Sex after an affair is one of the most common topics that is brought up by people who read my blog. There can be a lot of awkwardness, confusion, and questions about resuming your sex life after one spouse has been unfaithful. And, there’s a lot at stake here because when sex goes wrong after infidelity, often one or both people read a lot into this and become very discouraged.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband had a 3 month affair a couple of months ago. When I found out, I gave him a choice. End it immediately and do whatever I needed to save our marriage or keep it up and lose me. He said that he didn’t want to lose our family so he broke it off. However, although I can tell that he’s trying to work on our marriage, he doesn’t want to have sex with me. He doesn’t come right out and say this but he’s made no sexual advances toward me since I found out about the affair. And when I make advances toward him, he rebuffs me or tells me that it’s ‘too soon.’ This hurts me deeply because I worry that he doesn’t find me desirable or that I no longer turn him on. I also worry that he doesn’t want me because he’s still thinking about her. Why would a husband not want to have sex with his wife after an affair?” There are actually many possible reasons for this, which I will discuss below.
He May Not Want To Have Sex Because He’s Worried That It Will Be Awkward: Sometimes, men back off of having sex because they worry that when you are in the act, you are going to be thinking about or worrying about the other woman. They worry that you will get upset during this and will be emotionally hurt. Also, they often intuitively know that if sex doesn’t go well, this might make one or both of you worry that the spark is gone or that the affair has damaged your marriage and your chemistry so much, that it might not ever recover.
He Might Worry That You Will Be Turned Off Or Upset During The Act: Some men worry that once sex actually takes place, you will become upset or overwhelmed. It’s one thing to kiss and cuddle, it’s quite another when you are actually having intercourse after infidelity. Sometimes, it is quite emotional and your husband might be trying to avoid this until you have healed or recovered more.
His Guilt May Be Telling Him That He Doesn’t Deserve It: Another possibility is that your husband feels very guilty and feels as if he doesn’t deserve your willingness to have sex with him. He may feel as if he needs to earn back your trust before he even thinks about deserving to be intimate with you again.
His Emotions May Be All Over The Place: There’s an assumption that men are willing to have sex anywhere and anytime no matter what the circumstances. There is also a perception that while a woman needs an emotional connection or to feel emotionally healthy before she can have sex, a man doesn’t need any emotional connection whatsoever. This isn’t the case for all men. Some have issues being intimate when they are struggling emotionally. And, believe it or not, men can be emotionally torn after an affair. They can have some confusion and a large sense of regret. And this can bring about emotions that just make sex at that time feel wrong.
He May Be Posturing: I’ll mention one final possibility, although this one is less common. Sometimes, his holding off on having sex is part of a strategy. Sometimes, he knows that you have the power in the marriage right now because of his affair. And sometimes, he will try to regain some of this power by holding off sexually. He figures if he can make you pursue him, he won’t have as much making up to do. And you have to decide if you’re going to want to allow him to do this.
How To Respond When He Doesn’t Want To Have Sex After Infidelity: I know that this is probably not what you want to hear. But honestly, I feel that it is best not to push if you are encountering resistance. There is plenty of time to resume your sex life and you are so much better off waiting until things are right between you. I believe that it’s important for the sex to be good after the affair. And it probably won’t be very good if one or both of you aren’t sure or feel uncomfortable.
So the next time that he resists, you may want to say something like: “I can see that you’re not completely comfortable. I think that it’s better for us to wait and make sure that we are both ready rather than to push it. I am confident that we will both know when the time is right. And I’m also confident it will be worth the wait.” Then, just get on with your healing. Many men will see you backing up and then they will start pursuing you, at which point you’ll need to make another decision about how best to proceed.
I know that this is difficult. But I strongly advocate waiting until you know, without any doubt whatsoever, that the time is right. You don’t want to have sexual issues in addition to the infidelity issues. A good sex life can help with the healing. And an awkward one can delay your progress. I have to admit that I held off for a while after my husband’s affair. It just felt necessary and, since we did save our marriage and are happy today, I feel that it was the right call. If it helps, you can read about my recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com.