Does an affair justify asking for a sexless marriage?
I discovered my husband had been having an affair 3 years ago. He has always maintained that the reason it happened was because I hadn’t “been a dutiful wife in the bedroom”, although we were still having regular, if predictable, sex. I saw a Counsellor (he didn’t want to) and he worried at each session I might want a divorce. I didn’t. And still don’t. After a lot of counselling, I told him that (in a letter).. but the caveat was that I wasn’t prepared to have sex with him any more. He eagerly agreed. But within months and continually ever since has tried to coerce me to be intimate in a way I don’t want. We have 3 children, two of whom are dependent (one by age, the other by disability) and are in our 50s/60s. I feel resentful that he is now making my life miserable (atmospheres, silent treatment, etc) because I continue to stick to my original proposal… but am I being as unfair and stubborn as he is suggesting?
Can you explain a little bit about about what this “proposal” means?
Was the deal that you would not divorce him and would stay with him, but only with the understanding that you would no longer have a sexual relationship with your husband?
Was that the deal? And this was because he cheated on you three years ago?
There is never any excuse for cheating. Whatever reason he had was garbage, if a man is that hard up, Rosy palm and her 5 sisters is the answer.
Now the fact that you have decided to stay with him is completely your business and I understand that even 3 years later it can be very difficult to get over this betrayal.
But, refusing to have sex at all in your marriage is just a slower way of destroying the relationship. Maybe you are doing it to punish him or maybe you've lost all interest in it because of what he has done, either way it will have the same effect. Sex is very important in a marriage, men equate physical affection as an expression of love and sex is the ultimate expression of love.
I'm not trying to be harsh here, just trying to explain things that maybe you haven't thought of. If you honestly aren't going to be able to get past all this, a divorce may be the answer. It could put you in a healthier environment.
Denying each other's wants and needs is not going to fix things for you and is likely to increase resentment. I'm more than happy to have a free thirty minute Zoom meeting with you to discuss.
Now I understand. The “conditions” that you have put on this deal hurt both you and him. Plus they are not fair or even part of marriage vows in a healthy lmarriage.
Perhaps that affair three years ago never got resolved or dealt with in your mind. It sounds like he’s just sweeping it under the rug and out of desperation to save the marriage agreed to your conditions. He’s not honoring them anyway.
Please seek counseling and get that worked out and figure out if you want to stay in this marriage.
Also get a complete physical including a hormone level check. The idea that you are willing to deprive yourself from sex at such an early age is troublesome.
Well goodness – I think I’ve really been caught on the wrong foot! Thank you all for your comments which have shed a new (if uncomfortable!) light on my situation and given me much food for thought. I really do appreciate the time you took to respond. And Relationship-Coach, thank you so much for your extremely kind offer.
I fear much of the reason I asked for sex to be taken out of the equation is because I’ve always been aware that I’ve never had the same sexual appetite as my husband, who has found the quantity and quality of sex lacking – even from the outset of our 30+ year marriage.
I uncovered his 2-year affair because he was careless and left evidence that led me to look at his phone. I’m not proud of that and haven’t looked at it since I confronted him, but for five months I kept looking – watching him lie to me so convincingly that if I hadn’t known in all certainty where he was really going I’d have believed him.
It almost felt like the affair gave me the ‘right’ to ask for the no sex marriage I was sure would resolve the issue, and through my counselling sessions I worked up the courage to do that by letter. After I did it, it felt as though I’d removed a very heavy burden of guilt I hadn’t even been fully aware I was carrying. I wish I could say that I missed sex once we’d agreed not to have it… but I didn’t… instead I felt relief. I can’t even begin to imagine having sex again – when he grabs for my breasts or tries to kiss me “properly” (his words, not mine!) I just freeze and in my head I’m already backing off – atm I can’t imagine being able to cope with a greater level of intimacy. And it feels very much as though I’m not allowed to want something that is opposed to what he wants. I suppose what I really wanted (and still do) is a close, cuddly, warm, supportive (but nevertheless celibate) marriage.
You’ve all provided a lot for me to think about – not least that my proposal couldn’t ever be a long-standing arrangement without injuring our relationship (which in most other ways is good) and hurting him (which really wasn’t my intention, whatever he might believe). Counselling for us both sounds like a good way forward and at least he wants to do that with me (he’s probably worried what new arrangement I might present without his input this time!). Although I’ve been given a reprieve until the New Year, Relationship-Coach, I wonder if you could PM me your contact details in readiness?
I’ve now taken up far too much of your time, but thank you all once again for your advice and the wakeup call it gave. I’m grateful and it’s very much appreciated.
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@Richard B, please accept my sincere apologies. It won't happen again.