I Have Sex with Men because my Wife is Alcoholic

Can you give me advice? I’m in my mid-60s, married for over thirty years. I always had a good sex life with my wife but also enjoyed sex with men on the down low.  She busted me a couple of years ago when she found my Craig’s List searches on my computer.  She said I could continue to have sex with men, but never without her knowing, and she even suggested having a 3-way. She’s alcoholic, and her drunken stupors, being overweight, and poor self-esteem pushed me into my carnal desires! She said today she’ll quit drinking if I give up having sex with men. Our three kids are raised and know the situation. But I’m so confused! I don’t want to turn into an old gay man, but am I already?

This is a complicated situation, and life is full of predicaments where there don’t appear to be any good choices.  It can feel very hopeless at times. As I mentioned in my book, Finally Out, I also had a good sex life with my wife, although I know now (as does she) that it wasn’t as good as we thought back then.

I think there are two separate issues here and they need independent decisions:

  • Do you want to remain married to your wife if she continues to drink?
  • Do you remain sexually attracted to women (not just your wife?)

It is a mistake to attribute your attraction to men to your wife’s drinking.  Sexuality is just a part of who you are.  If you found her more attractive, if she became more self-confident, and if she began to recover from her alcoholism, your desire for sex with men most likely would remain.

I’m just guessing, but I’d be willing to bet that she thinks she drinks because you’re unfaithful, and that gives her an excuse not to commit to sobriety. But her decision for sobriety must not be contingent upon you; it must be about the impacts of her drinking. You’re making your decision about sex with men contingent upon her changing, and she may be making her decision to stop drinking based upon your changing.  That never works.  Each of you must decide if you wish to change regardless of the decision of the other.

I’m not a big believer in three-way sex. Usually one person feels left out, and in this case, it would likely be your wife.  That is my opinion; others may disagree.

What’s so bad about being an old, gay man?  As I wrote in “The Opportunities of Aging,” I am old and gay, and life is good.  I think your fears of being gay and old are based on the stereotypes of homosexuality and aging.  Those stereotypes won’t change for you until you meet some healthy, older, gay men, and you probably won’t find them on Craig’s List.  In many cases, that kind of sexual activity only reinforces the negative stereotypes.  I’m not being judgmental here on what you’re doing, but anonymous sex with casual partners is not only risky because of HIV, but it usually doesn’t provide opportunities to meet men in more psychologically intimate ways.

I have seen many men who come out late in life that lead happy lives.  You are not too old if that is what you choose to do.  My recommendation for you would be to meet some gay and bisexual men socially, not sexually, and then see where that takes you.  As we age, these friendships are more important than sexual ones.

All relationships can be re-negotiated.  But I believe you must separate out the two issues of your sexuality and her alcoholism to be successful at resolving this situation.

Do you want to come out as gay?  Does she want to come out as an alcoholic?

Loren Olson