Problems Having a ‘Happy’ Marriage Plus a Sexual Partner

Reader’s Question

I really need some help. I was not satisfied in my married life and fell in love with a colleague. He felt the same about me but also said he was happily married. His marriage was “arranged” and he has children. But he said he found me to be his “ideal” woman, and we carried on an affair for 2 years.

Suddenly, however, my boyfriend has become distant. He doesn’t want to have sex, but only to chat and share his problems. He says he can relax with me and has no other friend like me with whom to share and discuss his life. He also says he has a problem now with having sex either with me or with his wife. He isn’t even stimulated by porn like he used to be.

He said that he does not know the reason why he no longer feels capable of making love to me and is surprised that he even cannot do it with his wife.

We were both once quite happy with each other, but things have now changed because of his problem. He says he truly loves me and does not want to end our relationship, but he also can’t explain why he does not want to make love to me anymore.

We have many people around us who have lovely partners that they are happy with but have extramarital affairs to have a more fulfilling sex life. I would like this to be the case for us. I got pregnant by him once and got a risky abortion because I am not married to him, and I also simply couldn’t bear the responsibility of another child. Despite our recent problems, I still want him, and he wants me as well. We cannot expose our relationship, nor can we marry each other since we have to bear our responsibilities towards our children.

My boyfriend says his sexual problems might be because he is undergoing the ‘mid age blues’ (he is 36) or because he’s become more religious and is feeling guilty for having sex with me. But if that’s the case why is he also unable to perform with his wife?

I believe that we have short life and should enjoy it and live happily according to our own will. He sometimes talks about his religion and his guilt, and I just tell him our theories about life are just different. According to his religious principles, we should stop seeing each other, but he says he loves me and cannot leave me.

What can we do? I don’t really know whether the problem is physical, spiritual, or psychological, although he thinks it’s all psychological. We are very troubled by all this but don’t want to lose each other. Please help.

Psychologist’s Reply

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(Please read our important explanation below.)

Someone once said that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Your values and outlook on life allow you to be comfortable with the notion of remaining in an otherwise “happy” marriage while pursuing greater sexual satisfaction with another partner. But your boyfriend does not appear equally comfortable with that kind of arrangement. His belief system appears different from yours. And when certain human desires conflict with religious beliefs and convictions as well as other needs and commitments, psychological distress is inevitable. It’s quite likely that your friend is struggling with a fair degree of guilt just as he says and that such guilt and other distress is impairing his ability to express himself sexually not only with you but with his wife. In the end, however, only he can resolve this conflict either by modifying his belief system or by making the decision to abide by it and letting go of the source (i.e., you) of the conflict. The psychology of male sexual potency has a lot to do with feeling validated, vital, and empowered. Right now, your partner only feels guilty and that he has defaulted on expectations. It’s no wonder he’s not able to perform. But only he can make the decisions necessary to feel vital and empowered again.

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