My Husband Blamed His Cheating on My Lost Libido
“You’re a lousy wife,” my husband told me. His words hit me hard. They stung but not because I didn’t think they were true, but because they were.
I was a lousy wife. I had cheated on my husband. But the crazy thing was, he wasn’t calling me “lousy” for that reason. He was calling me a “lousy wife” because I stopped having sex with him after our second son was born.
My husband declared this after I confessed to cheating on him. That’s when he admitted he had, too. Since we’d both betrayed each other, neither of us could really be angry at the other. Or could we?
Well, I felt guilty about sleeping with another man behind my husband’s back. He didn’t feel guilty about doing the same to me.
He said I deserved it. More, I drove him there. I was a “lousy wife,” after all.
So did I drive him to cheat? I mean, seriously, is that even possible?
Yes, I stopped having sex with my husband after the birth of our second child.
The birth of a new child affects any marriage. While newborn babies can bring joy to a couple’s life, caring for an infant is not without its challenges. The birth of both of our sons added stress to our marriage. That couldn’t help but affect our sex life.
I had two babies, nine months apart. I was pregnant twice in three years. Both of my births were by Caesarian. That’s two operations in three years.
It was just too much for me to handle. To make matters worse, I suffered from post-partum depression. I was sleep-deprived. The lack of sleep made my depression worse.
I held it together after the first birth. The second knocked me over. I was overwhelmed taking care of a newborn and a toddler. I had no time for myself. That meant I had no time for my husband.
Our marital relationship quickly took second place to the first-place importance of caring for the kids.
Our sex life obviously suffered. My husband took this hard. He took it so hard that he thought about cheating on me only three weeks after I gave birth to our second son. How do I know? He told me so.
I was back in the hospital because our second son was diagnosed with pneumonia at only three weeks old. He also had pinkeye, which is highly contagious. This meant I had pinkeye, too.
I couldn’t get to my GP’s office to be treated because I was in the hospital with my son. Ironically, no one could treat me in the hospital because those doctors weren’t my assigned physician. My son was getting spinal taps to see if the infection had spread. It was a stressful time. I was worried, anxious, uncomfortable from conjunctivitis, trying to care for a sick newborn. And I was in the hospital alone.
No, I wasn’t checking in with my husband to see how he was doing. He was comfortable back home. I needed to be checked in on.
My husband didn’t get it. One night he called me at the hospital. I was short with him — exhausted and irritable. He complained I was neglecting him and that he was planning to cheat on me. Huh?
I wrote it off as the stuff of marital tiffs.
He wouldn’t really cheat on me, would he?
Yes, he would.
Our son recovered from pneumonia and was cleared to return home. He was cured, but I was a mess.
No, I wasn’t in the mood for sex. My libido had disappeared and it would stay that way for a while.
Still, I pushed myself to have sex with my husband again after the six-week post-birth limit. But sex just wasn’t the same. I wasn’t into it. Sex became a chore. And yet, I continued to force myself to have sex once a week. But then our lives got even more difficult.
The Great Recession hit.
We lost everything — even our own home. We moved into a rental. That’s when my husband started going mad. He adopted a whole host of bizarre conspiracy beliefs. He stopped working. He rarely got out of bed. I was angry at him, turned off.
So, sure, I continued to neglect my husband. I begrudged having sex with him. Little did I know, that was when he started cheating on me.
Was this my fault? Did I drive him there because I was a “lousy wife” who didn’t put out enough?
It feels good to blame someone else for your flaws.
I get why my husband wanted to blame me for his cheating. I understand because I also wanted to blame him when I ended up betraying him.
I also cheated on my husband, years after he started cheating on me. I blamed him for “pushing” me into the arms of another man.
I felt stuck in a marriage that I couldn’t escape. I’d been through months of agony, months of begging him to seek help. But he refused to change.
I wanted to leave my marriage but I felt like I couldn’t. I had no one to help me, no one to go to for advice. I’m not close to my family. So I stayed in my marriage. But my husband wore me down. I was starved for affection. I just wanted to feel loved again.
Finally, I did the unthinkable: I went to meet a man behind my husband’s back.
And what’s worse — I blamed it all on my husband.
It felt good to do that but it wasn’t the real story. My husband didn’t drive me to cheat. No, I made the decision all on my own.
What’s the real story?
Looking back, here’s how I’ve understood the story of our mutual cheating:
Yes, I lost my libido completely after the birth of our second son. That wasn’t my fault, just my body’s chemistry gone haywire.
And, sure, I might have neglected my husband emotionally as a result. I neglected his needs by not having sex with him. I neglected him emotionally. How could that have been avoided? I was overwhelmed.
In retrospect, my husband should have been more sympathetic to what I was going through. And yet, I empathize with what he was going through as well. How terrible it must have felt to feel rejected by me. I felt rejected by him when he became obsessed with conspiracy theories, stopped working, and basically abandoned me to bring up our children on my own.
Yes, we should have just divorced each other, but I understand why we both stuck around. My now-ex-husband remained married to me for the same reason I stayed married to him: we were both trying to keep our marriage together for the kids’ sake all while coping with our mutual misery by cheating.
But did we drive each other to cheat? No. No one forces, pushes, or drives their partner to cheat.
What I do know is that it’s possible to find yourself so unhappy in a marriage that in your angst and disappointment you transform into a person you don’t recognize.
Your spouse can help to inspire the worst in you. You give in to bad impulses. Then you end up committing a shocking, terrible act like cheating.
But you’re the one who made the decision to commit that act. The only person you have to blame is yourself.
All you can do then is to forgive yourself and try to do better in your next relationship.
Our marriage ended. We are both at fault for bringing it to this conclusion.
At least I can recognize that.
To this day, my now-ex-husband believes there was nothing wrong with sleeping with other women behind my back. How he chooses to see what he did is up to him. I can’t change his beliefs. But I can try to learn from this period of my life, and maybe help someone else along the way.