I Can’t Get Close To My Husband After His Affair. I Always Feel The Need To Keep Him At A Distance

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from wives who really would like to stabilize their marriage after their spouse has cheated or had an affair. They would like to reestablish the love, the trust, and the closeness or intimacy. But something holds them back. And this can make a situation that is already awkward even more so.

I might hear a comment like: “I truly do want to make my marriage work after my husband’s infidelity, although he doesn’t believe this. But I am so hurt and so raw. As sad as it is to admit, I can’t even look at him without thinking about what he did. And I know that he is really trying. I know that he is truly remorseful and that he wants for things to be normal again. He’s actually been very sweet. He’s been trying to make me feel loved and supported. He puts himself out there and I continue to resist him. I want to feel close to him again, but something always stops me. Instead of trying to get closer to him like I really want to do, I actually end up distancing myself from him. I’m not sure why I’m doing this, but I can’t seem to stop. ”

I suspect that I know why you are doing this. I could be wrong. But from my own experience (which was similar) I believe that you distance yourself as a defense mechanism. Wives will often assume that this distancing process means that they no longer love their husband, but I believe it means exactly the opposite. It means that you still love him but you are afraid that this love means that you are going to be hurt. The last thing that you want is to allow yourself to be vulnerable and, because of this, to have your heart shattered once again. This is perfectly normal and completely understandable. But, eventually, you’ll need to move past it if you want to eventually feel close again. In the following article, I’ll offer some tips on how to do this.

Don’t Rush It. You Will Likely Know When You Are Ready: I completely understand that you just want to feel normal again. Feeling like your life has been turned upside down is emotionally exhausting and it gets old fast. The temptation is to just force yourself to do whatever you need to go in order to get your old life, and your old marriage, back. But typically if you force yourself before you’re truly ready, this will backfire and you will delay your progress rather than speed it along. I know that you just want for things to feel routine again. But, don’t sacrifice what is routine for what is right. You have plenty of time. And, you are better waiting until it’s very obvious that you are ready rather than trying to hurry yourself along before you are.

Know That As You Heal, The Closeness Will Take Care Of Itself: Honestly, you should not have to force this. As you begin to do the work of healing your marriage, and the trust very slowly but surely returns, you will just want to open yourself up a little more. Over time, as your husband shows you that he means what he says and that he is trustworthy, you will feel more and more safe doing so.

I know that it may not sound possible right now, but one of the few gifts that infidelity gives you is the ability to rebuild your marriage from the ground up. You can discard the things that don’t work and bump up the things that do. And, you will often just naturally put unimportant things that would have otherwise competed for your time on the back burner because suddenly you have the perspective of what is most important. Unfortunately, this often requires something major to happen before this sort of clarity is available to us.

But once you have this clarity, you are more able to do the work. Other things are no longer getting in the way. You suddenly see what is most vital to making this right. And you often haven’t seen that type of clarity and intensity since you were first dating. In many ways, this is a unique opportunity that you may not have otherwise had. I would never tell you that my husband’s affair is something that I have embraced. It most certainly isn’t. Ideally, it would have never have happened. But there were some real improvements that we were able to make with our marriage because of it.

That’s why I don’t think that it’s necessary to worry too much about the closeness, especially in the beginning. As long as you do the work, it should take care of itself. You can help it along by noticing when you are closing yourself off and then asking yourself what particular fear you are feeling. It is usually some variation of the fear of being hurt again. Or, it is some fear that your husband isn’t telling you the complete truth. And being able to release these types of worries just takes time because you need time to see if he is going to be sincere. If you rush it, then you are likely to wonder if you let him off the hook too soon. Or, you’re going to worry and be suspicious because not enough time has passed.

There is nothing wrong with noticing when you are distancing yourself and then trying to improve the situation. But be careful that you aren’t expecting too much of yourself or pressuring yourself. You haven’t done anything wrong here and you are doing the very best that you can. Be patient with yourself and try to open your heart as you can, but don’t beat yourself up.

I understand this process.  I struggled too.  But looking back now, I could not have been truly intimate and close to my husband in the beginning of this process.  There was too much distrust.  He had to earn that trust back.  And once he did, I felt safe opening myself up again. You can read about my own healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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