DEAR DEIDRE: MY husband and I have sex almost every day – even though I find it painful – but now I’ve discovered he’s sexting other women. It feels like a huge betrayal.
We’ve been married for 22 years and have two grown-up children.
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Our sex life was always good until a few years ago, when I developed a problem with my joints and became menopausal.
It made intercourse difficult and uncomfortable, and for a while I couldn’t have full sex.
But we were still intimate and I made sure I did everything else in the bedroom.
He made it clear he needed more — he’s always had a very high sex drive. So I decided to grin and bear having intercourse because I wanted to keep him happy, and I thought maybe it would get better for me.
I do still get some pleasure from it, even though it hurts.
But, lately, he has seemed more distant.
A few days ago, he was in the shower and had left his phone on the kitchen table. A message flashed up and, without thinking, I had a look.
It was a message from a strange woman — and clearly in response to a message from him — saying what she’d like him to do to her.
I felt sick. I scrolled through his phone and found similar chats with two other women.
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So far, I haven’t said anything but it’s eating me up.
I know sexting is not the same as having an affair, but this feels like cheating.
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DEIDRE SAYS: Even if nothing physical occurred between your husband and these women, sexting them is an emotional betrayal.
It also worries me that you force yourself to have sex with him when it causes you pain. You should never please someone else sexually at your own expense.
Perhaps you are scared of losing him and feel under pressure to perform – even if he’s never said anything overtly.
It’s essential that you talk to him about your relationship and the distance between you, and to be honest about how painful sex is.
Explain how you stumbled across his messages and how hurt you feel. My support packs on Standing Up For Yourself and Cheating, Can You Get Over It? should help you to do this.
It would benefit you both to have sex and relationship counselling.
Find a counsellor through the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (cosrt.org.uk, 020 8106 9635) who can help bring you closer emotionally and sexually.
And please do see your GP about your pain, as HRT or other treatments may be helpful.