For most couples, one of the basic, fundamental aspects of being in a long-term relationship is sexual monogamy. When this vow is breached through a physical affair, recovery and reconnection can be very difficult. But with 65% of couples allegedly choosing to stay together following an affair, the statistics suggest that it can be overcome. However, the emotional aftermath can affect the relationship in many ways for a long time to come… not least in the bedroom.
Following the revelation of an affair you may think that sex is the last thing on either party’s mind. However for some couples the sudden prospect of losing one another can see them becoming instinctively drawn to one another and engaging in the type of passionate sex that their relationship may previously have been lacking. More commonly, though, a sexual rift is formed. Intense feelings of frustration, disgust, betrayal and sheer hurt may mean that the injured party can never imagine being intimate with their cheating partner ever again. Each couple is different and their response to sex following infidelity will be governed by their own moral compass, feelings and desires.
If you have been the victim of an affair and have chosen to forgive your partner, here are some things to consider in order to make your erotic recovery as successful and painless as possible.
Be kind to yourself
Although rebuilding the relationship will be a joint effort, in the early stages it is important to focus on yourself so that you are mentally, physically and emotionally strong enough to move forward together. On a practical level, it is important that both you and your partner are tested for STD’s. This will not be a pleasant experience but it is necessary. The stress of such emotional upheaval can also take its toll on your body so take care of yourself by eating well, exercising and getting plenty of rest. Emotionally this will be an extremely tough time and many couples find that psychotherapy or counseling is needed to help them work through the painful emotions of such a betrayal. As the injured party you may find your ego takes a big knock and find yourself questioning your attractiveness and worth. Reject these thoughts and work on rebuilding your own self-esteem through self-care and even taking up new hobbies and pastimes to create and showcase your own achievements.
Be honest and practice empathy
In order to start rebuilding your relationship it is important to communicate fully and frankly with one another about your pain and your expectations. In the early stages this may be done through angry exchanges, emotional outbursts or passing the blame. Eventually though, you need to work on creating empathy and understanding why the affair happened and how you have both been affected by it since. Only when you can truly begin to validate your partner’s feelings and gain at least some understanding of what it’s been like to live in their world can you truly move forward.
The temptation to compare yourself to your partner’s lover is hard to avoid. Of course you will be plagued by thoughts such as ‘were they more attractive than me?’ or ‘were they better in bed?’ But this is a fruitless and destructive thought process that will only lead you into further torment. And with studies indicating that the majority of married affairs occur due to feelings of inadequacy, life challenges and depression, it is likely had nothing to do with your sex life anyway. If you want to move forward sexually it is important to concentrate on you and your partner and banish the memory of the other person from your lives. If you continue to have intrusive and reoccurring thoughts about the other person then speak with a therapist about the best techniques to effectively deal with them.
Do not feel pressured or rushed into embarking on a sexual relationship until you are ready. For some couples this may be sooner than others. They may find that sex is a way for them to physically express the emotions they are still unable to verbalize. For others, trust will need to be built and re-established before they feel the desire to be intimate with their partner again. Be clear with your partner about your feelings and listen to their expectations and hopes for the future too.
Work towards a new sexual relationship
Many people say that following an affair their relationship is never the same again. Indeed this may well apply to your sex life too. But in some ways it can be a positive thing. Moving forward with erotic recovery gives you the opportunity to be completely honest about your relationship and discuss elements that you feel could be improved upon. Together you can forge a new, more fulfilling sex life that is better for both of you. After all sex is an expression of love and if you are able to make it through the upheaval of an affair, your sex life afterwards should reflect the emotional dedication that you have for one another.