“Rebuilding a sexual relationship with an unfaithful partner.”
“Even though she was unfaithful, I really miss being close, holding her and making love. We made love the other night and it felt so good, yet after it was over I was angry at myself that I was so weak and that I needed her. I’m so confused… I want her and then I don’t want her.”
I wish I had only heard this comment once or twice in my career of working with people, but sadly, I can’t count the number of times men and women have confided these exact thoughts to me.
How do we navigate these uncharted and treacherous waters in the aftermath of an affair? Here are some ideas that we have found helpful.
Should a couple decide to attempt to recover from an affair, we recommend that there be a sexual moratorium for several months. While this sounds horrifying to many, we’ve never see anybody explode because they haven’t had sex for a while. A fulfilling life without sex, while difficult, is possible. Jesus and Paul seemed to survive and had very fulfilling lives and ministries without the benefits of having a sexual partner.
A sexual moratorium allows people to sexually decompress and for some, to lower their voracious sexual appetites. I remember years ago, while working in a hospital hearing the story of a morbidly obese patient sending her husband out for thirteen cheese burgers for breakfast. In her mind, she “needed” thirteen burgers to survive. The same is true sexually. At a conference last year, a successful businessman told me that the secret of his happy marriage was that he and his wife had sex three times a day. A three to six month sexual moratorium helps our brains recalibrate to lower levels of need. Often, it is these distorted obese sexual needs that contribute to affairs.
During this sexual hiatus, couple’s therapy starts the process of building honesty, awareness, attunement, ownership, confession, and forgiveness. As a result, trust begins to develop and new warm emotions begin to emerge. It is out of this new place of security that a couple can experiment with the new beginnings of the sexual relationship. As they become a new and different couple with growing emotional bonding and love, the sexual relationship that emerges will be healthier and more holy.
Thanks for listening,
Love and Blessings,
Milan & Kay