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Physical attraction after an affair

 
 
Reply Wed 2 Aug, 2017 11:25 pm
I was in an affair with another woman for two years. My wife now knows and readily admits she was closed off sexually due to her own issues (not saying the affair was justified, just a little background.) When we first met we connected emotionally and the physical connection came much later. She expressed interest in sex during courtship but has been much more closed off during our marriage (pretty much from the start, this is not something that degraded over time).

Now we're are trying to reconcile and I'm in a bind. I don't feel an attraction to her. Now you might say "Duh, you were in an affair for two years!" Which might be a valid point, but I truly look at her and think that if I had just met her I would not be attracted to her. I've done a lot of thinking and reading on this, and I'm truly worried that I may never be physically attracted to her again. I've been out of communication with my affair partner for six months and I'm still feeling this way. I'm starting to dread a life of platonic love without the physical attraction.

To exacerbate matters she's always had an insecurity about her looks. I told her routinely for years that she is beautiful (honestly I would believe most think she is average looking, but I meant it and it came from the lived in my heart). Now she asks me if I'm still attracted to her and I've been trying to "fake it til I make it" hoping that those feelings will return.

After my duplicity during the affair and the stress and pain it caused I have very little patience and tolerance for my own dishonesty (there may be some eye rolls here but the toll it took on those around me as well as on myself is not something I want to endure again). Should I be honest with her and say I'm trying to invest again in the relationship but the physical attraction is slow in coming? As I said she has strong insecurities about her looks and I feel after what I did to her, telling the truth in this situation would be like throwing salt on the wound. On the other hand I'm struggling with even the smallest dishonesty between us as I would like to eradicate that forever. I'm torn as to what to do.


 
PUNKEY
 
  3  
Reply Thu 3 Aug, 2017 06:55 am
Stop making this an issue of how your wife looks. You have fallen out of love with her at all levels.

If you can't resurrect that, then pack it in and go your own way.

jespah
 
  3  
Reply Thu 3 Aug, 2017 08:40 am
@PUNKEY,
I would add to Punkey's reply - consider why you're looking to reconcile. If it's to save money, spare everyone and get out now.
FrankLee
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Aug, 2017 08:59 am
@jespah,
Good points. My situation is fairly standard, primarily concerned about kids emotional state caused by divorce, (ex)wife's long term financial outlook, kids college education, etc. Those are the drivers to stay, hoping to be able to re-establish the relationship to support those goals.

See a previous thread by me regarding my situation. Years of struggle with a chronically ill child. There is guilt for me related to wanting to leave given the understandable strain of being in that situation.

I'm also struggling with the fact that while I've covered my concerns over time, I haven't been consistently clear in my communication. Struggling with the fact that my own communication failures have contributed (along with her contributions) to me falling out of love.

Trying to determine if a sustained, sincere period of reconcilation and radical honesty is worth it.

Thanks for the feedback
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Aug, 2017 10:00 am
@FrankLee,
If the reason you are planning to stay married have to do with other people's financial future - rather than love of your partner - I think you are going to have to be honest with your partner about that.

Counselling for your entire family is likely in order. Start attending yourself, then bring your partner and children in for counselling as well. Everyone knows there is something wrong. The children have probably been picking up the vibes for quite some time.

Don't assume that staying married will benefit your children. What kind of lesson is it to them that their parents are in an unhappy, dishonest, relationship?
FrankLee
 
  2  
Reply Thu 3 Aug, 2017 10:08 am
@ehBeth,
Thanks for the feedback. We're currently all in individual counseling, kids are in family counseling as a group and wife and I are in marriage counseling. I just haven't seen gains for me personally (as far as reconcilation) so I don't want to string everyone along.

I appreciate everyone's directness. It's much needed for me.

ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Aug, 2017 10:10 am
@FrankLee,
Have you done any work on the reason/reasons you got married to begin with? do any of them still have meaning?
FrankLee
 
  2  
Reply Thu 3 Aug, 2017 10:27 am
@ehBeth,
I've tried to be very honest with myself about this. Basically she was one of the first women I dated (started at 19, married at 23). There's a lot of crap I'm working through, but the bullet items are my mom had just died and we formed an emotional connection around that, her struggles with her relationship with her father, and just liking being together. Not a ton shared interests but enough I guess (I will totally stipulate that I may be underselling these given my current emotional state). There's an element of having been married before I knew what I wanted but regardless of that it was my choice and I'm trying to reconcile that commitment with my current feelings.

Whatever was there was slowly eroded by a disconnect on finances and desires around sex (these are the issues that I brought up regularly but admit that I haven't been consistent about in communication -it's a maddening thought isn't it? - 'Did I say and do enough to be clearly heard?') and then was kind of obliterated when dealing with a chronically ill child for 8 years (the child is just starting to emerge from the worst of it but has acute health episodes 2-3 times per year that send my wife's fears and vigilance through the roof, consuming all her resources). I actually requested a divorce a few months back and now she's saying and doing many of the right things. This is another part of the struggle. I see the effort but it's not resonating (yet?).

All I know is I plan to be decisive very soon about my direction and I'm collecting information from a number of sources to inform my decision.

0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  2  
Reply Thu 3 Aug, 2017 11:08 am
If you feel this way (https://able2know.org/topic/371310-1 ) then get counseling and figure out how to cope.

And don't beat yourself up if it turns out you just can't do it. You can take a stand about the sanctity of marriage and still get a divorce.
FrankLee
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Aug, 2017 11:13 am
@jespah,
Just talking with a friend today, and they mentioned a meter stick they used in their own divorce. They asked the question "would this be someone that I would pick out on a dating site, or go out on a second date with if I had met them once?" Basically making the relationship and it's long term viability the center of things.

I will say, it seems to be a question that creates much more clarity. But is it that simple? As least as a starting point? It does do away with all the other concerns (finances, college savings, will she survive without me, etc) and bring out into focus.

jespah
 
  3  
Reply Fri 4 Aug, 2017 11:26 am
@FrankLee,
Except that's not who this is. This is not a stranger and not someone you could swipe out of your life.

Hey, stay together or not, but recognize that that is a false comparison and it can be used to rationalize whatever you like.
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Aug, 2017 07:20 am
What are the "right things" that she's doing and saying now?
FrankLee
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Aug, 2017 10:26 am
@PUNKEY,
She's been consistent in showing affection, asking more how she can be a partner in financial matters, and been very responsive to what I've told her isimportant to me.

If I cut through the crap honestly I have a longing to be with my affair partner and honestly right now would endure the pain of divorce to be with her, which is muddled thinking. She's actually getting divorced for her own reasons and I'm worried I've missed the boat. Which makes a me cliche. We've seen this story so many times, the equivocating, rationalization, etc. I'm not a snowflake.

I have a simple choice, divorce based on an honest evaluation of my marriage outside of my thoughts about my affair partner, or buck up and put 100% into my marriage, knowing that I can't predict the future or success with any certainty. I do honestly have concerns about the physical attraction part, but it's s piece of the bigger whole.

Thanks for everyone's feedback
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Aug, 2017 01:05 pm
@FrankLee,
You will need to fall in love with your wife again. That has to happen for your marriage to keep you in it.

Yes, your affair woman may go off without you now. She may feel you were the impetus to do what she must do, but she's seeking freedom instead of another relationship.

What do you think this woman offered you that your wife is not able to fulfill NOW?
FrankLee
 
  2  
Reply Sat 5 Aug, 2017 03:14 pm
@PUNKEY,
I would say that the main things are a consistent positivity, spontaneity and a femininity that my wife lacks. My wife basically has PTSD from the darker times of our child's illness and can easily get back into a funk if even the sniffles arise. In fact I now experience an similar reaction when she starts to talk about health issues. One of our other children had an infection that caused her blood platelet counts to drop sightly, and my wife casually started talking about how is she was concerned that if she slides at softball she might bleed excessively or bruise a lot. I had the momentary sensation of nausea. I tried my best to stay even keeled and said "I can see the concern, but I think she'll be ok. Let's see what the blood tests show next week". But internally I was almost sick to my stomach. The platelet count was fine after treatment.

The feminity thing may be just because I "took a bite of the apple" by having an affair, I'll readily admit that, but let me explain. My wife is very self conscious about her looks, and behaves almost in an asexual way. My affair partner is strong, intelligent and though she has her own insecurities, confident in many settings. She knows what she has to offer physically. It was a huge eye-opener to have someone like that by my side, who was not an iota less strong or intelligent than anyone else but brought a feminity and a subtle deference to me, or better put, understood that her feminity was a complement to what I brought to the table as a man. It's funny, I'm very egalitarian in my words and beliefs, but that aspect of the relationship and the meaning in brought caught me off guard. I can say with high confidence this is not something my wife could ever achieve unless her self image and way of carrying herself changed dramatically.

And as an aside, my affair partner would love to be with me long term. But she's smart enough to know that my recent equivocating are a red flag and I'm sure she would have pause unless I totally divorced of my own accord. Then she may consider me an option once I'm free and clear and may have moved on in the interim.
jespah
 
  4  
Reply Sat 5 Aug, 2017 04:01 pm
@FrankLee,
Then why are you sticking around?

BTW - in all seriousness - if your affair partner had been through what your wife has with a critically ill child, don't you think she'd be affected, too?

Your comparisons aren't even apples and oranges. They are apples and pogo sticks.

If you want to make a go of it with your wife, then telling yourself your side chick will be all set to get with you if the circumstances change is not a recipe for success in that area. Instead, it's a means of continually telling yourself that you don't really have to try because you've got this safety net you've built up for yourself.

Go big or go home. This in-between **** is for the birds.
FrankLee
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Aug, 2017 12:46 pm
@jespah,
Yes. That's exactly the issue. They primary problem is I shifted all of my emotional needs to the new relationship (I can understand why people say it's just sex, it won't even go into defending why it isn't) and left the logistical obligations in the old one. You can only have each foot in two boats for so long, then they start drifting apart.





0 Replies
 
blessedby4
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Aug, 2017 09:19 pm
@FrankLee,
Someone once wrote “A happy man marries the girl he loves; a happier man loves the girl he marries.” Although it may not be popular today to talk about, there are studies which seem to show, that divorce worsens problems for people rather than solve them. Also it seems that problems that have occurred in first marriages, are carried on into subsequent relationships and marriages. Your marriage is worth fixing.
Men are protectors, providers and pursuers, being that we are leaders, we may want to take the lead to fix the problem(s). I have found in my own marital difficulties, that the problem is often with me. I learned to better serve my wife putting her interests ahead of my own; I learned to better communicate with her. Doing those two, made all the difference. When my wife and I talk, I have learned to listen- but to make sure I’m really listening, I focus on her eyes. My eyes make direct contact with hers and that way I know and she knows that she has my complete undivided attention. When we have good communication, she can share her needs with me and I with her. I recently read “courage and perseverance make difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” It will take both courage and perseverance, but your marriage is worth all of it.
0 Replies
 
miri sun
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Aug, 2017 06:15 am
@FrankLee,
I am in a very similar situation right now. I was not that attracted to my husband when we first started going out, but I was happy to have such a kind and wonderful person to love me more than anything. The sex was good, not great but with years passing I started seeing my husband more and more as a friend/family member. It got to a point where we had sex only a few times in a year, and now we haven't had sex for 1 year. I had an affair and since it ended I can't even think of having sex with my husband. It just feels wrong, my body doesn't want to do it. I think it's because I still long for my affair partner who ended it (he is single and wasn't happy of getting involved with a married woman to begin with). I too am contemplating over divorce but a part of me (and I know that's totally the worst reason to do it) wishes to do this to be with my affair partner, even though I'm afraid the ship has sailed.
But the questions I need to ask me, and you maybe should too: if nothing would change with time passing, could you live like this for the rest of your life? Or would you wind up in a different affair in the future. And do you honestly think that there is anything your wife could change to make you see her differently? If you say it was pretty much like this from the beginning? If you could choose, would you choose her again?
I'm sorry this is not really an advice, it's just thoughts I currently have and I thought I'd share.
0 Replies
 
 

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