It's Just Sex

In my last blog post I wrote about how betrayal has roots that run deep in my family. My parents and their four children have all experienced being either the betrayed or the unfaithful in our marriages. Some have experienced both.

I mentioned that my brother’s wife has betrayed him multiple times. He had a revenge affair after one of these episodes. My brother places part of the blame for his wife’s infidelity on her chaotic and dysfunctional upbringing. But what’s so incredibly sad about my brother is that he also blames himself for his wife’s actions. She wouldn’t have been compelled to stray if only he had been a better husband, father, friend, bread winner, lover, companion, or whatever noun he can come up with to denigrate himself and justify her actions. In reality, he’s justifying his own lack of action in forcing change either for himself or his marriage.

There has only been one conversation between my brother and myself about my husband’s affairs. It occurred in the first confusing, pain filled days after d-day. I was in no shape emotionally to fully comprehend what he was telling me at the time, much less respond in any kind of intelligent, coherent manner. But I do remember my dismay and despair over what he was telling me.

Every time my brother and his wife are intimate he sees the faces of her affair partners. They don’t talk about the affairs or their marriage. He’s convinced she will cheat again. Listening to my brother talk it was obvious that he’s incredibly unhappy yet refuses to get help. Later, after I discovered Affair Recovery, I sent him the link so he could understand that there is hope. As far as I know he hasn’t logged on.

My brother encouraged me to have my own revenge affair. I was shocked by the thought that he would suggest such a thing. I even told him that he obviously doesn’t know me very well if he thinks that I’m capable of such an action.

Then my brother said something that baffled me even more.  What’s the big deal he wanted to know? It’s just sex.

            It’s just sex.

At the time my emotions were exceptionally raw. I was still grasping the fact that my husband had cheated not once but twice, first with an erotic massage therapist and the second time a five month affair. I was barely surviving day to day. I had yet to understand the ramifications of how my husband’s actions would impact my emotional well being beyond the current pain I was enduring. But still, the words of my brother that “it’s just sex” somehow seemed wrong.

Now, more than two years later, I definitely understand that betrayal is much more than just sex. In our EMS Online class we were asked to define what betrayal meant to us. My answer? Betrayal is giving to someone other than your spouse what should only be shared between the two of you.  In their FAQ’s about infidelity, Affair Recovery  defines an affair as “a betrayal of the marital relationship, for it violates the covenant that two people made.”  During our first week of EMS Online, we learned that Infidelity, as Frank Pittman, MD (one of the leading authorities in the field of infidelity and the author of Private Lies) says, is nothing more than the keeping of secrets. In my mind betrayal is sharing intimacy with someone other than your spouse. That intimacy is sex, yes, but oh so much more. Its desire, emotions, touch, laughter, tears, and whatever else should be reserved for your spouse but is given to another.

Betrayal is giving a part of yourself to someone who has not promised to love, honor and cherish you till death do us part.

Betrayal is sharing of secrets with someone other than your spouse. It’s giving your intimate thoughts to another. It’s handing an outsider marital and personal information they have no business knowing.

            Betrayal is sexting even if there is never any face-to-face contact.

            Betrayal is flirting with someone other than your spouse.

            Betrayal is pornography, spending time with images instead of your spouse.

            Betrayal is speaking negatively about your spouse to justify your behavior.

            Betrayal is lies, deceit, sneaking around and knowingly hiding your behavior.

            Betrayal is taking time away from your spouse and kids and giving it to strangers.

            Betrayal is selfishness so intense that consequences do not matter.

            Betrayal is lack of respect not only for your spouse but for yourself and your marriage.

            Betrayal is catastrophic to the betrayed on so many levels and in so many ways.

Betrayal is knowing that your spouse dishonored you and your marriage by choosing intimacy with someone else over you.

Betrayal is all of the above and so much more. To the betrayed spouse betrayal is anything that disrupts the marital intimacy and breaks the marital vows, which I wrote about in a different blog post. The unfaithful is definitely aware that their actions are wrong because no matter how much they justify their misdeeds in their minds they keep them secret from their spouse. Their pride and selfishness impel their actions. Their shame and guilt keep them silent.

Betrayal is so much more than just sex. Maybe if my brother understood this incredibly important concept he would be willing to get help for himself and yes, for his wife. Sadly, until he opens his eyes and sees that betrayal is so much more than just sex he will never heal.

Thank goodness I’ve discovered Affair Recovery and many other resources that have helped my husband and me navigate the quagmire of recovery. The last two years have seen both of us grow and change in many positive ways. I’m amazed at the constructive changes my husband has made. I’m definitely grateful for a marriage that is stronger, more honest and more cherished than ever before. We have a long way to go but I can honestly say my marriage is better, healthier and more intimate because of Affair Recovery. If only my brother would get out of his fog and understand that there is hope.

            And that betrayal is much more than just sex.


Pittman, Frank, Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy. New York: W.W. Norton, 1990. Print.
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Thank you for putting so many of my feelings into words Lisa.
My husband gets these email blogs too and I hope he reads this one and understands more about how I feel about betrayal. I have blamed myself too, like your brother, and denigrated it the perfect word to sum up what I've done to myself over his actions. It's very hard on me because I do need his help and reassurance to overcome those feelings. I often get stuck by that because the trust I need to believe his reassurances is so damaged.

Can't thank you enough

Dear Lisa,

I can not thank you enough for posting your blogs. Our story and time line are very similar so I relate a lot to your posts. Also, not that I don't appreciate the information provide by Samuel and Rick when they post, they are not a betrayed woman. I wish some of the others would post more often. The Vlog/blogs give me hope.

just sex

I agree with what you've said but i think you've missed another point. Sex is never "just sex." Sex is a joining of 2 people and is so much more profound than a bodily function. An important part here is the denigrating opinion of sex that your brother has. No matter what some one says joining your body with someone else has a holy meaning to it. The bible says the two become one so even if you never see that person again they are a part of you. Sex is so much more and I think his words and mind set while not uncommon, are hugely erroneous and remove so much from what sex actually is and that in and of itself is very sad to me. The flippant attitude many today have toward sex is debillating and harmful to relationships and marriages especially ones who've experienced infidelity. If it was "just sex" for him why isnt it wrong for his wife? Very sad.

What type of affair was it?

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