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Betrayed Spouse 101

Rebuilding From The Ashes: Obstacles, Page Four

Intimacy Issues:  So you don't feel like having sex with your spouse. Gee, I wonder why? Could it be because the betrayed you? Because the thought of them touching your body the same way they touched someone else either repulses you or makes you angry or tears you apart emotionally? Who could blame you?

But still, if you've chosen to rebuild, you know you can't go on like this forever. Worse, part of you is afraid that if you don't re-establish 'normal' relations, your spouse will turn to that Other Woman/Man to 'see to their needs'. Its a fine line. You don't want to just let your spouse jump back into your bed, but you want a strong relationship with a healthy sex life. Hard? Yep. Impossible? Nope. Its going to take time, and a commitment to rebuilding INTIMACY. Notice I did not say "Frequent Sex". Sex and Intimacy are two different things! Sex can be intimate, but so can a lot of other things. You need to find those things, and restore the intimacy to your marriage that was STOLEN by the affair.

Why do you feel this barrier between you, even after you've 'forgiven' the affair? Even after you've made peace with the idea of the two of them together? Could it be partly because you've returned to the old status quo and your spouse isn't really doing a whole lot to reinforce to you that you're sexy and desirable? And also, are YOU doing anything to reinforce it to YOURSELF?

I know that feeling, boy do I ever. My husband's Other Woman was thin and petite and worked out. I'm a little overweight. I definitely don't feel sexy most of the time, and because I had a mental picture of me as this overweight, frumpy person, I wasn't really trying to hard to be much of anything else. The turnaround for me started with underwear, believe it or not. I have 3 white bras and 1 black one, and assorted comfortable cotton bikini underwear in various colors, mostly white though. Never thought much about underwear, to tell you the truth. Then one day I'm in a department store, and I see this really pretty matching bra and panties in a cranberry color - lace edged, gorgeous. Not practical at ALL, but sexy as hell. I started to pass them on by - I really didn't need new underwear. Then I thought "You know, it would be nice to have a matching set." Then I went a step further. "I deserve to feel good, even if its about underwear!" So I bought them. And 2 other sets - one more sexy and a funny set with smiley faces on them. I went home and changed into the cranberry set and wore it under my clothes all day. I FELT so sexy! And after the baby went to bed and my husband and I went upstairs, I stripped off my clothes and walked over to him wearing the set. He was floored! He said "When did you get those!" It was obvious he liked it, and well, you can guess the rest. I then traded in my comfortable T-Shirts that I sleep in for 2 satiny, spagetti strap nighties. Modest enough so that if company saw me in them it'd be no big deal, but still on the sexy side. I go back to the T-shirt occasionally, but those nighties never fail to get a response.

I'm not saying you have to go on a shopping spree, here. I'm saying, you do what YOU think makes you feel sexy. I also started wearing polish on my fingernails and on my toes - just on the weekends mostly - I can't be bothered worrying about that crap during the workweek (can you tell I'm not an all-dolled-up type?), but its fun. I even got my husband to paint my toes one Friday night - that ended up good! Another thing that I did a few years back that was WONDERFUL (and I'm presently looking for a class so I can do it again) was I took Belly Dancing Lessons! I am NOT a great dancer - but I had a blast doing this, and felt so empowered and sexy when I did. I even ordered a full outfit online from a company in sapphire blue - its gorgeous! It was a terrific workout one night a week, and my husband REALLY appreciated the moves. I put the outfit on again a few months after D-Day, and we had a terrific night!

I don't want it to sound like I was the only one doing all the work here. I made it clear to my husband that I felt LESS than sexy to him, that his affair made me feel 'disposable' and that I felt like I'd lost my 'specialness' to him and needed reassurance. I told him I wanted more intimacy, not just SEXUAL intimacy. I needed hand-holding and kisses on my neck, a tender hand brushing my hair out of my face, being held close in bed at night, his hand on the small of my back as I precede him through a doorway, long, soft kisses that didn't necessarily HAVE to lead to sex. I don't know about your spouse, but mine was at the point over the years where the only time he gave me more than a quick peck was when he wanted sex. Forget anything with tongue - that kind of kissing was for sex only. Nevermind that I got that kind of intimacy ALL THE TIME at the beginning of our basically, I really spelled it out for him. I also did my part to let him know he was still sexy to me - I'd pat his butt when no one was looking, call him handsome, give him a long, smouldering once-over when he was stepping out of the shower, come up behind him when he was in the garage and just rub up against him as I hugged him - stuff like that. And there's the other 'stuff' that isn't sexual at all - I keep the car clean (his personal pet peeve). I send him funny electronic greeting cards. I put pictures of my daughter in his book as a bookmark. I brag about him and his successes openly, and every one of our friends and neighbors know I think he's a pretty terrific guy. I encouraged him to go back to school - a dream he's had but for whatever reason never pursued. Not sexy, any of it. But intimate. Just between us. Private and personal and connecting us.

That's what's worked for me so far. I still have down days, don't get me wrong, but a string of them means that I'm missing the INTIMACY, not necessarily the sex. Find that intimacy, on whatever level you can. Don't put the emphasis on the sex. The affair wasn't entirely about sex. Your marriage shouldn't be either. If you take back that intimacy, the sex will follow - bigger, better, and well worth waiting for.

Triggers:  Your wedding anniversary. Your D-Day Anniversary. ‘Your’ song. ‘Their’ song. Passing the hotel that you know they stayed at. Watching your grandparents renew their vows. A business trip that takes them out of town. Any one of them can bring you to a screeching halt and make you feel like you’re reliving it all, all over again. The only way to handle a ‘trigger’ situation is with the complete and total support of your spouse. You don’t need to be told to ‘get over it’, you don’t need to be told that you’re foolish and making mountains out of molehills. Its real to you. Whatever they do or don’t feel in association with whatever it is that triggered you has nothingto do with what you are experiencing. They need to hold you. They need to let you know they are there for you, and will continue to be there for you. And they need to listen to your fears and pain, acknowledging that you really and truly feel them. And you need to remind yourself, that with time and reassurance from your spouse, these feelings will be less and less until they barely register at all.

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