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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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My husband cheated on me. I discovered he had sex several times

Customer Question

My husband cheated on me. I discovered he had sex several times with the another women. He also admitted to flirting with other women at bars. I have gone to some therapy with him at church. We are working it out. However when I am having sex with me I fill up with anger and almost go numb. I can laugh with him during the day, but when it comes to sex I shut down. He wants me to enjoy him but it is not the same. What am I to do? Will I ever enjoy him again? Will I ever be able to get over this situation?
When I discovered he was cheating I was about 6 months pregnant. I had a very rough first trimester and was very sick off and on. When I discovered the affair I actually spoke to the women who had no idea he was married. She was actually set up with him by one of my husbands good friends. My husband says he was up happy with our marriage and living situation (we lived in my family's home and he often felt like less than a man). Since then we moved and have our own place. We have 3 children now and are trying to work it out. I still have trust issues. I cannot believe the one I love would be so intimate with another.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

Are you still in therapy at this time? And, is it helping? If so, how? If not, please elaborate.

How long ago did the affair occur and how long did it last? How did you find out?

You husband has not doubt tried to reassure you (verbally), but have the two of you talked about what he can do or needs to do to rebuild your trust i.e., specific actions, behaviors etc. For example, no private cell phone lines, no private email accounts and no passwords you don't know about; no financial accounts you don't know about, etc.?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you.
We have somewhat stopped therapy since I gave birth to our third child 2 months ago. We still attend church and talk and pray together. It did help. We learned we need to communicate more and that I cannot change him, has helped me a lot. The affair went on for about 2 months. He was "hooked up" with this girl because he needed someone to talk to. He ended up lying to her and said he was not married had no children and lived in a different town. He hung out with her in a bar and went to her apartment. He would have me to believe he was at work. I discovered this because I had a feeling he was messing around. He happened to leave his work cell phone at home and I discovered her number called her and she was just a shocked as I was. He could not deny it. The first thing he said to me was I was unhappy. He since has cut off his friend that hooked him up and for a period of time cut off everyone. We are slowly getting back in touch with some of his friends. He is more open, no blocks on his cell phone, and I use it often. I don't believe there are anymore things going on but the facts from the affair cause me to question and doubt, since I was fooled once.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
O.K., this is a really good start. It is his actions, the things he is willing to do to prove that his words of reassurance mean something, that can eventually allow you to trust him again. If it was all words, but few actions, then you would be justifiably more pessimistic and worried.

You may have learned what you needed to from couples therapy---if it has resulted in the two of you talking more. I would like to suggest an immovable, non cancel-able date night for the two of you, once per week. Were I him, I would suggest to that he express different forms of non-intercourse affection toward you e.g., back rubs, foot-rubs, hugs, etc., that don't "lead" to intercourse. Your brain needs time to associate nonsexual affection like this with simple feelings of enjoyment; when you have intercourse, images of the other woman and concerns about "why" he did what he did will contaminate the situation. So I would have him focus on non-intercourse ways of providing you with pleasure, and vice versa.

You are still recovering from the shock of what he did. For women, sex means something a bit different very often, then it does for men and in your case, your surprise and worry regarding how he could possibly be so intimate with someone else, really reflects these differences. For him, and for many men, having sex as he did may not be more complicated than feeling isolated, lonely, not communicating well with one's spouse, and then simple opportunity, where "one thing leads to another". So your husband lacks some level of emotional maturity because he doesn't yet appreciate how you feel about what he did, the true depths of feelings you had about his behavior; and, it will take time for him to learn and understand it. But there is a good chance he will 'get it". The other immaturity issue is honesty and full transparency, which you appear to be working on and he seems to be learning.

So, overall, it will take some time before you will not feel angry about the sexual issues in your marriage. You will get over it most quickly if your husband ACTS in the ways that prove he is trustworthy----it may take months or even a year or two of consistent proof before you'll believe he's trustworthy again. Also, if he is willing to be affectionate toward you in nonsexual ways, this can help---you will need to give him feedback about this---maybe show him this post. It can get better for you over time and actually, everything you describe about your situation really is quite optimistic, in terms of the duration of this affair, the resolution of it, your improved communication, and his actions aimed at proving he is open and transparent about his actions going forward.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Let me know if I have overlooked any aspect of your question.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you that was helpful, I however shut down and don't want to talk to him for days after having sex. I don't want to talk to him about is because I just hope I will get over it. I hate bringing up the affair its like opening up the deepest wound. What can I do, when I shut down? How can I open up?
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
It would appear that the "emotional side" of your brain, which is still terribly hurt, insulted and stunned by his actions, needs to have a talk with your "rational side of your brain; the rational side can objectively understand why men do stupid things like this, and can make decisions about what, if anything, this guy will need to do to earn your trust again.

In your latest post, you provide a perfect example of this emotional versus rational conflict going on inside your head. On the one hand, you emotionally shut down for days after having sex with him (emotional brain) . But on the other hand, the rational side of your brain realizes that doing things like bringing up the affair again and opening up the wound is not helpful, not rational, not constructive. One of the things we do in therapy is allow the client to verbally express these contradictory aspects of their thinking and literally argue, negotiate etc., until a reconciliation is reached.

I might want to go back to therapy for a visit or two to deal with this specific problem i.e., the struggle you are having with the anger, hurt and frustration you experience that is triggered by having sex. You may find it helpful to more fully explore what it is you are thinking and feeling before and during sex. For example, you may experience images in which you visualize him having sex or wonder if he touched the other woman the way he does you; you may be making personal comparisons of sorts. You may want to give more detailed thought to exactly what it is you are thinking and feeling, before, during and after and write this in a journal. Such an activity can help reduce anger and frustration because we gradually get desensitized to what we are thinking and feeling if we confront it very directly, in fine detail. Talking to a therapist alone about such issues also helps reduce the emotional power they have over us.

The other issue you may want to talk to a therapist or your husband about is the general concept of 'compensation'. You remain angry with your husband following sex and won't want to talk to him for days. A rational, logical and reasonable question you may want to ask yourself is, "what exactly do I want that would allow me to give up my anger?" That is, exactly how could your husband compensate you for putting you through all of this? Maybe you feel you don't want to have sex at all for a month or two and you should only have it again once you decide you desire it or he deserves it---after compensating you for his personal affronts to you.

I'd now like some feedback from you about these two ideas----revisiting exactly what it is you think and feel before, during and after sex that could help you understand better what it is and what might remedy it; and doing this to help desensitize you to the emotional trauma of the experience of this affair. And, the idea of contemplating what compensation is due you from your husband----because you are obviously angry and feel you deserve better treatment than you received from him. What else can he do to compensate you and allow you to give up your anger, and forgive him?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Before sex, I am talking to him and laughing. I often want to end the night there because I know what will come next. Sometimes I am in to it. Other times he can touch me in a certain way and I cover my face hold back the tears and hope it ends soon. I even compared it to being raped. Its sad to say this is a man I use to be all over. Even when the affair was going on we had date night and sex was fine. I am use to enjoy when he touched my breasts for example but I imagine him with her and I die all over again. It is to the point where I would rather not have sex with him. When its over I cover my face, cry, or just fall fast asleep. I just put myself in another place and imagine my self doing something else or thing about my day or to do list. See he is a great dad, he really shocked me, I thought we were doing good. I guess I want from him more communication, nonsexual touch, hugs, gentle kisses (he is usually grabbing me and pushing is tounge down my throat) he is very attracted to me but I feel so ugly. I am so far gone I don't know what he can do. I like the idea of date night. Its tough with three small kids, but I would like for him to plan nice evenings, from top to bottom, get a sitter and even if we have no money just a walk in the park is enough for me.
Your advice is great thank you so much.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
Your last post was WONDERFUL. You have gained some insight into all of the details about having sex with your husband and can put your thoughts, feelings, wants, visual imagery, etc. Each sentence of your post would give a clinical psychologist who does couples therapy great clues as to how to help you. I hope you can share information from these posts with your husband. I would personally, ask him to back off and not ask for intercourse with you until he has interacted with you enough times, in enough ways, that you actually enjoy being touched, given a back rub-----receiving the nonsexual interactions with him. No oral sex or French kissing right now. What you are saying is that if he wants to compensate you for his actions, he needs to respect how hurt you are, and that sexual intercourse is a conditioned trigger for a great deal of emotional distress for you. Compensation involves going through a lot of nonsexual interaction with you and not pressing the intercourse issue right now; it also means taking you on dates EVERY WEEK, even though it is tough to do with you children.

My best wishes to you. Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns about this matter, please.
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience: Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
Dr. Michael and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you so much we will work on that. If anything comes up I wish to think it over with you. I honestly feel much better. Your right thinking it through and talking it out (between my two sides, rational and emotional) works great. Thanks for this exercise.
Have a great weekend.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
My very best to you. Feel free to write back to me in the future if you have any new questions.

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