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CEtchison
01-19-2010, 10:06 PM
Before I begin, I totally understand that everyone and every situation is different. What I'm trying to assess is what readers might think.


The story:

A couple married four years, very much in love, move to a new place where the husband's career skyrockets and the wife feels lost for numerous reasons. Her loneliness is compounded by the fact the husband travels a lot (think one week home and one week away).

The husband has a one night stand, an action he immediately regrets. This is not an ongoing affair, nor is he a habitual cheater. But the situation is made worse because the wife finds out from someone else, only to then realize that a lot of people know about it. So there is not only infidelity to deal with, but the public humiliation.

Agreeing to not immediately call it quits, they try to talk things out between them. His travel for work continues and they begin communicating via email and phone when he's gone. Their relationship begins to resemble a long distance courtship.



The question:

In your opinion, how much time would pass before the sexual part of their relationship resumes? Or does there need to be certain words expressed before hand? Perhaps there needs to be lots of groveling and crawling across hot coals?

Any and all opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time.

Pepper
01-20-2010, 05:25 AM
You mention groveling and crawling across hot coals- I don't think any of that would make one iota of difference. In a situation like that, trust is broken. That trust needs to be regained before she would feel okay with jumping in the sack with him again. What it takes to regain that trust will differ according to the person.

If she's openly forgiving and desperate for the relationship to return to 'the good old days', then it may take very little for her to start trusting him again. If the very core of her being has been wounded by this event, and her whole perspective is on shaky ground, it'd take a lot more. Establish your character, then do what needs to be done for her to regain her trust in him.

zenwriter
01-20-2010, 05:45 AM
In addition to the trust issue, this woman may also be experiencing rage and anger, which might manifest itself in a number of ways. She might even want revenge, especially since her betrayal was so public. Depending on the sort of person she is, this anger might manifest itself in a number of ways. However, being enraged with someone can hamper sex.

If the man is still traveling a lot, she may have a harder time trusting him again since he, obviously, has lots of opportunities to be unfaithful while traveling. Presumably, that issue might come up.

If she’s trying to convince herself that they can work it out, she might even leap back into bed with him right away (especially if she is fearful of the end of the relationship or wants very badly to get past the cheating). If she’s angry and wants revenge, she might want to sleep with someone else first or may want to punish him for a bit. If her main feelings are loss and sadness, she might need some time (weeks, months) to feel trusting again. You could play this a number of ways, depending on what is going through your character’s heart.

CEtchison
01-20-2010, 06:36 AM
She's definitely riding the rollercoaster of emotions: blaming herself, him, the other woman; lots of anger due to their situation as a whole; fear that said ONS could show up on the doorstep with a kid one day; fear that he might do it again; etc. She dislikes who they have both become in the past few months, but she also remembers who he is at his core. After all, they were childhood friends long before they were lovers. Their history is why they are both reluctant to walk away from the marriage.

I greatly appreciate the replies. They have reaffirmed my belief that I'm on the right course. I feel that I have taken the necessary steps to make a reconciliation believeable for these two characters. I'm sure there will be some who say "It's too soon," and others who say "What took so long?". I just wanted to make sure that there wasn't some arbitrary Dr. Phil-esque answer that I haven't heard of that said "minimum of six months". Ya know?

Thank you again for your time.

zenwriter
01-20-2010, 06:05 PM
This just occurred to me this morning: like most forms of grief, this type of problem can be very cyclical. By that I mean that the couple may do better for a while but then the person who has been betrayed may again feel feelings of sadness, rage, what have you. So even if they start being intimate again, their sex life may be interrupted again as new feelings come up. Sort of like an earthquake: after the initial shock, there are periods of clam and then aftershocks which prevent life from continuing on as before.

Come to think of it, the one thing that has bothered me in movies and books is how completely characters seem to overcome cheating. After they have a “rough patch,” it just never comes up again. That always rings a little false for me. If he cheated and he gets drunk at a party and flirts with someone else, you don’t think of the cheating? Really? Seems unlikely to me. Not that a woman would keep bringing it up again and again, but it does change things a lot. The two people involved are changed permanently. Things that seemed innocent or provoked no comment before might be seen in a different light after cheating – for a long time, in some cases. Even if she says nothing to him about it, she will remember the betrayal.

I have known people who have experienced this sort of betrayal and have seemed to bounce back really well and then years later show a flash of anger or extreme hurt over it still.

WriteKnight
01-21-2010, 10:47 PM
You start off your post by stating that you know every situation is different = Make the character your own. She reacts the way you want her to react. Then find the justification.

It's ENTIRELY plausible for the woman to want sex IMMEDIATELY after finding out. I know this second hand from a female friend - who wanted to 'claim' her husband back. Think of it as a territorially aggressive action - all sorts of motivations come into play. Does this mean it's a positive or 'healing' action? No - not at all. But sex means a lot of things - sometimes DIFFERENT things to the same people involved at the same time.

CEtchison
01-22-2010, 01:16 AM
It would seem I wasn't clear on what kind of information I was hoping to obtain. I was looking for gut-check reactions from posters; the kind of answer you would give if your girlfriend looked at you and asked "If you found out your husband had a one night stand with a random stranger, what would you do?"

Take a nine iron to his face? Walk out the door and never look back because you believe "once a cheater always a cheater"? Would you try and work things out and determine what the real problem was in the relationship? And if you were to stay, do you think you could continue with a sexual relationship within a week of finding out? A month? Six months? Doesn't matter because you would never forgive him?


Whether of not people have experienced the same situation or not, readers often put themselves in the character's shoes, thus the reason I posted the question. Perhaps I would have been better served by creating a poll to coincide it.

My story description was to establish a boundary of sorts. If people were going to answer a hypothetical question, I felt they needed to know this wasn't a Tiger Woods type of situation where there are numerous women and affairs being carried out over a long periods of time.

theantisplice
01-22-2010, 02:09 AM
It would seem I wasn't clear on what kind of information I was hoping to obtain. I was looking for gut-check reactions from posters; the kind of answer you would give if your girlfriend looked at you and asked "If you found out your husband had a one night stand with a random stranger, what would you do?"

Take a nine iron to his face? Walk out the door and never look back because you believe "once a cheater always a cheater"? Would you try and work things out and determine what the real problem was in the relationship? And if you were to stay, do you think you could continue with a sexual relationship within a week of finding out? A month? Six months? Doesn't matter because you would never forgive him?


Ah, okay. This is good to know. I wasn't sure if you wanted personal reactions or reflections on the situation you gave.

Personally, I would walk out the door and never come back. I wouldn't loathe the cheater forever - that's unhealthy - but no way would I stay in the relationship. There are two things, in my mind, that you NEVER do to a significant other under ANY circumstances: you don't hit or physically abuse them, and you don't cheat. Period. No excuses, no second chances. Once is more than enough.

Then again I know a lot of other people will feel differently. This is just me.

IceCreamEmpress
01-22-2010, 02:33 AM
I think that the key is to make it believable for your character. If your character's an impulsive person, maybe a quick reconciliation is believable; if your character is very deliberative, a long reconciliation might feel more "right".

In my real life, I know (in addition to those people whose marriages are openly non-monogamous by both parties' consent) people who have forgiven within a matter of weeks, and people who have never forgiven.

My own visceral response as a reader would be "at least six weeks of talking it out and doing their own internal work would need to be depicted before it would feel right for me to see the main characters reconnect romantically and sexually" but that's based on nothing but my immediate response.

CEtchison
01-22-2010, 02:47 AM
My own visceral response as a reader would be "at least six weeks of talking it out and doing their own internal work would need to be depicted before it would feel right for me to see the main characters reconnect romantically and sexually" but that's based on nothing but my immediate response.

And that's exactly the kind of response I was looking for.

Thank you.

WriteKnight
01-25-2010, 02:00 AM
You never specify the age of the couple. Newlyweds in their twenties? People in their mid-lives and mid-career? Much of the reaction will depend on that as well.

Honestly - It's your world - figure out what you need to keep your characters' reactions within THEIR nature. It's okay if it's not what the READER would do - if it seems to be 'unusual' - then you have to give the reasons for their motivations. It's perfectly normal to have a reader react "Well - that's not what I would do - but I can see how this character would do that.." Whatever 'that' was.