Extramarital affairs: As an intimacy and sexuality coach, I hear hundreds, if not thousands of stories about infidelity regularly. Women, especially, seek solace in my social media platforms to talk about things like this, something they cannot do in real life. After listening to countless confessions like this, I have come to realise some things. Many of these women come from sexless or loveless marriages. Society as a whole condemns cheating, and for a good reason. But labeling someone as a “bad person” and moving on without getting to the root cause is like throwing darts with a blindfold on. It might mean nothing to you, but the person on the receiving end can get deeply hurt. As someone who was in a sexless, loveless marriage for years and has been in the same position as most of these women, I can safely say that having an extra marital affair might not be a good place to be in the long run.
I heard a sex therapist stating in one of the workshops I attended in US “Most people would be unhappy in cheating because it leads to a disintegration of self. One ends up living two lives mired by dishonesty, lies, betrayal and thus is not integrated from within. As human beings, we seek integration and cheating poses a direct challenge to that.”
In the stories I have come across, many women have resorted to cheating because of lack of sex and intimacy in marriage. There could be many reasons as to why husbands can deny their wives sex and intimacy. It could be low sex drive and resistance in seeking professional help, marrying for the sake of maintaining their image, in-laws issues, etc. These damages can be mitigated by the professional support. But then again, another striking symptom of a sexless marriage is the stigma around it. I counselled a man whose wife is sexless and she said “we don’t discuss these matters in front of a third person.”
It is no secret that women who engage in infidelity are treated way harsher than men who have done it. Even today, while we see men cheating as something to be expected, women who cheat on their husbands are seen as dirty or impure.
This is one of the stories of infidelity that I received:
“I’ve been married for nine years now. My partner isn’t too much into me as a partner. I’ve always missed him as a husband. We are more like friends or roommates living to just get through things. I’ve tried many times telling him that I miss you as my husband. We have absolutely no intimacy. Tried discussing with him but only ended up in arguments leading to no talking for days. I have no idea why he is like that. I feel just like a roommate. He travels most of the time. 20 days in a month, he is out. When I was going through a particularly vulnerable place due to some family issues, I started getting close to one of my colleagues.
He was the kind of person I expected my husband to be. Easily understanding me, reading my mood and treating me the way I wanted to be treated. I was emotionally unstable and alone. And he was with me. This ended up into something which should not have happened. When I got pregnant through IVF, this colleague of mine cut contact with me because he suspected it’s his child and I am hiding. I am stressed because I am not happy with what I was doing. It would affect my family, my baby, and at the same time, I still miss this guy who has blocked me everywhere. I am all alone and in distress. I feel lost. Stressed. Guilty. Ashamed. Scared. Depressed.”
Her husband’s refusal to communicate with her left her in a confused, unsatisfied state where she had to look outside her marriage for some intimacy. She is now grieving the relationship she had with her co-worker and the relationship she will never have with her husband. It is hard to fault her since she has clearly told her husband about her needs, but he refuses to cooperate and understand. In cases like these, it is almost impossible to label someone as “the bad person”. After all, isn’t her husband the one who refused to even try? But one cannot say for sure until he can share his side of the story.
The sense of guilt in her words is palpable. This woman is suffering emotionally, and her mental health is declining as well. This is the mental and emotional state of many women who choose to receive affection outside their marriage. But it is, in no way, a happy place to be. We need to realise that happiness does not lie in escape. If we want to be in a good place in life, we need to have courage and make some tough decisions. Courage and assertiveness matter more in a relationship than you might think. If you are in a sexless or loveless marriage, confront your partner instead of maintaining your status quo. Tell them what you want out of the relationship. If they cannot give you what you want, you need to see if this marriage is worth continuing? This is a much better choice than drowning yourself in guilt for wanting something as basic as love and intimacy.
Image Credit: DNA India
Pallavi Barnwal is a certified sexuality coach and founder of a sex-positive platform Get Intimacy. She has been featured in HUNDREDS — of magazines, newspapers, and online articles as a sexpert – Huffington Post, India Today, Vogue, The Hindu, Dainik Bhaskar, Indian Express, Times Of India, BBC, Deccan Chronicle, Femina, Mint, and more. Pallavi specializes in helping people address challenges facing their sexuality and intimacy and provides them with skills and tools to experience more pleasure and satisfaction in their intimate lives. Views expressed are the author’s own.
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