Jane a forty-five year old woman presented to my practice in an attempt to get over the affair her husband Dave had had had two years prior. Jane mistakenly thought the affair was due to her appearance and to that end had a facelift, breast implants, a tummy tuck and vaginoplasty.
After all of the various surgeries Jane did not feel any better about herself or her marriage. In fact she felt empty on the inside. It was not until her husband’s affair that Jane came to the realization that her marriage was in trouble. Being busy with their kids, her job and volunteer work, Dave came last. She finally admitted that they had been in a sexless marriage but never dreamed he would cheat. She like many women believed him to be “very patient” without consideration of his biological needs.
Jane burst into tears in my office as she said she felt tremendously guilty about another reaction she had to Dave’s affair. As many women do, she said she would make him pay for cheating on her and that she did. She told her family of his indiscretion and they all browbeat Dave through guilt and shame. In retrospect she realized that probably was not the best way to have dealt with this situation and she even more sorry that she had taken that step.
She admitted that she and Dave had just been going through the motions of a marriage and that neither one of them were very happy. She was sorry she told everyone about their private matters because now her family ostracized him. She wanted to forgive Dave but was afraid of what her family might think. She had many mixed emotions.
We talked about the trouble in the marriage before Dave’s affair. It was difficult for Jane to even consider that her lack of attention toward Dave at a busy time of life may have contributed to his affair. Jane was a type A individual, a perfectionist, dare I say a control freak who was not flexible and saw the world as black and white with no in between.
Sex and intimacy are integral aspects to a marriage, I explained to her. Though men have biological needs that differ from that of a woman, a feeling of neglect or under appreciation is no different for a man than a woman. As humans we seek these same feelings of love, being tended to and appreciation. The biological imperative just sends men in a different direction sometimes than woman to fill this void, and these situations can arise at any time depending on life’s curve balls.
Although they were still together and trying to work on things, she said they were clearly not happy. Any time they tried to be intimate she got angry as she kept picturing him with another woman and this made having sex very difficult, though this is something she still has not discussed with Dave.
Jane has a lot of work to do beginning with accepting herself and her husband as human beings. The road ahead is a long one. Once she deals with her own issues which may stem from behaviors she learned in her family of origin, she and Dave need to sit down and have a heart to heart about their desires, goals, needs and the direction to take their marriage.
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