Divorce is not only about protecting assets and deciding who will keep the marital home afterward. Divorce is about re-envisioning your life following the end of a marriage and about discovering who you are today. This may include learning about who you are as a sexual being.
Sex after divorce and sexual health after divorce go hand in hand. Though these subjects may be uncomfortable to talk about or even read about, they are important to discuss as they can change the quality of your life, both positively and negatively.
Indeed, sexual health after divorce can mean different things to different people. What follows are suggestions about how you can approach your sexual health following divorce in a way that can positively impact you.
Move at your own pace.
After a divorce, it is common to experience conflicting emotions. For this reason, many people fear sex and intimacy with a new partner or experience guilt about moving forward sexually with someone else. Perceptions linger and though a particular situation may no longer exist, feelings about it may.
This is why talking to a mental health professional about sex after divorce can be so beneficial. The divorce process itself is often complicated, causing anxiety, stress, and depression, among a host of other emotions which can overlap or change from moment to moment.
Add in another life change, such as introducing a new sexual partner, and the need for someone in your corner to support you emotionally and mentally becomes more critical than ever. Although close friends and family can lend an ear and opinion, a mental health professional can approach the topic of sex after divorce from a place of objectivity. They can also support you during the time following your decision to become sexually active, including as a new romantic relationship evolves.
Bottom line: Listen to your instincts. If you don’t feel ready, don’t push yourself to do anything you are uncomfortable with. Conversely, if you feel you are ready but worry some may perceive it to be too soon, keep in mind that you know yourself better than anyone else ever could. And, you can get to know yourself even better than that; this can be a time for you to explore what you like and what you don’t.
Engage in healthy communication skills with a new sexual partner.
During a marriage, it can be easy to take for granted having one sexual partner with whom you are familiar and who is familiar with you. When having sex with someone new, you are starting from scratch, which can be daunting but also exciting.
To maximize pleasure, be sure to communicate with your new partner. This can be general, such as letting them know what feels good and what doesn’t, or more logistical, including offering them specific suggestions or instructions.
Communication should also be practiced from an emotional perspective. For example, it may be that you are emerging from a sexless marriage and have not had sex in months or years. Or you are coming from an otherwise toxic place that has caused you to experience emotional or sexual trauma. Perhaps your marriage ended due to infidelity, and that has caused you to develop apprehension surrounding sex.
Whatever your situation, the more you can be open about it, the more likely your sexual experience will be a satisfying one. Again, a mental health professional can offer guidance in this area as well.
Practice safe sex.
Introducing a new sexual partner increases the risk of contracting STIs as well as becoming pregnant. It is, therefore, critical to practice safe sex by using protection, getting tested regularly for STIs, and otherwise keeping up with your sexual health by scheduling checkups with your doctor.
One important aspect to note about condom usage is that certain STIs, such as HPV and herpes, may be spread via skin-to-skin contact. Condoms are also not 100% effective in preventing STI transmission or pregnancy.
Likewise, even if you have been monogamous with your ex-spouse, it is still important to get tested for STIs before having sex with a new partner. Making sure that you are sexually healthy is important for maintaining your long-term health.
Additionally, before you engage in sex with someone new, you may want to ask the other person about their sexual health and history. Questions may include how many sexual partners they have had since getting tested, when they have last been tested, whether their partners have been tested, whether they used protection, as well as if they have asked these types of questions of those partners.
While this conversation may not feel sexy or comfortable, it can go a long way toward you making an informed decision about whether you want to be intimate. Furthermore, having your answers at the ready to these questions can make these types of conversations easier to have should you be the one on the receiving end at first.
Another aspect of this conversation to keep in mind is how your partner reacts. Are they angered or annoyed that you brought up their sexual history, or does the conversation feel safe and comfortable? Their response can be telling. Additionally, if your partner does disclose that they have tested positive for an infection, it is not necessarily the end of the world. But do check with a medical professional first.
Contact a Seattle family law attorney for divorce support and divorce-related resources.
The divorce process is what it sounds like, an all-encompassing time in your life that includes the mechanics of going through a divorce itself and so much more. Having an empathetic family law attorney who understands what you are going through as part of your divorce is important for you to get the support you need in divorce-related areas.
At Elise Buie Family Law, we understand how emotionally-charged a divorce can be and how a divorce can run smoother with a team in place to offer support and information. In addition to providing the legal skill and expertise our clients want and need to guide them through their divorces, we offer copious resources that can help you begin moving your life forward. Call us today.