In 2011, my ex-husband had an affair. We hadn’t had sex in six months, maybe longer. I had been denying him, and I felt like he put no effort into our marriage or making me feel loved unless we were banging on the regular. To be very blunt, it made me feel resentful, and like I was simply a hole he was using to get what he wanted or else he’d act up.
When he came to me and confessed, I was as torn up about it as anyone would be. We had a home, a family, and I had no idea what would come next.
We tried to work on our marriage for six years, but we could never get back to where we were when we were happy.
The trust was broken. The attraction and respect were gone for me.
Since then, I’ve gone through stages where I’ve blamed him for ruining our marriage and I’ve been angry at him. But I’ve done something else, too: I’ve blamed myself.
I told people that it was more my fault, and I believed it. If I had been taking care of my husband, he wouldn’t have fucked that woman who hit on him at work, who knew he was married and had little kids at home. I’ve felt worthless, like I would never be loved unconditionally by anyone. Especially if I wasn’t putting out whenever they wanted me to.
I heard a man speak on a podcast once who said, “Men cheat to save their marriage. Women cheat to leave it and move on.”
That cemented my belief that it was my fault even more. After all, I hadn’t been having sex with him. He wanted to have sex, so he had to get it from an outside source, right?
Isn’t that the rational thing to do? Didn’t he have the right since I wasn’t giving him what he needed? He was saving us.
I came to my senses and decided that a marriage (unless you agree on this together, which we did not) doesn’t include a third party to sweep in and give you orgasms simply because your partner is touched out or dealing with a hard situation that takes away their sex drive.
You don’t run out the door to the first person who opens their zipper so you can have yours.
He never once suggested counseling or told me he was on the brink of stepping out on our marriage. He didn’t answer my pleas to take time off work and spend more family time together. He didn’t respond when I told him I felt like he was only proud of me or wanting to do home projects together (something I love) when we were having sex.
It felt like sex was a requirement for him to stay faithful. He wanted to have it a certain amount each week, yet he didn’t want to do his part in keeping the love and romance alive.
We were running in circles, and it seemed as though he could only keep his commitment to me if I committed to getting it in twice a week.
If you ask me, that’s not a marriage. It’s a job that makes you feel threatened; if you don’t do it exactly right, you’re going to get fired.
Real commitment means you work through things together. You communicate. You sign up for therapy. You try and find a middle ground so everyone feels safe. You do it together. You do not invite someone else to get you off.
A relationship doesn’t involve giving up your autonomy because you feel like you have to in order to keep someone. Sex shouldn’t be a requirement for anyone — and if our partner can’t understand that, then that is their problem, not ours.
I finally let go of the blame a while ago and decided it wasn’t my job to take as much of the blame as I was for my husband cheating.
Yes, it takes two to make a marriage and partnership work. But when one decided to put the effort into having sex with another person (believe me, it took a lot of work … and lying, and sneaking around), that decision is 100% on them.
Instead of putting energy into me and our relationship, my ex-husband decided it would be easier and more fun to have someone else meet his needs, so that’s what he did.
And by doing that, it did us in … and he’s told me it’s been his biggest regret.
It’s easy to put the blame on yourself — to feel like if you had done more, been more sexual, worn the sexy outfit, or given him more blowjobs, that you could have stopped him from cheating.
But the only person responsible for cheating is the one who cheats, period. Don’t let anyone make you feel different. I certainly will never take on that kind of blame again.