Patrick: My husband is an adult baby. He wishes to be dressed in adult-sized baby clothes and a diaper, and kept in an adult-sized play pen. He wants to be given a bottle to drink and children’s toys to play with. I am to wear a floral print dress and a white apron and provide for him. He wants me to bring him warm bottles, feed him baby food, jingle the toys in front of him, and change his diaper.
We do not have children of our own, so privacy is not an issue. I suppose we could convert one of the bedrooms into an adult nursery and allow him free reign with his fantasy. He is a hard worker and has provided well for me. He says this fantasy is necessary to relieve his stress at work.
He disclosed this bizarre need to me before we were married. I thought at the time that he could not possibly be serious. If he did do this, surely it was a rare occasion. But I came to understand that this is the only thing that makes life seem worth living for him. He fantasizes about it constantly. So I told him that if he wanted to do this, he would have to hire a professional to be his ‚”mommy.‚” I abandoned any thought of having a marriage in which my husband desired me and wanted to make love to me.
But with the economic downturn, he can no longer afford to see his favorite dominatrix. So he has come to me asking me to please engage in this activity with him. He says it harms no one and would mean the world to him. He has promised to give me anything I want if I will just give in.
What I want is a husband who is not a pervert and a workaholic. How could I keep a straight face through this idiocy? I have remained faithful to him while doing without all of the things that most wives can expect‚ companionship, physical affection, and a normal sexual relationship. I don’t believe in divorce, but I don’t know if I am able to help him with this need. I simply don’t have it in me.
Is there any solution to this conflict?–Pushed to the Limit
Dear Pushed to the Limit: Your story just breaks my heart. I know you are angry with your husband, and I don’t want to suggest that he should be absolved of all responsibility. But he is trapped in a social context that condemns his core sexual needs. If he had a choice, he would probably discard this fetish. The way that sexual fetishes are developed or established is not well-understood. But many sexologists believe there is a combination of biology and early family experiences. But we do know that it is virtually impossible to change an adult’s sexual patterns. This is why I encourage pervy people to be more open about their sexual needs, and seek out a partner who shares them, rather than marrying an incompatible partner who is never going to understand or enjoy kinky activities.
Your husband has probably tried many times to give up the need to be an infant in the care of a dominant woman. Like you, he knows how stigmatized this activity is. As a young man, what were his choices? He was told that he should get married, find a career, and raise a family. He did what he was told he was supposed to do, probably hoping that he could find a cure somehow if he conformed.
But the cost for both of you has been enormous. Because you share no erotic interest in the things that matter most to him, you have been alienated from one another. Both of you have probably been lonely and unhappy. I admire you for attempting to find a compromise by allowing him to see professionals. But it sounds like you did this at a price, because it wasn’t part of your ideal of a good marriage.
Now that compromise has fallen apart, and things are up for renegotiation. Rather than focusing on how he is going to get his needs met, I encourage you to do some thinking about your own. Do you still enjoy or value your husband’s companionship? Has he become a friend you would miss? Do you still believe that divorce is unacceptable, no matter what the circumstances? If he can go outside of the marriage to meet his needs, what do you need (even if it breaks the rules) that might ease your loneliness and anger? You, too, need a reason to go on living. And those needs ought to become a part of any conversation you have with your husband about the future (if any) of this marriage.
People with complicated fetishes often have trouble finding a compatible partner. The more detailed it is, the less likely it is that somebody else will be the proper counterpart, in every detail. It helps if they are able to be somewhat flexible and also consider the needs of their partner. But the adult baby fantasy doesn’t offer much compensation to the nurse or mother figure. She is asked to offer nurturance and unconditional love. If her own needs intrude, it ruins the fantasy of being a helpless infant.
Some people who enjoy infantilism also enjoy other sexual activities. If they are able to function as adults and develop an ability to enjoy that, they can certainly choose to have a variety of sexual fantasies or activities, some of which are based on satisfying their partner. I don’t know if your husband has ever considered doing this, or if you are so angry with him that you could not enjoy or tolerate any physical intimacy with him.
Becoming his dominant figure doesn’t sound like an option for you‚ for him. You express such a negative attitude toward it that I can’t see how you would ever develop a facility to be a believable and loving caretaker. I see this fantasy as springing from deep needs that were never addressed in early childhood, and so it inspires me with a feeling of compassion and a desire to repair the damage. But if you simply see it as willfully bizarre behavior that has ruined your life, you won’t have any compassion for him.
Take a look at the budget. Can any corners be cut to make occasional baby adventures possible? He may have to cut back on the frequency of his visits or find a less expensive professional. But this might keep the peace much better than pressuring you to service him. I hope he can understand and honor your refusal. One of the basic tenets of this scene is a precept that everything has to be consensual. And you are definitely NOT consenting! That is your right.
Patrick Califia is a therapist in private practice in Northern California. His practice includes internet consultations as well as face-to-face psychotherapy. He is a prolific author who has published widely about BDSM and sexual politics. Patrick’s books include Macho Sluts, Sensuous Magic, and Public Sex: The Politics of Radical Sex.
This column is not intended to offer medical or legal advice. It is for educational and entertainment purposes only. If you need medical or legal advice, see a doctor or lawyer!
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