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Guilt - can it affect your sex drive?

(8 Posts)
hotwaterbottle Tue 04-Sep-07 23:52:11

Brief overview:
2 yrs ago dh admitted to having an affair (not total surprise to me, I was suspicious, but devastating nontheless).
We have managed to survive this after a very messy period when OW was still around, but now I feel we have reached a place where emotionally we are pretty sound, but physically things are not right.
DH has previously had a very high sex drive, and our sex life was pretty good considering we have 2 young dc.
During the period of this affair our sex life faded away, no big surprises there, and while we have been mending the rest of the situation I have not pushed the sex side of things.
But I did rather assume that as our emotional relationship got back on track, that physically things would improve. This has not happened. We have moments, but they are very sporadic, and I'm never quite sure if he is just doing it to please me.
I have asked him about it and he says that he just doesn't have those sort of feelings most of the time anymore. About anyone. He has mentioned that it crossed his mind that it could be a physical problem, but seems to me everything certainly functions ok on those rare occasions!

So - my theory is that it is guilt based psychologically. He does feel very guilty about what he put 'us' through, and I suspect that there are aspects of the relationship with OW that he has never told me about.
Has anyone ever had any experience of this sort of thing? Could him feeling guilty about what happened dull his sex drive, as if he doesn't deserve to be forgiven or soemthing?
And before anyone shouts the obvious, I am as convinced as anyone can be that there is no 'OW' now. I could give you all the reasons, but you would be too bored, and I stand to be corrected in the fullness of time. But for now if we assume I am right about that, what do you think?

hotwaterbottle Wed 05-Sep-07 09:42:29


purpleduck Wed 05-Sep-07 10:23:47

I think you need to have some couples therapy. If he does feel guilty that it was all those nasty sexual urges that caused you both so much grief, then yes, i do think that he can "shut it off". So it sounds like maybe HE still has issues? Would he go?

jellybelly25 Wed 05-Sep-07 10:51:13

Yes, yes.

My dp had exact same problem, he said he would have this horrible feeling wash over him as we were about to 'do it', sometimes he would get through it other times ot would fall flat on its face... i had no idea that each occasion was such a trauma for him until i got really upset one day and bawled at him for never initiating sex and i felt unwanted etc...

Two things helped - one, he needed to forgive himself, not just hear it from me (I read somewhere, think it was in The Road Less Travelled or something like that, that unresolved guilt can lead to performance anxiety and panic attacks...) Two - I pointed out to him that each sexual encounter we have is not some kind of big soul mate bonding occasion, often it is just sex, actually, and that it is ok to think of me as an object SOMETIMES!

hotwaterbottle Wed 05-Sep-07 22:04:04

We have talked about counselling but he says he isn't ready to talk about 'that sort of stuff' with someone else just yet. So we will have to try dealing with it ourselves for now I think.
We have managed to come this far with talking/discussing options etc on our own, and we've had some heavy stuff to tackle, so maybe we will do ok.
We are talking around ways to get used to being physical with each other again. For me anyway it is not just to lack of sex per se as all the rest of the physical contact - cuddling/caressing etc etc that I miss.
Some of it is basic stuff like remembering to make time for just 'us', not kids, housework, pc......MN....!
And I guess probably not to much pressure of the actual sex part either - don't really want to make such a big issue of it that it generates a problem anyway!

hotwaterbottle Wed 05-Sep-07 22:06:12

Jellybelly - so how did your DP manage to forgive himself? Did he have counselling, or was it just a matter of time?

jellybelly25 Thu 06-Sep-07 10:46:49

Sounds familiar, I used to have to ask him to kiss/cuddle me goodnight instead of just turning the light off, turns out he avoided a lot of physical contact cos he thought it might lead to something and couldn't deal with the expectation... I dunno how it got sorted really just over time it became easier for him to say he was feeling a bit strange and we would just cuddle or do other stuff wink which was often nicer cos the pressure was off.

What helped him... he read a lot around the subject of depression during that phase and realised it might be affecting him too... Do you think your dh might be depressed? I think up to then he thought mental health issues were for sissies... I also think he thought that what he did made him entirely a BAD PERSON rather than the possibility that he could still be a good person who made a big f*ck up.

It's not totally sorted now but it is a LOT better, and recently he has finally decided to go to relate counselling as he thinks other stuff in his past etc makes him behave like a d*ckhead to me sometimes, sounds like excuses but I think there's something in it as I know him and I know that at heart he is not like that. I was having counselling for PND at the time and he saw that it really helped me which I think was good too.

I know I'm basically telling you what happened to us, obviously it will be different for you, sorry if I've got rambly...hope this helps.

jellybelly25 Thu 06-Sep-07 11:19:34

I agree that he's prob trying to shut all sexual feelings down too. Is probably easier not to entertain the idea at all than to keep yourself in check with what's appropriate all the time. Is a bit complex, but dp had this major complex that it is wrong even to look at another woman in the street, on TV, on internet etc... Its obvious but I pointed out that I often see/meet attractive guys and think they're cute but I don't then go and sleep with them!

However, I have behaved pretty badly at times, hence I can see how these things can happen and am probably more understanding than some folk...

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