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I Unintentionally Raped My Wife

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From the U.S.: Last year, I woke my wife up for sex. This has occurred numerous times throughout our marriage (by both parties) and there was never an issue raised. There were times (when she would wake me and when we were both already awake) when I didn’t want to have sex and never said anything because I didn’t want to disappoint her. Anyway, on the night in question, I unknowingly triggered a flashback to trauma which occurred years before we met that she had never told me about. She did not say or do anything in order to get me to stop. If I had known for even one moment, I would have stopped. It was months later that I even found out it was unwanted. Before and during the assault, I was hurt and felt betrayed by her and also thought I was being petty even feeling betrayed. I know that I should have spoken to her about that instead of trying to replace my negative feelings of her with positive feelings of providing her pleasure.

Hindsight is 20/20. The next day I apologized for bringing my anger and resentment into the bedroom even though I didn’t think she was even aware of my feelings at the time. I wanted to be upfront. Unknown to me at the time, she took that apology to mean that I knew that the sex was unwanted. The first hint of a clue for me was not until she told me months later. By that point, she had been believing that her husband had knowingly violated her in a way that she thought (accurately) I would never knowingly do. I immediately apologized to her and took responsibility for scaring her and made sure (I thought) that she knew I laid absolutely zero blame on her and that I had not had any clue as to her fear or lack of consent because of her typical bodily response (fully aware involuntary physical response occurs).

I still take full responsibility for scaring her and violating her even though I had no idea at the time. The problem is this: she now is saying that I have not taken responsibility for my actions because I have not admitted to doing it intentionally. It was not intentional, but she still wants me to take responsibility to admitting that it was. That would be a lie. — Heartbroken for her

I Unintentionally Raped My Wife

Answered by on -


I’m heartbroken for both of you. From what you wrote, you have explained, taken responsibility, and apologized. Further, this was apparently a one time event and not a pattern of abusive behavior. Unless there is more to the situation than you were willing to share, I think you aren’t just dealing with what happened one night over a year ago. Sometimes a situation serves as a window to something else that is more difficult and serious. This event may have raised other issues that neither of you have perhaps even been aware of so they haven’t been addressed.

You’ve tried to talk together about it to resolve it but have been unsuccessful. It is now undermining your trust and comfort with each other. I urge you to see a couples therapist for a few sessions to get to the root of the problem. If you could have done it on your own, you would have done it already. I’d hate to see a good marriage shattered because of a fundamental misunderstanding that could be corrected.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

I Unintentionally Raped My Wife

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). I Unintentionally Raped My Wife. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Aug 2018 (Originally: 27 Aug 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 23 Aug 2018
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