A Reader Writes…
In How Can I Ever Trust You Again you mention a couple who went through a dark frantic lovemaking stage. Our sex life wasn’t great before the affair. We have had sex since I discovered my husband had an affair and notice it is different.
I wrote in my journal that it was “very physical, almost aggressive and pretty different from what we’ve done in the past” and when I read about dark frantic lovemaking in your book, was relieved to see that it was not uncommon. However, I’d like to hear more about this stage of reconciliation.
Having dark frantic sex after an affair is not unusual and can be really helpful because all the ‘safe’ rules from beforehand are torn up. At last, you have an opportunity to find a lovemaking that suits who you are today (rather than who you were when you first met and wrote the rules of engagement).
So what’s going on? I think there are two different forces at play. The first are to do with the nature of sex (which all too often we’d try and ignore) and the second is probably something to do with where your relationship is right now.
Let’s start with sex
At the very heart of heterosexual sex is penetration and that involves submission and dominance. In other words, it’s all about a power. However, the wonderful thing about mankind is that we have the imagination to challenge this naked truth so it doesn’t have to be men in control and women submitting. We play around with positions like woman on top, where in effect she impales herself on her husband’s penis and takes control. Couples can experiment with games where she makes him beg to enter her and claims the power for herself. I could go but I think you get the picture. (However, we often chose to hide the raw power of sex behind romance and a connection of the soul with our beloved or simply tame it with routine and not making too much noise in case we wake up the kids.) An affair pulls the mask off polite sex and shows us its hidden power, how dangerous it can be and the range of possibilities (if we choose to embrace them).
Sex can also be about ownership – this is MY man or WOMAN. In fact, new lovers often talk about wanting to climb inside each other and union. However, an affair also makes us realise that we don’t OWN our partner and we can’t control him or her. Although this is scary it’s also a turn on. Why? Because nobody lusts after what they have, but what they don’t. Suddenly, you realise how close you came to losing your husband. Having dark frantic sex after an affair allows you to re-connect and possess him again (if only for a few sweaty minutes) and drive out the other woman. You are also playing with dominance and submission, in a relatively safe arena, and finding a new balance of power between the two of you.
Let’s move onto your relationship
I wonder if the aggression is about anger. Please don’t jump to the obvious conclusion: ‘He’s angry with me for stopping the affair because he loves her more than me.’ It could just as easily be about, and most probably is, something far more subtle. For example, he’s angry with you for, in his mind, your poor sex life before the affair. He’s angry that he had to have an affair before you’d sit up and take notice of his needs. He’s angry because you don’t listen to his opinions about how to bring up the kids (but always overrule him). He’s angry because you’re cleverer with words, twists what he says and always wins arguments. He might not even be just angry with you but his mother for something (and he’s always find it hard to express his needs with every other woman since). As you can see, I’m just guessing (because I don’t know your husband) but there are a million possibilities.
So what do you do?
Keep talking about the sort of sex that you’d like from now onwards. My book ‘Make Love Like a Prairie Vole’ should help with that. Look at whether you are truly equal parents (or whether you are number one and he’s first reserve) and you’ve been exhausting your marriage by focusing too much on being parents rather than partners.
See I Love You but You Always Put Me Last: How to Childproof Your Marriage. It also has advice on how to communicate because if you can do that, you’ll find a way through this crisis which is bogging you down and out into the sunny uplands of a better sex life and a happier marriage.