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Love & Intimacy

Re-establishing Love Relationship After An Affair
My husband was involved in an affair. The memory of it freezes me up whenever we try to make love.

By Dr. Clifford and Joyce Penner
Psychologist / R.N.

Warning: This story contains information that is unsuitable for children.

Question: My husband was involved in an affair. We have worked through some of our problems, and I believe he now intends to be faithful. But the memory of his affair freezes me up whenever we try to make love. I can't help but wonder if he's thinking about this other woman, and if he would secretly rather be with her. What can we do to get our love life back on track?

Answer: Communicate your concerns to your husband.

Approach the subject when you are well-rested and free of distractions, and when you're not involved in physical intimacy.
Let your husband know that you are having difficulty freely giving yourself sexually and are worrying about his thoughts and preferences during sex.
Getting back on track sexually will require a rebuilding process.

To do this, you might decide not to have intercourse until you feel ready to give yourself freely.

Make a fresh commitment to each other, and start your sexual relationship as if it were new.

Read our book Men and Sex out loud together, especially the chapters on affair-proofing your marriage and bringing erotic adventure into marriage.

If you need step-by-step guidelines, our book Restoring the Pleasure contains a self-help section for this very purpose.

In addition to these sexual retraining assignments, work on finding ways of communicating when you are sexual that allow you to share your concerns as they surface and assure that your husband is actively engaged and keeping his mind exclusively on you.

Plan ways to use nonverbal signals when you are being distracted by thoughts related to the affair.

At that point get active in enjoying each other's body and talking to each other about your enjoyment.

This will help keep the two of you feeling connected.

Dr. Clifford and Joyce Penner are internationally recognized sexual therapists, educators and authors. They work as a team in full time practice in sex therapy and counseling. They also lead sexual enhancement weekends for couples and lecture on human sexuality at colleges and universities.

Clifford L. Penner, Ph.D. – a clinical psychologist with Associated Psychological Services in Pasadena, California – has a B.A. from Bethel College, M.A. from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Fuller’s Graduate School of Psychology.

Joyce J. Penner, R.N., M.N. – a clinical nurse specializing in sexual and parenting issues - is author of over eight books with her husband, Dr. Clifford Penner, including The Gift of Sex. She holds a B.S. in nursing from the University of Washington and a master’s degree in psychosomatic nursing and nursing education from UCLA.

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