In the initial aftermath of an affair, it’s hard for you as the victim to think about how you’ll ever bridge the gap between here, amidst pain and anguish—and there, a strong partnership and intimate connection with your spouse.
The thought of being physical once again with your cheating spouse may be too much for you to consider right now. But to have a deeply fulfilling relationship once again—the kind of marriage you deserve—you will need to take steps to move in this direction at some point.
In this blog, I want to share with you the triangle that makes up total intimacy within a marriage, and two intimacy sectors to rebuild after the affair to help you move forward in saving your marriage.
The Intimacy Triangle
The thought of intimacy may be the furthest thing from your mind at the moment, and something you think you’ll really struggle to get back to. You’re still reeling with the 3-pronged, post-affair nightmare of negative images, thoughts and emotions. Having sex with your spouse isn’t even a remote possibility during the early days of learning of the affair.
But as you systematically work through the traumatic post-affair feelings, you will have the ability to think more about saving your marriage, and putting in the effort—along with your spouse—to rebuild intimacy once again.
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The concept of “intimacy” causes a lot of confusion for most people, who equate it with just sex. This isn’t to say that sex isn’t a very important component, but that’s exactly what it is: just one component of an intimate relationship.
Intimacy can be described as the deepest sharing that can exist between two people:
- Physical sharing of one’s body with another
- Describing innermost thoughts, feelings and emotions
- Discussing future hopes and dreams
- Romantic gestures to show caring
- Time spent together
As you can see, intimacy is a triangle of romance, emotional connecting of a non-sexual nature, and sex. It’s no wonder that so much confusion surrounds the idea of intimacy, because these components that make it up are, to some degree, quite diverse while also closely interconnected and interdependent.
For example, when a husband brings his wife flowers, that is considered “romantic.” It’s not sex, for sure—but it can create a secure, welcoming environment for physical relations to take place.
Or, a physical relationship can exist, but there is no sharing of innermost thoughts and feelings, which means a solid, intimate connection has not been achieved, leaving one or both partners wanting.
To rebuild intimacy in your marriage, and to truly satisfy your innermost need for a deeply intimate connection, make an effort to focus on the following 2 intimacy sectors:
Intimacy Sector 1: Emotional Connection
One of the most critical components of intimacy is the emotional connection that exists between husband and wife. It can often be one of the drivers that send cheaters outside of the marriage to seek fulfillment—a need for an emotional connection more than the sex act itself.
Many victims of emotional affairs actually find this worse than if their spouse had conducted a sexual affair with the paramour. The emotional connection is a deeply felt aspect of intimacy, and must be nurtured in order to have a deeply fulfilling, intimate relationship with your spouse.
Start by igniting a conversation with your spouse that helps you develop a deeper understanding of one another. This conversation can revolve around hopes and dreams for the future, or maybe a story from your past that can provide insight into the formative events that made you the person you are today.
Intimacy Sector 2: Romance
It’s not just for women. Romance is an important component for both spouses to experience. It’s also one of the first areas to fall by the wayside in a marriage.
Without romance, intimacy is crippled. It’s the glue that keeps the other intimate connections cohesive.
Your romance skills may be rusty—or maybe they were never finely attuned to begin with. Think of romance as gestures that let your spouse know how you feel about them: a phone call at work to wish them a good day, a “thinking of you” card, sitting next to them and holding their hand while watching the evening news.
The third intimacy sector, sexual intimacy, is a topic for another day. When you’re in the state of post-affair healing, you no doubt crave more emotional connection and romantic gestures as a means of building a deeper connection with your spouse. Sexual intimacy may be an area that you will only feel secure in working up to once the other two sectors have been strengthened.
My best wishes for you as you heal from the pain of infidelity and rebuild intimacy.
How has intimacy changed after the affair? What was it like prior?
Which of the three intimacy sectors experienced the most neglect?
What sectors do you think you personally need to work on to rebuild your marriage?
Please share your thoughts and experiences regarding the important marriage component of intimacy.
Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,