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Dear Drs. Lewis and Gail Wyatt: 

I am a 31-year-old housewife with a 2-year-old son (from a previous relationship). I married my husband essentially because he was kind, supportive and had the potential to be a good father. He was wise, unselfish and patient. However, I never loved him or enjoyed sex with him. I recently renewed my relationship with my son’s father, and the sex was still amazing. Unfortunately, he is no more interested in marrying me or being a dad than he was when I met him and got pregnant. What should I do? —In Love With the Wrong Man!

You are stuck in the middle of a bad situation. It appears that there is not much to the relationship that you have with your son’s father (your lover), other than “amazing sex.” If this is true, what or who are you in love with? If he doesn’t want to marry you or be a father to his child, then you are in love with a fantasy and not a reality.

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Your affair is with someone who does not want you. You need to stop seeing your lover. Think about what you are doing and what you could lose.

Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side, list the qualities of your husband; on the other, list the qualities of your lover. Chances are that the list is longer for your husband, and that should tell you something.

Now take a sheet of paper and list what you stand to lose if you leave your husband, versus if you leave your lover. What will happen if your husband finds out that you are cheating? If the financial stability that you and your son depend on is at risk, you stand to disrupt your family life and create emotional upheaval that will have long-lasting consequences.

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It seems that your lover does not love you, but the two of you have more in common than a son. You are identifying with the power that comes in denying love to someone who loves you. In your lover’s case, he is denying love to you; in your case, you are denying love to your husband.

You could go through life never appreciating what you have. Seek help from a counselor or therapist right away. You are in a crisis. If you feel pain from being rejected but are also causing someone else pain, you need to understand why. You may be depressed or may not feel good about yourself, but having sex outside your marriage is just a distraction. There is something missing in you that won’t be fulfilled by sex.

You need to identify what is wrong in a relationship in which you can receive love but reject it. Explore what happened in the past that might have made it so easy to want things that you can’t have. Learn how to be grateful for the good in your marriage, and return the kindness and caring that you receive.

Tell your husband that you want sex to be better for both of you. Don’t be a passive partner—get involved and guide him to give you pleasure that you found with your lover. Teach your husband how to be your lover.

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Do everything that you can, with help, to make your marriage work. Most of all, work on learning to love and demand respect for yourself. You are so much more than a booty call.

Sometimes the best love does not come with an orgasm; it comes with tenderness, respect and kindness shown each day.

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Finally, be grateful that you are learning how to return the love that you receive from your husband. Not only will you benefit, but your son will learn to express his love toward you and your husband that one day he can share with a partner of his own. You may find that what you have at home is enough.

We hope that you do.

For answers to your questions about sexual health, write to us at justsex@theroot.com. Be sure to include your age, gender, any medications you’re taking and the nature of your sexual problem.

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Gail Wyatt, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and sex therapist. She is also a professor at UCLA and director of the university’s Sexual Health Program. Lewis Wyatt Jr., M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist in private practice in Beverly Hills, Calif. He specializes in sexual health and bioidentical hormone treatment.