Is the need for sexual satisfaction enough of a reason to stray?
Of all the myriad relationships we will have in our lives, the commitment that comes with marriage seems to be the one that is most complicated. It is a tricky maze of compromise, give-and-take, good as well as bad.
Add to the mix the three factors of love, security, and sex which are potent in any committed relationship, and you have the potential for a contented life together.
If you are in love, the partnership is livable and good. Financial security is a definite plus for your connubial happiness. A healthy and good sex life makes it all the better.
But, what happens if you have the love and financial security without the good sex? What happens when one partner wants to become more adventurous within the confines of the sexual area of the relationship and the other one doesn't? Who gives up their desires or who does what they don't want to do?
I've written and spoken about how important sex is to a marriage many times. Despite the "moral" code of certain political activists, a healthy person craves sex. It may not be as important as breathing, food, and water, but it is right up there with the basic physical need of shelter.
Sex in a marriage is crucial to happiness and fulfillment.
It is surprising to know that there are many couples who got married knowing very little about sex except the very basics and hoped that after marriage, "things would get better."
And while it is true that most couples change and grow in many ways over the years, including sexually, there are some who don't. This isn't something that happened in your grandparents' era; it is still a problem today.
That being said, what happens when you are not getting the sex you want and need in your marriage?
Some of the emails I received show more and more people are seeking fulfillment outside of the marriage bed.
"I love my husband but he does not fulfill my needs. During the last four years of our marriage I have been having an affair with a man who knows what I want and need. There are times I think about how crazy this is, but my dual life seems to be working for now." Barbara*
"We were in our late twenties when we married. She's very influenced by her religious upbringing, a Catholic girl all the way. I have a strong sexual drive and I truly believed that after marriage my wife would be more adventurous sexually but she sees certain things as 'perverted and disgusting.' We have children, so leaving her is not an option. I do love my wife, but I have found someone I care about very much and we have been meeting secretly for over eight years. Sex with this woman is immensely satisfying and though I suffer periods of tremendous guilt, this affair is something that is as important to me as my marriage." Robert*
"I read that Lady Redgrave, the wife of the actor Sir Michael Redgrave, had a love affair for over thirty years with the same man. Yet she still made a beautiful home for her husband and raised four children. I'm in the tenth year of my affair and have never been happier. I have a good marriage and a good lover outside of it." Ana*
While I don't advocate having an affair while you are in a committed relationship, the pain and sadness that many people suffer in marriages that lack a healthy sex life is all too real. If you have exhausted all avenues of help, (counseling, physical health check-ups, sex therapy, etc.), you need to seriously think about what course you want to pursue in your life.
Your considerations should include how your actions will impact family, children, social life, and work. Affairs are serious; much damage can be done to the innocent people in your life. Can you keep your "lives" separate? How much time are you willing to give to both your legal spouse and your "backstreet" spouse? Hard decisions and choices to ponder.
There is no easy answer to this issue. Everything is subjective to the partners. You deserve to be happy and fulfilled as does your spouse. Finding a happy medium may well be elusive.
*Names have been changed
© 2011 Copyright Kristen Houghton
Kristen Houghton is a Lifestyle writer and the author of the book ranked in the top-selling 100 book of 2011: And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First
*Kristen is in the process of editing her new book on humor in relationships, due soon.*