My Husband Never Initiates Sex Anymore After He Cheated

By: Katie Lersch: It’s common sense that your sex life might be affected or might take a definite hit after your spouse cheats or has an affair. However, one common misconception is that this is because the faithful spouse has basically shut down the sex, or that, because of their anger, they understandably have no interest in sexual intimacy. Of course, it would be understandable to not want to have sex until the trust, intimacy, and health of the marriage has returned.

Still, this is not always the reason for the change in sex life. Sometimes, it is the cheating spouse themselves who back off on the sex. Needless to say, this often has the faithful spouse more than a little concerned and questioning the possible reasons behind this. Someone might say: “my husband cheated on me about seven weeks ago. There was never any question of whether I would leave or not. I really don’t have any room to talk because early in our marriage, I was unfaithful. However, that was over ten years ago and we have repaired our marriage since then. Still, my husband stuck by me then and I feel compelled to stick by him now. I know that we can repair our marriage because we have done it once before. The main problem that I am having right now is that I feel very rejected sexually. I can’t think of a single time that he has initiated sex since I found out about the affair. Actually, we’ve had sex very little. But every time we do, I am the one who has to make the first move. And even then, my husband seems a little reluctant – although he doesn’t turn me down. It hurts me and makes me think that he is not attracted to me – although deep down, I know that this isn’t the case.  Prior to the affair, my husband would always tell me how pretty I am. I take very good of myself and most people consider me quite attractive. So I don’t think it’s likely that my husband suddenly finds me sexually unattractive – but you never know. When I was the one who cheated, he didn’t shut down sexually in this way. So it worries me that he is shutting down now after his own affair. Why would he do this?”

There are a few possible reasons. One very common one is guilt and shame. People who have affairs can understandably feel very badly about themselves. I’ve heard men who cheat on their wives refer to themselves as “the scum of the earth” and “the lowest of the low.” Most people who cheat are very ashamed of it, even if they don’t readily admit it out loud all of the time.

Understanding The Confidence That Is Required:  Think about it this way.  Initiating sex requires a certain degree of confidence. Most people who initiate sex do so because they are fairly certain that their spouse is going to be receptive and that they are not going to be turned down. However, when you have cheated on your spouse, you can’t always have this degree of certainty. You know that your spouse is angry at you and disappointed with you – at best. At worst, you suspect that your spouse hates you and finds you somewhat pathetic and disgusting. So, as a result, you are going to struggle with the confidence to initiate sex. Which means that you may not follow through with it at all. None of this means that you don’t love your spouse, aren’t attracted to her, or don’t want to have sex with her. But it can mean that you are plain afraid to approach her, are afraid of rejection, or simply don’t feel as though you are worthy to have sex with her – at least right now – because of your actions.

Moving Past This: So where does that leave you, as the faithful spouse? Well, as I see it, there are a couple of choices and what you decide really depends upon what you most want and need going forward. Because a marriage after an affair can be a little fragile, you could simply choose not to rock the boat too much and you can continue on as you are, with you being the one to initiate sex. If you do this, you will obviously just hope that as your marriage starts to heal, your husband will regain his confidence and self esteem so that he eventually feels comfortable initiating sex again.

Or, if you really hate being the only one to initiate sex right now and you feel that it is harming your marriage, then you can certainly speak up about it, but you want to be careful that you don’t sound as if you are being overly critical (because your husband may already be struggling with self esteem and making it worse could actually mean he would be even less likely to initiate sex.)

You might try: “I can’t help but notice that you seem reluctant to initiate sex lately. I can only guess as to the reason why. I know that you probably feel uneasy and afraid. I understand that. I feel these things, too. But I also want you to know that when you pull back this way, it makes me feel unloved and undesired.”

At this point, I would leave it at that. It should then be clear what you’d like for your husband to do. The rest will be up to him. You’ve cleared the air, which is really all you can do, as he is the one who will be doing to initiating. But as I’ve alluded to, healing can go a long way toward easing sexual issues, too. Your healing may be a bit more tricky as this is the second infidelity, but it is certainly not impossible. You just want to make sure the infidelity stops here – once and for all.

People understandably put a lot of emphasis on sex after the affair.  And rightly so. If it’s going badly, it makes things seem worse.  If it’s going well, then it helps to ease some of the strain and tension.  At the same time, putting pressure on your marriage because of sex will often result in a worsening situation.  For now, I would focus on the fact that you’re having sex – regardless of who is initiating it.  And I would try to make it as exciting as possible to entice your husband to initiate it sooner rather than later. You can read more about how I regained some of my sexuality after infidelity on my blog at

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