In our fortnightly column ‘Great Sexpectations’ we answer your questions on sex, faith and intimacy. Drop us an email on and ask us anything. Here, Dr Kathrine McAleese helps a woman whose is being treated very badly by her husband.

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Source: Photo by Fa Barboza on Unsplash

This reader dilemma contains content of a potentially sensitive nature. Please read with discretion.

I found out in 2018 that my husband of 22 years had been having an affair for two years with a another woman. He gave her the impression that he was moving in with her, while behaving normally at home.

She wrote me an A4 double-sided letter to tell me and to list all the times that she was with him. She attached 12 pages of copies of their text messages to each other and then sent another letter the next day with more copies of text messages.

He begged to come home and I didn’t want a broken family and still loved him desperately. The bottom had fallen out of my world and I was distraught and scared and financially screwed. He came home and we tried to put things right - this was July 2018. He then left me in February 2019 and went round the corner to live with his mother for four years. I was broken and couldn’t move forward. He didn’t want a divorce and nor did I; we used to go on days out but there was so much tension. Then in August 2022 he filed for divorce online. I was broken again - I did not want a divorce and to break our family apart as I didn’t want that for my children - I didn’t feel it was what God wanted for us either.

I did not want a divorce and to break our family apart as I didn’t want that for my children - I didn’t feel it was what God wanted for us either.

In December he didn’t go ahead with it and we met up again and talked and he moved back in in January 2023. However, he has now said that we cannot be intimate again as he is allergic to my vaginal fluids and gets a rash if he doesn’t wash himself immediately, (he has never told me this before) and says that he has never enjoyed sex.

So we live as house mates, he won’t hold my hand or cuddle. He won’t kiss me. He makes sure that he doesn’t touch me if he passes me in the house. He passes things to me without touching my skin. He doesn’t have OCD. It’s absolutely humiliating because I know for a fact that we were having sex when he was having sex with the other woman.

He is very hard to talk to and evades my questions. I am not desperately in love with him any more - I don’t think I like him. He barely talks to me. He has stopped doing all the nice things he used to do - he will never say I look nice, especially after being to the hair dresser for example. He doesn’t say anything nice. So I play situations in my head where I ask him why he’s here but hardly have the courage or energy to have that conversation because I know it won’t go well. I am truly stuck. I have gone to my war room. I have prayed and prayed.

I embarrassed myself twice by asking doctors about what he said and they just frowned at at me and said they had never heard of anything like this before. They said it’s about him not me.

But I am so tired and weary of this but at the same time would be distraught if we divorced. We have been to counsellors, in fact we were seeing a Christian male counsellor at the time that I got the letter, so he is quite happy to lie and deceive. He shows little or no remorse. He shuts me down and disarms me. I cannot find one positive other than my family is intact and I make sure there is laughter but I’m crying inside.

But the lack of sex or any kind of affection is what saddens me now, and the affair constantly feels like it happened yesterday. He won’t meet me half way to work on rebuilding, I am doing all the work and then I stop and nothing moves.


Dear Reader, 

How dreadful this is for you. Your husband has, over the last six years that we know about, become a lying, deceitful, adulterous, cruel user who is living under your roof yet in no way behaving as a husband to you.

He has repeatedly shown you - and your kids - who he is. Despite you graciously extending much grace and forgiveness to him, he continues to be cruel, not least in trying to make you responsible for the lack of sex in your marriage with his supposed ‘allergy’ and being your husband in title only.

Despite you graciously extending much grace and forgiveness to him, he continues to be cruel, not least in trying to make you responsible for the lack of sex in your marriage with his supposed ‘allergy’ and being your husband in title only.

I wrote that bluntly to reflect back to you the truths you shared in your question. If someone you loved related all this, what would you say to them? He is choosing to use and mistreat you, and this does not go anywhere good unless something changes.

As you say, he is showing no desire to put things right. Quite the opposite: he is deliberately choosing to withhold basic kindness and affection. His actions clearly show where his heart is. Before I go any further, I want to strongly encourage you to ensure your financial affairs are in order to protect yourself and your children and ensure you are not left homeless as he tries to remedy problems of his own making. Get professional help to make sure that you are covered.

He has proven repeatedly that he has no desire to act honourably towards you, so please don’t be naïve about where his selfishness may lead. I know that is all hard to hear. It’s so unfair when you made vows and you’re still doing your best to keep them. However, the person you made vows with has desecrated them repeatedly. I know you hate the idea of divorce and it pains God too, but God is not a God of cruelty. I hope you have a supportive church and safe Christian friends who will rally round you with wisdom as you work out how to protect yourself and your children from further damage.

We know that God never intended us to divorce, but Jesus himself acknowledged that in our broken world, sometimes it would happen. God set boundaries and when Israel betrayed him he sent them into exile. Sometimes saying ‘enough’ is the most loving thing we can do. Your husband is on a bad path and has been on his chosen path for years. I wonder whether he needs to feel the consequences of his actions in order to have a ‘Damascus’ moment?

There are certainly times when the best thing we can do for someone is refuse to let them continue what they’re doing and call a halt. You’re not God, you can’t change someone’s heart, but you can hand them over to God and refuse to continue to be mistreated. God can do anything but He does not force anyone to change, and right now your husband is showing no desire to change or repent. You clearly have no peace in this situation.

If God wanted you to stay there, I would expect you to feel peace in your spirit, even if your body and mind were screaming. I wonder whether God has been telling you what to do and it just doesn’t feel like what you’ve been taught, or isn’t what you want to do? What are your beliefs about divorced people? Is there anything in those beliefs that you need to let God heal? I know it seems like divorce would be hard and distressing and yes, it would be at times, but either choice you make here is hard. Despite your best efforts you can’t keep your marriage vows alone.

No matter how well you try to hide your pain from your adult children, they know what is going on. They know the history and their efforts to ‘lavish you with compliments’ in front of him emphasise their awareness of what’s happening. The atmosphere in your home affects them too and their perspective on marriage is likely to be being coloured. But you can’t solve that alone.

Here are some questions for you to consider and pray through: How would you know if you should divorce him? How would you know if God was telling you to stay/go? Are you open to God telling you to leave - even though you don’t want to be divorced? What if your resisting divorce is getting in the way of God doing a work in you or indeed your husband? What does God think about how your husband is treating you? What do your kids think? Where is Holy Spirit giving you peace? Let Him lead you. Where he grants peace he will carry you through. He is able.


If any of these issues have affected you, you can call  Premier Lifeline for support. Premier Lifeline is a national, confidential helpline offering a listening ear, emotional and spiritual support from a Christian perspective. If you would like someone to talk with and pray for you, call Premier Lifeline on 0300 111 0101.

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