Am I Sexy? What is the Role of my Appearance in my Spouse’s Affair?

We all have a need to feel desirable to our partners. Having a certain amount of sex appeal is part of what makes us feel like a man or a woman. When our spouse has engaged in an extramarital affair, the very core of our self-esteem has been attacked, until we gain a truer grasp on what makes us valuable.

The actions of another individual do not define who we are, and we do not become lesser individuals on account of the wrongful actions of our spouses.

The following question reflects the painful inner turmoil that often results after the disclosure of a spouse’s affair/s.

Question: I know I love my husband, I think I forgive him, I want to stay and I want to make it work. We are getting along fine. But I feel like I’ll never be able to enjoy sex with him again. I hate the way I look and I find myself thinking about the other woman every time he approaches me. Am I sexy? Probably not. I can’t help thinking he compares my 40 year old, 4th baby body and face to his 35 no children blond beautiful lover. I don’t know how my marriage will survive without sex. I had a nose job and a facelift and I still don’t feel likeable or lovable. I’m going completely crazy. Your husband’s lover was your same age and not prettier than you but that’s not my case and it makes it all so much more difficult.

Anne’s Answer:

You are absolutely right about one thing … a marriage will not survive without sex. Sex is essential. In the same way that wives connect with their husbands through talking (communication), men connect with and feel close to their wives through sex. It’s not optional.

But I understand how you feel and I too feel outraged at a society that idolizes youth and beauty, especially young women, and seems to want to discard us when we get older. Sometimes it helps to keep a sense of humor about this.

A few years ago my 60-year old aunt was out shopping for clothing when she noticed the young store clerk was ignoring her. The clerk was busy helping the young customers and paying less attention to her on account of her age. My aunt is a beautiful woman, slim and distinguished, nonetheless we all get old. But my aunt is quite feisty too with a brilliant sense of humor. These levels of wisdom, confidence and maturity are something our youthful counterparts can never even begin to compete with.

So my aunt made a passing comment to the clerk saying “I know I’m getting older, but still I feel great about the way I look considering I’m 90!” The clerk was awed. “90!” she exclaimed. “Why you look amazing! You are very beautiful.”

From that point on my aunt received excellent customer service and continuous praise and compliments. It clearly illustrates, how this world judges by appearance, and it does make me darn mad to think of it. In the past, I’ve had many a day when I’ve worried if my own husband would toss me aside for a younger model when I get old.

It did help that my husband’s affair partner was not younger and was not prettier than I am, and I am sure that recovery would’ve been more difficult if she had been. Yet in every story there are pieces, which are extra hard to overcome. For me the fact that he left me for the other woman, leaving me to believe that he was going to marry her seemed insurmountable.

Another thing that I found difficult to overcome was the fact that we’d had a good marriage and really I gave my husband no reason whatsoever to have this affair. I was an outstanding wife. It wasn’t that I wasn’t meeting his needs, as many people believe. So even though it wasn’t a younger woman I still had my own set of difficult issues to overcome.

Even though the other woman was not younger or prettier, I still struggled tremendously with insecurities about my appearance. For nearly 2 years I attempted to dress and look like a “10” every time I saw my husband, a pressure even a beautiful super model could never live up to.

I was set free when I recognized the bondage I was living under.

If the security of your marriage and your husbands love for you is based on your physical appearance, than your marriage is too shallow.

There are many beautiful women in the world, and even many beautiful talented, kind-hearted women with great personalities. If the security of a marriage is based on being the best at all times, you’re fighting a losing battle. No woman or man can always be the best. Even beautiful, young super models are cheated on. Think of Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Anniston, and Jennifer Lopez. Being young and beautiful is no guarantee for keeping the love of a shallow man.

If your husband were to leave you and marry his young lover, he would cheat on her in a few years too, if this is all his character and morality are based upon.

Basing your security in marriage on your physical appearance is basing it upon a false and weak foundation. The love between you must entail a whole lot more than that. It is sad the things we women sometimes do to earn the love of a man.

“Am I sexy? I had a nose job and a facelift and I still don’t feel likeable, or lovable.”

Exactly. Because the insecurities lye within yourself. No matter how beautiful you were, you would still struggle. Perhaps you were rejected, neglected, abused or abandoned in the past. Perhaps there are still roots of things, which happened in your childhood that cause you to feel “unlovable.”

We deal with this issue in our “Healing From Affairs” weekend.

For 2.5 years after disclosure of my husband’s affair I was sad all the time, until I discovered the real root of my sadness which was abandonment and neglect I’d experienced as a child. Because of this neglect, it didn’t matter how much affirmation or love I received, I still felt unlovable. Finally I realized that I had nothing to worry about because, I am a very loveable person and therefore I will always have lots of love in my life.

I wanted a guarantee that my husband would never have another affair, but I came to realize there is no such guarantee. Of course he promises his faithfulness, but still I don’t feel guaranteed. After all he promised on our wedding day also. If promises were a sure thing, we wouldn’t be having a problem with infidelity in the world. Everyone makes a promise on their wedding day.

No one can be guaranteed what all of the future decisions of another individual will be. But the guarantee we do have is that our future is secure, and we will always have lots of love in our lives, because your future is not dependent on your husband (or wife). It’s dependent on who you are as a person, and what you believe about yourself.

Your husband can either join you in your great future or he can lose out.

I’ve had some very honest, heart-to-heart discussions with my husband regarding the role of physical appearance in his love for me and our sex life. Nobody’s body is perfect. We all get wrinkles, saggy boobs and cellulite. When men see a naked woman they get turned on. She doesn’t have to be anywhere close to perfect and she certainly doesn’t have to look anything like those airbrushed magazine photos that no woman actually looks like, not even the women who the pictures are taken of.

You need to have a good heart-to-heart with your husband about whether or not he finds you sexually appealing, and if your worries about him potentially taking off with a younger woman are valid.

We should all do our best to maintain our physical appearance, exercise and eat right without expecting our over 40 year old bodies to look like teenagers. Let’s be realistic.

Husband’s who genuinely love their wives and are fully committed to them, say the biggest reason why they love their wife more than any other woman is because she is his wife, his best friend and the one he has chosen to spend the rest of his life with. In this no other woman can compete with you, not because you have to be better than other women, not because you’re prettier or younger, but because no other woman has shared “x” number of years with him, you are the mother of his children, and no other woman is the one that he has CHOSEN to spend his life with.

About sex, is your husband dedicated solely to you or does he view pornography, masturbate and/or fantasize? These activities are intimacy stealers, and eventually they numb a man from experiencing the fullness of a real orgasm. As Mark Gungor of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage puts it, “A real orgasm, where every cell in your body wants to jump up and grab the hand of the cell next to it and shout “Hallelujah!” can only be achieved when one man focuses exclusively on one woman in his life.”

The fullness of sexual experience is only achieved in a 3-dimensional way, where the connection is physical, emotional and spiritual. Ejaculation should not be confused with orgasm. Our world today is giving us a different message, and never has there been so much sexual dysfunction as there is today.


Anne Bercht

©Copyright 2013 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.

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If you would like to share a success story, helpful insight or comment on this article we welcome your remarks. Email your questions or comments to Brian and/or Anne .