08 Feb How To Bring Intimacy Back Into Your Marriage After Infidelity
During the dismal aftermath of the revelation of where your husband’s hands have been, the thought of never being touched again sounds, well, kind of alright. Random moments arise when all you want is to be held, cuddled, and smothered in your husband’s touch, but confusion quickly sets in. Is that what I’m supposed to do, you wonder? You think, if I let him touch me, am I letting him off the hook? You find yourself paused.
It’s true; bringing intimacy back into your marriage after infidelity is kind of impossible. Today, I’m first going to talk to you about when intimacy is right and when it is wrong post-infidelity. Then, I’m going to share with you the exact steps to bring intimacy back into your marriage.
The Wild Pendulum
As my confused state came to accept each new discovery of what my husband had done, the building blocks of my world seemed to shatter one by one. I didn’t know where to begin to pick up the pieces. I found myself an emotional wreck sometimes. I was so angry at my husband. I screamed, I yelled and threw things. Sometimes all I wanted him to do was hold me, touch me, and tell me everything was going to be okay. Back and forth, I went from extreme hatred to extreme love, and I didn’t know what kind of action was right to take.
When I was on the side of being angry, I hated how it made me feel. I felt alone and as if my heart was closed. As much as I hated the anger, I felt like he had asked for it, and that I needed to treat him in this way to show him that he hurt me and that his actions were not going to come without a consequence.
Meanwhile, my desire to be close to him scared me. My need to be hugged by him felt empty, and I was alarmed by the thought of getting close and being hurt again. The anger and the longing were both prevalent, and I felt like I had no control over either. I would ride the wild pendulum, oscillating from excessive hatred and hardening and isolating myself to finding myself in an uncontrollable sob of relief as I would run into his arms. I would revel in being surrounded by the man I loved only then to stiffen. I would self-ridicule. What had I done? I’d let him off the hook. Surely, he would go out and repeat his unfaithful actions. My weakness of wanting to be in his arms had now given him permission to go be in the arms of another. I would swing back to the side of anger. The whole scenario would play out over and over.
You would think I was crazy. I went to therapy and read books on codependency, sexual addiction, betrayal, and trauma, but all the information I was getting from different sources only seemed to confuse me more. I coped by overworking and trying to play the part of the perfect wife.
The ‘Rights’ and ‘Wrongs’ of Returning to Intimacy
I felt like when I thought I was doing things right, they felt wrong, and no matter what, I just couldn’t win. I know I’m not alone in having had these experiences as you’re here reading this, and also because I have received correspondence from many individuals who have come to me with these exact problems.
I remember an email I received from a man who admitted to me that he had been unfaithful to his wife and that he hated himself for it. He said that he attended 12th Step meetings, did his ‘dailies’ (the daily actions an addict takes to stay abstinent, such as calling a sponsor), and went to therapy, but no matter what he did, his wife became more and more distant He mentioned that her therapist had suggested that she not be intimate with him in any way. He confessed to a recent transaction in a massage parlor. He said that the loneliness he experienced in his marriage was too much. Because of the lack of connection he was feeling with his wife, he was feeling like more and more of a failure.
Now, I am not excusing this man for his actions nor do I think he was excusing himself as much as taking ownership. A story like this is only one of many that I have heard over my years in this field. A couple of weeks ago, I received an application from a woman saying that she and her husband seemed to be doing okay when her therapist suggested that she stop having sex with her husband. In her desire to do things right in order to heal her marriage, she took the suggestion. She said that things had only gotten worse and that she was totally lost as to how to move forward in her marriage.
Are you at a similar point? Are you trying to navigate the rights and wrongs of bringing intimacy back into your marriage after infidelity? Well, if you just said yes, let me tell you a little secret.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to bringing intimacy back. Now, when I was in the middle of this myself, I didn’t understand that concept, probably because it wasn’t offered to me. Looking back now, I hate the idea I had that being intimate with my husband would somehow ruin the supposedly perfect equation of what healing my marriage was supposed to look like. It just makes me sad. I visualize a tightrope walker cautiously placing one foot in front of the other, knowing one misstep will screw up her performance.
Fearing the supposed rights and wrongs makes you lose yourself completely as you listen to others’ opinions and guidance and thus dishonor yourself. It encourages you to question your own intuition. The truth is that there is no perfect equation that will save your marriage. If you want to bring intimacy back into your marriage after infidelity, you need to learn how to navigate certain moments all on your own. But Sariah, you might be thinking, how am I supposed to trust myself to know when I should step into that or not?
My friend, that is a wonderful question. If you desire to bring intimacy back into your marriage, you have to learn to trust yourself again. You have to learn how to navigate your own life by the intuition with which you are innately gifted.
The Solution to Restoring Intimacy
Do you want to know what the real problem is? After you experience infidelity, your body becomes infected with emotional trauma. Emotional trauma brings on severe hyper-vigilance and invites you to maintain a state of extreme alertness as if danger is lurking around every corner. This fear of danger can keep you living with the belief that there is a ‘wrong’ and a ‘right’ when it comes to intimacy with your spouse, and that by traversing that line perfectly, you will prevent any further harm to yourself. Can you relate to that kind of anxiety? Studies have shown that when you are anxious, your decision-making skills suffer, which causes you to feel less confident, be less trusting of others, and keep you from taking the steps necessary for you to move forward.
If you desire to bring intimacy back into your marriage after infidelity, you have to clear your emotional trauma. You have to rid yourself of the continual feeling that you have to bring intimacy back perfectly. I know that, with every single ounce of you, you don’t want to be hurt again. I feel that and honor that and know exactly what you are going through. But you can’t keep living your life swinging wildly to and for from affection to anger, uncertain of decisions, and dependent on other people to guide your life for you.
Let’s just take a little spin and recap what I spoke to you about today. One, we talked about the rights and wrongs of bringing intimacy back into your marriage after infidelity. My offering to you is that there is no right or wrong when it comes to doing this. In order to be able to trust what I just said, you need to learn how to trust yourself and navigate your life with the integrity of your own intuition. That is done by clearing your emotional trauma.
I know that you want to finish the end of every day snuggled closely in the arms of the man you love. I know you want to feel safe and at peace in doing that, and I want to show you how, but for now, I’m going to turn the time over to you. I have three questions for you today, and I’m hoping you’ll answer them in the comments below.
- Please tell me all the different ways you have attempted to navigate bringing intimacy back into your relationship.
- Have you feared the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ as you’ve tried to guide your way through this tricky situation?
- Describe to me what it would feel like for you to be able to have the confidence, trust in yourself, and ability to rely upon your own intuition to bring back that intimacy.
I truly am passionate about your success in restoring intimacy and I can’t wait to read your responses. There is no rule book: no when, how, or what for when you can allow yourself to experience this kind of connection with your husband again. Intimacy plays a major role in romantic relationships, and if you are committed to your marriage’s revival, you’ll need to open your heart so that you can incorporate it again. As long as emotional trauma has its talons in you, however, it’ll be difficult for you to feel anything besides paralyzing fear and self-doubt.
I help women in your situation break free of the kind of emotional trauma that pulls gray-tinted glasses in front of even the most spectacular sunrises. I want to help you to live fully again, and that includes knowing desire, passion, and satisfaction. Apply for my group coaching program so that we can work together to free you of the emotional trauma that is blocking your connection with others and keeping you lonely. I have helped hundreds of women return to happier and more meaningful lives than they had before their husband’s infidelity. It would be my honor to work with you. You don’t have to walk this path alone anymore.