Affair healing Blog
After recording episode #403 of our Recovery Room podcast, in which I answer a caller's question about sexual struggles after her husband's affair, I remembered this bit of advice I often give to couples and wanted to add it to the discussion...
Even after an affair has ended, it can continue to intrude into the marriage relationship. For many couples, this is never more apparent than in moments of attempted sexual intimacy, when the betrayed partner is ripped out of the moment with a thought: Is THIS something they shared together? If unchecked, intrusive thoughts like this can become so deeply rooted that sex is robbed of it's joy and pleasure.
The comfortable intimacy of sex might take some time to reclaim, but it can be done. Let me suggest a couple suggestions to help you find your sexual connection again.
You established a shared intimate space before. Do it again.
Most marriages do not begin with two people who were each other's first-and-only sexual partner. And you know what? They do just fine because the old partners don't matter anymore once the couple makes a commitment to honor their relationship in a new way. For most couples, this is an exclusive (monogamous) arrangement.
An affair breaks the trust of this agreement, but it doesn't necessarily ruin it. If a couple chooses to rebuild and renew their marriage, they will need to let the affair recede into the past (like earlier relationships but with the added need of forgiveness) as they make a re-commitment to each other.
Those who married a virgin will likely struggle more since (a) this is the first time they've had to deal with the reality of not being their partner's only lover and (b) they were more likely to have placed a high value in absolute exclusivity. If the betrayal is forgiven, however, they can begin to let the past be the past just as other couples have done.
Focus on what is uniquely yours.
You know what happens in sexual affairs? Sex. And when it comes to sex, there are a few body parts that are almost always involved in one way or another. If you try to eliminate everything that was shared in the affair experience, you won't even have the essential parts required for sex.
So if you want sexual healing, turn attention away from what was shared in the affair and focus on what is unique to the marriage. Here are a few do's and don'ts for both partners...
For the injured spouse:
For the involved spouse:
For additional help, see the recommended books on the podcast #403 page.
Unless otherwise noted, articles are written by Tim Tedder, a licensed counselor and creator of this site and its resources. Twitter: @TimTedder