“I don’t know how to get past what happened. I can’t get the images out of my head–who he has been with and the things that he has done.” Does this sound like you? If you are struggling with feeling attracted to your husband after he cheated on you, then keep reading.
What Is Attraction?
As we’re talking about how to become re-attracted to your husband after he had an affair, we first need to understand what attraction is. At Marriage Helper, we teach about attraction using what we call the PIES. The four letters of PIES stand for the four different areas of attraction. The letter P represents physical, I for intellectual, E for emotional, and S for spiritual attraction.
In a long-term relationship, like your marriage, the emotional part of attraction is the most important. And emotional attraction is all about evoking positive emotions in your spouse and your spouse evoking positive emotions within you.
When your husband had an affair, he did not evoke any positive emotions within you. On the contrary, it probably prompted many negative emotions, which is entirely understandable. And when emotional attraction is lost or damaged, it also affects the other attraction areas.
Why Attraction Is Important
When I don’t like the way my husband is making me feel, then it will affect how I physically view him. For example, I could think that he is the most physically attractive person in the world when he’s treating me well. But, if he begins to act like a complete jerk, then I’m going to view him as less physically attractive, less spiritually attractive, and less intellectually attractive—all of these tie together.
And so, when emotional attraction is lost, or when it’s damaged, it affects everything. We can justify a lot of other bad qualities about a person when they have hurt us, and we no longer find them emotionally attractive. And we can even amplify these negative qualities when we feel they have been a bad person. Again, this all comes from having a lack of emotional attraction.
When emotional attraction is low, when we have an emotional rejection or an emotional repulsion of our spouse, we begin to write even more negative stories. In research, it’s called having a “negative sentiment override.” We begin to see everything they do as negative, and it’s challenging to find the positive again.
What Can You Do?
When people evoke emotions that we enjoy feeling, we are more likely to write positive stories and believe good things about them. For example, I was talking with one of my friends the other day, and she was sharing how fantastic everything was in the first several years of her marriage.
Her husband was always attentive and attuned to her needs, helping out with the kids, etc. But everything changed when she found out he was having an affair. Even though they have been reconciling from that, changing negative perspectives back into positive is hard.
What she shared with me over lunch that day was, “Ever since the affair, all I can think about is what he’s done. All I can think about is how he evoked all these negative emotions within me. All my fears about being abandoned, not being good enough, or not being loved have come to light. And because of this, I don’t even want to be around him anymore. In some ways, it reminds me of not being good enough. But also, whenever I see him do anything now, I can only see what he’s doing wrong. I can only see the negatives, even though our friends and family members would still say that he’s the most amazing guy in the world.”
Situations like that happen because she is telling herself these negative stories about her husband. She believes these things because she is hurt. And so she’s stuck in this negative sentiment override.
Has this happened to you? Are you telling yourself a bunch of negative stories about your husband? And how is that affecting the way that your relationship is now? So, what can you do?
Important Questions To Ask
The first thing to do is ask yourself this: do you want to save the marriage? I hope that you do, because even in this sticky situation where it feels like there’s no hope, we believe there is.
Next, is your husband still involved in the affair? Because even if you aren’t currently feeling attracted to him, and he is presently in the affair, that’s okay. You can still have a deep commitment to your marriage, even if right now you don’t really like your husband and what he’s doing because of the affair.
My encouragement is, don’t let the lack of current attraction affect your long-term decision without thinking it through. Think in terms of 10-10-10. How would a decision to end your marriage now affect your life in 10 days, 10 months, and 10 years? In 10 days, you might feel better because you are away from the current pain. You would have decided that you aren’t going to accept this, and you’re going to move on. And in 10 days, you may feel good about that. But in 10 months, you’re going to start experiencing what divorce really entails. And in 10 years, more than likely, you will regret that you didn’t work it out.
We Want To Help You
I’ve seen so many divorced women, even happily married in a second marriage, say, “Kimberly, I wish I would have made my first marriage work.” And if you feel like you do not know how to do that, we can help.
If the affair is over and you’re trying to reconcile, you first work at building the attraction again, both of you. Your husband needs to rebuild emotional attraction toward you and rebuild your trust. But it takes a lot of work; you can’t just sweep the affair under the rug and try and move on like nothing ever happened. You have to deal with this stuff. And we can help you do that at Marriage Helper.
The best next step for you in that situation is to attend one of our couples workshops. We have people attend for all sorts of reasons, but the couples that come because of an affair will tell you that this was the best thing they could have done to reconcile their marriage and make it stronger than ever before. We also have a FREE eBook here about the 7 keys to fix your marriage if you want to begin learning more about putting the relationship back together.
If you’re unsure what to do next in your situation, you can also contact one of our client representatives here to learn about the best resources we can offer you and your spouse.