In life all manner of cruelties befall us, but when the perpetrators of those cruelties are the people who supposedly care about us the most it does something particularly terrible to our sense of self worth. That’s why not only are they the most difficult to forgive, but the most necessary.
Ask yourself, what is the foundation of a strong marriage or romantic relationship? There are several that work in tandem. Love, communication, support, and of course trust. Infidelity is particularly difficult to forgive because likely two of these foundations have been severely breached: trust and communication.
They are also the two pillars that must be restored after an affair has occurred. The reason for this is because generally cheaters go out of their way to hide their affairs from their spouses concocting elaborate lies to feed their husbands or wives a false narrative. When the affair is revealed that narrative crumbles along with the spouse’s sense of self and understanding of their life.
This is why forgiving an affair is particularly difficult. But it can be done. Here is how.
The time for BS is over and will do more harm than good. What must happen now is honesty for both yourself and your partner. Sometimes cheaters use excuses like: they’re bored sexually, or their partner is being emotionally or sexually distant, and while these may have been the justifications they used to absolve themselves of wrongdoing, they do not excuse going behind their partner’s back and cheating on them.
Instead of cheating, the right thing to have done at this point would be to be honest with their partner about their needs, emotionally or sexually. Communications like this may be awkward and difficult, but so is explaining a web of lies after you’ve been caught cheating. It only forestalls the inevitable.
The most difficult period after the affair will be the beginning. If the cheater believed that sexual or emotional disatisfaction was a major tipping point in committing adultery, then they can expect more of the same. The cheated party will not be jumping directly back into bed with you because they found out about your affair. You will have to reestablish the intimacy you once had and that will take time.
The cheated-on party will be pelting them with question after question concerning occurrences in the past. Things like “When you said you were picking things up for our son were you really with so and so?” The questions will be uncomfortable and are meant to be uncomfortable. They’re meant to hurt because your spouse is hurting. If you try to lie your way out of this part, it will completely backfire. No answer you give will be a good one. So just be honest.
Marriage counseling is particularly beneficial to couples dealing with an affair. Forgiving infidelity is difficult and won’t happen without establishing the pillars of trust and communication that were damaged in the process. Marriage counselors can make you aware of destructive communication and how that makes both spouses feel. With a commitment from both parties, those foundations can be restored.
While the answer to this question depends entirely on the situation, the mere fact that you’re here indicates that you’re considering it, so firstly let’s talk about a few instances in which a second chance after an affair is ill-advised.
If they compulsively lied to you and snuck around behind your back, while keeping you in the dark about their activities, even when you confronted them point blank, you should definitely not give them a second chance. Why? Because they have no respect for you. A person who respected you would not try to make you doubt your instincts or lie to your face while making you feel stupid and/or crazy for addressing the issue. There is something innately cruel to lying to a person’s face and then accusing them of being invasive and paranoid for figuring out the truth.
If that was the case with you, and you’re even considering taking them back at this point you need to seriously consider the notion that you’re abnormally attracted to parasitic people who don’t have any respect for you.
If you feel like they’re going to do it again, and you don’t want to suffer a repeat of the same infidelity twice, then you’re wasting your time with a second chance. Obviously, a second chance after cheating, requires a belief that it was a one-time affair and won’t be repeated. Generally, it will, and if you can’t deal with that fact, then you’re better off ending the relationship right there.
There are several good reasons to give a spouse a second chance after an affair, but only by addressing the root causes and empathizing with the cheater can you truly begin the healing process.
One common reason why otherwise loving and engaged spouses cheat in their marriage is sex addiction. Despite what you may believe, sex addiction is a legitimate psychological issue that has many of the same features as other addictions. Firstly, those who suffer from sex addiction feel ashamed and guilty directly after having sex outside of their marriage, and yet feel compelled to do it. There are support groups based on the 12 step model for those suffering from sex addiction and help is available from counselors and psychologists to break free of the cycle that perpetuates it.
That brings us to our next point: finding a marriage counselor. If you’re serious about giving them a second chance and not just sweeping the whole thing under the rug, then you’re going to want to find a good marriage counselor to work through the issues in your relationship that caused the affair in the first place.
If both partners are committed to working out their difficulties and saving their marriage, this should be a no brainer. A lot of times, marriage counselors are good sounding boards for learning how to effectively communicate with one another. Particularly, they are good for individuals who still love one another, and yet feel hurt and resentful of behavior that happened in the past. If the marriage is going to be save, then it will require work, and marriage counselors will help with that.