I got this from a reader who gave me permission to share it on here. Her experience is a perfect example of how even the roughest patches in your relationship can turn out to be for good in the end.
How My Husbands Affair Saved Us
I still remember the day that Steve* (name changed) told me he was having an affair and didn’t want to stop. I was so devastated. I honestly felt like I was going to throw up. My mind was racing. I couldn’t help but wonder “What did I do?” “Why didn’t he ever tell me?” “How could he do this to me and our family?” I had so many thoughts that I couldn’t keep track of ’em all. Initially, I started to think that it was all my fault and I should have known better. Steve always had a high sex drive and we always fought about how I never wanted to do it as often as he did. I should have known that he wouldn’t live a sexually frustrated life forever.
After a week or two of deciding what we wanted to do, Steve decided to end the affair and we decided to go see a counselor. When we got to the counselor’s office, Steve talked about his years of sexual frustration and I blamed myself for the affair. I was apologetic and remorseful and Steve was angry and bitter about his years of sexual frustration.
We Both Stopped Blaming Me
Over the course of counseling, the therapist helped me to see that the affair was not my fault and helped me to learn to stop blaming myself. I learned that there was a vulnerability in the relationship created by the sexual frustration but Steve could have done hundreds of other things other than having an affair to fix it. He could have worked more, found a new hobby, asked to see a counselor, etc. but he chose to have an affair.
Steve also began accepting ownership for the affair. He recognized he could have done hundreds of other things. He learned a lot about himself and why he chose to have an affair instead of joining a book club or something else. He was apologetic for putting me and the family through the embarrassment of his affair and for creating the difficult situation in our marriage because of the affair.
We Realized We Were Both At Fault
After Steve accepted ownership and I stopped accepting blame, we began to dig deep to uncover what happened that created the affair. Steve stated that he was so reliant on sex with me to feel close to me – so when we weren’t having sex, he wasn’t feeling close anymore. After a while he got tired of feeling so rejected by the one that he relied so heavily on that he found another way to meet this emotional need. And he wasn’t blaming me by saying this anymore. He was taking ownership of his own feelings and his own actions.
After I learned to stop blaming myself, I realized I did have some ownership in the affair, too. This was a bitter pill to swallow. I had finally stopped blaming myself for the affair and now I had to turn around and own up to what I really was doing in the relationship that was causing problems. I was resentful that I would have to talk about this just because Steve had an affair. But I went there anyway.
After some work, I realized I was never comfortable with sex because of my strict conservative upbringing and I recognized that I had a lot of feelings of shame surrounding sex. Because of my shame, I had difficulty allowing Steven to connect with me emotionally. In the back of my mind, I knew that if he felt close to me emotionally he would want to have sex with me so I kept an emotional distance as a way to preemptively avoid sex.
After discovering both of our patterns, we worked on not blocking each other out anymore. He begun trying to reach out to me emotionally again and I began trying to accept his emotional requests. This meant that he started wanting sex more and I had to get more comfortable with my body and my feelings around sex. At first I was resentful because I had to dig up all these issues about me just because Steve had an affair but after a while I got more comfortable with my body and with sex. I even found that after I allowed myself to feel close, I naturally began wanting to have sex with him. I would even initiate it more because I felt so close. And it was good sex. It was the emotional, connecting, electrifying kind of sex.
We Stopped Blocking Each Other Out
As we continued on, we realized so many ways that we were both blocking each other out emotionally: Him out of his fear of rejection and me out of my fear of it leading to sex. With these gone, we were now able to connect in so many new ways. It felt like we were dating again.
It took 22 years to finally get here but now we’re as happy as we’ve ever been in our relationship. Now we have the relationship we both dreamed of. We are so close and passionate about each other in ways that we never were. The affair was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to go through and I still wish we never went through it. But if it weren’t for the affair, we would never have the relationship we have now. It opened our eyes to the ways our relationship was hurting and made us work to heal it. Now we’re stronger than ever and I have the affair to thank for it!