Why Do I Feel Almost Obligated To Have Sex After My Husbands’ Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  In the minutes and hours following the discovery of our husband’s affair, many of us can not imagine having sex with our husbands – ever again. It is just a very unsavory thought – having sex knowing that he has recently had it with someone else.  In a round about way, having sex with him is almost like having physical contact with the other woman.  And that thought can turn your stomach.

But eventually, those minutes and hours give way to days, weeks, or even months.  Despite us thinking that it would never happen, the immediacy of the situation does wane a little.  Things calm down just a bit.  Yes, we’re still angry all right.  But we are no longer at the point where we constantly wish to do someone bodily harm or where the only thing that we can focus on is the betrayal.

We may not envision how or why or marriage may recover, but we are no longer closed off to allowing it to, if that should happen.  We may even have moments of laughter and closeness with our husband until reality comes crashing down again.  And these moments start us thinking about sex.  This man is still our husband, after all.  Perhaps continuing on with our sex life will make things better.  These thoughts sometimes show themselves, only to be quashed when we think about the affair all over again.

Here’s a common explanation: “if you would have told me a month ago that I would have even considered having sex with my husband this early, I would have laughed or almost have been offended.  The thought of having sex with him was downright repulsive to me weeks ago.  But lately, we’ve been bonding somewhat.  We’ve had some proud moments with our kids and it almost makes me feel as if we are a family again.  I will find myself smiling at my husband or reaching for his hand when we talk about our kids.  We’ve even had a kiss here and there.  The other night, we’d had a wonderful evening with our kids.  We put them to bed and we had a few glasses of wine.  We agreed that although we have not done everything perfectly as a married couple (and the affair is a perfect example of this,) we did do a great job of raising our kids.  My husband hugged me and then we kissed.  And then there was a moment when I just knew that we were about to have sex. I almost even wanted to. But I pulled back.  And then I felt guilty about it the next day. My husband has been doing everything that I’ve asked him to.  He’s been incredibly sweet.  And I am his wife.  And I almost feel like if I cut him off from sex then he will go looking for sex elsewhere, even though I hope that isn’t the case.  I have a co-worker who is dealing with the same issue.  Her husband had an affair also. And she feels the same way. Why do we feel obligated in this way? And should we go through with it?”

I can’t tell you whether or not to go through with it.  I think that this is a decision that only you can make.  But I have some theories as to why you may feel obligated. Plus, I can tell you some reasons as to why I don’t think you need to feel as obligated.

Why We May Feel A Sexual Obligation: I think that first of all, most married people feel some sense of responsibility for their spouse’s happiness and sense of well being.  It is just human nature to want those who we love to be happy.  So, when we knowingly and on purpose withhold something that we know is essential to their well being and happiness, this makes us feel guilty.

And because an affair is wrapped up with sex with someone else, we worry that by not having sex, we are tipping the odds in the favor of him cheating again.

Why It’s My Opinion That You Don’t Need To Give Into The Obligation Unless It Is What You Willingly Want To Do: Both of these variables are understandable, but I do not think that they mean that you have to have sex if you still do not feel that it is right.  Yes, it is tough when we know that we will affect someone else’s happiness.  But sometimes, there is no way around this.  There are times when continuing to have sex makes things even more confusing.  A husband can take continuing sex as an indication that things are now OK.  But if you still are NOT OK, then this creates additional problems.

As far as feeling that he will cheat again if you don’t give him sex, this is sort of emotional blackmail and it’s a game that I don’t think you can win or should play.  If you are ready to have sex again and want to, that’s an entirely different matter.  But you should not force yourself to do so simply because you feel pressured to provide sex so that he will not seek it somewhere else.

I can not tell you how to conduct your marriage or sex life.  But when I went through this, I waited until things were square emotionally before I resumed with the physical relationship.  Not every one does this and some couples are able to make it work when they continue to have sex while they are healing.  You have to do what works for and feels right to you.  But it’s probably not ideal to have sex just because you feel an obligation to do so. You can read more about how I handled this and other issues after the affair on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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