He told me he cheated. I said it was common. He said he felt so much pain, shame and guilt. I told him those feelings were not only normal, they were good for him. He needed to feel his feelings to process the pain. He said he couldn’t believe how much pain his indiscretion made him feel. When we process the pain, we heal.
Head in hands, he sat sobbing in my office. This was not something he’d ever wanted to do. I told him he was human. “Just like my father, that monster,” he said. He told me that he hated that his father had cheated on his mother when he was growing up. He saw what it did to her. And here he was doing the exact same thing to his wife. “Infidelity is often familial,” I said. Not to mention, sometimes we repeat the sins of our parents to try and figure things out on some level. Now, that is no excuse. Cheating is a choice, not a mistake.
Extramarital affairs are not black and white. Once he composed himself, Brad a forty-three year old successful father of four began to unravel his story. He loved his wife, his family and his life. In fact he adored his wife, but felt sad and lonely because the sex in their marriage dwindled increasingly after the birth of each baby.
By the time he cheated, their marriage was sexless, defined by the experts as ‘sex less than ten times a year.’ He said his wife was too tired, irritable and had body image issues. He thought she was a beauty and was very much attracted to her still. She had no sexual desire and he believed that something must be wrong with him. He felt sad, lonely and more and more dejected with each rejection. He’d stopped making sexual advances and she didn’t seem to care.
A significant difference in sex drive in a couple is one risk factor for an extra-marital affair.
Along came Lauren, a stunning woman who gave him more than a second look. She paid attention to him. She listened to his stories, brushed off his collar, brought him coffee and laughed at his jokes. She smiled…..at him. She had a joie de vivre, something that his wife seemed to have lost. Although she was quite striking, she wasn’t nearly as beautiful as his wife, yet the attraction was electric.
But worst of all, Brad started sharing the intimate details of the problems in his marriage with Lauren. Many women don’t worry about emotional affairs of their husbands because nothing physical happens. However, emotional affairs are far more dangerous than sexual affairs because that bond of intimacy develops and is likely to lead to a more dangerous liaison.
Then it happened. At the office. The Kiss. The Embrace. The Desire. The Arousal. The Intensity was overwhelming. The Pleasure. The chemistry was explosive. They had sex in a number of different positions in a lot of different places! It was exciting! This was a woman in touch with her sexuality and he was the beneficiary. He felt wonderful, alive again, sexual in the moment or what is better described as many moments. The affair had been going on for months.
He was conflicted as he wanted his marriage but also a great sex life. That said, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Men have a tendency to cheat to remain in a sexless marriage. Over the long term, Brad began to feel awful. He couldn’t eat, sleep, was increasingly irritable and his productivity at work slipped.
He knew he wanted to salvage what was left of his marriage but didn’t know where to begin. Begin with the end in mind, I advised. End the affair. Understand what your end game is. Do you want to have successfully navigated the ups and downs of marriage with your wife? What do you want the end of your story to be?
Then begin to talk to your wife about the importance of sex in your marriage. Begin to share your feelings with your wife. Talk. Employ a nanny. Hire a baby sitter and take your wife out for dinner. Offer her a massage. Romance her. Help out with the household duties which are mundane. Take the kids out and give her some me time. Buy her a Womanizer a clitoral suckling device that is sure to get her back to the bedroom with you. It will remind her of the sexual pleasure you once enjoyed and get her back in touch with herself, literally.
Brad still had one burning question after all of this. “Should I tell my wife about my affair?” he asked. Many men have a desire to be honest with their wives about their affairs. It’s kind of late now. So I suggested he give this some thought. Who benefits from that disclosure? If you tell your wife, likely your marriage will end and your young family will be torn apart.
But even more important than that is the fact that telling your wife is actually self-serving in the hopes of releasing your pain through forgiveness from your wife. It may make you feel better all the while breaking her heart. It’s simply not fair.
What do you think? Should Brad kiss and tell his wife? Have you ever cheated and confessed to your spouse?
Maureen McGrath is a women’s health expert and hosts the Sunday Night Sex Show on News Talk 980 CKNW. She is creator of the blog 50ShadesofPink.ca and has a clinical practice in North Vancouver, British Columbia. She is an expert in the Sexless Marriage. Her TEDx talk on the matter has received close to 5 million views in one year.
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