After an affair, it can be difficult for the spouse who was cheated on to find the strength to once again be intimate. Trust has been broken and the process of healing takes time. Therefore, it is important for both partners to be patient with the process of reconnecting as a couple.
If the affair was of a physical nature, it will take a good deal of time before you and your partner will be intimate. During this time, communication is essential to restoring trust. If you were the partner who was unfaithful, start by asking questions.
Some questions to ask might be:
- May I hug/kiss you?
- Would you like some time to yourself?
- What do you need from me right now?
If you are the partner of the unfaithful individual, be sure to communicate what you are going through. It may be difficult for you to look your partner in the eye. If this is the case, communicate this to him or her. Explain that you need to time right now and that you plan to slowly become closer at your own pace.
Some statements to communicate might be:
- Right now, I feel uncomfortable when...
- Please give me time and space concerning...
- I’m feeling very _______ right now and need you to ________ until I can ________ again.
Also, do not feel that you need to rush through your emotions. It is natural to feel betrayed, hurt, and less worthwhile after an affair. To test if you are ready to begin restoring trust and intimacy, take baby steps. Tell your partner you would like to hold his or her hand but may not be ready to begin doing this again regularly. Once you feel your partner’s hand in yours, assess how you feel. What emotions come up? Are they positive, negative or neutral? If it hurts to hold your partner’s hand, do not force it. Explain that it hurts at the moment, and you need time before trying again.
Whether you are the partner who was unfaithful or his or her spouse, restoring trust within your relationship will take time, patience, and effort. Do not rush the process. Doing so could set you further back in the long run. Instead, start restoring intimacy and trust in small, controlled steps with lots of communication. Acting in this way makes the environment safe for both partners to begin exploring how the relationship can work after the affair.
(Source: Can This Marriage Be Saved? by Ladies’ Home Journal)
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