It is very hard for many couples wanting to heal after infidelity to be intimate without having mixed feelings or without feeling frustrated sad and angry. Most feel that it can never be the same as something very intimate and personal was shared by one spouse with someone outside the marriage.
When couples have these thoughts and feelings, they are correct. The marriage will never be the way it was before the affair. Things have permanently changed and as the authors of many resources on infidelity point out, healing can happen with a lot of work, but some scars will remain.
Betrayed spouses often have unwanted visions of the spouse who betrayed them with the Other Person (OP) and of course that is an immediate turn-off. To “zone-out” might be perceived as a solution, but it is not a good one on the long-term if the couple wants to re-connect on all levels, emotionally as well as physically.
In many cases immediately after D-day, couples have more sex, followed by a time during which intimacy has dropped to be nearly or totally non-existent.
The phase when couples have more sex is by some referred to as HYSTERICAL BONDING. Some bloggers have written about this. I perceive the phenomenon as a form of coping out of desperation. Stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) influence people’s actions that are driven by a desperate need to feel better. The feelings and sensations may lead to a strong physical response.
Some use alcohol or drugs, others self-harm in different ways and others may do all of the above and engage in hysterical bonding. The latter is the more positive behavior which can (depending on what you read) strengthen bonding due to the secretion of OXYTOCIN.
In other cases, couples temporarily separate and gradually on seek a re-connection with better communication.
There is nothing wrong with having more sex than you as a couple ever had before! To the contrary. Have a look what sex therapists recommend you to try when healing after infidelity. In general however, they stress TOUCH, all types of touch that make you and your partner feel good.
There are many reasons why people have sexual intimacy (sex)
1. Physical reasons: being bored and wanting excitement, stress relieve, exercise, being curious about the experience.
2. Goal based; wanting to conceive, increasing social status (wanting a promotion), wanting to become popular and wanting to hurt: revenge
3. Emotional reasons: wanting to feel connected, expression of love and commitment, wanting to give so the other feels good about themselves.
4. Insecurity: self-esteem: wanting attention, giving in to pressure, keeping a partner from straying
(Based on the studies by David Buss and Cindy Meston. All motivational factors could be summarised by the four mentioned above. Printed in Sciencedaily.com: University of Texas, 2007).
Although most of those in relationships would feel that #3 is the most beautiful reason to be physically intimate, the other reasons are provided as well during studies. (NB: more studies are needed to investigate this further).
That infidelity and in particular adultery may affect negatively sexual intimacy in the marital relationship comes to no surprise. What is interesting however, is that many couples who work hard on healing report a better-than-ever-sex life!
What can couples who want to heal do to increase the physical connection?
- Firstly, RESPECT each other. Infidelity is based on deception and an utter lack of respect for the feelings of a partner.
- Being patient and caring by not placing pressure on each other.
- Communicating when intimate about feelings, wishes, desires and fears but keeping the communication positive.
- Keeping a light on and looking at each other.
- Increase a ritual to make love making a new experience (candles, massage oil, glass of wine, …).
- Spending more time on fore-play.
- Do you feel you are attractive? What is beautiful and sexy about you?
- Females: Do you like to wear some lingerie? If not what stops you ? (note: this is for you in the first place).
- Starting slowly with touching, massaging arms, legs, back and neck and experiencing the feelings. Use massage oils you both like. Take turns, take your time. There is no pressure.
- Focusing on being intimate, not focusing on orgasm, but on connecting and feeling and pleasing
- For the betrayed spouse to focus on how the touching feels, by not allowing negative visions to intrude and by talking to your spouse about what you like and responding to their questions on how you feel and on what feels good.
- When triggered. Stop, take a deep breath and think about the positives of being intimate with your partner. Intimacy increases bonding. There is nothing more beautiful than a bond between people who respect each other.
- Staying in the present . This is you and your spouse. No one else is invited.
- Trying new things. This is after all, a new relationship.
- Be open and honest about how you feel. Do not fake orgasm as this is damaging you.
- Have you had fantasies you never spoke about? Maybe now is the time to introduce some. There is research evidence that partners who talk about sex, desires and fantasies have a stronger bond and thinking and talking about sex increases desire.