A story of one man’s moment of desperation.
One of the fastest ways to hear someone pass judgment is to talk about an extra marital affair. Comments like “it’s never right” “there is no excuse” “you should just leave” are the normal and expected reactive comments.
Cheating is a subject in which everyone has a strong opinion that they feel entitled to expressing irrespective of knowing any circumstances or facts.
As unpopular as this will be, I agree with the need for some partners to move outside the relationship to gain the intimacy, sex and connection they are craving.
Here is why.
For many couples in a relationship, sex is something that goes by the wayside. It’s discarded along with the trash one week and no one can be bothered to fish it out.
Sometimes it’s both sides that give up, or certainly put it way down on the importance scale with the exception of birthdays and holidays or when a little memory jog occurs from the wedding you just went to on the weekend.
I get that it’s not important to either party in these marriages and they feel that there is more important things in a marriage than sex. As long as that is a mutual agreement, then there is nothing wrong with this dynamic as long as any children in the family unit are still being shown a loving and connected relationship with intimacy in other ways displayed between their mother and father. Children need positive relationships from parents to role model from, so the importance of this cannot be under valued.
Sometimes however, it’s just one person who gives up and leaves the other partner wanting and begging for sexual attention and sexual release. It is in these cases, that the marriage vow has a big problem.
I don’t know where the current vows of marriage came into place historically, but since weddings are traditionally a ceremonial religious union to be heard before God, we can assume that that is the reason that the words “I vow to maintain plenty of sex” isn’t one of them. Instead, it is veiled in to ‘love, honor and cherish’, because that way we don’t have to use the naughty sex word in church.
It is my firm belief that if one partner in the marriage or union wishes to refrain and abstain from sex long term, and the other doesn’t, then there is already a break in the vows.
You have made that commitment to love, honor and cherish, at the same time as you vowed to be faithful, so you can’t drop one and expect the other not to go a little AWOL.
As I prepare for the barrage of comments of “there is more to marriage than sex”, I ask you to read on.
Here is a story of Adam* who recently shared his experiences with me.
For Adam, he was marrying his ideal woman they had a great active sex life and shared values, visions and dreams. They envisaged a future life together. But for Adam, it turned out a like this.
As soon as the ring hit the finger, her legs closed
In his disclosure Adam shared with me some of the story of the path of his marriage and there is a sadly common theme, which I also hear in my coaching clients.
The lack of sex was almost instant, there was post partum depression for his wife in the early years and things were less than favorable. Adam did his very best to support his wife but he felt hopeless and powerless and completely trapped. These things are crushing to a man’s sense of identity. He begins to question everything about himself. Why am I not enough? What more can I do?
We have regularly gone well over a year without sex
After around 6 years of conflict and confusion for Adam, in what was now an almost totally sexless marriage, he took to drinking to cope. He recognizes it was far from an ideal outcome, but his frustrations were such that it was to numb the pain.
The pain that Adam felt was not just the rejection from sex, it was the disconnection he felt from his life. He felt a deep sense of anger, confusion and hurt, which caused him turmoil because he was lacking intimacy with his wife whom he still adored.
At his suggestion, they tried books, counseling, talking and communicating more, but “it wasn’t for her, especially over something so trivial”. Her denial of his support and seeking help, caused more and more frustrations.
Communication can only go so far, when one person won’t participate.
In a total of 12 years of marriage, we’ve been intimate maybe 12 times
The one passion they did still share was a commitment to the family unit. Determined to stay together for the sake of the children, Adam pushed through. His wife had told him
“They would never break up the family for something so trivial as sex”
But sex and the intimate connection with his wife were not trivial to Adam.
After recognizing the destructive path of his drinking and that it never dulled the real pain, Adam reached sobriety again. However the frustrations and anxieties around sex returned.
Desperate for deeper level intimacy and connection, Adam eventually, chose to break his vow to be faithful and take a lover.
It was a final act of a desperate man
It was a conscious decision and one he does not condone.
Interestingly, as if she had some 6th sense and after period of 2 years of refusing her husbands advances, Adam’s wife began to engage him with sex again. She had no knowledge of the affair he had begun. True to his commitment to her and his family, Adam ended the affair soon after his wife was meeting intimacy needs.
It is yet to be determined how long this lasts, experience tells me that it may be short-lived, I certainly hope it’s not.
Adam was very brave to share this story publicly. There is always much judgment and criticism with extra marital affairs and if you are one such person with strong opinions, I doubt this will change yours
What I hope, is that next time you hear of an affair, you consider that sometimes, there is far more to the story than what you realize. That sometimes, people have done all they can or could.
I have nothing but compassion and empathy for this man’s decisions.
He was faced with three choices.
- Breaking up his family over something he had been shamed into believing was trivial and unimportant Or;
- Live a life that was not consistent with what he wanted and needed as a man, also resulting in shame for his ‘needs’ and pain of the internal conflict he felt.
- Having an affair and making him judged as guilty for being a cheat.
Of course, his wife always had the choice to have sex with him.
When is one vow or one partners needs more important than the other?
*this is not every man’s story. This is the story of one man Adam (identity changed) who has courageously shared his story with me. I acknowledge that there are many scenario’s around cheating, this is just one of them.