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The reason your DH had an affair was because you didn't have sex enough

(181 Posts)
PTFsWife Wed 19-Feb-14 18:19:59

I just need to write this down to get it off my chest more than anything because if not, it will fester and not end well.

So my husband had an affair last year, which I have written about on here. We are working together to get though it and make our marriage stronger. We have had counselling individually and jointly and basically it is all moving in the right direction. He is trying very hard and if there can ever be a 'good' outcome of an affair, I think we have it in that our marriage is better than it was before because we are both more committed to fixing it.

Several of my friends (and family) knows about the affair. One friend also knows (as I confided to her drunkenly last year) that my husband and I had only had sex twice in the last year. As it turns out, our sex life had been an issue for years (since the arrival of kids) but it had been improving just about the same time that he started his affair ironically.

So I was chatting to my friend today about our marriage and mentioned that although things were better and we were working hard to work through issues - and have even managed to have sex a few times which was a big deal for me given what he had done - sex was still irregular in our house and I wasn't sure if that was due to the affair or more of a continuation of our previous sexless marriage.

And my friend then said: 'The reason he had the affair is because you didn't have sex often enough. Men need sex. Do not underestimate that. You have to have sex more often, even if you don't feel like it, you just have to. The more you have it, the more you will want to and the better it will be.' This was meant as well meaning advice - not to be hurtful.

I understand her thinking because that is exactly the reason I believe he had an affair - he got attention from someone and got to have sex. He knows it was a monumental mistake and is immensely sorry.

The reason this has upset me is that my friend's attitude - and it's probably an attitude shared by many people - is that I am partly to blame for my husband's affair because I wasn't having sex with him enough. Even if they don't say it, it's what they think.

I know that it probably helped contribute to it, but I have always refused to accept responsibility for him having an affair. He doesn't expect me to either. He blames himself for his actions entirely. But I know that there are others out there who think like my friend i.e. that I obviously wasn't keeping my man satisfied so he had to look elsewhere. And that pisses me off and makes me deeply sad at the same time.

Thank you for reading this diatribe. I'm not really looking for answers - I just needed get it down and out of me.

ormirian Thu 27-Feb-14 14:25:11

No sex is a symptom of something else more important. Finding and fixing that is the priority. You were both responsible for the failure to do that. But I know how it can be....life gets in the way, tiredness and stress take their toll and people can fail to realise how important it is to keep in touch emotionally and sensually with each other while the world carries on turning around them.

He had an affair because he wanted to. That is it. Full stop. It wasn't carelessness or an accident, he made deliberate decisions to do something fundamentally damaging and selfish.

I am glad he isn't blaming you. Your friend is a simplistic fool.

beachside Tue 25-Feb-14 23:08:19

In my experience it's not only about sex, it's about connecting. Relationships can lose their spark, their joy, for a variety of reasons, tiredness from kids, pressure of work, money worries, or just simply boredom.

So then when one partner has been grumbled at, after a long hard day at work, ''you never help me wash the car, hoover the lawn, cut the carpet, water the kids - whatever' then the idea of sex drops off the radar a bit.

Then there's the slobby, but oh so wonderfully comfy and relaxing after a busy day, trackies, the not bothering to shave ones legs (or chin), well, it's Wednesday and nothing ever happens on a Wednesday does it> Oh look Dancing with the Stars is on...

And gradually, one, or both partners begin to feel less cared for, less wanted, less desired, and before you know it, that new guy at work, well, he really did smile at me just then, did't he? Or that girl who works at the newsagent, she's always saying Hello in a special way - isn't she?

Thats how affairs start. A simple smile. The idea of someone being interested in you, not just for cooking / cleaning / paying the bills / fixing the leaking toilet / earning a wage / whatever, but you as a person.

And as for Phal declaring men can control themselves but women are sexual beings - wtf?? Pfffttt!

And Scarlett claiming he gave himself permission to have an affair, they should go back further and investigate - WHY did he grant himself permission, was it because he felt a disconnect?

It all goes back to basics - talk. Communicate. You both nee to put effort in. Work at your relationship. Develop tolerance. Find a middle ground. Have date nights. Remember why you fell in love in the first place.

Offred Sun 23-Feb-14 12:51:16

Thanks guys. Wish you well ptf. Recovering from affairs is always difficult, but not impossible. I hope whatever happens you're happy in the end!

rainbowsmiles Sun 23-Feb-14 11:28:39

Oh and op good luck.

rainbowsmiles Sun 23-Feb-14 11:28:03

Offred your arguments have been excellent. I'm glad someone can be bothered to argue with such clarity. It must feel like banging your head off a wall at times.

Offred I think you've done very well under all of the attacks you've had! I also found your words very articulate and valuable. thanks

Offred Sun 23-Feb-14 10:54:08

A lack of sex doesn't mean all bets are off, how ridiculous, only if the people involved are teenagers and have no emotional regulation/self control. Some people respond to misery in their relationship by having an affair, the reason they respond this way is because they are too cowardly to confront the problems and seek out what they see as an easy fix, either that or they just fall for someone else and are too cowardly to finish their secure relationship first.

The reason is not that they are miserable. If it was then it wouldn't be only some people who are miserable who have affairs would it?

Offred Sun 23-Feb-14 10:50:01

It's not inconsistent. I'd say it on this thread too. I couldn't live in a relationship without sex. When I had sex problems in a relationship it was really miserable and part of why I left.

I'm not sure why it is relevant at all?

Everyone agrees it is miserable. I'm simply saying that being miserable doesn't justify having an affair. It's a cowardly way out and no, I don't think him having an affair has achieved the outcome of them working on the relationship. Now they are working on the relationship him having had the affair makes it much less likely the relationship will survive and it makes it much more painful for all involved.

What is wrong with working on the relationship without having an affair?

Lazyjaney Sun 23-Feb-14 08:10:23

"Offred thankyou for your contribution to this thread, put far more articulately than I could've done myself"

A quick count tells me Offred wrote about 1/3rd of all the posts on this thread. I also see she was arguing she couldn't live without sex in a relationship on another recent thread, so I'm wondering if one could leave her to write all the remaining posts on this thread and argue both sides grin

Lazyjaney Sun 23-Feb-14 07:59:08

"It makes me sad that many people out there hold old fashioned views that a man must have sought out an affair due to a lack of sex"

It's not just men, and it's not "old fashioned", it's what people do, always have done and will continue to do. A lack of sex in a relationship means all bets are off.

It does occur to me that the affair has achieved the outcome of trying to repair the relationship rather than one person having to live a life of misery or break it up.

Offred Sun 23-Feb-14 01:09:26

Thanks jock blush

JockTamsonsBairns Sat 22-Feb-14 23:00:02

Offred thankyou for your contribution to this thread, put far more articulately than I could've done myself.

Offred Sat 22-Feb-14 22:56:04

Very balanced response ptf, good luck!

PTFsWife Sat 22-Feb-14 22:07:44

before I bow out, my apologies for the typos especially all the 'too's that should be 'to's.

PTFsWife Sat 22-Feb-14 22:04:48

Wow -- well I never expected me getting something off my chest would turn into such a heated debate.

Here are my final thoughts:
I am too blame for not having enough sex with my husband. He tried many times and I said no.
I am too blame for saying no and not explaining why I was saying no. There were reasons which I am not going to divulge here (because if talking to close friends about my sex life is deemed as bad, why the hell is sharing it on the web with a bunch of strangers ok??)

He was too blame for not asking me why I said no. He was too blame for not trying harder. He was too blame for not trying that hard to change things and to accept the status quo and not seeming that interested anyway.

We were both to blame for not communicating about this fundamental issue and letting it slide until a point where it was too awkward to discuss.

He is to blame for having an affair. I was in the same sexless marriage and had opportunities to flirt and take things further with someone else, but I never ever let it get beyond a passing thought in my head. He chose to act on what was offered to him on a plate. Do I blame him for doing that? No. Do I blame him for not communicating with me and trying to work on our marriage before? Yes. I had always been the one trying to communicate. He was always the stonewaller.

We are now both working hard to fix things. I am communicating with him about everything including our sex life and the lack thereof plus the reasons it has got to that point (which has been hard to say to him). It is hard for him to hear.

I have spoken to my friends because I needed someone to talk to during a fairly shitty period in my life. He knows that I speak to my friends about this and while it may not be massively comfortable for him, he accepts that I need to do this to work through some of these issues. I have no family here and why should I try and work through this on my own? Frankly, he is the one who committed adultery. Me talking to some close friends to help me get through this is less of a crime.

It's also not comfortable to him for him face my family who live abroad, but which has volunteered to do when he goes to their country on business - he did this because he wanted to, not because I asked him to. He knows he has to make amends for a pretty huge fuck up. He hates himself for doing it and wants to make things right.

So please - I don't view having sex with my husband as rape. I agree that I don't always feel like going to the gym but feel better for it afterwards and get the analogy to sex. But equally, I don't think it is fair to blame me entirely for our lack of sex life and for speaking to my friends about this.

We are going to fix this. It makes me sad that many people out there hold old fashioned views that a man must have sought out an affair due to a lack of sex. yes, that may have been a contributing factor but ultimately it was a decision he took.

I am now bowing out of this thread. Thanks for your comments

IHateWinter Sat 22-Feb-14 20:42:43

I might have said that too at one point but I've come to realise that because of past abuse my boundaries were shifted and I was able to have sex I didn't want with people I didn't want to have sex with because it wasn't as bad as the abuse/it felt familiar.

I can relate to that completely. I have to say I have been fortunate in this relationship now.

You are absolutely right about other things like long term lack of communication making intimacy entirely off limits.

You sound like a very strong and knowledgable survivorsmile

Offred Sat 22-Feb-14 20:33:38

I do think it is different in a relationship where sex life is broadly good/happy though. You aren't always in the mood but may get into the mood.

A relationship where there is a problem with sex is quite different I think, you have to sort out the cause.

Offred Sat 22-Feb-14 20:31:54

I might have said that too at one point but I've come to realise that because of past abuse my boundaries were shifted and I was able to have sex I didn't want with people I didn't want to have sex with because it wasn't as bad as the abuse/it felt familiar.

It didn't help my relationship because the lack of intimacy was down to the relationship being wrong and the communication not being right. Eventually it just made me quite cold towards him.

We can only talk from our personal experiences 'this true but I still don't think anyone would say trying to promote consent aggressively is what trivialises rape.

IHateWinter Sat 22-Feb-14 20:11:16

I have to say Offred, I can only speak for myself personally, but I am a survivor of childhood SA, and there are times when DP wants sex, and I feel more in the mood to eat toast or read my rent bill. Not turned on at all. I make an effort because he really wants it. Sometimes its just not great sex for me, mind is elsewhere.

However I never find it unpleasant, traumatic, demeaning or exploitative. There is a sense of trust in my relationship. I do not resent having sex with my partner because his pleasure becomes mine and you know what, next time he gives it back. (although he still doesn't give me sex as much as I want ideally!)

I think there is a world of difference between that what I experienced as a child and what I experience as an adult in a give and take relationship, BUT I can only speak for myself I suppose.

Offred Sat 22-Feb-14 19:59:15

The difference may be one of magnitude or type of effect on the person being subjected to the behaviour but sex when you don't want to is always damaging to your self esteem.

Offred Sat 22-Feb-14 19:58:10

Smacks somewhat of ken Clark's ill advised comments about not all rapes being equal.

Offred Sat 22-Feb-14 19:56:58

saying that someone who may not feel like having sex but doesn't want their marriage to be sexless and so makes an effort to get in the mood has not given their consent is offensive to genuine survivors because it trivialises rape.

No, it doesn't and who are you to make that pronouncement? Calling out sexual abuse and promoting a woman's right to sexual autonomy never trivialises rape.

The reason rape is criminalised is because of the psychological damage done by removing a right to personal/sexual autonomy. Whilst you may think this is a lesser form of that it is still a form of it.

Further to that lying back and thinking of England will not have a beneficial effect. Having sex often may well make you want more, lying back and thinking of England is not a pleasant experience, it feels degrading and it kills both your sex drive and your desire for the person having sex on you because you can no longer trust or respect them.

What trivialises rape is this view that men should be red blooded sexual abusers and women should lie back and think of England if they don't want to be left high and dry.

stalepalemale Sat 22-Feb-14 19:46:55

Offred, saying that someone who may not feel like having sex but doesn't want their marriage to be sexless and so makes an effort to get in the mood has not given their consent is offensive to genuine survivors because it trivialises rape. You may not think it's worth putting any effort into making better love with the co-parent of your children, but please don't inflict your prejudices on the rest of us.

Offred Sat 22-Feb-14 19:44:42

^So do you really believe that there is never any reason for an affair? Not excuse but reason. Someone just ups and decides I will do the worst thing possible to someone I love and screw someone else just for the heck of it? Truly? And that nothing can be provocative. Its just entirely the persons fault.

And lack of sexual intimacy will make no impact on the wellbeing of a marriage.^

One doesn't follow from the other. Lack of sexual intimacy has a massive effect usually but the correct responses are limited to working on the problem together or choosing to split up - both pretty tough decisions.

People choose to have affairs because they are too cowardly to make either of those choices (both which would solve the problem) and instead make a choice to avoid difficulty and stick a plaster over the problem by having an affair. Sometimes the thing that makes them cowardly is abuse from their partner and sometimes at the other end of the spectrum it is because they are calculating, manipulative and selfish.

It is still a choice though. Feeling bad in a marriage might be an excuse for an affair but the reason for having one is usually cowardice of some kind.

ReadyToPopAndFresh Sat 22-Feb-14 19:42:10

I wouldn't call you weak, I'd say that's exactly what you should do. But why wouldn't you have any affair? Because you know it's wrong and there no excuse for one.

EIther you are in a relationship with someone or you aren't. If you love someone you make it work or you leave..

And yes, there are people out there who have affairs because they can. They have sex at home, a person who loves them at home, but they just think the rules don't apply

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