Tuesday 25 July 2017

Dear Mary: My husband has lost his sexual urge - so is he having an affair?

Mary O'Connor

I am a 38-year-old mother of four. I think my husband is having an affair.

We have been married 10 years. He is the same age as me but has lost all interest in sex. He is always coming up with excuses to the point where we haven't had sex for the past two months. Up to a few years ago we were having sex nearly every day.

I have been sick pretty much for the past two years and didn't feel like sex at times, so that got us out of our normal routine. It started off with night sweats which I still get and then many other problems. I have been to the doctor for all these conditions and had various tests done. I am considered attractive but I also get a skin rash which plays up with the night sweats. My husband suggested I leave a fan on at night but then he sleeps in the spare room because he says the noise keeps him awake.

How could a 38-year-old fit male have lost interest in sex? Am I right in thinking he must be having an affair? While I am kept busy with the kids, between the school runs and the after-school clubs, when I am on my own in the house in the mornings I spend every minute asking myself if he is seeing another woman. It is driving me nuts. His job is one where it is possible for him to slip out for periods of time without being noticed.

Mary replies: It is a fairly big leap to go from your husband sleeping on his own to suspecting him of having an affair. I understand that you might be suspicious but let us look at this logically.

You have been ill for a long time, and by your own admission haven't felt much like sex, and I don't blame you. For most people who are sick, sex is the last thing on their minds. Your husband no doubt loves you and suggested the fan because he thought it would help with the night sweats. This resulted in him not being able to sleep so he moved to another room. He is hardly going to insist on having sex when he knows you are not well, but that doesn't mean he has lost interest either in you or in sex.

You got out of your usual routine when you were sick and unfortunately that appears to have become the norm. He may have become used to masturbation as a substitute, he may have gradually become used to life without sex, or it may be that he finds the various problems which you have described to me as off-putting. I don't know which supposition is correct, but it doesn't necessarily point to the possibility of him having an affair. Yes it is possible, anything is possible, but you may be jumping to conclusions.

You must both be very busy with your full-time job inside the home and his outside the home. I wonder how much quality time you are having together when the children are not around - probably less and less as they get older. You don't say anything about the state of your general relationship with your husband. Has it become strained or is it the same as it always was apart from the sexual problem? If it is still fine then you should explore the possibility of the two of you getting away, even for a night together - perhaps a friend could take over at home and you can repay the favour. Then use that time to re-discover each other and what it was that made you feel attracted to one another in the first place.

If, however, you are beginning to see cracks in the relationship itself then it is time to talk to your husband about your fears as to how things are in general between you. He already knows you are unhappy with the sexual side so you don't need to focus on that. Listen very carefully to what he has to say and hopefully he will be open with you. If you are unable to move forward then it may be time to seek help in the form of counselling.

You can contact Mary O’Connor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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