on their marriage.

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    • avatar

      MMcG July 6, 2012, 10:54 am

      Very possible, it doesn’t seem like either of them can communicate with each other all that well…

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  • avatar

    painted_lady July 6, 2012, 10:49 am

    This may be another case of picking up on a tiny detail in a letter and missing the rest of the point, but I think it’s very telling that you open up your letter about your husband cutting himself with “I’ve had a very traumatic six weeks.”

    Why did your husband cut himself? What did he say when you asked him? *Did* you ask him, or were you so angry about him sending the pictures to the girl he’s seeing that you forgot about any other part of this than how it affects you? You’re guilty and yet you’re *still* not talking to your husband, your focus is on how to stop feeling guilty.

    I think right now you two have gotten so into being crazy-happy-hippie-love-couple or something that you’ve forgotten the point of these exercises: to have fun, to do what makes you happy, to strengthen your bond. Whether you’re doing what makes you happy and having fun, your husband is obviously not. And is your marriage any stronger? Do whatever you want, honestly, but only when it works for both parties, and it is obviously SO not working for your husband, so you need to stop and re-assess. Why isn’t this working for your husband? Who knows? You’re so busy emailing his girlfriend that you forgot to ASK HIM.

    Talk to him. Try talking to almost no one but him for awhile, at least socially. And not about each others’ latest conquest or which aspects of the open relationship need to be re-negotiated, but how you’re doing as a couple, how he’s doing as a person, and how you need to re-negotiate YOUR relationship, just the two of you.

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    • katie

      katie July 6, 2012, 10:56 am

      preach, bestie… preach.

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        painted_lady July 6, 2012, 11:19 am

        Thanks hon!

        I just know so many people who get wrapped up in this non-traditional concept of themselves to the extent that they forget that the identity is NOT more important than them as a person and their happiness. I have friends whom I adore who are getting a divorce right now, which makes me sadder than I can explain. X lost his job and was incredibly depressed for about a year, and A, the wife, was going out and finding people to bring home/go home with, which, hey, fine. Except it was completely gutting X, not that A was sleeping with all of these people, but that, when his self-esteem was completely in the shitter, she was having all of these successes whereas he could barely get himself up off the couch. A couple of people tried talking to each of them separately and were like, “Hey, this is really not helping X right now, why don’t you agree to put the open part of the marriage on pause till X is in a better headspace?” And the response was basically, “NO THIS IS WHAT WE DO AND YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU CANNOT OPPRESS US WITH YOUR OPPRESSIVE MONOGAMY RAAAAWWWWR.” From both of them, actually. Except now that they’re splitting up he is DESPERATELY trying to sleep with everything in town – people he wouldn’t touch two years ago – so that he can “win” the divorce.

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      • katie

        katie July 6, 2012, 11:24 am

        thats sad.

        its that whole, do you want to be happy or right conversation.. i imagine that in an open relationship the first, primary relationship has to be healthy (probably more healthy, even, then monogamous relationships) for it work. i mean even if a relationship isn’t open, if one of you is having a hard time, you both are having a hard time, you know? your a unit, your married. open or not, this LW needs to be there for her husband. bottom line.

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        MMcG July 6, 2012, 12:44 pm

        Shame. I don’t understand why people can’t adjust during the course of marriage for their spouse… like you wrote, not change completely but cool off until your husband feels good about himself.

        This isn’t the same thing, but it’s all I got right now… It would be like insisting that you maintain a really active lifestyle BECAUSE THAT’S THE MARRIAGE YOU HAVE AND PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE MARATHONERS AND FORMER OLYMPIANS BLAH BLAH BLAH.. when your spouse was diagnosed with a disease, or broke their foot. It’s called adjusting to the reality… and supporting your primary partner, even if you do miss out on a race or two.

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      6napkinburger July 6, 2012, 11:02 am

      She did have a long term relationship end, was injured in a very serious car accident, as well as her 5 year old son, and she found pictures of her husband covered in blood that is apaprently self-inflicted. To be fair, perhaps the husband is having a worse 6 weeks, but hers doesn’t sound like a picnic. Also, it’s a way to ease into the story while hinting to the readers what kind of mood to expect. I don’t think that that line should be read to demonstrate self-centeredness.

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      • avatar

        painted_lady July 6, 2012, 11:20 am

        Fair enough. It didn’t help that I was having a REALLY hard time following the letter, but you’re right.

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        Bossy Italian Wife July 6, 2012, 4:34 pm

        There is a ton going on in the letter, you are right about that. It’s so easy to look at ALL of the things going on in the letter and be like, “whoa! hold up!” But in the end the main issue is the cutting…which speaks to something deeper going on, ultimately.

        Maybe it was set off by the drugs, who knows. Either way, it sounds like the couple has a lot of work to do….

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    Bossy Italian Wife July 6, 2012, 11:12 am

    I feel like some of the people responding are missing the issue here. Your husband has some deeper issues. You say that he cut before and has done it a couple of times throughout your marriage. On top of that he was drinking, which was also abnormal behavior. All of this followed a little session of your guys tripping out together on E.

    Okay.

    Your husband is having an episode. I don’t think that you need to feel guilty about looking in his email ebacuse that helped you discover what was going on with him emotionally. And you are his primary relationship, so you are the HBIC and rightly so. (You both know about the other relationships you have outside of the marriage, I take it.)

    What you need to do is forget about this guilt and spend the time to nurture your husband, like Wendy said. He’s having a cutting episode. It make take a little therapy, but the support he needs is YOURS. This is why you are married, is it not? Obviously you both feel that outside relationships are beneficial to your relationship–that’s fine you are both adults–but his EMOTIONAL home is with you. You have to set other things aside right now…

    And you know what? Sounds like the perfect time to, anyway. His relationship faded, and so did yours and now is a time to come together, regroup and get him on proper mental footing. Once you open up to that, though, there might be a lot that comes with it; he may have new thoughts about things and so might you. So be open–not guilty.

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      Nadine July 6, 2012, 11:23 am

      I agree times a million.

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      painted_lady July 6, 2012, 11:25 am

      You were way nicer than me. Definitely excellent advice.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow July 6, 2012, 2:35 pm

      Yes! I think this is perfect advice.

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  • avatar

    Fabelle July 6, 2012, 11:32 am

    Dude, what. The ecstasy is a minor detail in this clusterfuck of other issues (which I’m not even going to address right now…) I’m a partier though, so the advice I can give you in regard to doing ecstasy is: pick up a bottle of 5htp if you’re concerned about the serotonin drop. Personally, the down for me (& even the up) was never too intense, but it effects everybody differently.

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  • avatar

    SGMcG July 6, 2012, 11:37 am

    Wendy makes a very interesting observation regarding the fact that the main question you focus on is how to get over your guilt from interfering with your husband’s potential secondary relationship in your open marriage. If your marriage were truly open, wouldn’t you have communicated with him the boundaries and rules regarding that prior to starting ANY coitial relationship outside the marriage? Your guilt seems strangely misplaced, and I’m wondering if you threw so many details in your letter in order to avoid a truth you do not want to face regarding your husband’s cutting.

    At this point in time, that’s not a concern. You need to stop the long-term analyzations regarding why your husband cuts himself. The main focus is just to get him to STOP CUTTING. The act is an obvious cry for help, but don’t stand there and let him continue to hurt himself while you talk it out and analyze what he needs help with. Worry about hiding the scars, the current bond of your marriage and finding appropriate long-term therapy later – those things will fall where they may. The important thing is to first make him promise to you that he’ll STOP CUTTING himself now so that he can be around to talk to you about his issues.

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      painted_lady July 6, 2012, 11:58 am

      You know what, I think that is probably where a lot of my confusion is coming from, and maybe other people’s. “My husband cut himself! How do I get over the guilt that I pissed off his friend?” Whaaaaaa?

      LW, what are you asking? What is it you want? I think you and your husband REALLY need to have a good long talk about what each of you is going through, because in all of the kid-wrangling, partying, open marriage-ing, and life, you have lost focus and maybe haven’t talked about anything real in years. Your letter was so scattered and disjointed that it’s almost incomprehensible, which in this case I think might speak to your state of mind right now. Just stop and focus. Don’t conjecture about what’s wrong with your husband, ask him what’s wrong. Don’t drag him to another festival (not saying he was unwilling) until you touch base and have a not-fun talk about serious things. You know how alcoholism is a symptom of deeper issues and to stop drinking you have to figure out why you drink? Cutting’s like that, too. And you are so busy enjoying your free-spirited life that you’re not actually present for the day-to-day.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie July 6, 2012, 10:40 am

    Some readers are having difficulty understanding this letter. Back in the 70s a lot of couples had open relationships and many of them were married. Seldom was there a problem beyond the normal types. Most of the open marriages wound up in divorce and some of the open relationships wound up in monogamous marriage. All in all it was great fun and nobody was hurt beyond bruised emotions. Wendy did nail it, that he’s begging for help and desperately wants to be heard.

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    • avatar

      scattol July 6, 2012, 11:14 am

      With all this goofing around in a open marriage. How do you know your spouse actually has your back (which I think is the whole point of the marriage). Sound to me like playing roulette with commitment.

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    • avatar

      cporoski July 6, 2012, 11:26 am

      But I think you put it right. It is a phase. Not a forever thing. I think for awhile, both people are happy, but then one is more successful than the other and it gets bad.

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    • avatar

      painted_lady July 6, 2012, 11:36 am

      I definitely agree people get all judgey when they hear “open marriage.” It’s not for me, although I have no problem with couples whose concept of fidelity is different from mine. I think, though, that when one or both parties are in deep trouble emotionally, the focus needs to be on the primary relationship – sort of like when I was in college, I didn’t party during finals week. You prioritize, and the marriage should be the priority. And also, like any marriage, regular check-ins are a good idea. That way if something has stopped working, you can figure out what the plan of action should be for fixing it.

      I wasn’t around for the swinger trend in the 70s, but I’m curious as to how many people from those days you’re still friends with. How many are still together and still swinging? Was it a phase they grew out of? In which case the LW and husband might be well-advised to at least temporarily shelve the open thing. Or did they split up? I wouldn’t think that would necessarily be an argument against open marriages, but perhaps an argument for doing things differently in certain ways.

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        MMcG July 6, 2012, 12:36 pm

        Apparently swinging is still hep – I saw an article about a county in northern VA where it was basically an open secret… people would put special stones on their front lawn and then keys get dropped in the mailbox and then theres a meet up… or something. Sounds really complicated just to get a little extra, but what do I know:)

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      • fast eddie

        fast eddie July 7, 2012, 11:11 am

        During the swinging 70s I hooked up a few times and some of them are very much part of my life today. As I wrote earlier, most of those marriages broke up but not all. I think we were looking for a different lifestyle because the old models had failed to satisfy us. Now days I just don’t have the energy to engage in more then one relationship at a time. If I were single I don’t think it would be any different but who knows. When I was single a night of passion was enough but now I want more, but I do miss the good old days.

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  • avatar

    Soup July 6, 2012, 11:56 am

    For some people, ecstasy can cause a very severe depression in the first few hours/days following the trip. I imagine that had something to do with his depression. I think that you should apologize to your husband, and explain that you feel guilty about taking away someone he could talk to. Express your concern over his change in behavior. Ask him if going forward there are ways that you can be more supportive to him. This may mean that the two of you need to focus on one another for awhile before dividing your attention to relationships with others – but you can each take it as it comes. It seems like you to need to get back to a point where you’re both feeling steady in order to continue to be good partners to one another and good parents to your child. Opening communication will help a great deal. Seek first to understand, than to be understood. Best of luck!

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  • avatar

    ele4phant July 6, 2012, 12:01 pm

    I don’t want to blame the fact you’ve been somewhat checked out of your relationship on your open marriage. There are plenty of people in monogamous marriages who check out, too.

    But I agree with most of the other commenters. It appears you have been distracted by your own issues (break-up, car accident), and have been neglecting what’s going on with your husband. You need to refocus on him and your relationship together. You may feel guilty for removing his only support, but truth be told YOU should have been that support to start with. Be there for your husband, he clearly needs you right now.

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  • avatar

    AKchic July 6, 2012, 12:28 pm

    I don’t think that it’s just YOU, LW, that has had a very traumatic 6 weeks. Your husband has obviously had a very traumatic 6 weeks as well.

    His wife’s lover left her and she was devastated. He had a hard time consoling her. His wife and child were in a car accident and that shook him up. During a festival, they decided to take ecstacy and honestly, it was the wrong choice for him because he was already emotional and he was drinking and made wrong choices and started chatting with a girl and wasn’t in the right headspace and thanks to coming down from the high and all the other stresses, he started cutting again. This girl is obviously bad for him, but because it’s attention, he continued talking to her and acting out, even if it pisses off his wife because hey, his wife is still reeling from her lover’s break-up and she isn’t really paying attention to him.

    Your highest priority relationship is your marriage. That’s why you got married. Any other relationship (other than your children) is a distant second.
    It’s time to close up the marriage a bit and open up the communications and find out what’s wrong. Bad trip? Bad time coming down? Is he not happy with an open marriage in general? What is wrong and dammit, do what you need to do to help fix the fucking problem. Don’t just sit there and whine about how YOU are the only one having a problem, because obviously he is having just as hard a time, if not worse.

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    • avatar

      MMcG July 6, 2012, 12:57 pm

      “It’s time to close up the marriage a bit and open up the communications and find out what’s wrong. ”

      *applause*

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  • Kristina

    Kristina July 6, 2012, 1:43 pm

    You may think your son is too young to notice to notice the chaos, but I guarantee you he is not. Not only does your husband need to get better for himself, and with your support as his wife, but you both need to be emotionally stable to be fit parents. If you and your husband don’t work on yourselves and work on your marriage as a priority, the damage will be inflicted on your son sooner or later. While I have no problem with open relationships, it’s clear that your open marriage is not working for you and Fred right at this moment. You need to take a step back and do what’s good for you, Fred, and your son, because you are a family.

    Regarding the ecstasy, it’s not clear if you took it from some random stranger at the festival or if you knew who it’s from–but I would strongly suggest you never take anything from a stranger when there is a child involved. Or better yet, don’t do hard drugs. Ecstasy is very similar to speed, and once the stimulant properties start to wear off, one can start heading into a very down state, and that quick switch from up to down can make you very depressed very quickly. Add in to that you don’t even know what your ecstasy may be cut with, and you have a potentially dangerous situation, especially since everyone reacts differently. Ecstasy can certainly mimic depression, but once the drug wears off completely you can’t be blaming it anymore. It’s so clear that Fred is depressed with or without the drug, and as his wife, you need to be there to support him when he falls.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark July 6, 2012, 1:44 pm

    I don’t know what to make of this letter… I mean, getting somebody’s permission to access all their email / chat accounts while they are drunk and out of their mind isn’t exactly permission. Not in my book, anyway. Frankly, I don’t think you handled his friendship with the other women well at all… By the rules of your marriage which you clearly helped establish — that so wasn’t ANY of your business… I mean how was she encouraging his behavior? Was she posting back on the photos… “Oooh! Smoking hot, cut yourself again, baby…” Somehow, I doubt it, simply because had that been the case, I trust you would have mentioned that… Look, you’re the one who got him high as a kite on ecstasy…

    As Wendy said, something does seem to be seriously wrong with your marriage. But you’ve simply unpacked too many issues here in too vague of a manner for me to be able to offer you much advice… I’m just confused.

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      ele4phant July 6, 2012, 2:01 pm

      Yeah, that was weird to me too. I mean, did the email exchange have more information to implicit the woman of encouraging him (sidenote: how f*cked up do you have to be to encourage someone to mutilate themselves?!)? Or did the wife just see that he had chosen to reach out and share whatever turmoil he was going through with someone who wasn’t her? Who’s to say the woman didn’t see those pictures and go “Omigod! That’s awful. Are you okay? You need to get help. What can I do to help?”

      If that’s the case, then yes, it is a little twisted of the wife to get jealous, cut him off from a line of support that she hasn’t been filling nor does she seem to be stepping into it after finding out what was going on.

      But its all very unclear. In some ways she gives too much information (her rough six weeks don’t need to be described in such detail), and in others, not enough (what did these emails implicate exactly?). Its pretty hard to draw any sort of conclusions based on the letter presented to us here.

      As an aside, I’m curious to know how much editing Wendy has to do with these letters. Not trying to implicate her of changing the meaning of the letters or anything, but there have been instances where a letter has been rather clear and straightforward, and then when the LW pipes up in the comments, their ability to communicate clearly is far diminished. I just wonder if Wendy ever gets letters where she’s like “What in god’s name are you trying to say here?!”

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      • avatar

        Trina July 6, 2012, 3:58 pm

        Wendy did edit the letter’s title and the signature I used. I was not asking if the Ecstasy caused him to cut himself, but I think that title is catchy and can see why Wendy changed it. Other than that her edits were rather minor.

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    • AKchic_

      AKchic_ July 6, 2012, 2:14 pm

      Some people are very into cutting and simulated violence as foreplay. Thinking light spanking x1000. These kinds of people aren’t just into fuzzy handcuffs and a cutesy little riding crop. No, they like to bring out the wrist restraints, real whips with metal tips and the knives. Some will argue whether it’s better to use a dull knife or a sharp knife (sharp knife means less pressure needed to cut the skin, but you also have to be more careful not to go too deep and not get too carried away. As long as you do it right, the sharp knife will have the smaller cuts). The blood excites them. Turns them on.

      Anyways…
      In this case, he was cutting and sharing the pictures with an outside person. He was participating in a dangerous activity and the other person wasn’t even trying to get him to stop (otherwise, I’m pretty sure the LW would have said so). That WAS a relationship to stop, in my opinion.
      I think that if my SO were cutting himself and getting uncharacteristically drunk and acting out, then yes, I’d be violating his privacy too and trying to figure out what was wrong. I’d be worried as all hell. That would be the least of his concerns. Honestly, I’d expect him to do the same for me if I were in the same place as this LW’s husband. I would want him to.

      Fred was crying out for help and I don’t think the LW truly understands that. She’s too self-absorbed in her own (non) issues. Bottom line is – husband is cutting and drinking to the point of excess which is uncharacteristic for him. He hasn’t cut himself since he was a teenager/early 20s. Cutting in itself is a form of stress-relief/personal control, but it is dangerous. It can potentially lead to accidental suicide, or a true suicide attempt (should he be depressed enough, especially combined with the drinking). The recreational drug use is also something I’m not cool with, but that’s just me. I’m sorry, but when you already have an open marriage, recreational drug use is something I strictly avoid just in case (you never know what you might do while under the influence, or what someone might do to/for you).

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        ele4phant July 6, 2012, 2:21 pm

        I can understand that people might be *into* this sort of thing (we can’t control what makes us tick), but what kind of person allows their desire to get off to exploit someone who is having deep, destructive problems?

        I mean, I would think that there’s a way to have this sort of play in a safe, consensual way with someone who is mentally healthy and wants to do this because it gets them off too. But to encourage someone to do this not because its a kink they share but because they clearly have emotional problems is just sick.

        I think there’s a way to get off without exploiting someone’s mental well-being.

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      • AKchic_

        AKchic_ July 6, 2012, 2:26 pm

        I do not try to understand these things. I merely point out what I’ve seen/experienced. Take for example, child molesters. They get off on children, they know it’s wrong, exploitative, and completely disgusting – yet they still do it. To the physical, mental and emotional detriment of their victims.

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      • katie

        katie July 6, 2012, 2:29 pm

        well, isnt there a chance that this lady didnt know that he had issues related to cutting? that he maybe enjoyed what he was doing to himself? like, she didnt know that he was doing it as a cry for help/way to get out aggression/whatever else bad thing?

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      • avatar

        ele4phant July 6, 2012, 2:30 pm

        In any event it sounds like the wife made the right call about forcing this relationship to end.

        Maybe she didn’t know she was encouraging it at first, but now that she does, its clear it needs to come to a stop.

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        Trina July 6, 2012, 4:01 pm

        Yes, after the email exchanges between she and I, I believe she really was coming from a place of this was an okay thing for him to do and that I was okay with it. Once I expressed to her that this was a problem in our marriage she was very sorry and expressed that she should have really thought twice before telling him how hot it was. Which is probably why I have so much guilt that everything fell apart after I spoke with her.

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  • avatar

    Trina July 6, 2012, 2:10 pm

    I apologize for the letter being too long and confusing. I did try, but it’s hard to get the big picture into a letter for the readers.

    I included the break up because it was the first thing that started off the 6 hellish weeks for us. My husband has absolutely no desire to have our open marriage change. We talk about this frequently. I have many strong emotionally fulfilling relationships and the sex with my husband is quite satisfying. I’m good with things being open (he “sleeps around” far more than I do) or closed. His extramarital sex doesn’t typically lead to emotional connectedness with the people he sleeps with, which is something that I think he’s wants and looks for. However, he’s not very good and communicating his thoughts and feelings and keeps things bottled up, which really makes it hard for the women he sleeps with to stick around and put time into being emotionally close to him. Also, when we went to the festival we had our son here at the house with someone he is close to and I trust with him. She had a signed letter from both of us to make all medical decisions for him. The festival we went to is out in the woods, and there is no way for anyone to contact us without driving out to us. Twice a day while we were out there we’d drive to where we had cellphone service and call to check in with my son and his sitter. This is a community festival that we help put together twice a year.

    Things that I didn’t include is that I have been in counseling since shortly after I found him with the cuts. I have encouraged him many times to go to counseling with and/or without me, but he refuses. Instead of nagging I’ve been spending time several times every week (he cut himself on May 6) setting aside time in the evenings after our son has gone to bed to give us time to talk. I’ve always been an open communicator, but he has a hard time communicating his thoughts and feelings verbally. I’ve been working with my counselor about me being defensive and how to curb that tendency to make it easier for him to talk to me. It seems to be helping. He and I spend a lot of time together on the weekends with our son working on the house, gardening, fishing, hiking, etc.

    I know how much it helps me to be able to talk to someone about this stuff who isn’t involved, and I’d like for him to have that same comfort if he needs it. This one girl who he sent the email to was someone that he was starting to have a emotional connection with (the first woman other than me in quite a few years). The reason I was uncomfortable with how things went with her was because in one of the chats he had with her she told him that she was extremely turned on my the picture he sent to her and that she’d like to drive down here so he can do it in front of her. I was torn at this point because I was afraid and because this is one person he’s been able to talk to other than me, and I think it’s important to have more than just 1 person in your corner. My guilt stems from the fact that if I could have left that alone, the budding closeness may not have been ruined between them.

    I do realize that the cutting was a call for help, and I believe I’ve responded to that call to the best of my ability. This guilt is the one thing that I struggle with continually and feel awful about.

    This response is probably long and confusing too, but I thought it’d be nice to get some of the “you’re a bad mother and wife” comments out of here and hopefully get some more helpful comments from your readers who are kind enough to help people get different perspectives on various issues.

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      ele4phant July 6, 2012, 2:37 pm

      Thanks for the update. Given the new information, it sounds like you did the right thing in making him end that relationship. Whatever he was going through was clearly being extrabated by this woman.

      Beyond that, I’m not sure what you can do. It sounds like you’ve stepped up and are doing everything you can. But at the end of the day, you can’t make him get help if he doesn’t want to. Keep encouraging him, and keep up with the therapy for yourself.

      Jeez, this all sounds so rough, and I’m sorry you are having to go through it. I hope for the best for your family.

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      Trina July 6, 2012, 2:48 pm

      Oh, and none of my many relationships include sex. I haven’t had sex with anyone other than my husband since the 6-month relationship ended.

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        MMcG July 6, 2012, 4:31 pm

        Thank you for writing in LW. I know it must not have been easy to read some of the comments, including mine, and I definitely would have been more defensive and pissed writing a follow-up than you were. Clearly taking back any reference to your maturity level, my apologies!!

        Unfortunately, you are still in a really bad spot. I guess my question now, which kinda follows on what AKchic wrote above about a closed personality in an open relationship… is that is it possible the depression/distance comes from him feeling like he can’t emotionally satisfy you? I had assumed, incorrectly, that you were engaging more in sexual relationships – which he is, but you aren’t – you are seeking more of an emotional connection. I don’t know much about open relationships but that seems like an imbalance because you are each being open about different parts of your relationship (physical versus emotional/spiritual).

        I might not be making any sense, so forgive me a theory that may or may not apply… it just seems like you are fulfilled emotionally by outsiders, sexually by outsiders and Fred, so your needs are taken care of. Whereas he gets fulfilled sexually by outsiders and you, but emotionally nowhere!?! And rather than work on it as a team and build your relationship, he shuts you out, refuses counseling and you seek emotional fulfillment elsewhere. This just doesn’t sound like a “good” open relationship (whatever that means to people) but a way of your husband to continue avoiding his feelings and emotions. No wonder he encourages you – that continues the avoidance!

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      AKchic_ July 6, 2012, 2:24 pm

      She wanted him to cut on himself in front of her? Ugh. I really cannot stand that kind of kink.

      Having a closed-off personality is hard when having an open relationship. If you can’t communicate, it makes for conflict. If he isn’t willing to open up, you may have a very big problem. He could be going through a mid-life crisis, which at 34 is a bit young, he could be going through some sort of marital “itch”, which can happen even in open relationships.

      Do what you can to get him to go to therapy with you. I think he needs to be more open. I have thoughts, but at the same time, I am hesitant to just say them because I don’t know if my thoughts are true or if they are just a gut reaction to your follow-up comment here. Especially with my lack of sleep last night.

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        Eagle Eye July 6, 2012, 4:26 pm

        Perhaps, with his existing closed off personality and clearly self-destructive behavior, you should issue him an ultimatum of sorts (not that I’m in favor of ultimatums but he’s a husband and father putting himself in a lot of danger) that unless he can truly open up to you AND start going to therapy, the relationship needs to close for the time being, mostly due to the same things that painted lady mentioned – its just added stress. He needs to spend time with his son and his wife, communicating, then, when everyone is healthy again (and in therapy!) the relationship situation can be re-assessed.

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      painted_lady July 6, 2012, 4:11 pm

      Okay. That makes everything much clearer now – thank you so much for clarifying. And FWIW, that work you’ve been doing with your therapist on not getting defensive seems to really be working, because you’re handling all of this like a champ.

      You were totally right to scare away his ladyfriend – given his background and issues, she sounds completely toxic. That’s like telling a recovering alcoholic that you get off on martinis or some shit.

      You obviously can’t force him into therapy, but I think if he’s showing signs of being unhealthy for your son to be around (not that he would ever hurt him, but he might scare him), you may eventually have to draw the line and not subject your son to living with some of this. That’s your call as a parent, obviously, but if your husband is being self-destructive and refusing to get help, that would be the place where I would draw the line.

      The only other thing I can think of to maybe help some of this is to actually close down the marriage for a bit. It’s not going to be the ultimate fix, but taking it off the table may alleviate some pressure for your husband that he didn’t even know he had. In the same way that women get socialized to believe we’re sluts if we enjoy certain types of “unladylike” sex, men deal with the opposite, that masculinity and horniness go hand in hand. When I was really in a deep depression, my boyfriend temporarily took certain stuff off the table for us, stuff I would never have admitted was causing undue stress, but once he did, I felt such relief. This may not help anything – you know your husband better than I do, obviously, but even though you’re out of the scene for now, it sounds like he isn’t. Maybe give it a shot and see if it makes any difference. When he’s feeling better, or it becomes obvious that the lady from Dear Wendy has no clue what she’s talking about, then open it back up. Just an idea.

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    Sue Jones July 6, 2012, 4:04 pm

    Some people are sensitive to drugs as they can affect the balance of neurotransmitters and should avoid them altogether. Sounds like the E really wacked Fred out. It also sounds like their lifestyle was fine for a while but WWS, now that they are older and have a kid and more responsibilities, it is causing too much drama which interferes with their ability to parent. And perhaps this woman on the outside “friend’ or “more” was egging him on in a way with the cutting. Some “friends” can take people into dark places and the “friendship” becomes toxic and should be dropped. So close it up for a while, take a breather from all the drama, and live a slower, simpler, healthier lifestyle to get back into balance. Then perhaps when the kid is older you can do more swinging again to spice things up, but I would say permanently minus the drugs. And while I am theoretically fine with polyamory, I have never seen it really work in the longterm. Too complicated and who has the time?

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    RacheyG July 7, 2012, 11:16 am

    Hi. Don’t do Ecstasy when you have a child. I think it’s unbelievably selfish that you would put yourself through legal and medical risks when you have a son to take care of. Grow up.

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