Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Battling Intrusive Thoughts and Physical Intimacy After Infidelity

The number one barrier to rebuilding physical intimacy is intrusive thoughts, according to a survey we conducted in January 2011. This video as well as the story that precedes are excerpts from “Week 12: Restoring Intimacy” of our EMS Online course.

One betrayed spouse and EMS Weekend alumna explained her process of ridding herself of intrusive thoughts this way:

"After our period of separation, I remember the process of going back to being physically intimate was complicated and difficult for me. So many conflicting emotions. So many hopes, so many fears. Looking back, it occurs to me that the Keeper of my heart must have poured a double portion of protection over me as I waded into these deep waters. After being wounded my heart was extra sensitive, so it was easy for even a well-meaning friend to say something that would cause more harm than help. Thankfully though, healing words were also spoken to me during this part of my journey, so I was protected from any long-term issues that may have risen up from the less than understanding words that I received. As I write this I am praying that you too will receive a double portion of protection in this area, and that my words will help to bring healing rather than harm.

During the immediate aftermath that followed discovery, being intimate was a non-issue. Partly because we were separated, but more than that, physical intimacy was really just the furthest thing from my mind. I was way too wounded and scared to want to be close to Wayne. But, after a few months went by and a lot of healing had taken place, I began to miss him. I missed the closeness that we had shared together. Seeing the evidence of his changed heart helped me to feel safe enough to feel comfortable with the idea of sharing that closeness together again.

I remember that after our hearts had begun to heal, the first time we were together was great. I felt very connected to him. But after that my mind began to wander when we were together and I would become so distracted by inner questions that I found it difficult to enjoy the moment. I thought that if I could just ignore those pesky “What did they do?” and “Is this really what he wants?” questions I would be fine. I found though that ignoring those questions only made the problem worse. It was when I began to be honest with myself and with Wayne about what I was thinking and feeling as soon as I felt them that things got better.

At first, I was a little hesitant to do this, because I felt bad about stopping the sequence of events for the purpose of talking about feelings or thoughts. But I needed to do it. Talking about things after being intimate was not as effective. I remember many times when I would have to stop everything so I could tell him the lies I was hearing, then we would pray about it together. Something about the intimacy of praying together helped me to relax and focus on the moment so we could enjoy one another. Wayne’s openness when we stopped to talk was huge for me. I also remember that his patience and his concern for my heart helped me to feel more comfortable as well. I don’t remember for sure how long it took for those intrusive thoughts to stop interrupting our time together, perhaps a few months, but I did finally reach a point where they were no longer an issue for me.


If you are experiencing some of the same heartaches that I did in this area, please don’t try to ignore it, or even fix it on your own. Let a godly counselor with experience in this area help guide you through it. A life-long heart wound of this kind is not something any of us want to live with. Fight for your heart! Fight for healing, and thrive." -Dana, TX

Little is written about restoring physical intimacy after infidelity. What works for one couple could be disastrous for the next. Even the timing is unique for each couple. When you hear or read suggestions about physical intimacy, remember to keep in mind that the same thing does not work for all couples. There cannot be a cookie cutter approach. However, that’s not an excuse to believe it’s hopeless. When you’re ready to learn how to communicate with your spouse about your sexual relationship, it can move forward in a positive direction, but take your time and give yourself and your spouse grace in the process. We want you to know there is hope.

Announcing the Sex & Intimacy Retreat!

Registration is new open for our Sex & Intimacy Retreat January 27th-29th, 2017. I simply can’t recommend this weekend retreat enough, for anyone who wants to improve the quality of their emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy. Led by myself (Rick Reynolds, LCSW), Dr. John Haney LPC, a certified sex therapist, Leslie Hardie, LCSW and Wayne Baker, LPC.

Note, unlike all of our other programs, this Sex & Intimacy Retreat is not designed to be infidelity specific and is open to all couples whether or not they have experienced infidelity. So, invite your friends so they too can share an amazing weekend with myself, Leslie, John and Wayne! The retreat is under the “Hope-Now” brand, the same company as Affair Recovery but just a different name since...you know...it’s not exclusively for us affair survivors!

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Intimacy After Infidelity

Good information, but it has been three years since I discovered my husband's emotional infidelity and three years since he has touched me in an intimate way. He has told me that he has no desire for me and has decided that he does not need, want, or require sexual intimacy and that we will now live as roommates. He also has refused to go with me to counseling. By the way, we have been married for 37 years, so I no longer believe I will ever recover from this. Glad to know that some have.