Am I allowed to seek sex elsewhere?

Dear Meredith,

My husband and I are mid-40s with two kids. We have been married for 12 years. Our sex life has always been great. A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with a disease that has significantly impacted our lives. It is not immediately life-threatening but causes me significant pain and fatigue. He has had to take over a lot of the household duties so I can continue to work full time. He is very supportive and I could not ask for a better husband except ... our sex life is non-existent for about the last year. We've talked about it over and over and he says he is afraid to hurt me or approach, as he does not know when I am in the mood due to medication side effects or fatigue.

I am fine with initiating, but the last time I did he was too stressed out, and now he says he is nervous about everything and that he fears that all of this pressure will make things worse between us. We've discussed counseling but he has not taken any action, and I am not sure trying to drag him would be helpful.

I am now at the point of going outside of my marriage, as I am convinced that sex will help me heal and feel better, in general. This is a part of life that has always been very important to me. Now it's all I think about. I am friends with a man at work who has made it clear that he would be willing. How long is too long to wait for your husband? I don't want to hurt him, as I am in love with him and know it has been a difficult time for him also, but I NEED to have sex. How long do I wait for him to deal with this? How many more talks before we accept that talking isn't working? Is it unrealistic to think a man could deal with his wife having no-strings sex with another man, if it serves purpose for both parties?

– Needs

"Is it unrealistic to think a man could deal with his wife having no-strings sex with another man, if it serves purpose for both parties."

It's not unrealistic, and it's not unheard of at all. It just seems like you're missing a step here. You've discussed going to counseling, but it doesn't sound like anyone's taken action on that front. Has an appointment been made? Can you be the one who makes it?

The sex problem is an important part of all of this, but it's not the only issue. You and your husband need to learn how to talk about your new routine and how it affects your partnership in all ways. It doesn't seem like you've been able to figure out how the extra household responsibilities are changing his own level of exhaustion and sex drive. Is it possible that there are new and better ways to delegate responsibilities? Maybe there are different schedules that allow for more quality time together so that sex is fun, as opposed to another thing on a to-do list.

In the end, your solution might turn out to be the best one. It's certainly possible. It just seems like a therapist's office is the place to discuss it. Because no matter what happens with the sex, you need to get help to make all of this work for the long haul. I think that's your goal.

– Meredith

Readers? Is therapy the next step or should the LW have a conversation about this person from work?