From Infidelity to Intimacy? What It Takes to Be Close Again
The initial response to infidelity is often some blend of shock, anger, shame, guilt, and resentment. At some point, however, a concrete decision is made. Will the couple break-up or stay together? For those who choose to try again, it can be a long, bumpy road back to intimacy. In fact, there are more than a few stops along the way.
General Guidelines for Healing After Infidelity
For the Betrayer:
- Own up to your actions, take responsibility, and hold yourself accountable
- Sincerely apologize and show remorse
- Demonstrate a willingness to work on your partner’s timeline
- Do not deflect blame
- Cut off all contact with the affair partner
For the Betrayed:
- Require sincere acknowledgment of the infidelity and apology before moving forward
- Take your time in terms of forgiveness and healing
- Do not let anyone rush you or downplay your emotions
- Understand that it’s probably best to not contact the affair partner
- Refrain from accepting responsibility for your partner’s actions
- Get tested for STDs
- Reach out to loved ones for help and support
- Commit to new, shared transparency with your partner
- Hold off on any big decisions until things have calmed
- Do not expect sex to “fix” the problem
Moving Towards a New Perception of Intimacy
Something major has shifted between you. To restore intimacy after infidelity, you must recognize and honor the unique dynamics at play. With this in mind, let’s explore a few steps to consider:
1. Spend Far More Quality Time Together
“Quality” here does not refer to quality time having sex, think togetherness instead. For starters, accept that something between you is broken and therefore requires your attention. Prioritize your relationship above everything your realistically can. Put down those phones and schedule in face-to-face couples time to bond while, say, exercising, socializing, taking a class, playing a game, and so much more!
2. Do Not Rely on Porn
Too many people view Internet pornography as something that can invigorate a couples’ sex life. The truth is diametrically opposed to this perception. Porn is often responsible for tearing couples apart. Whether it be sexual dysfunction, substituting violence for intimacy, or setting impossible comparison standards, porn may do more harm than good during such a delicate place in your relationship.
3. Re-imagine Intimacy
Rather than allowing society to tell you what’s “hot,” figure it out together. Intimacy is and will always be more than one act. It’s not about how much clothing you’re wearing or following an alleged script. Intimacy is to be defined by each couple — leaving room to grow and evolve, of course.
4. Be Patient
Moving from infidelity to intimacy is a never-ending journey. Remove to concept of “destination” from the equation. Rather, embrace both the process and the patience needed to heal. You do not have to go back to the “good old days.” Live each day, as a couple, with purpose and openness.
5. Commit to the art of Communication
The foundation of any healthy relationship is communication. This goes double when deep rifts occur. As you both process the betrayal and lay ground rules for a healthier future together, communication is key. When you set aside daily quality time (see #1 above), let it be an incubator for deeper and more productive interactions.
Navigating Around the Existing Baggage
Every relationship creates its own rhythm and thus, its own baggage. As a result, some couples may feel “stuck” in patterns they can’t even fully identify. Moving forward after one of you has cheated is particularly daunting. This is why so many folks opt to try couples counseling. In a safe setting, each partner is able to share openly. The presence of an unbiased but highly skilled mediator cultivates an environment that seeks discovery without shame. At Eddins Counseling Group, in Houston, TX we have many experienced couples and marriage counselors that specialize in infidelity. Call us at 832-559-2622 or book an appointment online.
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