[Two Pronged] My husband's affair, low libido, and aging
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr Baer,
My husband is now 56 years of age. I discovered his infidelity last year. He had sex with a prostitute who even became his girlfriend. Worse, he seems addicted to pornography too as I discovered some sex videos in his cellphone. When confronted, he promised to leave his prosti girlfriend and not watch porn again. He, in fact, deleted all sex videos in his cellphone.
Since then I notice that our sex life as a couple has changed. He finds himself hard to ejaculate, or no ejaculation at all although he still got an erection. We seldom have sex now (once a month or more) and I feel he is no longer interested at me. He blames age for his low libido. He is playing tennis everyday but with slightly enlarged prostate yearly monitored.
With this, should I believe my husband that his low libido can be attributed to his aging (56) or is there something more, maybe psychological? Please enlighten me.
Thank you and more power,
Thank you for your email.
Having a few sex videos on his cellphone does not necessarily make your husband (let’s call him John) an addict – though letting you find them makes him careless, if not reckless, unless it was a cry for help which your letter does not suggest. However, if John is an addict, simply deleting these videos would have no curative effect on his addiction and further steps need to be taken.
Turning to his infidelity, while sex with a prostitute is not uncommon, taking a prostitute as a girlfriend is less common. Furthermore, it seems that John has had little difficulty in giving her up (much as he had little difficulty in giving up porn), which should make you wonder whether he has in fact given them up or is just hiding it better.
Continuing infidelity could explain John’s low libido and lack of interest in you. 56 is not an age at which problems of libido normally occur though he could always go for a checkup and discuss his ejaculatory issues at the same time.
Finally, what seems to be lacking in your letter is much sense of how you feel about all this. Wives whose husbands take up with prostitutes and ignore them generally view these developments as negative and inflict some sort of revenge punishment on their spouses.
You, however, have shown little emotional involvement in discussing your husband’s behavior. Perhaps you should consider whether you need to make some changes since presumably you didn’t intend to marry a man who would consort with prostitutes, embrace porn and play tennis daily while ignoring you.
Thank you very much for your letter. In the 4th paragraph of his answer to you, Mr Baer said: “Wives whose husbands take up with prostitutes… inflict some sort of revenge punishment on their spouses.You however have shown little emotional involvement in discussing your husband’s behavior.”
I disagree with his observation that you have shown “little emotional involvement” in your husband’s behavior.
Wondering if your husband is addicted to pornography or not could be a very clear sign of anger…especially since “porn addiction” is not recognized by the American Psychological Society (APA) as a disorder. Thus, there is no definitive diagnostic criteria guide to help mental health professionals or even concerned family members in diagnosing a problem that psychologists are not even sure exists.
However, people usually do not bother to find out if porn addiction is an official diagnosis or not. If someone’s wife—who would be in a better position to know, after all?—accuses her husband of being a sex addict, most would believe her. This speculation, even if seemingly innocent, could wreak havoc on a person’s reputation and contribute to his becoming a social pariah.
Your disdain is fairly clear when you describe your husband’s (ex) girlfriend as a prosti. Even if this girl used to sell her sexual favors, when your husband considered her his girlfriend, he convinced himself that she no longer did this. Thus describing her by the pejorative term “prosti" adds insult to injury… especially now that human rights activists argue that prostitute is not an accurate description, preferring the terms sex worker and/or prostituted women.
You then ask if the frequency of your lovemaking (much less than before his affair was discovered) and his delayed ejaculation might be psychological in nature. A combination of both psychological and physical reasons usually contribute to the above problems. In your case, I think the psychological is definitely a part of what is going on.
I say this not only because of the timing of these problems (only after you discovered his affair) but also because of the feelings of anger, betrayal, sadness, disdain that both of you must have felt when this all came out.
In fact, all these negative feelings may have been there even before the affair was discovered…perhaps even before the affair started.
Yet clearly, you care for each other. He would not have promised to leave his girlfriend and stop watching porn if he didn’t care whether you stayed or go. He wants you to stay, he wants you both to remain a couple. True, he may have other reasons, but his caring about you is also a big part of his wanting your marriage to continue.
You too clearly care for him or you would not have been so angry, and you would not be so concerned about your sex life. If there is any way you can harness this strong emotion and encourage it to be what it was before—a strong and abiding love that was enough for you to promise to be together through sickness and health, for better for worse etc.
Dearest Dora, I urge the two of you to go therapy.
In my clinical experience, an affair need not end a marriage. In fact, sometimes discovery of an affair can lead to a deeper, stronger relationship between husband and wife if both are still willing to: 1.) take a chance on each other, 2.) learn from, and listen to, one another and finally 3.) forgive.
I hope you will be one of these couples.
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.