Why Am I Turned On By The Details Of My Husband’s Affair? What Is Wrong With Me?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from wives who are truly perplexed by their reaction to hearing the details of their husband’s affair.  Usually, they will tell you that they expected to be not only furious, but totally turned off by their husband.  And often, no one is more shocked than them when this turns out not to be the case.  Imagine the shock and confusion when they find that they’re not completely closed off sexually.  In fact, they are stunned and confused to realize that they are a little turned on.

Common comments are something like: “I do not know what is wrong with me.  I am so furious at my husband for having an affair with a female coworker.  I know this woman and I have had her husband and herself over to my home as guests.  I honestly don’t know what I want to do about my marriage.  I hesitate to just kick him out and walk away because of my children.   My husband seems to think that there’s a good chance for us because we are having regular, and I have to admit very good, sex.   I am so angry at my husband.  He is not the man who I thought I knew.  And during the day, my anger will build and build.  But then he will get home and we will start talking about the affair.  When he starts talking about the details, I am so mad at myself when I figure out that I’m sort of turned on.  Then we end up having good sex and my husband will take this to mean that I’ve forgiven him and that I want to salvage our marriage.  I am not sure that this is the case.  I don’t know what I want.  I’m still angry and I wish I could stop having sex with him for a while.  But as soon as we talk about the affair, my libido goes into over drive.  What is wrong with me?  Surely, this is not normal?”

Actually, this can be very normal.  And it’s not all that uncommon.   It happened to me at times, although I admit that my moods swung so wildly that it was often heard to tell exactly what I was feeling.  I would go from furious to receptive to confused all over the course of mere minutes.  Below, I’ll outline why I believe this happens and offer some suggestions on the best way to handle it.

Why This Can Happen:  I believe that we can have an increased libido in this situation for a couple of reasons.  First of all, when you find out about the affair, you can then realize just how vulnerable your marriage is.  Even if you are furious with your husband and unsure of an appropriate path, you still reserve the right to stake your claim.  As a result, you can respond by wanting to know if the spark is still there.  Also, hearing the details about him with someone else can bring out our competitive spirit.  Even if we are no longer sure if we want him, we want to make sure that he potentially wants us.  Finally, the idea of him with someone else can be somewhat appealing because suddenly we can see that he has value and is desirable to someone else.

It’s totally normal and it doesn’t say anything about you or your mental health.  There is nothing at all wrong with you.

How To Handle This:  Although this can be normal, it can also create a lot of confusion.   It can be hard to determine how you truly feel when you are alternating between feeling anger and confusion with jumping into bed.   There are a couple of choices here.  Honestly, sometimes it can feel good to have sex again.  There is no denying that.  Sometimes, it can give you confirmation of your own attractiveness and allow you to take some of your power back.  If you are going to take that route, then you need to be honest with your spouse and be very clear that, for now, having sex does not mean that you are reconciling or that you are offering complete forgiveness.  It needs to be clear that you aren’t making any decisions until you have more time to consider or process this.  If your spouse has a problem with this, then this is probably something that you will have to negotiate.

The other option is to vow not to have sex until your feelings and wishes are more clear.  Some people are not able to separate their physical and sexual relationship with their emotional one.  And that’s completely valid also.   They key is to determine what you want (and what is most healthy for you) and then to just be honest.

But please don’t think that there’s anything wrong with you. There isn’t.  And as time goes by and you begin to heal, you’ll often find that this issue works its way into the background as you begin to get down to business of healing and making important decisions.  If it helps, you’re welcome to read about my own healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com


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