Couples: How does one have sex after a bout with Infidelity?

A dear, close family member of mine has recently (last 8 months) found that her husband has cheated on her. He had an affair ( not a one night stand, but a couple instances of sex with this other woman). The affair was eating him appart inside, (think scarlet letter) and he finally came out and told her what happened.

They have three children under 8 years old, a family business that is a multi-million dollar yearly business and tons of friends. She is a steriotypical soccer mom, in a mom’s club ect…etc…they are not hurting for money at all, but obviously money doesn’t make a man faithful.

She has opted to stay with the marriage and try and work things out, he has agreed and wants to stay involved. But the sex life has gone the way of the dodo. She cannot have sex with him without thinking about the other woman…and this makes her mad, obviously. And in tern makes their sex life non-existent, or at least meaningless. They are in therapy, but it is not appearing to work for this factor of their lives.

Will time heal this wound?
Are they doomed?
I hesitate to ask for anecdotes…that may be painful. So insights would be appreciated.

Also, what would you do?

You can get over it. She may need professional help, but it is not an insurmountable obstacle. First she has to ask herself if she wants to. Then she needs to see that he didn’t pick up anything from this woman. Then she needs to forgive him. Only the second item in this list is easy.

I forgave. So did Mr. K.

Underlining is mine. Thats the crux in my opinion. How can she???
How could I, if it were me?

Well, I suppose that varies from person to person. You have to decide together if you want to continue to build a life with your spouse. If you really want to stay together, the forgiveness will come. If you don’t forgive, it will never be the same and you can’t go on (except in the most superficial shell of a marriage way). If she’s not ready to forgive, he’s going to have to understand that. He has to prove himself worthy to HER standards. When she’s satisfied, maybe the forgiveness will come.

People do stupid stuff sometimes. There’s not much more to it than that.

I suspect the hump (no pun intended) is getting from “He betrayed me!” to “What an idiot!” From that point, forgiveness is possible (assuming he’s gotten over idiocy and repented, etc.)

Some people don’t get over the betrayal, and she may be one of those people. I think 8 months is a bit early to throw in the towel, but if she’s not making any headway at the 12-month point, she really needs to examine the situation. Is she punishing him by withholding sex? Is she afraid to let her guard down?

Punishing him? Perhaps, but not by withholding sex…More like chiding him out of anger, "was she better than me? did she fck you like…ect…ect…" Making him feel like shit. She doesn’t worry about letting her guard down, in her eyes he fcked up.

Personally, I think this behaviour will drive him further from her if it continues…

As soon as she can look him in the eye when he says no to those questions, physical though they may be, it’ll be an important step. He did screw up, but he came to her for forgiveness, and if she really wants to, she’ll recognize that he’s being honest. BUT there’s the rub, he needs to regain her trust, and it’s up to her to decide exactly how he can do that. As soon as trust is regained, then you can forgive, but again, if she really wants to move on and stick with it, then she needs to decide exactly what needs to be done to regain trust (which in this instance is almost certainly going to be difficult, but a good starting point is that he came to her looking for forgiveness, which is a great first step)

That sounds like punishment to me. Maybe she’s afraid that if she gives him emotion PLUS physical sex he’ll stomp on her heart with another affair. That’s why she’s being a bitch. She will give him “the piece of ass” he was looking for and none of the emotion he was running from (armchair shrink hat/off).

I agree that her behavior could drive him away completely, but then again, maybe that’s what she wants. But not before she hurts him like he hurt her.

Forgiveness is huge in this. He needs to forgive himself; she needs to forgive him. Both need to forget the other woman.

This is sometimes easier for Christians, as forgiveness is part of the Christian culture. If the couple in question is Christian, a cleric will be able to help them work through the faith-based part of forgiveness. This is a chance for a clergyperson out there to really shine.

Even with that, however, the injured couple needs professional care for their marriage to mend properly. If you fall off your motorcycle, you don’t just ignore the broken bones and live with the pain – you go to a doctor for the necessary treatment. Having one’s marriage blow up like this is one of the most traumatic things that can happen, and it takes professional assistance to get things back on track. If money isn’t a worry, they should be making tracks to a marriage therapist this afternoon, if not sooner.

Or maybe, for her, there is no such thing as physical sex without emotional investment. I think there are lots of women for whom this is true.

She may not want to sleep with him because she doesn’t trust him that much anymore. Or maybe she’s protecting herself by not sleeping with him; this way, if he’s unfaithful to her again, maybe it won’t be as devastating as it was the first time.

She may not be punishing him. She may be unable to forgive him. She may also be trying to chase him away in such a way that lets her say “I tried, I took him back, but he just left again.”

With kids, this will be really difficult and a very long road. I have a friend who has been in a non-intimate marriage for almost a decade “for the kids” after his wife wouldn’t forgive an indiscretion. She still hasn’t, and they are both still sticking it out.

She might have no infuence on getting such thoughts, but it’s within her power to decide whether they are important or unimportant. It’s really easy to make these feelings seem big for the wrong reasons. Playing the victim’s role feels good. The anger might be destructive, but it has an shortterm righteousness to it that is really appealing. Once the real anger is over (and hey, it’s been eight months), returning to it is nothing more revelling in your pain.

She has decided that her marriage is more important to her than the anger and the pain, and now she needs to follow through. She needs to consciously decide that these thougths are not important to her anymore, and then, when having sex, ignore them. That way the anger doesn’t get fueled.

First time is the hardest. After that, considering that the reward will be having bad feelings replaced with good sex, I doubt the bad thoughts will last for long.

Well, from what Phlosphr says, she IS sleeping with him; just badgering the hell out of him when she does. But I do believe that at this point she’s not able to give him the emotional part of her. She’s just going through the motions.

This supports what 4.66 said. There is nothing to be gained by knowing the answer to those questions. Her husband shouldn’t be answering them. He betrayed her when he decided to go to bed with another woman. Everything else is just an afterthought. It takes a lot of discipline, not mention testicular fortitude, to shut down that line of questioning. The husband may also still resent the wife, and get some small enjoyment out of her asking these questions, because he knows it will really hurt her more.

Underlining is mine. Can you talk more about this resentment…

The only reason I ask is that he seemed like a reasonable guy before the affair, and I would not have thought him capable of even having an affair. I was wrong. But I do not think he means her harm. I could be wrong again.

Just saw that post, that actually might be something to consider and an excellent reason to get into counseling. A professional counselor should be able to get to the bottom of exactly what’s going on. And again I repeat that the key, and what this is about, is regaining trust. She needs to decide what he needs to do before she can trust him again, before she believes him when he came to her out of his own sense of guilt and need for apology. I think a lot of the more recent responses are being too harsh on one party or the other, and I disagree with saoirse that he should shut things like that down. What he needs to do seriously consider and attempt to answer everything that she wants to throw at him. On that note, saying “yeah she was better” is definitely not the way to go, but closing her off will just vindicate her mistrust. A professional counselor needs to talk them through this to get at her motivations, and help her figure out what she wants from him to prove his trust again.

Well he didn’t have her best interests at heart. He cheated on her, lied to her and possibly put her life in danger (AIDS, HIV, etc). He destroyed any trust she had in him.

Some people just aren’t able to forgive the person. My ex-FIL cheated and he was still hearing about it 20 years later. I think they stayed together for religious reasons because it was pretty clear that she disliked him and never let a chance go by to remind him.

How much time passed between the affair and his confession? One thing to remember is that his time table is different from hers: less time has passed for her, so what seems like forever to him is more recent for her.

I have to wonder why he decided to tell her. He seemed to tell her because it made him feel better. What a peach.