1. CRISIS MANAGEMENT
An important question to consider after an affair is whether one or both partners should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
Our recommendation is YES. Both partners should get tested for the full range of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) including HIV as soon as possible. What’s more, you should do so at the earliest opportunity.
REASONS TO TEST
The reasons for this are as follows:
It indicates a willingness on the part of the unfaithful partner to take responsibility for his/her actions and the painful negative consequences follow.
An STD can have significant implications for the sexual relationship for the rest of your lives.
Medications are available to address the STD and reduce or sometimes eliminate the symptoms.
If the STD comes to light after the Affair Recovery work is done, the couple may re-trigger the trauma and cause the couple feel like they are starting over.
One objection to STD testing occurs when the affair partner claims that the affair was purely emotional, that no sexual contact has taken place. Often the betrayed partner wants to believe this and does not want to show more distrust than necessary. The betrayed partner may become hesitant to bring up the subject with the unfaithful spouse. The last thing you want to do is come across as "judgmental" or “unforgiving.”
In reality, the betrayed partner should remember that the unfaithful partner has proven him/herself untrustworthy of trust. Medical testing represents the bare minimum of responsibility-taking to protect your partner from the devastation of an infection. No amount of denial or reassurance can replace the objective testing by a medical professional. Partners who have betrayed their spouse emotionally or sexually are fooling themselves if they believe they can talk their way out of the hard work of re-establishing trust. Healing and reconciliation must be based on truth and accountability. If the STD test results are negative, the first step of the trust journey has been taken. But if the tests are positive for an STD, the couple will have avoided a great deal of pain that they would have encountered somewhere down the road. With the knowledge of the STD, they can to begin building the future on a foundation of truth.
SEASON OF NO SEX
Additionally, when appropriate, we support waiting for a period of time before re-engaging in marital sex. The duration is up to your medical doctor but we have seen couples wait from three to six months until their follow-up HIV test. This is a matter of special concern for females, since some of these diseases may lie dormant in a woman’s body for an extended period before manifesting symptoms.
Furthermore, we encourage the unfaithful partner NOT to pressure the betrayed partner for sex during the emotional healing process. If sex is withheld without being punitive or punishing, this will give space to the hurt partner to heal at her/his own pace. This is especially important when a betrayed spouse feels pressured to have sex in order to satisfy their partner’s sexual needs or to prevent further unfaithfulness. Fear-motivated sex rarely results in a healthy relationship.
Lastly, the process of getting the STD test can be extremely embarrassing, particularly for the betrayed partner. Please get support from your partner and therapist during this emotionally trying time.