I have been married for 9 years. My husband and I have known each other for 22 years, dated for 5 years before getting married. I have gained a lot of weight since we met and I struggle with my weight due to a bit of depression, which then causes secret comfort eating. I have almost no sex drive and this is causing strain on my marriage. A few months ago, I started a cyber relationship with someone I had never met. We exchanged some explicit messages and I had sent him carefully edited pictures. He did not know how overweight I was and I didn’t tell him. I was enjoying the fantasy I created but was having trouble sleeping (guilt) and my depression actually deepened. My husband found out and I came clean and found it hard for me to explain why I did it. Even now I struggle to understand why I did it. He has forgiven me and we are trying to move on, but he wants me to spice up our sex life by asking me to take discreet naked photos of myself while sitting in an open plan office. I do not particularly like my job and feel even less in the mood while I am there. He then uses the excuse of my “infidelity” against me and tries to guilt me into sending him these pictures. He also spends a lot of time on websites where people post the secret photos they take while at the office. He sometimes does this in front of me and it makes me feel uncomfortable. I have asked him to create a more romantic atmosphere to help my mood and all he is interested in is kinky sex involving a lot of oral sex. He likes taking photos or videos which ruin the moment for me. I don’t expect us to have such a flat sex life but I don’t know how to get him to show me he loves me and woo me just a little like in the early days. We don’t kiss on the mouth and sex feels very impersonal. Now all I get is accusations when I make excuses to send him the pictures he asks for and he searches my phone history and hangs over my shoulder everytime a message comes through. I don’t know how to move forward with him because he wants kinky sex and says he will compromise, but it doesn’t happen. So is Romance Dead?
Dr Eve answers:
Cyber Infidelity happens without a real reason. The majority of my research subjects indicated that they were “happily married”. The very nature of the accessibility, anonymity and affordability of devices seduces one online. However , there are vulnerability factors that will seduce some people more than others. And it sounds as if you have a few of them, namely low self esteem due to depression , out of control eating , poor body image and a no romance relationship. I like that you took responsibility for your online behaviour and did not deny nor shirk ownership of breaking marital vows that it seems you were clear on . Most people have these values, namely monogamy, sexual fidelity and commitment.
However one could argue that your husband has not taken as much responsibility and care of your relationship. In order for a couple to progress and move forward after infidelity has been discovered, both have to do soul searching and accept his/her part in the acting out. Then they have to renew their marital contract- really look at their values and decide if they still want to maintain monogamy, sexual fidelity and commitment in the same manner. I ask you to be patient with your husband- he feels he was cheated on by you so will take time to feel safe with you and your devices again . However he has no right to invade your mobile without your permission . This is part of your new marital agreement . Please read my book on Cyber Infidelity , especially the section called Netiquette which gives you a good idea on how to manage yourselves online.
For example, your husband is looking at naked photos online. He has told you about it, he does not keep it secret from you so in essence he is not committing cyber infidelity. However, you feel uncomfortable about it. You need to tell him. This needs to be part of your discussion of a renewed marital contract- perhaps you both want to change the rules.
He says he has forgiven you – yet , boy oh boy, is he punishing you! I wonder if he coerced you into sexting him naked photos of yourself before your infidelity … or is this pay back time?
I also wonder if you knew about his kinks before your infidelity was discovered? Kinks need to be well managed in a relationship. As does romance. You both have a right to be enjoying the kind of sexual eroticism that turns you on individually and hopefully you can talk about it and share it together. The golden rule is Consent.
I invite you both to contact me and consult with me on managing cyber infidelity that has happened, and to renegotiate a new marital contract.