Your Marriage After The Affair: Is The Intimacy Gone Forever?

By: Katie Lersch:  Even those folks who are passionate about staying married after an affair would have to admit, if they are honest, that there are doubts and worries.  Even if you are very clear that divorce is not an option and you are determined to do whatever is necessary for the sake of your marriage, you can’t help but wonder what “marriage” is going to mean in the future.

After all, isn’t your marriage irrevocably changed once infidelity damages it?  Do you always have to just accept your struggling, sub-par marriage?  Are you destined to live with anger and resentment?  Is your intimacy forever gone?

Someone might address it this way: “I feel a loss of many things after my husband’s affair.  But I refuse to let this destroy my marriage and my family and, thankfully, my husband agrees.  We have found a decent counselor, although my husband hates going and is always trying to taper down on the visits or quit.  I know that we are going to make it simply because we both refuse to let go.  But what about the intimacy?  The one thing that I have always adored about my marriage is that my husband and I were so close emotionally.  We have known one another since we were children and I’m very close to his entire family.  He knows me better than anyone else.  He knows what I am thinking before I do.  We could often communicate without any words passing between us and that was such a comfort.  I always knew that he had my back.  Well now, even though I know that we will stay together, the relationship has changed.  We only discuss small talk.  We no longer have whispered conversations at night or laugh.  We talk only when we have to. We are polite to one another.  We are both trying.  But I have this awful sense that we are never going to get the intimacy back and that breaks my heart more than the affair ever did.  Is it ever really the same?  People say that it can be, but I really don’t believe it.”

Surviving / Thriving Marriages Post-Affair Don’t Get A Lot Of Attention Or Air Play: I didn’t believe it either.  And I understand why you don’t buy it.  Honestly, I think that part of the reason that I felt that my marriage was sunk after my husband’s affair is because I’d never really actually witnessed a marriage thrive afterward.  And admittedly, you don’t often see this in the media and even friends and family don’t talk about it.  Plus, couples whose marriages thrive after infidelity don’t necessarily advertise that fact.  In fact, most people probably wouldn’t know that they had dealt with infidelity at all.  Because, why advertise it?  Whose business is it?

You’re more likely to hear about the marriages that don’t work because let’s face it, misery loves company and heartache sells tabloids and reality TV.

A Changing Marriage Isn’t Always An Inferior Marriage: I am biased.  But I do believe that in some cases you can get the intimacy back, although it’s naive to think that your marriage isn’t going to change.  It does change.  But you know what?  So many things change your marriage.  Hardships can’t help but affect it, but they often also make it stronger.  And you can’t always control what hardships affect your marriage.  One of the worst strains to my marriage was one of my childrens’ illness.  You would not think that this would have damaged us so much – but it did.  We were both so frightened, so tired, and so worried.  And because we were totally focused on our child, we lost focus on our marriage.  It was awful. But it made us stronger.  So when the affair came, I knew that we had the capability to weather the storm if I chose that route.

There are many such events that are going to shake your marriage over your life. But when you hold hands, take a deep breath, refuse to give up, cling together, and come out on the other side, your bond is stronger.  Certainly, sometimes you look back on the event and you wish that it never happened.  But you know that you can’t change it, that you are glad to have it past you, and you realize that you would not have wanted to go through it with anyone but your spouse.

What Has To Happen To Restore Intimacy: Admittedly, in order for the intimacy to return, you will have to get past the anger.  You will have to work through the issues.  You will have to eventually allow yourself to be trusting and vulnerable again.  Because I learned the hard way that you can not have intimacy without trust and vulnerability. And that is the rub. It’s a leap of faith.  And it’s scary.  And it takes a while until you are ready or willing to make that leap.

That’s OK.  Sometimes, all you can do is committed to sticking it out in the beginning.  That’s enough for now.  Don’t rush it.  Don’t think that you aren’t making progress.  Take it one day at a time and know that at some point, you may look around and realize that you are making it, that you are rebuilding, and that you are starting to get some intimate feelings back.  It doesn’t happen quickly. And it doesn’t happen all at once.  But it does happen.  And it becomes like any other stressor in your marriage – you get through it, you never want to repeat it, but you are OK in spite of it.

I’m not going to tell you that I’m fine with the fact that my husband had an affair.  I’m not.  I’d give anything if it had never happened.  Just like I’d give anything if my child had never gotten sick.  But I can’t change these things.  And weathering those storms made my marriage stronger.  There’s more about how we made it through on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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