One of the most difficult steps when working towards complete infidelity recovery is intimacy—physical intimacy. For the one who was betrayed, the thought of having sex with your unfaithful partner may fill you with a number of emotions, anywhere from anticipation to dread. After all, learning that your partner has been intimate with someone else can be deeply hurtful, if not traumatizing. As such, you may wonder about sexual intimacy after infidelity and whether it should be done at all.
Should There Be Sex in a Marriage if Infidelity Has Occurred?
The answer is that it depends—on a number of things. There is no clearly defined point in time when sex should happen after infidelity. Each couple is unique in their needs, wants, and recovery. In other words, you should only have sex when it feels right.
The decision to return to physical intimacy requires some reflection on the situation and how you feel about it. You should feel prepared for the act in your mind, body, and soul.
Factors to Consider When Considering Sex During Infidelity Recovery
Engaging in sex after infidelity has occurred is a very personal decision that you need to make based on your own feelings. That said, here are some factors to consider when making your choice:
You may have noticed that there is tremendous emphasis on readiness. Being emotionally ready to engage in sex after infidelity is important for two reasons. First, infidelity is emotionally traumatic. The range of emotions triggered by the betrayal may be enough to send the relationship spiraling into a crisis. Not only does your relationship feel ready to break apart, but you no longer trust each other.
Trust is essential for physical intimacy. In order for you to have sex with your partner again after an affair, you have to trust them. Otherwise, there may be emotional damage in the form of resentment and disconnection. This can make it difficult to rebuild trust and connection in the relationship, and may even lead to further emotional and relational harm.
Trust and Respect
Sexual intimacy can be an important part of rebuilding trust and connection in a relationship, but it’s important to approach it in a way that feels safe and respectful for both partners. This may involve setting clear boundaries and expectations around sexual activity, as well as taking steps to rebuild trust in other areas of the relationship.
In other words, you should not jump straight into bed. Instead, consider dating each other again. It’s going to take work, but it will help you rekindle the passion that aids in emotional readiness.
Did the affair involve unprotected sex with the possibility of contracting an STD? While it may be off-putting, it is the responsibility of both partners to prioritize the physical safety of each other by getting tested. The good news is that many STIs are treatable when caught early enough. Any STDs that you or your partner have contracted must be treated prior to returning to sexual activity.
Sex is complex enough. Now you are adding the challenges of emotional trauma from infidelity to the mix. Have you considered exploring your feelings with a therapist? Individual and couple therapists are helpful when it comes to navigating infidelity recovery and intimacy. For example, a therapist can help you distinguish your needs and communicate those desires more effectively to your partner.
How Does One Rebuild Physical Intimacy After Infidelity?>
Working towards physical intimacy after infidelity can be a challenging and complex process, but here are some strategies that can help:
- Move Slowly: It’s important to take time to rebuild trust and emotional connection before engaging in physical intimacy. This may involve starting with small gestures of physical affection, such as holding hands or hugging, before moving on to more intimate activities.
- Communicate Your Wants and Needs: Talk openly and honestly with your partner about your feelings, concerns, and needs around physical intimacy, as well as any boundaries or expectations you may have.
- Seek Support From a Therapist: Working with a trained therapist or counselor can be helpful in navigating the complex emotions and challenges that can arise after infidelity. A therapist can provide guidance on how to communicate effectively with your partner, as well as offer strategies for rebuilding intimacy and connection.
- Take Care of Yourself: Prioritizing your mental and physical wellness not only improves your mood but also heightens your self-confidence, which can play a role in connecting physically with your partner.
- Be Patient, Considerate, and Compassionate: Be gentle with yourself and your partner, and to allow yourselves time to heal and rebuild your connection at your own pace.
Moving Forward Together
Should there be sex in a marriage if infidelity has occurred? Ultimately, the decision to engage in sexual activity after infidelity has occurred is a personal one that depends on the unique circumstances and needs of each individual couple. It’s important to prioritize open communication, mutual respect, and emotional safety when making this decision, and to seek professional support if needed. Couples Academy can help you rekindle intimacy and work through infidelity recovery. Get in contact with us today to schedule an appointment or inquire about our infidelity marriage counseling services.