Living with Vaginismus and ENM

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    First off I appreciate any group that aims to support women struggling with vaginismus, so thank you. Apologies for the long post.

    I am a man in my early 30s, married for 7 years. Neither wife nor I had sex before marriage, although we did do mildly sexual and very romantic things with each other prior to marriage. We both share religious beliefs and part of our cultures, and are similar age. Wife was sexually assaulted at a young age as in her home country it was common and not policed.

    The advice I’m seeking in summary is: the pros and cons of turning our marriage into one that is ethically non-monogamous, and the possibility of coming back to a monogamous one later, but in the context of a couple dealing with vaginismus. The information below describes our situation.

    OUR RELATIONSHIP: We have always put non-physical connection first, although we have also always been open in our communication about sex and intimacy. We never thought sex was evil or inherently a sin or something. We were very purposeful and active in our dating and getting to know each other, with a large emphasis on building a strong spiritual and emotional relationship. We dont keep things from each other and are just very open in our communication and supporting each other to be better people and partners. As a result, a lot of what I read here about partners blaming or resenting each other, giving ultimatums, refusing to work on vaginismus, etc. was not the case for us. I dont mean that to sound judgmental of others as this is an impossibly difficult situation no one should be in…but for us, from our wedding night to now we have faced it together in support. All the same challenges are there though, from trauma of being young and wanting to have a good sex life and not having it, to the actual pain of sex for her and seeing her in pain for me, to not having a desired type/amount of sexual release, etc. COVID and after have introduced a host of other difficult challenges related to our health, parents, work, that in and of themselves would be devastating, have all compounded. We also now have 2 very young children that add other stress to our lives. As a result we are both on anti-depressants. What we were dealing with through meditation, reflection, physical activity, and hobbies, we now can barely handle with the pills. Everyone goes through very difficult times during the first years of having a kid or multiple kids, but with everything on top of that, plus the vaginismus, it has felt unbearable. The loss of sexual desire from pregnancy for my wife of course also does not help. My personal depression is increasing and I feel I have no way out of the problems in my life. For the vaginismus, we recently discussed the idea of introducing another person into the equation so at least our sex life could possibly improve. We knew this was always a possibility but never wanted to explore it seriously. My wife shared she does not want to add someone for a threesome type situation, but at the moment is ok if I have sex with someone else, but that the feeling might change. We have not talked details and I am still doing my research. But since for us we have no complaints about our relationship, which we feel is super strong and healthy, besides the vaginismus, I was not able to find online experiences or guidance on whether me having sex outside our marriage is a good idea or not, or what pros/cons can be expected. If it wasnt for the sex, I wouldnt even think of seeking out someone else for this, as I dont believe that poly/ENM for the sake of it is healthy (my own opinion). Another relevant point is that our marriage is not one where we do not allow closeness and non-sexual intimacy with friends; we believe fostering strong friendships and having support besides our spouses is important in general, even with those of opposite sex/gender. I have for the most part very close women friends (I am straight for the most part). So for me to have sex with someone else would only be unusual for us because of the sex part, not any other connection I may make with them.

    STRUGGLE WITH VAGINISMUS: As soon as we realized what was going on, we pursued a fast paced series of doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, and other specialists to deal with the issue. We have used dilators, pelvic floor therapy, and psychologist therapy to help my wife improve the vaginismus. Additionally, ensuring lengthy foreplay etc. is also utilized. A year after marriage we were able to have our first fully penetrative sex, and after that we’ve been able to do it, but the pain varies depending on factors, from excruciating to no pain at all (very rare). Even when there is no pain though, there is never pleasure. I know she has made great progress, especially psychologicaly changing the way she thinks about sex and trying to find pathways to enjoy it. We have also had very passionate and satisfying non-penetrative sex sessions. Childbirth also helped a bit, but with all the other issues we have faced since, we dont really have sex anymore. Even though I am often in the mood, even I am too tired or in muscle pain to do anything. Of course one aspect of that is I know the brunt of the work will fall to me and I just dont have the energy. She is conscious of this and is working on becoming more open to being sexual and initiating. Although we have hope, we also wonder if we will ever fully get to regular, pleasurable sex. We are at a point where I am losing sexual attraction to her (not physical attraction) and its very sad and upsetting. I believe I have an above average ability to remain emotionally and intellectually healthy and centred without sex, but I am at a point where I badly want to have normal penetrative sex, even with someone else. But it terrifies me what it might do to our relationship, specifically how I will feel towards further sexual interaction with my wife. I wouldn’t do it unless my wife was fully and honestly on board, so I’m less worried about it harming our non-sexual bond. Another thing that influences my desire to have sex with someone else is that due to my own trauma and background, I get the most turned on by being enjoyed and appreciated; and although I feel that way non-sexually and romantically with my wife, of course even if she fakes pleasure from penetration, I know she doesnt enjoy it, understandably. So the type of sex I would enjoy most in my mind we cannot have. It has become a desperate situation due to all factors going on right now.

    I would really appreciate any thoughts and links/resources you think would help me in figuring out how I feel about having sex with someone else, so that I am prepared to have a meaningful consultation with my wife about what we want to do.

    All the best.

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