Is It Wrong To Have An Affair When Your Spouse Won’t Have Sex With You?

By Katie Lersch: I often hear from people who are considering cheating on their spouse or having an affair. Often, they are already working on justifications that they can tuck away in their mind in order to help alleviate their guilt. One common example of this is that their spouse doesn’t have enough sex with them or that the quality of the sex isn’t good enough.

A common example of this is something like: “my spouse and I have not had sex for a couple of months. We have been struggling with a huge issue in our marriage and my spouse says that she can not connect with me physically unless our relationship is working emotionally. So she’s made it clear that she has no intentions of having sex with me anytime soon. And no matter what I say or do, she doesn’t seem likely to change her mind. I have needs and she has made it clear that she has no plans to meet those needs. Meanwhile, my assistant at work has been hitting on me for years. I am very attracted to this woman, but I have always remained faithful to my wife because of my children. I don’t ever want for my kids to grow up without both of their parents. So I fully realize that I am stuck in my marriage. But that doesn’t mean that I am going to just accept that I won’t ever be having sex. I am pretty sure that very soon, I’m going to start an affair with my assistant just so I can deal with my physical needs. Is this so wrong? Surely my spouse realizes that if she is unwilling to have sex with me, then I’m going to go somewhere else?”

Actually, your spouse may not be fully aware of this. In fact, she may be assuming that since you made a commitment to her and your children, you may be motivated to work out your problems with her so that you can resume your sex life rather than jeopardizing any chance of healing your marriage and your sex life by sleeping with someone else. I don’t mean to sound insensitive or unfeeling. And I am not trying to say that you don’t have a real problem. But as a spouse who has been cheated on and as someone who had to work very hard to save their marriage after infidelity, I have to be honest and tell that I can’t think of any circumstances under which I would condone or give the green light toward infidelity.

My Biased Opinion: It’s my opinion and belief that if your marriage becomes unbearable or so damaged that it is impossible to save it, then it is better to end the marriage before you have a relationship with any one else. But, in my opinion and experience, yes, it is always very wrong to have an affair under any circumstances.

I understand that you want and need a physical relationship with your spouse. Sex is a very important part of any marriage and I am not telling you that you should go without it. But rather than jeopardizing or damaging your marriage any more, why not place your focus and your energy on fixing what is broken so you can resume your marital sex life? I know that this can be a daunting task and that it requires that you take the long view rather than the short view. But having an affair can not only damage your marriage, it can damage other aspects of your life and your psyche. It harms you in ways that you probably have never even considered. And, even if your marriage doesn’t ultimately make it, then the affair will often impact your next relationship. To me, it is just not worth all of the risk and all of the damage.

Give Your Spouse A Chance To Work With You To Make This Right: Instead of causing this type of harm, I would instead approach your spouse and tell her that you are very motivated to heal your marriage because you very much miss her and you miss the physical intimacy that you used to have. You don’t want to tell her that she is wrong or selfish for withholding sex from you. And you don’t want to pressure or threaten her. But you want to show her that there is an urgency here and you are asking her to take some prompt action.

If she is resistant, then you may need to take the initiative for yourself. You may need to be the one to find a counselor or to obtain some self help that will set you on the direction toward healing. And yes, this can be some work and it can feel a bit unfair. But it is far better than doing what you probably already know in your heart is quite wrong. I believe that it’s in everyone’s best interest to do everything in their power to save their marriage. If, after you’ve made the greatest effort you can muster and you still haven’t made progress, then it’s time to get professional help or consider other alternatives, like redefining or ending the relationship.

However, if you are intimate with someone before you have healed or ended your marital relationship, then it is cheating and I can’t ever condone that. Because I know first hand that nothing positive or healthy ever comes out of it.  The pain of my husband’s affair was indescribable and I believe that it could have all been avoided if he had approached me before cheating.  Because he didn’t, we had to work very hard to save our marriage.  And this caused pain that could have been avoided.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at

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