"He Had an Affair Because I Stopped Initiating Sex"

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His Turn

"Having a one-night stand was idiotic," said Bill, 43, "and I'm ashamed of myself. I hoped I'd get over my guilt but I couldn't touch Tam, knowing I'd been unfaithful. Living a lie was killing me, so I came clean.

"Here's what happened: Three months ago a woman at the club where my band plays started telling me how sexy I was. I nearly fell over! We had a few beers and the next thing I knew we were in bed together at a nearby motel. It's an ugly story and I'm not proud of it. But this woman offered something I never get from Tam: attention. In all our years together Tam has never once initiated sex. She won't even kiss me in front of our kids! I blame her background. When we were 15 I put my arm around her but she pushed me away because her mother was in the room. At our wedding I tried to kiss Tam on the lips after being pronounced 'husband and wife,' but she turned her head and kissed my cheek. She never compliments my appearance or says 'I love you.' Yes, she'll respond to my advances, but I'm sick of making all the effort.

"I always liked the fact that Tam is reserved and soft-spoken -- it was such a pleasant contrast to my own family, where someone was always screaming. But Tam is so quiet you never know what she's really thinking. When she asks me what's wrong and I say 'nothing,' she doesn't press me. So I figure she doesn't care. I get home from work after Tam and the kids have finished dinner. By then she's glued to the TV or on the phone with her sister, Addie. If she wants us to spend more time together, why does she neglect me?

"Tam's language mistakes have always irritated me but I never let on before. Maybe it's the stress of working two jobs and raising two teenagers, but I don't have the patience at 43 that I had at 23. Tam has lived in America for 30 years -- why does she still say 'Kleenek' instead of 'Kleenex'? Sometimes she mixes up her words so badly I can't understand her -- and often she can't understand me, either. And she doesn't 'get' irony, which drives me insane.

"Meanwhile, my in-laws know all our business. If we fight, Tam phones Addie, and within five minutes Addie tells their mother. In another five minutes one of them is calling my cell phone to smooth my ruffled feathers. Their meddling has gotten even worse since the kids started high school. Tam and I disagree about discipline. She constantly undercuts my authority. Then, if that weren't bad enough, she gets Addie and their mom to put in their two cents! Even my infidelity became community property: Our daughter, Tina, heard Tam crying and came into our bedroom; Tam told her I'd cheated; Tina called Addie; and Addie raced over to comfort Tam. Enough already! This is a private matter between my wife and me.

"The sad truth is, Tam means well but she no longer meets my needs."

Continued on page 3:  The Counselor's Turn

 

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