Q: After 29 years of marriage, an old flame showed up. He was my first love, and we ended up having a three-month affair. He decided to stop the affair and work on his marriage, which left me brokenhearted. Sex with my husband is nothing like it was with this old lover, who was always good, and even better this second time around. How do I find new passion and satisfaction with my husband now that I'm always thinking of the other man?
A: I would suggest you visit a therapist to explore what drove you to rekindle this romance in the first place and how you want to move forward. Were you looking to leave your relationship before the affair happened? If so, you're allowing your guilt to control you and keep you in a relationship that wasn't working anyway. Work through how, or if, to come clean to your husband with your therapist. Honesty — with yourself too — is the only way to rebuild your intimacy and achieve a better relationship, if you choose to do so. The sex is merely one part of it. And remember, sex is always spectacular at the beginning of a relationship. It's easy to idealize this now twice-lost love.
Rekindling with an old love is an especially powerful — and dangerous — experience. There is a massive rush of emotion and memories tied up in it. Researchers believe that reuniting with a past love is a chemical explosion. You get all the hormones and endorphins of new love, along with the oxytocin that normally comes with long-term love, since you've carried the memory or thought of each other for so long. It's a recipe for some real chemistry, sexually and otherwise. Your husband is not going to be able to compete with these fireworks.
Recent research by Nancy Kalish at the University of California in San Francisco has found that lost-and-found love is on the rise, mostly due to the ease of finding someone via the Internet. However, not surprisingly, nearly 60 percent of these relationships begin when one or both people are married. The question is: Why has this occurred, and can you return to your old relationship?
It’s also important to realize that this strong attraction likely won’t last forever. Put it into perspective. Of course, sex with this old flame is going to be hot and spicy — forbidden love is inherently erotic, especially when it’s a situation in which you both know each other’s bodies and turn-ons so well.
Additionally, it’s a relationship free from real-world woes. You don’t have to battle over the kids or the bills, and you don’t have to grapple with mundane day-to-day details like grocery shopping or cleaning the house. Instead, you get to enjoy the crème de la crème of sex and eroticism. However, this can’t last. The excitement will fade, and once it does, what will you be left with? Ask yourself these difficult questions and move forward with honesty and compassion. Channel that old excitement into your current relationship, and work on what’s missing from your marriage. Good luck.
- Dr. Laura Berman