Q&A with J: “My Husband Had a Kissing Affair”

I’ve talked about marital infidelity on my blog before (like here and here), but what if your husband didn’t go all the way? What if it was kissing? Check out today’s reader question:

Please help! my husband had a “kissing affair” with a bar tramp over two years ago. I know it didn’t go any further because of everything I know now. he said she was just some cheap easy tramp who paid attention to him at the time. he’s never had contact again and I know he still lives with the guilt. he’s done everything right, I just can’t stand the thought of him kissing me now! … I gag at the thought of letting him stick his tongue down my throat now and I want to move on! HOW can I do this?

blog post title + man's neck and shirt collar with lipstick stain

First off, referring to this woman as a “cheap easy tramp” is total rationalization. Maybe that’s exactly what she was, but it sounds to me like he was easy in that moment too. And it’s all too common for men to claim they were seduced by a loose woman and thus blame her.

It doesn’t matter whether the woman was a dignified colleague he met on a business trip or a woman playing kissing roulette with a bar full of men, your husband needs to own that he decided what to do with his own lips.

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

You can’t make him change his tune, but you can change yours. Stop referring to that woman as a “bar tramp.” Not only do you not know her, and any terrible backstory she might have that made her walk into a bar and kiss a stranger that night, you shouldn’t enable his efforts to transfer blame to someone else.

Is that harsh? I don’t think so. Because while I can honestly say that some guys I dated in my premarital promiscuous past took advantage of me, my sin is entirely my own. I choose to participate, and that’s wholly on me. Until we accept responsibility for our sin, we cannot confess it all and receive full forgiveness available through Christ.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst”  (1 Timothy 1:15).

Now to the primary issue: He cheated on you.

And if someone is reading this and saying, “It’s just kissing,” you’re apparently not alone. In a survey of 5000 people across the United Kingdom, 14% of people didn’t consider passionately kissing someone other than your partner to be infidelity. Although that included 9% of women and a whopping 19% of men.

Now these weren’t specifically married people, but those percentages are astounding. Would you really feel it wasn’t cheating if you came home to find your beloved lip-locked with someone else on your couch? Even if you didn’t consider it adultery per se, it’s clearly a betrayal and on the road to Nothing Good.

But if you turn those stats around, four out of five men and nine out of ten women — not necessarily married — think kissing is cheating. I believe God agrees.

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15, NLT).

However, the husband here recognizes his guilt and “he’s done everything right.” What would those right things be? Here’s a noncomprehensive list:

  • Confess the betrayal
  • Take full responsibility for your choices and sin
  • Apologize for the hurt you’ve caused
  • Take steps to keep it from ever happening again
  • Answer your spouse’s questions
  • Reassure your mate daily of your commitment
  • Give your spouse space and time to return to intimacy with you

So now what? He’s done what he should, and it’s your turn. How do you get past your husband tangling tongues with anyone but you?!

I sat here for a moment thinking how I’d feel if Spock kissed someone else. My teeth clenched, my throat tightened, and I had a sick feeling in my stomach. Shock, sadness, and anger rose up in me. And that’s just from imagining a betrayal that’s never happened.

So my heart goes out to you, reader. I can only imagine, but it is a painful thought.

That said, marriage is far too important to toss out or tear down because of this one confessed, forgiven sin. Beyond forgiveness is reconciliation, and that’s where the struggle is now. So let’s talk about actions to help you move beyond what happened and into deeper intimacy with your husband.

 1. Talk through the event.

Sometimes for closure, we need to understand what happened, why it happened, and what we can do to prevent it from happening again. Ask your husband to join you in calm conversations about why he felt tempted, how his actions make you feel, what you can both do to be there more fully for one another. Discuss practical ways to prevent this temptation from arising again. Does he need to swear off bars? Do you need to go on business trips with him? Should he have a male accountability partner?

Remember as you ask him questions about what happened that he cannot un-tell you what he tells you. You likely don’t need those details that would merely give you a clearer picture to run through your mind. Make sure you what you ask about relates to the goal of getting you past this event and building a stronger marriage.

These discussions will go far better if you keep your cool while still expressing your emotions, concerns, and needs. And be willing to listen to his end and see what you can do to help him avoid any such temptation in the future.

2. Take charge of the kissing.

When you reintroduce physical intimacy after an affair, it’s important to let the betrayed spouse set the pace. You may need to take a break from time to time, breathe through the anxiety, and regather your thoughts before continuing. Having you initiate the kissing can also help you view this as something you want as well as determining how you want it.

Moreover, letting you be in charge shows that your husband respects your feelings — he understands this is difficult and he’s willing to do what it takes to be with you. Will this slower pace be difficult for your husband? Yeah. But it’s worthwhile.

You can start with kissing him in other places besides his mouth, like his hands or his jaw line. As you kiss, remember what you enjoy about being with him, touching him, feeling close to him. Take time to explore, as if you’re there again for the first time. When you feel more comfortable, move to his lips, kissing him in the way you most enjoy. If you need to pause, do so. But then try to get back to it and push past the discomfort. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Train your thoughts.

This is what is really comes down to. Because every time you kiss him now, you can’t get that other woman and what he did with her out of your mind. It’s hovering there in your brain, in your gut, in your heart. But somehow, you’ve got to stop thinking about that night and focus instead on your love for your husband, his love for you, and the kissing you’re doing.

First, recognize that you’re not on opposite sides. Yes, your husband betrayed you, but since he confessed and recommitted to you, your position going forward is a united team fighting against any enemy that wants to attack your marriage. You are one flesh, and “therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:9).

Second, use self-talk while you’re kissing to alter your perspective in real-time. Remind yourself that your husband is here with you, that he is committed to your relationship, that you enjoy kissing him. Memorize some scriptures you can use as mantras in your head to fight back when thoughts of the kissing affair pop into your head. For example:

  • [Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5).
  • We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b).
  • I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me” (Song of Songs 7:10).
  • Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Recognize that it won’t be smooth the first make-out session you have. But what tends to happen over time is new thoughts and new experiences replace old ones and the bad memory loses its foothold in your mind. As that scripture says above, love indeed covers a multitude of sins.

4. Remember how God treats you.

Here’s one last thing that has helped me get over a lot of stuff: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). When I struggle with forgiveness or reconciliation, I think about all the ways I’ve hurt my Heavenly Father, and yet He takes me back every time. Yes, I must be repentant, but He is always faithful to show me grace. That perspective helps me give grace to others.

So how do you over your husband’s kissing affair? Slowly, intentionally, prayerfully. But it will happen, if you both commit to reviving your physical affection and intimacy.

Same pic as above, sized for Pinterest

29 thoughts on “Q&A with J: “My Husband Had a Kissing Affair”

  1. Ashley

    As a reader I guess I’m not completely sold on his doing everything right since the betrayal. What has he done to win back her trust?

    Reply
  2. Dr. JR

    I noticed that you didn’t address anything that she might have done wrong in this relationship.
    Yes, he is responsible for his lack of actions. Is she responsible for her lack of actions?

    I’m in a marriage where we play 6-8 times a year. I feel like I’m living in this marriage all alone.

    Haven’t made out with another woman or had sex. It feels pretty lonely and I understand I might be tempted. I’ve tried to talk. I’ve given her articles and CDs to listen to to help. I’ve been ignored and rejected too often. We went to counseling and she didn’t make the last 3 sessions. The counselor said she wasn’t serious and he could talk to me, but it wasn’t going to work as a couple.

    Mostly she will lie there like a mannequin if I touch her in bed. She bristles at the command of Paul not to avoid getting together. There is always a reason, especially she doesn’t feel like it. When we do play I do anything she wants, especially oral, which she doesn’t seem to want anymore.

    I do get criticized for not being like her first husband, her family, and her friends. Especially for not doing things like she would.

    In short, there is more to it than this guy kissing another woman. When a wife goes ice cube on her husband, bad things can happen.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Yes, a wife can help or hurt her husband in his pursuit of sexual purity. However, we don’t have any information of that kind here, so I think it’s unfair to point the finger at the wife. Sometimes a person cheats regardless of their spouse doing everything right, and it’s no reflection whatsoever on their mate or the marriage. That said, I do think there are steps that can be taken to protect the marriage relationship from enemies. And I agree that deepening marital intimacy, including sex, is one strong step to take.

      As for your own marriage, if you used Paul’s command not to avoid getting together as a cudgel, it’s not going to work. I really want to know why she has lost interesting sex. Perhaps some of her criticism can give you clues about where she feels emotionally neglected. From there, maybe you can addressed the needs you both have that aren’t currently being met. I wish you all the best. Saying a prayer for your situation.

      Reply
      1. Libl

        Yep! I have never refused my husband in bed. I am enthusiastic and adventurous. I take care of him, greet him with a smile at the door, helped him pursue a dream of his at great sacrifice to myself. I pray for him, work on his love language, try not to ask for much of anything in return, serve him, dress nicely, stay in shape….and he still looked the other way.

        We had a teenager from our social circle step up and offer to help when I was in the throes of newborn with several more young children in tow, three in diapers, and I had PPD. Hubby was pursuing his dream and away from home a lot. But when he was home, this nanny got all the attention…and affection. No sex, no lip-kissing, but he would cuddle with her and put his arm around her, and kiss her on the forehead. He presented himself a daddy-figure, but I got no husband figure. He was bold enough to do this in church while spurning me and thankfully, those who saw it, including her mother, jumped to action on my behalf (while I had spoken up before, actions speak louder than the words of a depressed woman). She could no longer nanny nor have any contact with hubby. She was affirmed that she was NOT in trouble or being punished, but that they were keeping her out of trouble and away from a troubled man. As is typical of churches, though, NO ONE directly confronted my husband. They just eliminated the object of issue.

        Anyhow, I did, as any good little christian wife is indirectly told to do, examine myself. What was lacking in me that she gave him. Well, I was a burden at the time…an over burdened solo mother of multiple young children with post partum depression. It was the “in sickness” part of our marriage vows. I wasn’t fun and vivacious. I had post-baby pounds, leaking breasts, no sleep. This girl was young, beautiful, fit and trim, smiling, and full of life. He could have fun with her. He had to take care of me.

        I’m not sure what you could call it. I call it an,”ego trip affair.”

        Reply
    2. Anonymous

      Exactly , I had the same thing happen. I was the one that got tempted and he totally blames me although he has nothing to do with me and hardly did in 11 years and this happened. Wasn’t my choice but it happened! I feel for ya.

      Reply
  3. G

    “A kissing affair”? That’s rich. He had an affair — the only difference being they didn’t end up sharing a mattress. Like sitting on the edge of a slippery slide and saying “Oh, no. I wasn’t going to go down the slide… just wanted to enjoy the view.” So sorry for that dear sister.

    Reply
    1. Cindy G

      Totally agree on this one. To me, kissing is one of the most intimate acts two people share.
      Kissing someone other than your spouse or person you are in a monogamous relationship with is cheating. Not something I would ever be able to forget. Maybe forgive over a very long, LONG time, but NEVER forget. Broken trust is very slow to mend. If he did it once, what is stopping him from doing it again? I wish you all the best.

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        I understand what you’re saying about the pain you’d feel, and I don’t think you ever forget something like this. But you can heal and grow your marriage even stronger. Plenty of marriages have done that after adultery.

        As for the statement, “If he did it once, what is stopping him from doing it again?” I don’t think that allows for God working in people’s lives to change them or for people themselves to recognize and learn from their errors. If my husband took the stance that I cheated on prior boyfriends before marriage (which, yes, I did) so what’s to stop me from doing it again, he would be denying the conviction I felt for my sin, the confession and repentance I went through, and God’s healing in my life. I’m just not that person anymore. I bet you can also think of something awful you did once that you haven’t done since.

        Reply
        1. E

          Can I just say I love you J? I really feel like you ‘get’ me, and I just love your belief in then power of God to change hearts and minds.

          Jesus quite clearly said that if you don’t forgive others, you won’t be forgiven by God. That is something so hard to follow! Some scriptures are hard to hear, but that doesn’t make them any less true. In fact, not following His command to forgive others is really telling God that you think you know better than Him. If you do that, You are making yourself into a god.

          Reply
          1. J Post author

            Can I love you back? 😉 Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and encouraging me! I agree some scriptures are hard to hear. Too often I think we rationalize, argue, or ignore those…to our own peril. I often remind myself that I am not God, He is, and if He said something, I need to pay attention.

  4. sunny-dee

    There are some things here that may change my perspective. When did he tell her? How did she find out? Why was he at that bar in the first place? Why was he making out with her? Were there other problems in the marriage at that time or major life events that were causing emotional stress?

    I don’t know, I guess I feel like if she accidentally found a text of him talking about the incident that that is really different than if he proactively confessed. And if they had been fighting a lot and had problems, that’s a different context than if he just did this out of the clear blue.

    Part of this is needing to rebuild trust and pleasure, and I think that context would make a difference to me in trying to rebuilt trust.

    Reply
    1. John

      Agree with you, Sunny. Need more of the “why”.

      I have a sexless marriage for 25 years, and its basically impossible to get more than a hello, goodbye, or good night peck, and by that I mean literally less than a second peck, on the cheek from my wife.

      Fortunately I am far from what is considered handsome so no woman has ever come onto me, but I must admit, if one did, I am not sure what would happen, Especially in the 3 years of absolutely zero sex. Other than my complete shock of some woman showing interest in me. Maybe thats why he was in a bar.

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        So I started my post saying we shouldn’t blame the woman in the bar. But we also shouldn’t blame the wife. Without more information, I think pointing the finger at her is unfair. I understand what you’re saying is that a wife’s inattention can make the temptation feel stronger for a husband, and I agree, but it is still ultimately his decision. I don’t think God is any more impressed by the excuse of “it was her fault” now than he was when Adam tried that in Genesis 3.

        Reply
        1. sunny-dee

          Oh, I agree (although what I said was different than what John said). Like, if I found out that my husband had been making out with someone in a bar and it was right in the middle of a time when we had been fighting or had a lot of problems, that wouldn’t make it right or okay AT ALL, but it would kind of have a root cause. Like, there’s a reason why he was feeling disconnected (or angry or vengeful) at me. But if he just did it during a time when I thought everything was okay, that would actually be a different, possibly deeper break in trust because I wouldn’t have seen it coming at all.

          And there may be antagonizing factors — like fighting, nagging, belittling, or gatekeeping / refusal — that did contribute to her husband being vulnerable. That doesn’t make it her fault (AT ALL — cheating is a nuclear bomb), but it could be something that needs to be fixed on her end before they can get the closeness she needs to rebuild trust.

          Reply
  5. Happily Married

    I agree with J. Even IF she was gatekeeping, he is still responsible before God for his actions and he made the wrong choice. There is no excusing it.

    I am proud of this wife for making the effort to work through this rather than giving her husband the chop. I would be absolutely devastated if it was my husband. However, I do believe marriage is worth fighting for! I hope he has fully repented and they are able to move on and have a stronger marriage than before…with lots of happy, healthy, kissing. 😉

    Reply
  6. Terry

    It seems that one point that needs to be made is that kissing someone other than one’s spouse in this way isn’t just physical adultery, it’s emotional adultery as well. At the risk of painting with an overly broad brush, for women the idea of their men being in love with – or even just emotionally attracted to – someone else would be just as bad or worse than physical contact. As Cindy points out, kissing is an intimate act in its own way, and in this respect it may in fact be worse than sex if it’s a product of emotional connection and not just “about the sex.”

    From what I understand, if this couple’s places were reversed and the wife had kissed another man, her husband’s relief that there was no sex would outweigh his concern that she might be in love with someone else. Obviously there would still be the kissing part to address and other things to work on; but I suppose my point is that the emotional betrayal for women is a huge part of what makes adultery so devastating, more than if the husband had simply hooked up with a prostitute in a moment of weakness.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      That’s a good point. We often see things in terms of how we would react if that happened to us, but our genders, backgrounds, and personalities make such things have different meaning and weight.

      I know men who flirted with other women and saw nothing wrong with their actions while their wives were a nervous wreck about it. I’m sure there are vice versa examples as well. But it matters what your spouse sees as an emotional betrayal, and you should respect that. Again, good point.

      Reply
  7. Phil

    Hi J. I was on a plane last week and there were 2 married people who didnt know each other sitting next to me. They talked for the entire flight. 2.5hours. Besides the fact that it was annoying and I could see my old behaviors in the situation, it was obvious to me that these 2 people do not talk to their spouses enough. The conversation was obviously mental masturbation between the 2. They will never see each other again. They should have kissed goodbye. I see it as no different than what you are talking about here. I claim responsibility for doing this in my past. My wife and I have talked about this recently due to what just happened. She admitted to me years ago to doing it as well. See, the physical part makes it harder for people to overcome. It is that core being of sex that confuses us. The problem is that the emotional attraction is the same thing. We as humans are just not smart enough to see it that way. So if I talk to a woman intimately for 2.5 hours I am ok just cuz I didnt kiss her? I dont think so. I am emotionally not available and certainly not spirtualy fit. I am trying to fill a void that is missing in my life. Not only am I “cheating” on my wife but I am cheating God.

    Reply
  8. Ashley

    I think my comment earlier was the first one. Now, reading all the comments I notice a common thread. Some of us are commenting from a place of personal pain that really affects how we see things.

    For instance, I wanted to know what the man is doing to win back her trust. From this post alone I can’t quite believe the man has been amazing these past couple years since the affair occurred.

    And we get men that are hurting too. They want to know what was going on with the woman who was cheated on. And maybe this whole thing was her fault!

    Sometimes I think we project our own situations onto someone else. I know I’ve done it. But not everyone lives the same tough situation we do. I don’t know, maybe that won’t help at all, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

    Reply
  9. Matt

    Another solid blog! Helping people deal with real life topics and having the courage to deal with all the comments that come with it. Keep up the great work J. You’re a blessing.

    Reply
  10. John

    There are some great lessons here and opportunities.there are usually many steps leading to a disaster not just one final blow but all you see is the explosion.
    1. A man walks into a bar. Does a man who loves God more than anything else just do that?
    2.And from there, well there is no coffee so I,ll have what everyone else is having.
    3.Probably not a good place to get good life pointers so to speak..
    4. Touch in the human world is an amazing powerful thing. Skin on skin is really great stuff.
    And from there it slides down hill in a hurry.And then it just happened.
    I feel that the one time tongue wrestling is only the tip of the iceberg for him and he really needs space to honestly come clean how he got there . Repent ,turn away and take the lessons to heart.
    After 2 years from this event she needs to stop holding it over his head and thank God for him still being around and being protected from any virus that could have resulted.She needs to give him that space to honestly deal with all these bad choices and move on knowing that these choices will not be the ones he will ever select again.They both need to find better ways to love each other in the future,the current ways are not enough.

    Reply
    1. sunny-dee

      That’s actually one of my questions. It’s two years from the event, but is it two yeas since he told her or did she only find out recently?

      Reply
  11. Terry

    There have been a few comments on forgiving as God forgives us, which are absolutely appropriate; but it should also be pointed out that forgiveness is about the past while trust is about the future. Even if the wife forgives her husband in the sense of not seeking revenge or “holding it over his head” as it were, it will still take time to rebuild trust in the relationship. Maybe it’s a fine line to draw between a lack of forgiveness and lack of trust and what each of these looks like, but it’s not like the wife can just flip some “forgiveness” switch and have everything go back to the way it was before. God’s forgiveness of us is not earned, but the trust of a spouse must be.

    Reply
  12. john

    A spouse has to throw that switch of forgiveness in order to start out new.
    No ,things will not go back to where they were just as a person with a traumatic
    amputation will not go back to where they were.
    However foregoing the baggage of the past will bring more energy
    into the future for growth and change.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

 characters available