You’ve seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel Alone in Their Marriages keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show, Braxton Family Values. Now it’s your turn to sit in her chair…

Hi Dr. Sherry, 

I’ve been in a virtually sexless marriage for nearly 28 years. My husband had a motorbike accident shortly after we married and that has absolutely killed off our sex life. Other than that, he is a great companion and friend. He has a great sense of humor and is respectful and wonderful in every other way.

However, the total lack of sex led me to drink heavily and after he threatened to divorce me because of this, I eventually cut back. But the sexual frustration persists, of course, and so a few years ago, I told him that I wanted to divorce, as I could not imagine never having sex again. 

He suggested that I have sex outside of the marriage. I was surprised and shocked, but could see the wisdom of this, as my drinking was to allay my inability to divorce for religious reasons. I could never have had an affair or cheated on my husband, so when he suggested this, I was greatly relieved. 

I had always suspected that a friend of mine was keen on me, and we eventually developed a relationship and eventually became intimate. I had almost forgotten about the joys of sexual intimacy. Over the last few years, I’ve traveled to be with him for a few months a few times now and we have developed a strong relationship. However, my new relationship has not been without its problems. 

I first became aware that my lover was very mistrusting of me and often critical of me, and I found myself having to explain things that I never have had to in my marriage, as my husband has always trusted me implicitly. My lover often has me on the backfoot explaining things, justifying things and defending myself. Because of this, we often break into arguments, sometimes shouting, although I am certain he wouldn’t physically abuse me. I have had more arguments with him over the last few years than I have had in my entire life with everyone else. Whenever there was a situation in which there was any doubt, he never once gave me the benefit of the doubt. And yet, not once have I ever lied to him. 

Worse, on the occasions when I was absolutely able to prove what I was doing, he would ignore my explanation and bring up some other issue or supposed fault of mine. This would result in me explaining one situation and before I’ve had a chance to state my case, he’s thrown another false assumption at me, which means that I then have to justify that particular case. Then, as I’m trying to defend myself on this second issue, he then throws in yet another false assumption or criticism of me. By this time, yes, I am shouting at him. 

And then he calmly says that I just started shouting at him for no reason at all. I am usually so stunned and worn out by then that I just shut down for a while. But yet he cannot ever apologize, even when he has been wrong. Worse, he generally blames me for all of our arguments and says that everything was OK until I started shouting for “no reason whatsoever”, which is patently untrue. 

Earlier this year, we started seeing a psychologist at his request. But even there, he has thrown me under the bus and I am made to look like a fool. The psychologist also seems to be siding with him!

He is a shy man, but I suspect that he is a covert narcissist, often remarking how handsome he is (yes he is) and how young he looks (he does). Lately, he has been insisting that I leave my husband. 

Now, while my lover is a very handsome and attractive man and we have great sex, the thought of having to constantly explain things, justify myself and defend myself is quite onerous and so recently, I broke off with him. Since then, he has been pleading with me to return. Financially, I could afford to divorce my husband, but life with the lover would be very different, as he isn’t so financially successful. But the worst part of it is that while I would be sexually satisfied, I would be moving in with a man who would be constantly demanding, an issue that has never happened with my husband. 

What should I do? What can I do? 

Jerry Casey

Hello there sis, 

Let me back up and make sure I understand what you are saying. You have had a “virtually sexless “ marriage for nearly 28 years and your husband told you to have sex outside of the marriage. You took him up on this and you are in a relationship with another man. Now, you and the other man have being in therapy as a result of problems the two of you are having. You are still married to your husband but debating divorcing but hesitant because the other man is not financially successful. Really? Have you ever stopped to think and listen to yourself? If you realized that the lack of sex was going to be a deal breaker in your marriage after your husband’s accident, why did you stay for 28 years? I definitely understand the importance of sex in a relationship. Many times the intimacy is more important than the actual sex act. Intimacy can be achieved in many ways. You must decide if this is the only issue that keeps you from wanting to exit your marriage. It sounds as if the other man offers you very little beyond sex. That may be exciting right now but that may get old soon especially given that he does not trust you and is not supportive. I recommend that you seek individual therapy to process issues regarding your husband and the other man. It is time to get real and honest with yourself. Life is too short to be unhappy but you are the only one that can define your happiness.  –Dr. Sherry

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