I often hear from wives who are quite confused. Often, after much soul searching and a good deal of effort, they have decided not to automatically turn their back on their cheating husband. Many figure that he will be extremely relieved about this and therefore extremely willing to show his affection and to rebuild their marriage. Instead, the wives are often shocked and disappointed that the husband is not showing any physical affection. Instead, he seems to be avoiding touch. This can leave the wife feeling not only confused but also quite rejected.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband cheated on me with one of his coworkers. I found out about it because one of my friends works at the same company and she could not help but notice that they were acting inappropriately and were together far too much. Once I confronted my husband with my friend’s concerns, he eventually confessed. He agreed to stop working with her and to cut off all contact. And I agreed to try my best to move past this. I thought that we were off to a decent start but now I’m not so sure. It’s been four weeks since I found out and my husband has made no attempts to touch me. The other day, I even wore a revealing night gown to bed which I know that he likes. Even then, he looked away and made no attempt to reach out to me at all. Why won’t he touch me? Is he no longer attracted to me? Is he thinking of her?” I’ll try to address these questions below.
Try Not To Make Assumptions That May Not Be True: As a wife who has been cheated on, I know first hand that it’s easy and normal to assume that his not reaching out to you means that he doesn’t want to be intimate with you. And when you assume that he doesn’t want to be intimate with you, then you start to worry if there is something wrong with you or with his attraction to you. Try not to jump to these conclusions. His not seeking your touch often has more to do with his doubts about himself than his doubts about you. This leads me to my next point.
He May Feel That He Doesn’t Deserve To Touch You: Many times, if you were to ask the husband why he wasn’t physically reaching out to the wife, he will tell you that he doesn’t want to assume that she wants him to touch her because he knows that he doesn’t deserve to be intimate with her until the marriage has healed and until this has been made right.
So sometimes the wife thinks that he isn’t touching her because he doesn’t want to save the marriage. But sometimes, the opposite is true. He doesn’t touch her because he doesn’t want to jeopardize his ability to save his marriage in the future once a new foundation has been made.
He May Be Afraid That You Will Reject Him: Many men in this situation have a sinking feeling that the second he tries to touch you, then you are going to respond by wincing or by pushing him away. Often, he thinks that his touch is going to repulse you. So he would rather hold off and wait than to risk rejection.
He May Think That Touching You Will Bring Up Undesirable Questions: Often men are reluctant to initiate sex because they know it will bring up obvious questions. He might be worried that you will ask if he did the same thing with the other woman. He might be worried that you will think that he’s over sexed and willing to sleep with whatever woman will allow him to do so. That might be why he would just rather wait and avoid these potential misunderstandings.
How To Handle This: Your need to still feel desired is completely understandable. I felt the same way. And I certainly didn’t think it was fair that I was in the position that I had to make the moves on the same husband who cheated on me. I would suggest giving subtle clues that it’s safe to reach out. Perhaps when things are going well and you are sharing a laugh, you might want to reach out and lightly touch his hand. This will give him clues that you are receptive to him. If this doesn’t work, then you can always just put this issue on the table and talk about it. A suggested script might be something like: “I’ve noticed that you haven’t touched me in four weeks. This makes me feel rejected and unattractive. I don’t expect for us to pick up our physical relationship as if nothing happened. But I do need to feel wanted and desired.”
Again, this lets him know that he doesn’t have to hold off because of a fear of being rejected or misunderstood. With this said, I do recommend moving slowly. You will often want to begin to heal emotionally before you try to resume your physical relationship.