Do Affairs Work?

I have been faithfully married for 34 years. I have not had sex for 2 years and before that it was horrible for with decreasing frequency for the last 20. I do love my wife becasue of the wonderful companion she has been but now she simply can not/will not have sex and because of her decline mental and physical state, it has become utterly hopeless that we will have sex again. Yes, we have tried multiple marriage counselors, books, etc. but now I see that all hope is finally lost in trying to have an intimate PHYSICAL relationship with her. It is not just sex, but even cuddling, kissing, touching, talking about sex etc. She has even given me a bolster to lie with in bed since she doesn't want to even be touched anymore even in her sleep.

I promised and will support her as she ages or goes through whatever life crises may come in her life. I will not desert her and that is the thing she fears most about our relationship now.

My problem is that I am VERY depressed about not having any physical intimacy or sex for the rest of my life. I have gone to counselors, psychiatrists, etc. and they have just put me on antidepressants but offer no solutions.

Virtually all religions say adultry is wrong and a sin but none of them say anything about what happens when your wife can't be your sexual partner (well, maybe Islam does since you can get another wife also).

Society in general also condemns anyone having an affair as morally corrupt and and irresponsible. People seem to love to judge and then condemn/hurt other people when it comes to any sin they feel they are committing. I guess they just can't wait for God to punish people himself... maybe God might even forgive them.

My wife is in the "Don't ask, Don't tell" state of mind when it comes to me having an affair since she doesn't want the social humiliation of being the woman someone is cheating on. Yet she knows my need for sex/intimacy and is just silent when I bring up the need for some intimacy/physical love.

I am so very lonely and I get so depressed sometimes without any hope other than one of us dying.

My questions: do affairs work in these kind of situations? Can they remain descrete? Does a partner in an affair respect your decision to remain married to your wife yet still be a kind and loving intimate friend? Do I have to trash everything in my life and relationships with people if I just want some physical closeness with another person of the opposite sex? Is being chonically depressed and with a loss of energy/enthusiasm how I should resolve to live with for the rest of my life?

Shortguy5399 Shortguy5399
56-60, M
14 Responses Feb 9, 2009

I don't mean to sound ridiculous but...is ************ not an option anymore?? I'm not understanding having sex with someone you don't love..ok you've guessed by now I'm a woman but still..wouldn't the guilt kill you? I think it would for me. I would feel so guilty. No matter how fulfilled you may be, it would haunt you forever that you would do that just to release an urge? Think about it. I feel bad for your wife if she is not capable of giving you sex for whatever medical reasons she has or whatever...that is devastating for her first of all..second if you asked you permission to have sex with someone else because you can't take it anymore..well I can't even imagine her thoughts and feelings on that one because that would be devastating too and for her to say do it but she doesn't want to know about it..well that right there says she's heartbroken. Women never tell their inner most deep feelings and secrets. Its in our nature to hold it in and I'm telling you - that would kill her. Of course she's not going to say anything, she wants you to be happy because she loves you. Its called sacrifice. Men would know nothing about obviously. Just in your nature to do what you gotta do or else. Just my opinion.

I find solace that I'm not alone in my own 10 year lack of intimacy with my wife with whom I'm in love in every other way. I especially connect with Shortguy and Papajim. I note that I have a disciplined ability to compartmentalize many parts of my life and think - hope? expect? - that I'd be able to contain myself in an extra-marital affair. Any one read the book entitled something like "When Good People have Affairs?"

If you are looking for intimacy, affection and sex. There are much better options than affairs.<br />
Sex is an ex<x>pression of self, shared in an intimate setting. I would suggest looking into the works of David Schnarch to better understand the issues that you are facing and that your wife is facing. There are also marital therapy retreats that look at a marriage through sex. The book A Passionate Marriage is a must read if you are in a sexless marriage.<br />
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An affair wont truly solve your problem of needing intimacy and it will mean that you miss the opportunity for your wife to grow and become intimate too!

Once again, I think I have to thank everyone who posted for their wise and honest counsels. It has helped me feel a lot better already. I have hope that if things got too depressing or debilitating for me, I could possibly find a solution or resolution in having an affair, given all its risks. That hope alone is enough to lift my depression and know that I am not the only one who has walked this path. <br />
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I know that life isn't a vending machine where if you are not happy you just make a simple choice and get instant gratification and problems solved. I also know that just passively waiting for things to change the way I want is equally naive. <br />
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Thanks again and with hope and a course of action, I will see what life brings me to deal with next. :)

I agree with Zorbas that it is important to think about the "business" of having an affair quite clinically. This is not the affair you have when, without warning, you see each other "across a crowded room" and fall instantly in love!<br />
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It is a calculated and carefully planned way to meet your own needs. Some would say this is very cold blooded, but IMHO it needs to be like this or the affair is likely to lead to disaster.<br />
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Dating sites are a great advantage from this point of view. They allow one to seek a partner who is aware from the beginning that you are not looking for a "proper" relationship. They also allow you to meet people outside your own social circle so the chances of discovery are lessened.<br />
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By the very nature of this type of contact you can email, phone, meet and discuss your needs on a very factual and unemotional basis - NOT something one does in a romantic relationship! <br />
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Whether you decide to share the information with your "refuser" partner or not is a very individual decision. I have chosen not to because of the hurt and distress I believe it would inflict on my husband, whom I still care about deeply.<br />
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Zorbas said:<br />
To those who look upon this as cheating and on strictly moral grounds , let me say that when one party in a marriage seeks not to resolve problems, compromise or accommodate the other in a marriage, like any contract that contract become null and void.<br />
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And I wholeheartedly concur with that. I maybe cheating, but I have also been cheated. I am NOT having an affair to "get back at" him - I'm having an affair because it allows me to stay in a marriage I would otherwise feel compelled to leave.<br />
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But as others have said, this must be an individual choice or decision for each person. No-one can tell you what to do or what not to do. But those of us on this forum DO understand the nature of your dilemma and you have my deepest sympathy, for one.

Zorbas,<br />
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You have spelled out many emotional aspects to taking on a lover outside of a marriage. You are so right, the contract has been broken.<br />
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The best option would be for the sexless partner to encourage and embrace a third person to be in the relationship. I think I will post this as a new talking point.

Shortguy: I make no judgement of anyone here, I only speak from my own experience. I could not get past the guilt, and still can't of having been with another. It was never my intention to cheat. But we find ourselves empty and lonely and someone comes along that makes us feel good again. What's the harm, I will only engage a few times, but one person always becomes attached. In my case it was the other man. Madly, passionately in love with me. <br />
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So now you have a triangle, whereby you know one person is going to get hurt. I say if you are going to cheat, leave the marriage. Release you spouse. It may hurt them in the beginning but they may be thanking you down the road when they too meet Mr./Ms. wonderful.

Thanks everyone so much for your honest answers. Whatever happens, I am certainly the wiser and more confident with your comments and advice.

i've never done it, but the moral concerns are not an issue with me (at least not in terms of a religious committment). each case is no doubt different, so it is impossible to say unequivocally whether or not an affair will work for you. the advice above is good. you have to know yourself, and what you are willing to compromise to balance out your life. if you truly believe that an affair is the only way to sustain the connection with the person that you love, and the guilt of it and the painful reminder of what you are missing won't adversely effect your relationship, then i think it is possible to make it work. <br />
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i can't get to that place. right now, i'm at a place where even i don't want sex anymore. unlike her though, that realization brings me so much pain.

This is an area which I feel most comfortable in discussing inasmuch as I have used affairs for years to create a world apart from my sexless marriage. <br />
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First of all understand that you must prepare yourself mentally and be convinced that this will be the solution to your problem and that your moral principles and guilt will not cause you discomfort later. It cannot be a decision taken lightly. If there are young children in the mix the effect on their lives in the event of discovery must be also looked into and considered carefully.<br />
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While there is great excitement and pleasure to be derived from a extra marital affair the risk it carries are great as well. Those whose marriages are sexless because of illness on the part of one partner carries an acute sense of guilt sometimes and rightly so. This can be the heaviest burden of all and the greatest deterent for pursuing this option.<br />
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I fortunately had none of this to consider since my marriage was merely shell early on and affection had no place in it.<br />
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I invoved myself only with married women , with only one exception, to my regret, and although it may sound cold, I made sure up front that the nature of the affair was unbridled sexual exploration and these guidelines were to be kept if it was to flourish. <br />
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However, even with these considerations agreed to, they dissipated very quickly when emotional ties took hold and a conclusion was often demanded. It is virtually impossible to not find ones self completely immersed in the affection offered, which was for so long denied . It is hard not to want this euphoria to last a lifetime and we delude our selves that this is a dream come true. Alas it is not, it is just an escape mechanism briefey entered into and the responsibilites to familiy bring us back to the realities and we return to the grind with nothing but great memories of the warmth and intimacy to sustain us.<br />
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Many of these women did move on with their lives having used our time together as the intermediate step to a better life. Several got the confidence and regained self esteem to divorce, remarry happily and others married several times never finding that right mix for them. <br />
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There were several that I often think of lovingly in retrospect would have made my life much happer than that whch I now endure .<br />
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To those who look upon this as cheating and on strictly moral grounds , let me say that when one party in a marriage seeks not to resolve problems, compromise or accommodate the other in a marriage, like nay contract that contract become null and void.<br />
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Please understand that I do not advocate this for all,. It is an option and only for those with courage to seek a better life for themselves even for a brief time and escape a pervasive situation.

I have not had an extra marital affair so my opinion here may be totally irrelevant... but here it is. No, they don't work. If you embark upon an affair the chances of making some sort of emotional connection are surely reasonably high (however temporary that may prove to be). However, if you are looking for a "trigger" to trash the existing relationship, then an affair could be an excellent idea to bring this about. Your risk is that what you may get into may be way worse than what you got out of. (It could be way better too of course.)<br />
The next part of your query essentialled asked if the affair partner would be discreet, loving but accepting you wanted to stay married. Hmmmm. I think that particular set of values may be hard to find in the one person. I guess its possible, but seems highly unlikely.<br />
Third part was whether you have to trash everything just to get some physical closeness ? I may have misinterpreted what you truly mean here but I'd say 'surely not" if you are just talking casual sex. If however you refer to a meaningful relationship with some emphasis on a satisfying and ongoing sex, then the answer might be 'probably yes'.<br />
Incidently, I wouldn't be so concerned with "societys" view on what you ultimately choose to do, or "peoples judgemental attitudes". YOU make your choices, and YOU reap the good / bad consequences of them. People love to make judgements about other peoples choices - but they don't have to wear the consequences. YOU do !<br />
Good luck in your choices shortguy.

I have been contemplating this exact thing for over a year now and have set a date where if things don't change at home, I will begin looking to fulfill my needs outside my marriage. I have tried everything including counseling, talking with my husband, making a fool of myself to initiate the act, only to repeatedly be shoved away. I love him still and we have a good life in just about all other respects, but there is no sex, no closeness, no intimacy whatsoever anymore. When I approached the subject this last time, he said, Valentine's Day, maybe. So we'll see. My only problem is to try to maintain an attitude that this will be a sex only adventure, and not get emotionally entangled. I hope to be able to do that. I've been divorced once after a 10 year marriage, and have been in this one for 32 years. Wish me luck. Life is to short to not have this part of it don't you think.

Well, I have been where you are now fellow. Only my droubt lasted a good 10 years before I told her that if she was not going to be intimate with me I was going to seek it elsewhere. Surprizingly she said, go ahead just don't tell me about it.<br />
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So I have been intimate with a number of other women, mostly widows or wives who are not getting any at home. Look at it as therapy for both of us.<br />
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And to keep it purely sex I also visit a girl once a month who I pay for favors. It helps her out and me too.<br />
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So there. Tell her what you need and tell her that if she can't give you what you need you will not leave her but you will find release elsewhere and good luck with your hunt.

Here's my experience with affairs..if you see just one person..you will become attached emotionally. That's cheating on so many levels that you will come to resent your wife even more than you do now and remaining devoted to taking care of her will never happen.<br />
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You may be different than some and be able to have a healthy, friends only sort of ongoing sexual relationship with someone without tipping the emotional scales at some point...but I doubt it.<br />
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When I was deciding whether to stray or not, that was one of my dilemma's.. I didn't want to fall in love with anyone else...so I chose to find a couple of people. That worked fairly well for awhile actually. For a little over a year my health was decent, the depression let up, the migraines went away, I was getting what I needed physically without any emotional drain.<br />
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And then...I met someone new. You just never know who you're going to meet..and this someone reminded me what I missing. All the lust, the passion, the intimacy..the whole 9 yards in one little kiss. We both knew we were pretty well screwed after that first night together and we probably should have taken out cookies and gone home but we didn't.<br />
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You can't be everything to everyone...and we all know that you love your wife...we're all in the same boat here. But eventually the option is literally going to be your life or her happiness. That's the way depression works. <br />
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No one here..at least I don't think.. will chastise you for having an affair..just know the risks you take are greater than just getting caught.