by: katie lersch: Sex after an affair is a recurrent theme in some of the correspondence that I get. Many people are looking for guidance as to what is a healthy or advisable time frame. I recently heard from a wife who was grappling with this very issue. It had only been three weeks since her husband had confessed to an affair and had assured her that it was over and that he wanted to save his marriage. Within the last week, she had started having sex with her husband again. Her friends were telling her that this time frame was “too soon” and that having sex now was the same as telling her husband that she already forgave him.
She said, in part: “I know that I might be having sex a little too soon after my husband’s affair. But I’m very committed to the marriage and I just want to feel connected to him again. My friends are telling me that I’m making a huge mistake because having sex with him implies that I have forgiven him and that he’s back in my good graces or that he deserves to be intimate with me again. I haven’t completely forgiven my husband and we still have a lot of work to do. So does having sex when things still aren’t perfect and we’re still healing send mixed signals to him? Is this a mistake on my part? Should I stop having sex with him and follow some sort of time frame to make sure that he’s truly sorry and won’t cheat again?” I will try to address these concerns in the following article.
There’s Really No Time Table For Sex After An Affair. But It’s Advisable To Have Sex For The Right Reasons And Within Clear Boundaries: I don’t think it would fair or advantageous to place any set deadline or time frame on when you should have sex after an affair. Every one is different. Some women are not comfortable physically expressing themselves until they are comfortable emotionally. Some couples wait for quite a long time for this very reason. They don’t want to use sex as the glue that binds them until they know that the relationship has healed enough to make this authentic and comfortable.
But some people are able to separate their sexual relationship from their martial issues. And many people just want to feel connected to and desired by their spouse even if they are well aware that they still have work to do in their marriage. This is completely understandable. And it’s not my place to tell someone that they are wrong for doing this. Many couples report that this actually helps the process because they feel closer to one another and it’s therefore it’s a bit easier to work through the infidelity issues.
So while I can’t tell anyone if they’re having sex too soon after an affair, I can offer some suggestions to help you handle this. Because I see several issues that come up in this situation. Sometimes, wives feel a lot of pressure to have sex because they worry that if they don’t, the other woman will. They can almost feel as if they in competition because they want to make sure that their husband stays at home. So they will tell themselves that this is necessary even if their heart isn’t in it because they are coming from a place of fear.
Another issue that I see is that there’s a lot of misunderstandings about what sex really means. Sometimes the wife just wants to connect physically but in her mind, nothing has really changed. She’s still angry at and disappointed with her husband and she still needs to see a lot of remorse and rehabilitation before she trusts him again. But when she brings these issues up after being intimate, the husband will feel that she is sending him mixed signals. He might ask why she’s having sex with him if she hasn’t forgiven him yet. But to many, forgiveness and sex can be two separate issues.
And this is why it’s so important to be very open and honest about this issue. If you feel any reservations or need to clarify things, then by all means speak up. It’s better to muddle through an awkward situation for a few minutes than to go through weeks or possibly months of misunderstandings or the resentments that might follow. So I couldn’t really tell the wife if it was “too soon” to be having sex with her husband. For some couples, a few weeks might not be too soon as long as they continue to work through the infidelity. And for other couples, six months later is too soon because the healing just hasn’t even begun or one of them just isn’t comfortable.
The time frame needs to be up to the couple themselves. To me, the real concerns are whether the couple are having sex for the right reasons and whether the wife is feeling pressure or whether the husband feels he is getting mixed feelings. Being intimate for the wrong reasons can cause additional problems. Still, I believe that it’s possible and even sometimes healthy to be intimate after an affair was long as both people are comfortable about the choices that are being made and completely understand them. Sex most certainly can’t fix all of the problems that the affair causes (and it sometimes creates additional problems) but it can be a way to connect and feel desired again which can be reassuring when you know that there’s a lot of healing ahead of you.
Restoring my own sex life after my husband’s affair was a big hurtle to overcome. But our sex life now is actually better than it was before. So much so that I no longer worry that he will cheat again. If it helps, you can read about how I recovered on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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