Erotic recovery is a fundamental part of healing after an affair. It addresses a very basic relationship need: to be erotically and intimately connected.
Moving from being emotionally and sexually disconnected after an affair may seem impossible, especially if you are still in intense pain. But if you choose to stay together for now, working on your sex life will be vital to your healing process.
Erotic recovery encompasses all of the emotional, physical and intimacy needs in your relationship. Until you and partner can move beyond the erotic injury of an affair and repair your sex life together, the third party, the other man or woman, is still (metaphorically) in bed with you.
The bridge between the two of you may seem too wide to cross at times. And yet, at the same time, you may find yourself craving the feeling of being held. Sex can be a way to feel grounded, to remind both of you that there is still a reason to keep working on the relationship. Couples may find that what cannot be said out loud can instead be felt through touch.
And yet, at the same time, this is why it can be so difficult to reconnect erotically. You may be able to come together and talk but still be unable to let yourself be vulnerable enough to touch each other intimately or make love in ways that you used to.
Most likely, one of you will be more ready than the other to rebuild your sexual connection. If you are the partner that does not feel open to sex right now, try not to feel pressure to do it as a way to hold on to your spouse or prevent them from going back to their affair partner. It's normal to worry about being able to hold on to your partner after an affair.
You may worry that you aren't having sex often enough to keep your partner from cheating again, but if you feel that you are pressuring yourself to have sex because you are afraid of losing them, ask yourself if you truly have a desire to be closer to them or if sex is just a way to manipulate them to stay with you.
Talk to your partner directly about your feelings. Share with them that you don't feel ready to have sex, and if you're open to doing some physical or intimate things short of sex, let them know what those things are. Tell them what you are ready for now.
Erotic connection can mean taking your time and connecting in other ways first, using intimate physical time as a way to move toward sexual intercourse. This may mean that touch, hugging, snuggling or even showering together is the goal for the first few weeks or months. Try to stay patient with one another and take your time. New monogamy includes new behaviors which will eventually lead you back to each other, and to your new vision of intimacy.
You may be wondering, Am I still attractive to my partner? Do I still have what it takes to be in a sexual relationship? These and other questions come up normally around sexual self-esteem. After your partner cheats, it may take time to recover your own power in bed and to feel sexy and confident again. One way to do that is to find a way to slow down the process and reconnect to each other without the pressure of performance.
A couple working toward a healthier and more connected sex life after infidelity can benefit from slowing down the process by focusing on being in the moment. Working together to make sex feel positive and sensual will create your erotic recovery, and a new, more intimate relationship with one another will follow.
Dr Tammy Nelson is a world renowned expert in relationships, a psychotherapist in private practice and a trainer and seminar leader worldwide. She is the author of several books including Getting The Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together and the upcoming The New Monogamy; Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity. She can be found at www.drtammynelson.com and her Facebook page Getting the Sex You Want.