my situation is a little different, but my husband’s affair definitely impacted our sex life and my experience of sex within the marriage. It’s still a struggle and a source of sadness for me.
At first we had crazy hysterical bonding with frequent, intensely emotional and connective sex for months. I didn’t struggle much with mind movies in that period, though the few times I did were truly awful.
Then as the initial trauma subsided, the sexual betrayal piece really sank in, and I lost much of the sexual comfort level I had reached with my husband over our 20+ year relationship. I started struggling a LOT with picturing him with his AP when we had sex. Oral sex had been a staple of our sex life, but it became all but impossible for me because of the inevitable mind movies that came along with it. Even separate from the mind movies, I sometimes found myself turned off during sex, which had not been normal for me at all. It has been incredibly disheartening to experience this, even as our relationship has improved and things have overall gotten much better. I really don’t like how vanilla our sex life has become. The pre-affair frequency is there, but a lot of the adventure/fun/explorative side is gone, taking with it much of the heat. I just don’t feel vulnerable enough to have that kind of uninhibited sex.
I actually feel kind of bad for my husband, because I know some of this is related to things about me that have nothing to do with him. I was pretty severely sexually abused as a young kid, and that impacted my sexual development in adolescence and young adulthood as well as our sexual relationship at the beginning of our marriage. It took us a while to build the really good and satisfying sex life we eventually developed. By the time of his affair, I hadn’t had more than a passing thought of the abuse in years, and I loved our sex life, even though we had the normal periods of being tired and stressed and not always having as much sex as we’d like.
but with the affair, all the abuse mess came roaring back. Mind movies of that get mixed in with mind movies of him and his AP, and it’s been a hot mess. And super discouraging and sad to me.
To come back to your original question, though, I do think it’s possible to get back to something satisfying and good, even in somewhat complicated situations like mine, where different traumas are all mixed up together. I’m not there yet, and the process is depressingly slow, but I feel us gradually turning little corners in this area. I can instinctively feel the soundness of CT’s advice about mindfulness, and I’m slowly getting to a place of vulnerability where I am trying it in baby steps.
Recovery is not for the faint of heart, though, and I don’t think I’d still be in it if it weren’t for the fact that my husband is a really solid person outside of the affair, and we’ve always had a really good and strong partnership in a lot of ways.
Sorry, this is more of a tome than I intended. Apologies for the length and self absorption.
[This message edited by Grieving at 1:31 PM, Sunday, March 19th]