I Feel Like I Need to Maintain A Certain Distance From My Husband After His Affair

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from people who believe that they have made a firm decision to stay with their cheating spouse. They haven’t taken this decision lightly and they may have wavered about it. But, in the end, they have decided that the best decision for them is to try to save their marriage. In their heart, they know that what they really want is to restore their marriage to a place of intimacy. But of course, this is easier said than done. It’s hard to trust again when someone has hurt you. It’s hard to want to be close to the person who has betrayed you. And it’s an unbelievable challenge to allow yourself to be vulnerable again when your heart has been damaged beyond belief.

I might hear from a wife who says it this way: “I am not going to go back on my decision to stay with my husband, regardless of the affair. I will not fool myself into thinking that this is easy. But I am determined to do it because of my children. My husband is determined to make it work also. And I have to say that I do believe that he is really trying. The problem is that no matter what he says or does, I feel the need to keep a safe distance from him. And this frustrates us both. Last night, he asked me if I was going to hold back from him for the rest of our lives. I never intentionally set out to hold back from him. But, in intimate moments, that is when the pain of the affair hits me the hardest. That is when it strikes me that he has broken our wedding vows and done this exact same thing with someone else. And it destroys me so much that I just subconsciously pull away. I can not help myself. And if I were to force myself not to, then it would be obvious that this was what I was doing. Is it always going to be like this? What should I be doing right now to overcome this?”

Understanding What Is At The Core Of This: I am by no means an expert. I can tell you my opinion based on my own experiences and from what I hear from others who reach out to me. But, it can take a good deal of time before even a hint of true and unforced intimacy returns. Frankly, you can’t offer true intimacy to someone until you feel that they are worthy of it. And of course you have your doubts as to whether or not he has worthy of it right now. Not enough time has passed in order for you to have those types of feelings for him since the pain he caused you is still so fresh.

Don’t Give Up: Does this mean that your marriage doesn’t stand a chance because you can’t overcome the intimacy hurdle? Not in my opinion. But it could mean that you need to give it more time and you need to take things more slowly so that you are not putting so much pressure on yourself. Because pressure just creates awkwardness. And awkwardness makes you think that this is never going to work so you become frustrated. And frustration is not a good precursor to intimacy.

Bringing It Into The Open: I would suggest addressing this with your husband with something like: “recently, you asked me if I was going to back away from you forever. I don’t intend to do that. Honestly, I don’t intend to back away when I do it right now. It’s never my intention. It is just a reaction to the pain that I have been feeling. And I think that time is going to be needed to get around this. I think that putting pressure on the situation would only make it worse. So I’d like to take things slowly. We are both committed to our marriage and we know that neither one of us is going to walk away. So we don’t have to worry about that. And I think that’s why we need to give ourselves permission to move a little more slowly and to not force things. I’d like to just spend some time with you without expectations and without feeling that things have to be normal right away. Because that is just supplying pressure that we don’t need. The distance doesn’t mean that I’m not committed and that I don’t love you. It just means that I am still trying to process this.”

Hopefully, this will buy you a little time. Never forget that you deserve to set the pace. None of this is your fault. Your husband was the one who had the affair and so now he will have to wait and allow you to move at whatever pace works best for you.

Faith Leaping: I can tell you that there will come a time when you will just have to take a leap of faith. So many of us feel like we can’t really let ourselves go until we get some kind of guarantee that we won’t be hurt like this again.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any guarantees for any of us. All that we can do is to restore our marriage to the strongest place possible so that we can have confidence that we can handle whatever comes our way.  In the end, we have to decide that the risk is worth it.

I am not going to tell you that I had fast intimacy in my own marriage after my husband’s affair.  I didn’t.  There was distance for a while.  But we had to just work through it and wait it out.  It got a little better with time, which made it a little easier to stay the course.  If it helps, you’re welcome to read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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