Morning Quickies: “He Woke Me Up For Sex After a Fight”

I read a letter about a girl whose boyfriend had sex with her while she was sleeping, and a similar thing happened to me. Last night, my fiancé, “Jim,” and his friend were in my room playing video games and I fell asleep. I was out for maybe three hours before I half woke up when Jim’s friend left. I was still mostly asleep, but I had a foggy sense of what was going on around me. Jim climbed into bed and took off his clothes and mine, which is usual as we get too warm sleeping together. But this time he also took off my underwear. I was too out of it to protest — the most I could do was try to turn away from him but he pulled me back. Earlier, we had had a slight argument, so I wasn’t in the mood to be intimate with him. We have an agreement in place that it’s OK for either of us to initiate sex when the other is asleep, but in the past he’s always woken me up and asked first. He wasn’t affectionate about it this time either. I just don’t know how to talk to him about it. — Unwanted Wake-Up Call

Try this: “I’m very upset because I feel you took advantage of me the other night and that confuses me and makes me question my trust for you. I think you pushed the boundaries of our agreement to initiate sex while sleeping; you didn’t bother to fully wake me up or to ask for my consent, and you did all this after a fight we had, knowing full well I likely would not have been in the mood to have sex with you. I believe you didn’t care what I wanted; you simply wanted to satisfy your own urges, and I’m hurt, grossed-out, and wondering whether I can trust you going forward. At the very least, I need an apology from you, and we need to re-visit our agreement about initiating sex while one of us is sleeping because what you did to me the other night is not OK and I never, ever want that to happen again.”

His response to that — both his tone and what he says — should give you some idea of his remorse (or lack thereof) and whether you can trust him to respect your personal boundaries in the future.

I got married at 17, was married for sixteen years, and had two children with my husband. The marriage was abusive and controlling. Now that I’m older (52), I have met a man whom I love dearly. He has a 9-year-old daughter. We are engaged, but there are some issues in the relationship that I’m not sure we can resolve. For starters, I love having my own apartment, with the freedom to do as I choose and decorate how I choose; it’s just so cozy and wonderful! My fiancé’s home is always a mess and unorganized. My attempts to organize or decorate his house are futile, and his home ends up right back in a mess again. I really would like to live separately permanently. I think it sounds wonderful. We could spend every other weekend together while maintaining separate houses. The problem is, he is not at all okay with this and he finds it hurtful. Any time I want to spend the weekend at home he sends me text messages making me feel guilty and saying how depressed or lonely he is without me. It makes me feel resentful. The second issue is finances. It is not efficient financially to run two households for the rest of our lives. I was wondering if you would please offer your advice or perspective on these two issues? — Scared to Take the Plunge

Well, your two issues here are completely at odds with each other, aren’t they? You can’t very well maintain your own home — which, yes, sounds lovely! — and also combine and pool financial resources with another person by sharing a home. Whether you remain with your fiancé or not, you will always have a conflict between these two desires. So, you have to choose what is more important to you — maintaining your independence and freedom living alone in your own home, or cutting expenses by sharing a home with someone else. Obviously, this decision would be much easier to make if you were contemplating living with someone whose lifestyle — especially domestically speaking — matched yours. If your fiancé were someone who also liked a tidy, well-decorated home and worked to maintain that, you probably wouldn’t feel as though you’d be making such a big sacrifice moving in with him (and his daughter). If your fiancé better respected your need for alone time, you probably wouldn’t feel like you’d be giving that up by moving in with him. But that’s not who your fiancé is.

Your fiancé is someone who lives in a messy home and demands most, if not all, of your free time (in other words, he’s controlling — just like you say your ex-husband was). You can “love him dearly” and not be well-matched with him because of these issues alone. At the very least, I think it would be wise to put your engagement on hold until you decide whether being with him forever is worth the sacrifices you’d be asked to make. And keep in mind that, as long as you’re with him, you aren’t available for someone else who might be a better match for you in terms of lifestyle. I also suggest you take a look at these other topics you should discuss and be in agreement on before getting married; I have a hunch there are a few things on the list you haven’t addressed yet…


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  1. artsygirl says:

    LW1 – What Wendy said! What happened to you could be classified as sexual assault – you were incapacitated and he took advantage of you especially in light of the fact that you had had a fight earlier and he knew you were not going to be receptive. You need to talk to him ASAP.

    LW2 – Considering your background, your home represents safety, security, and control which were all things you were denied with your first marriage. I can understand why you do not want to part with it. Have you sat down with your fiance and really talked about what you need? Does he know how important organization and tidiness is, and have you been understanding when things are a bit disorganized since he has a elementary aged child? Have you articulated how important it is to have some personal space in light of the trauma you experienced at the hands of you ex? If you are going to therapy, perhaps it would be good to invite him along to hash out some of these issues. Beyond that, is there a space that you can claim in his house? That space could be your hobby room which is entirely your own to organize and decorate. Conversely, could you and your fiance move and purchase a house that is ‘yours’ rather than ‘his’? That way, you could have a clean start which would allow you to decorate and organize in the first place instead of trying to shoehorn your stuff into a space that is likely already full with his stuff. Also, would it be possible to rent out your condo, at least in the short term? That way you would still have an safety net and would add to your comfort level but would have someone else covering the bills and mortgage. Best of luck!

  2. LW1 – Ok, so I feel like the total bitch here but you had an agreement that you could wake each other with sex. Prior he has taken the time to fully wake you up but this time he didn’t but was still falling within the agreement, in his eyes. I do think you need to tell him how you actually have discovered you are uncomfortable with that agreement now, you want to make sure you’re awake and able to give full consent before you guys proceed. In his eyes, he was probably with in the boundaries you both have set. It’s ok to change your mind on what you’re ok with and what you’re not. Are you abnormally upset because you had an argument prior?

    But re-address your agreement.

    1. dinoceros says:

      I think the context of their conversation matters. I think there’s a difference between saying you can wake someone to initiate sex and you can start having sex while someone is still sleeping. I don’t think that how someone phrases it in an advice letter is always going to be the same as the exact words and depth of an in-person conversation. Plus, it sounds like the norm has been to wake the other person up.

      1. Plus she also turned away and he pulled her back!:(

  3. LW1 – I think it would be a good time to revisit the ‘agreement’ you have with your BF regarding initiating sex while sleeping.

    LW2 – You and your fiance should hold off on the wedding until you have addressed some of these important topics and decisions. Where/how you will live and combining finances are pretty critical things to be on the same page with in a marriage. I completely sympathize with your desire to want to maintain your own place. It was very difficult for me to finally pull the trigger after my BF and I decided to move in together. Even though I spent most of my time at his place I still enjoyed having my own space to go back to whenever I wanted. One of my issues was making his place my home. I didn’t want to just move my stuff into HIS place. I wanted it to feel like my own. Before I completely moved in we bought some new furniture and even redecorated a few rooms in order to nicely assimilate the pieces of my furniture that I was bringing with me.

  4. dinoceros says:

    I’d agree that a conversation needs to be had regarding waking up someone for sex. I’m wary of an agreement like that for reasons like this, that a person could misconstrue it (or pretend to misconstrue it) or that a person might not foresee situations where it wouldn’t be something they want to do.

    I do think that if you both normally expect the other to be awake and aware, then the fact that he chose to do something differently this time is a little concerning. To me, it implies that maybe he thought that you wouldn’t want to because of the fight and wanted to circumvent your wishes. Which is not really great because you don’t get to pick and choose whether your partner gets to consent or not.

    Anyway, I like Wendy’s advice for how to bring it up.

  5. Did anyone else pick up on this from LW1? “He wasn’t affectionate about it this time, either. ” To me, that sounds like angry sex, meant to punish her for the fight.

    And for me, that would be a relationship ender. I’d be packed and gone within 24 hours.

    My answer would be different if he were affectionate, or trying to smooth things over, or the old “apology-via-sex” thing. I might not be happy about being woken up that way, and there’d definitely be a conversation, but context matters here. If he does it out of love and/or remorse, it’s different than if he does it out of anger and vindictiveness.

    1. dinoceros says:

      Good points. And I think it makes it clear that he wasn’t just “confused” by their agreement.

  6. LW2, don’t marry this man. Whether he’s controlling or needy or whatever, he wants you full time in his messy family life and you don’t want the mess and you don’t want the family (if by saying you can stay with him every other weekend you mean when the child is not there?) – so why on earth would you marry into chaos again?

  7. LW2, Have you ever talked to the guy about how important it is to you to keep a clean house ? Enlisted his help in decorating ?
    If you want a combined household and still have your clean setup, you need to involve him. And if he thinks having you in his life and home is important enough, he will change his ways. It is never too late to learn.

  8. LW2, Have you ever talked to the guy about how important it is to you to keep a clean house ? Enlisted his help in decorating ?
    If you want a combined household and still have your clean setup, you need to involve him. And if he thinks having you in his life and home is important enough, he will change his ways. It is never too late to learn.

  9. LW2, why is it not “financially efficient” to run two households? You’re doing it now. One thing you didn’t mention is his daughter. That 9 year old will be a 13 years old in 4 short years, with raging hormones, a stepmother and a controlling father—in a messy house. It’ll still be messy and driving you crazy because you can’t change someone who doesn’t have a vested interest.

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