Tag Archives: infidelity in marriage

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

Book Review: Healing from Infidelity by Michele Weiner-Davis

Blog post title + book coverMichele Weiner-Davis is a licensed social worker, marriage and family therapist, and well-known relationship expert. Many of my readers might recognize her name from her book The Sex-Starved Marriage. Her most recent book is Healing from Infidelity: The Divorce Busting® Guide to Rebuilding Your Marriage After an Affair, and she was lovely enough to provide me a copy to read and review.

The focus of Healing from Infidelity is obviously to help couples put their marriage back together after one of you has had an affair. While I believe that adultery is a valid reason for ending a marriage (see Matthew 5:32), an affair doesn’t necessarily mean the end. Rather, Jesus also said:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Once the marriage vow is made, you should make every effort to keep this covenant relationship. God compared His own people in the Old Testament to an adulteress, and yet He restored their covenant time and time again. (See Hosea 3:1, Jeremiah 3:11-15, Ezekiel 16:10-17, 59:63.) Sometimes a marriage cannot make it—and certainly abusive or sin-filled marriages are not in God’s will—but sometimes what looks hopeless can be saved.

Weiner-Davis does not come from Christian perspective, but she is an advocate for marriage and her book gives specifics on how to move from the brokenness of marital infidelity to the health of a happy marriage.

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Her chapters alternate between addressing the betrayed spouse and the unfaithful spouse, recognizing what each needs and should do at various stages of reconciliation. Having worked directly with couples to put their marriages back together, she speaks from experience and includes lots of practical advice.

It all begins with believing that you can revive what appears to be lifeless—your flailing marriage. “In all the years I’ve been helping couples heal from infidelity,” Weiner-Davis says, “I can tell you that there’s only one time when I start to worry about the fate of their marriage. It’s when one or both of the partners start to become hopeless.”

From my viewpoint, Christian spouses should have a leg-up on putting a struggling marriage back together. We believe that “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27) and that we have “the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:19-20, NLT).

But I also understand that couples walking through the fallout of infidelity need concrete help getting out of the pit and back into trust and intimacy. As Michele states, “…this is a great opportunity to fix what has been broken, either before, during or after the affair. In fact…it really is possible for you to have an even better relationship than ever before.”

And I’ve seen it: Couples who went from the heartbreak of adultery into the happiness of marital intimacy. It can be done.

I recommend Michele’s book for those who are in the midst of that pain and wondering how they can ever get themselves back. While there are a few places where I disagree (for instance, her tips on remaining with an unfaithful, unrepentant spouse contradict the Christian position), overall this is an excellent resource.

Weiner-Davis shows real compassion for the betrayed spouse, as well as giving lots of great tips on becoming an emotionally healthy person regardless of outcome. Since I firmly believe that healthy and happy marriages are made with two healthy and happy individuals, this is a win-win for the spouse and the marriage. She also lets the unfaithful spouse know what they need to do to re-establish broken trust and care for their betrayed spouse’s heart.

Moreover, each spouse gets a good sense of where the other is coming from and how to view their spouse without greater resentment and anger than is reasonable. (And yes, some is quite reasonable when you’ve been cheated on. But dwelling only in anger won’t heal your marriage.)

She includes a whole chapter on how to address sexual intimacy in marriage after the affair. When should you get back into the bedroom? How can you rebuild trust? What role should sex play in getting your marriage back on track?

Michele shoots straight about what’s required to make it all work, while still highlighting why you should have great hope that your effort will pay off. I love her balance of positive confidence and realistic candor.

You don’t have to throw in the towel. With resources like Healing from Infidelity AND leaning on God to help you through, you can go far beyond restoring your relationship into building an even better marriage.

Intimacy After an Affair

Broken heart

Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

I have been asked how a wife can be open and giving in the bedroom after her husband has cheated on her. Honestly, I don’t know exactly how to answer.

My heart sinks when I hear of the damage caused by extramarital affairs. This scenario is not one I’ve been through, and my gut wrenches to even think of how I would react to my husband being intimate with another woman.

What I come up with when I receive the question of re-establishing sexual intimacy after an affair is primarily a huge dose of sympathy and prayer for the couple involved. There are two pieces of advice I have heard over and over for recovering from an affair. (One resource for the following is the Homeword with Jim Burns radio show, on which Dr. Burns has interviewed numerous authors and speakers on this and other-marriage related topics).

The offending spouse must be willing to be accountable. The person who had the affair will have to report on where he is going, where he has been, when he will return home, whom he has been in contact with, etc. His cell phone and computer are open to being checked by the spouse or an accountability partner. He must avoid contact with the affair partner, even changing jobs or gyms or whatever to ensure that.

Sometimes an offending spouse wants to just be done with the affair and move on. They want to confess, be forgiven, and have their reassurances that the affair is over result in trust. But it doesn’t work that way. If you break the covenant and the trust that came with it, you must work to regain it. I believe marriage is worth that effort.

The couple must address issues in their own relationship. Of course a spouse should never cheat. However, an affair usually (not always) occurs when needs are going unmet in the marriage. Like or it not, that’s an us problem, not a him problem. If only those problem areas had been addressed before the affair . . .

But you are where you are, and those who commit to improving their marriage often report experiencing the very best years of their relationship after the affair. Communicate, seek counseling, find good marriage resources, and discover together what will make you feel loved, secure, and intimate in your marriage.

Additionally, I suggest that all couples should talk about appropriate boundaries. I discussed my own boundaries in The Rule.

With regard to sexual intimacy, I suspect it’s like every other distraction, albeit a huge one. A wife may get to the bedroom with her husband, and her brain wanders to thoughts about him cheating. The hurt, resentment, and distrust cause her to tense and a wall to form. The best way to fight doubt and fear is to replace it with truth and love. If your spouse is doing what he should to reestablish trust and work on your relationship, you can remind yourself over and over that he chose you, that he wants you. Your truth will be that you are not sleeping with the guy with whom you had a bad marriage, the one who cheated on you. This is a new beginning, a new man, a new marriage — renewed by God. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones takes time, but it can be done.

Now I’m going to send you to a fabulous article on the website of fellow blogger, Julie Sibert at Intimacy in Marriage. One of her readers posted the story of how her marriage survived infidelity. At the end of the post, Julie provides links to stories and resources for those who have gone or are going through infidelity in a marriage.

If you have your own wisdom for getting past an affair, please share for others in the comments. You may help other marriages with your story of hardship or healing.

My prayers do indeed go out to those of you who have been hit with the pain of an affair. Thankfully, there are many couples who have recovered, and a couple committed to God can go on to experience their best years of marriage yet.

(Note: I used the husband cheating example here; I believe a majority of my readers are women and I typically aim my posts at them. I do appreciate my male readers. So if it was a wife who cheated, the pronouns can be changed.)

At the end of the post, Julie provides links to stories and resources for those who have gone or are going through infidelity in a marriage.