Many people assume that if a couple have sexual problems after one of them has cheated and had an affair, it is because the faithful spouse just doesn’t want to be intimate with someone who has been unfaithful. Sometimes, surprisingly, it is the exact opposite. The scenario in which the cheating spouse is reluctant to have sex again is less common, but it most certainly happens.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband had an affair three months ago. We have decided to try to make our marriage work. I want to bond with and be close to my husband again but he resists this. The other day, I decided that on that evening, we should be intimate again. I bought some new lingerie, lit some candles, and made the moves on my husband after dinner. Although he was willing to kiss and hold me a little bit, he wouldn’t go any further than this. When I asked him what was wrong, he said that it was too soon to be intimate again. Why does he get to decide when it’s too soon? Frankly, this makes me feel rejected. This makes me feel like he’s not turned on by or attracted to me. I worry that if he’s not attracted to me, he will cheat again. But he says that I am reading too much into this and he just wants for us to take our time so that everything is right. I tried to make some moves on him again last night and he said the same thing once again and I felt so rejected. What is going on with him?”
Although I certainly couldn’t read this husband’s mind, I could speculate. I dialog with a lot of husbands about this on my blog and I can tell you what many of these husbands express. I will share that below as well as offer some suggestions on to how to deal with this.
Why He May Want To Hold Off On Being Intimate After His Infidelity:
Because our self esteem takes a huge hit after infidelity, many wives will worry and assume that their husband isn’t attracted to them or can’t perform because he isn’t turned on by them any longer. This isn’t always the case.
Sometimes, he doesn’t feel that he deserves to be intimate with you. Other times, he worries that the experience will be awkward or won’t go well and he’s afraid that you will assume that the affair took away the spark in your marriage. Finally, he may have some anxiety about his performance because he may fear that you will be wondering how it was with the other woman.
In short, typically both parties really want for the first time that they are intimate again after the affair to be a good experience. So some people would rather wait to be sure that it is right than to rush things and regret it.
Believe it or not, I agree with this husband’s stance. It’s very common for the sex to be less than perfect when you rush it. And there are so many things to work through after an affair, that you don’t need sexual problems on top of anything else.
I often advocate waiting if there is any doubt at all. In fact, I think that it can sometimes be a good idea to wait until you can’t stand it anymore. Because once you get to this level, it becomes obvious that no one is faking it and that the time is definitely right.
What’s The Best Way To Handle This Situation? How Should The Wife Respond?:
Even though I believe that waiting can be beneficial, I completely understand why the wife wants this type of affirmation. When you have been cheated on, you want to feel desired and attractive. You want that confirmation that your spouse still wants you despite all that you have been through.
I think that this can be accomplished without rushing into sex if one spouse is unsure. You can ask your husband for what you need and find a compromise where every one is happy. A suggested script might be something like: “I understand that you are hesitant and I’m not going to push you. But I need to feel desired and loved. Can you just hold me? Can we still be physical with one another without being intimate? Even hugging or kissing me, holding my hand, rubbing my back, or stroking my cheek tells me that you desire me enough to want to show you me physical affection. It’s very important for me to feel physical validation of your feelings for me. So while I can accept holding off on sexual intimacy, I can’t hold off on physical intimacy. I need for you to show me that you physically desire me even if we aren’t having sex for now.”
Usually, your husband will see that you aren’t asking him for much. And frankly, sometimes when he complies with all of that affirming touch, one thing will lead to another until you reach that point where you are both sure and can’t wait anymore. Because that really is the best case scenario because there is no longer any doubt and no one feels as if they are giving in.