Alice came to the Sexology Clinic in distress.
She got information from friends that her husband was renting a house for another woman. On further investigations, she confirmed that the man spent considerable time at the woman's house.
"When he comes home he is so nice to me and the children," she explained. "I was shocked to learn about it. I feel betrayed and I do not know how to proceed in this marriage."
Alice is 30 years old, a banker and married to a businessman, James also 30.
The two had been married for six years and had two children. I wondered why such a young marriage was facing infidelity issues.
"Tell me about your sex lives," I asked trying to figure out the root cause of the problem.
Alice's explanation made me conclude that their sex life was in shambles. They had sex averagely once a month.
Alice felt that they were not emotionally connected and that they were slowly becoming strangers.
"The sex itself is boring," she said. "I do it as a duty as it gives me a sense of security that the marriage is still there."
The couple had no meaningful communication. Neither knew what the other was feeling or going through.
On issues of sex, they did not discuss anything. Anytime Alice tried to bring up the topic she was shut off.
"I bought a book that I wanted us to read together," Alice explained. "It was talking about sex styles. My husband tore it and threw it away and said I needed to be descent."
They had drifted apart. There was no longer any intimacy between them. This is a common occurrence among couples.
In many cases, ladies desire to grow closer to their men but men can be elusive and equate this to being controlled.
The woman may feel frustrated, helpless and subdued as the man shakes off any possibility of growing close and emotionally connected.
The reason couples evade intimacy, albeit subconsciously, is because it makes them vulnerable.
Being intimate means opening up your heart and life to the other person. It means exposing your weaknesses and hoping that you will not be disappointed.
True intimacy means confidence that your weaknesses will not be used against you.
In some instances, one partner may have opened up their lives to the other but the partner may have used their deep secrets against them. That can be hurtful.
"Well, James hurls insults at me and one time blamed me for having been molested sexually as a child," Alice said, tears rolling down her cheeks.
I agreed with Alice that that was a great betrayal of trust and confidence.
She had exposed her vulnerability to James by opening up to discuss the sexual assault but James ended up betraying her by using the information as a weapon to insult her.
Most people naturally close up after such an incident. They shield their weaknesses from the other to avoid further disappointment.
"So how do I resolve my current situation?" Alice interjected. "Since I stopped discussing anything personal with James we have slowly drifted apart."
She felt that James was lonely as a result and may have found refuge in the other woman.
"Well, one wrong has led to the other. The question is really if you are strong enough to accommodate James back," I said.
"Face the challenge by confronting your husband and discussing what you have discovered and how this has hurt your feelings."
There is never a substitute for opening up your heart and saying the truth about what you feel.
This can however be difficult and can be clouded in a deep emotional range. I therefore advised Alice to bring James along for couple therapy.
The couple was in the clinic together the next day. Initially, James rejected the accusations.
As Alice produced more evidence however, he mellowed down and apologised, but accused Alice of not caring for his emotional needs.
"I feel shut out by my wife, so I do not even have sexual feelings for her," he explained, to which Alice reminded him of the blame he labelled against her for being raped as a child.
James started breathing heavily. His eyes welled up with tears. He stood up, pulled Alice to himself and hugged her tightly.
"I am sorry, I realise where the problem started now, forgive me," he beseeched Alice.
The couple continued therapy for one month before they fully resolved the deep-seated hurtful feelings.
Their intimacy was once again back on the growth trajectory as Alice promised to forgive and forget.
James asked for forgiveness. In the course of the therapy, he showed proof that he had stopped having the affair.