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I'm a cheater trapped in a sexless marriage and my wife has cancer. I'm at a breaking point here...help me please!

Tagged as: Big Questions, Cheating, Health, Marriage problems, Sex, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (18 December 2014) 5 Answers - (Newest, 19 December 2014)
A male United States age 41-50, *tage lost writes:

My wife and I have had a sexless marriage since shortly after marriage in 2003. This made me feel alone and unwanted so I started cheating to fill this void. Everything else in our relationship was fine and we had two children within a few years. She found out about the cheating on the side by 2009 and we went through counseling to work through our problems. I really thought we had worked throughout issues, but the sex never returned over the years, other than a short time that she wanted another child. In 2013 we found out my wife had breast cancer and we have been fighting for almost two years now. I have waited and done everything to support her for years and still feel like I am being punished no matter what I do in life. I have been carrying all this weight as she fights and have been so kind and racked with guilt. I take care of her, the kids, and the home. I provide a good life for our family and on the outside things look great, other than the illness. I don't know how I could do anymore and I am so in love with her, yet she still won't have me in any way. It crushes me to think I am losing her and our intimacy (not just sexual) is so horrible still. I don't expect the world, but I am so lonely and don't know what, if anything, that I can do to let her know how sorry I am, but also how alone I feel. I am under so much stress and just want someone to show me attention and love too. I feel I am at a breaking point and so emotional. Can I do anything to win her back? Do I continue to suppress my emotions, feelings, and needs even if she lives another ten years? I am so lost...

I expect to hear horrible things about my actions, but if you have never lived in a sexless marriage or been a caregiver for a dyin spouse, I doubt you could fully understand.

View related questions: a break, crush, trapped

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (19 December 2014):

I think anyone who is healthy enough for sex, but forces their partner to unwillingly live in a long-term sexless marriage, has no right to complain if they get cheated on.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (19 December 2014):

I feel for you.

Noone could expect from his partner to live in a sexless marriage.

Even though things got really complicted I still think there's a way out. Honesty. But you must be prepared that she won't be ready for it.

Having cancer is horrible, but cancer didn't make her the way she is. You had problems from the start.

She may have her reasons. Maybe she was even traumatized. But. It's not fair into guiltying someone into staying in a relationship that is disfunctionaljust because she's affraid of being alone.

WHen she gets into remission you should talk to her. And be prepared that she could becom ethe worst version of herself. Maybe taht she'll try to manipulate you, call your family, your friends, talk to the kids... you must hold your ground. And stop cheating. There isn't a person in the world who can say that it is OK to stay in a bad marriage.

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A female reader, Sensible Alice Australia +, writes (19 December 2014):

Sensible Alice agony auntThe pain and helplessness leaps out of your post. You clearly love your wife and are in a sad situation. I don't think anyone can ever really understand how desperate one begins to feel until they are in a sexless marriage. Being constantly pushed away, your feelings ignored, deliberately denied, craving affection and attention but with no hope of receiving it. It's an extremely difficult situation without the added stress and worry of your wife's breast cancer. I'd suggest seeing a counselor, but one that specifically deals with carer's of cancer patients. It won't fix the intimacy issues, but it may give you a way to deal with it for the time being. Later on, after your wife has recovered and you're stronger emotionally you can address the bigger picture.

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A male reader, SensitiveBloke United Kingdom +, writes (18 December 2014):

SensitiveBloke agony auntI'm very sorry to hear your story, and I don't think there are any easy answers.

Unfortunately many people get trapped in sexless marriages. They want to stay faithful to their wedding vows about staying with their spouse for life, but then their spouse denies them one of the most basic and important human needs (physical affection).

My advice would be to go back to the counselling. Maybe you could try a different counselling place as it didn't really work last time.

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A female reader, YouWish United States +, writes (18 December 2014):

YouWish agony auntIs your wife in remission? Is her breast cancer gone?? Is she still dealing with chemo or radiation?? Two years is a long time to fight it, and I don't know what I would do if my marriage was sexless.

You are in a pickle. You cheating did nothing but make the situation worse. If you talked to your wife about it and she did nothing back then, you should have left her, not cheated.

Now, if she's currently going through cancer treatments, those are enough to wreck a high sex drive, let alone a low sex drive. The fact that she had sex with you while wanting a child says a lot about her view on sex, and it doesn't bode well for you.

I think you need to talk to her this time instead of go behind her back. One thing you can do is ask to open the marriage, meaning instead of cheating, you ask for sex with others to be within the rules, with certain perameters. She needs to know that sex isn't optional for you.

If she is unwilling to listen, you need to make a hard, but honorable decision. Do not go behind her back. Tell it to her straight. If she is in remission and is not undergoing tough treatments, then you both need to seek professional help, and that means she needs to see someone about depression or medical issues.

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