Hello MKE SEX,

My wife and I have been married for just about 40 years, and I love her so much it’s hard to even talk about it. In the last five years, she’s had a bunch of health problems that have ended our sex life. She’s worked with several doctors, and tried every medicine and treatment they’ve suggested. At this point, she’s decided that she doesn’t want to have sex anymore. With all the pain and struggling, I understand why. At the same time, I’m still pretty robust for my age, with a hearty drive. We’ve discussed this several times, and my wife has encouraged me to meet someone else for sex. The problem is, I don’t know how to do that in the modern age. The last time I dated, disco was king and no one had heard of HIV. Back then, if a man wanted to fool around on his wife, they relied on secrets and lies. I don’t want anything to do with that stuff. Do you have any tips about how to meet people? How about a few about being honest so no one gets hurt?

Thank you,
Husband of Nevermore

Dear Husband,

Many people come to a time in their lives when sex isn’t feasible for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s related to their health, as it is with your wife. Sometimes it’s connected to a living situation, or to personal or spiritual beliefs. Whatever the cause, it’s important that each person gets to make that decision for themselves. It sounds like the two of you have spent a lot of time trying alternatives, and discussing this choice. While I’m sure it’s difficult for you to say goodbye to this part of your relationship, I applaud both of you for being honest and respectful about your needs.

Getting started in the dating scene after four decades would be daunting for anyone, and your situation requires extra care to ensure that everyone understands what’s happening. The very first thing is to establish guidelines with your wife about expectations. Does she want to know what’s happening? Does she want to meet your other partner(s)? Or is she more comfortable not knowing any details? How does all of that feel to you? Make sure that you are both on the same page. When you meet new potential partners, be upfront with them about the expectations.

As far as meeting new people, I suggest trying online dating. Many dating sites have folks who also want non-traditional relationship structures. You can say right in your ad what you’re looking for, and then everyone has all the information right away. If you find someone you’re interested in, exchange some emails and then propose a daytime public meeting in a low-pressure environment like a coffee shop. When you’re face to face, you’ll be able to get a good sense of whether you’d like this to go further. If either of you aren’t interested, it’s best to be honest about it. There’s no harm in a polite, “Thanks, but no thank you.” It may take a few tries, but it’s highly likely that you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Your marriage now falls on the spectrum of ethically non-monogamous relationships. A growing number of singles and couples are finding that traditional relationship structures don’t work for them. Many people have been talking about, writing about, and practicing how to move outside of monogamy in ways that are honest and respectful for all parties. One really great book is Designer Relationships by Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson. Michaels and Johnson have been studying non-monogamy for more than 20 years, and their book emphasizes the importance of communication and trust. Stay open and honest with one another, and good luck out there!

Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her an email at mkesex@gmail.com and she’ll get back to you with an answer.