Now That I’m Sober I Don’t Want to Swing Anymore, But My Husband Does. What Should I Do?

a closeup of a playground swing
Image by karelianspirit / CC BY

Hi Page,

My husband and I have been swinging. About a year ago I got sober. I’m an alcoholic. Ever since then, I’ve had no interest in going back to swinging, but he won’t stop bringing it up. I’m not sure how to approach this. He’s been caught cheating before, and I’m worried he will go back to it because I’m not interested in swinging anymore.

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Congratulations on getting sober. That’s huge. Seriously, good for you.

In your letter, you don’t mention specifically that you’ve told your husband you’re not interested in swinging anymore, only that he keeps bringing the subject up. So first things first, you may very well have done so, but if for some reason you haven’t told him directly, then be sure to make that clear. And be clear about your reasons why. For example, if it’s because you feel like alcohol and swinging were linked for you (which is something I’ve heard from many people on the swinging scene), let him know that. Tell him that your sobriety is important to you and that you hope he can understand that. And observe his reaction.

If he reacts (or has reacted, if this conversation already took place) in a way that’s anything other than supportive, then this is a bad sign.

I’m sure swinging is gratifying for him, but one would also hope that he cares about his spouse’s health and well-being and would make that a priority.

I will say that I do know some couples in a similar situation who have resolved this matter by agreeing that one person in the marriage swings and the other doesn’t.¬† It’s possible that you could offer this arrangement as a compromise, that he can still swing on his own, so long as he keeps you in the loop about what’s going on. It isn’t easy for everybody to get used to, and people who do experience a lot of the same stressors that folks in mono/poly pairings tend to.

However, I’m hesitant to recommend that in this particular case. First off, I do worry about the added stress of adjusting to such an arrangement and how it might make it easier for you to turn back to alcohol. And I’m also hesitant because something about the tone of your letter is nagging at me. I just get this sense that you feel emotionally held hostage here. And I think you deserve to be in a relationship with someone where you don’t feel like you have to do X or Y or else they’re going to cheat on you.

It just feels wrong to me. And it’s hard (verging on impossible) to see this dynamic existing in a healthy relationship.

I kind of wish you weren’t married to someone that you worried was going to cheat on you when you set what is to me a perfectly reasonable boundary, especially given the big (positive) change you’ve made to your life. Maybe it’s time to make another.

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Have a question about a post? Maybe need some advice about a relationship or situation? Write me. I love getting messages from you.

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Books by Page Turner:

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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