Can you forgive your spouse after they cheat on you?
The one you love has betrayed you. It is one of the worst things to endure.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, some cheaters seem to think that their partner will not only forgive them but be okay for them to retain the friend (with benefits) as a friend.
In a word, NO, this won’t work.
This is not even worth considering and indicates that the cheating spouse is not invested 100% into rebuilding the relationship.
It is impossible to rebuild the relationship with the constant cloud of the ‘other’ person hovering about.
And even when you deal with the ‘other’ person, it is still not reasonable to just forgive and forget. How can you? Your life has just been turned upside down and it hurts.
If you have been through this, you will know what I mean. There is such a confusion of emotions, anger, hurt, sadness, disbelief and sometimes confirmation of nagging doubts.
It’s a horrible time.
It’s Not Easy To Forgive Your Spouse After They Cheat
You won’t feel in a forgiving mood and that’s okay, maybe you never will.
I believe forgiveness is important so that the aggrieved partner can move on with their life whether it be saving the marriage or considering a separation or divorce.
Forgiveness is something that the survivors need to do to heal themselves. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that they have absolved the person from the crime.
They will never forget what has happened but they have forgiven in order to move on themselves. That does make perfect sense but if you are not in the forgiveness space right now, that’s okay.
The unfaithful spouse needs to show that they have done all they can to get the relationship back on track.
After that point you may not or may not be ready to forgive and there needs to be patience and understanding on both sides.
It is also a time to reflect on why the affair happened in the first place.
When the affair is first discovered and the cheater confesses or is discovered there is initially anger and disbelief and a host of other emotions. You can’t think clearly.
Accusations are flying about and there is anger and hurt.
When you do stop and think, you realize there is now that cloud of uncertainty in so far as your spouse was not considering you at all. All that seemed safe and secure has now been shattered. Where do you go from here? Why did it happen? You can’t turn the clock back, as much as you may want to.
In my opinion, time doesn’t necessarily heal all things but time does give us the chance to go through the stages of processing the situation.
What Is Forgiveness?
Growing up, I always thought that forgiveness was actually absolving someone from the crime and forgiving them, meaning that I essentially let them off the hook.
This was okay when applied to schoolyard grievances but as an adult I realised that my view of forgiveness was only partially true. While my heart was in the right place my head was not.
Forgiveness does not mean that you unequivocally let the person off the hook and forget what happened and then go back to life as usual.
Forgiveness takes time and in the case of infidelity it needs both partners to be honest with each other about
- firstly, wanting to re-establish the marriage
- and secondly to spend the time to reflect on where the marriage went wrong.
You may feel angry at having to do this as you feel unfairly done by. That’s normal, after all, you weren’t doing anything wrong.
In truth many marriages at the tipping point of having an affair have only suffered the consequences of one affair. However, it may be equally true that there were two affairs if the partnership was unhappy on both sides.
And even if there were not two affairs it is possible that one of the partners did not act upon the desire to have an affair. Ringing any bells?
Every scenario is different and there are certainly situations where the innocent party never saw any signs or had any clues that anything was wrong. Looking back later when you are in a clearer state of mind, you can often identify moments that didn’t seem quite right. You just didn’t join the dots.
Can You Save Your Marriage After An Affair?
Can you forget what happened and forgive your spouse after they cheat?
Forgiveness is something that you will need to find in your heart of hearts so that you can move on. Can you forget?
It is not so easy to forget but with time and understanding the memory will not be as painful as it is now.
It can be difficult for some to deal with the issue of forgiving. I love this quote from Marlene Dietrich – “Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.” (Even if the need for revenge is tempting)
Can Your Relationship Ever Be The Same?
If and when you are willing to, there are several things you need to do in order to forgive your spouse after they cheat.
- Are you willing to try to forgive your partner, or not? Assess what you’re willing to do, and don’t look into the future – take each day as it comes.
- Ask for what you need from your partner – Do you need details, or do you need to not talk about the details at all? Seek out the support of a couple’s counselor to help mediate discussions.
- Look at your relationship differently. From now on it won’t be the same, BUT, it can get better as you work through major relationship/trust issues.
- Other than trust and honesty, discover and evaluate additional behaviors/actions that no longer work for the relationship. If you have been together for a long time there may be “roles” that you have taken on. Now they have now become part of the partnership. Maybe you want some changes. Work on these things together and compromise to make things work.
- Use the ‘betrayal’ as the foundation for working through your relationship problems – invite honest discussion in so that you can move forward as positively as possible.
Control Negative Thoughts
Negative internal chatter can be overwhelming, particularly at night, causing more stress to the situation. Focus on thinking positive thoughts 24/7!
When your thoughts get out of control, listen to this lovely Forgiveness Guided Meditation by Jason Stephenson.
These feelings will become less intense over time, but or now make sure to focus on pleasant emotions to distract you from the pain.
Focus On The Unshakable Bond
Married or not, a betrayal is a betrayal – what are you willing to do to save the marriage?
- Focus on repairing it by committing to your unshakable bond!
- Focus on talking everyday – make honest discussion a priority if the relationship is to have a chance at survival.
- Don’t participate in the blame game. Instead, focus on the wonderful qualities that make you a desirable partner for anyone who deserves it!
- Spend time on reflection. Give yourself some time to recognize and take pride in who you are. Are you ‘lost’ in your relationship? Reevaluation time! What are your values, beliefs, desires and needs in life? Yes, think of yourself, it’s okay.
- Use this time as an opportunity to make yourself better, and with that, your relationship will strengthen!
A Few More Words…
You are in charge of making choices to forgive your spouse after they cheat. Don’t leave it to chance.