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.
There are several key steps to getting over an affair and learning how to trust again. The most important one, as always, is learning how to forgive yourself for feeling like a fool. If your marriage or a long-term committed relationship ended because of infidelity, then the worst thing that you can do to yourself is blame yourself for your ex’s extramarital activities. No matter what, it wasn’t your fault, and beating yourself up about something you had no real control over will only make matters worse.
There is likely nothing you could have done differently to prevent the infidelity. If your husband or wife felt like you were emotionally distant or cut off, then that’s telling you something too. Likely the relationship had run its course.
It happens often that people like the idea of the relationship more than the relationship itself. They’re afraid of change so even though they’re emotionally distant from their spouse and their relationship kind of sucks, they still fear what the upheaval of a divorce or breakup would bring. In this case, you need to be fair to your spouse. If their not getting what they want from you, they have every right to go seek out a fulfilling relationship with someone else, and it’s on you to fix emotionally what’s wrong in your life to get you to a point where you can have a fulfilling relationship yourself.
This doesn’t excuse their infidelity, but it does explain it. Most marriages end because the spouses take on another for granted. Husbands and wives feel resentful of being trapped in marriages that are either sexually or emotionally unfulfilling. Trust and infidelity generally destroy one another, so here are a few steps you can take for learning to trust again after an affair.
Forgive yourself, yes, but be honest with yourself as well. Even though infidelity is never the fault of the person being cheated on, you have to be honest about your willingness to commit to a serious relationship like a marriage. Marriages are a give and take and require active involvement from both individuals. If the marriage is too one-sided give-wise, then the other party will seek out what the marriage is supposed to offer from others outside the marriage.
Moving forward after an affair requires a renewed commitment from you in either your marriage or your next relationship not only to forgive yourself and your partner, but also but the effort and the energy into the relationship to make it work.
For some people, the rigors of a marriage become too much. The family life and work are just more effort than a person can give, and the loving bond between husband and wife fall to the wayside and they seek out excitement in other ways, ways that remind them of how things were when they were younger.
When this is the case, whether the marriage can be saved or not, learning to trust again after an affair, will be paramount to the renewed happiness of the individual being cheated on, and whether the marriage can be saved will depend entirely on the circumstances surrounding the cheating. The worst thing you can do is become embittered toward all members of the opposite gender and carry that bitterness around with you for the rest of your life.
Forgiving a cheater is tough. Restoring betrayed trust is even harder. More often than not the person cheated on finds themselves in the position of forgiving them again and again. Even when they say that they forgive the person, the relationship is doomed because they no longer trust them. The couple ends up having the same argument over and over. The scars from the affair never heal entirely.
So here are 5 questions that you should ask yourself to determine whether or not you can really forgive their infidelity or not.
After a spouse is caught in the act, the other spouse must come to grips with the fact that there is something wrong with the marriage. They blame the spouse. They blame themselves. Seldom does this blame mean much of anything. Spouses cheat for different reasons. Some are just inclined to want multiple lovers in their life but for whatever reason find themselves in committed marriages. Other times they form an emotional bond with someone in close proximity with one. The latter can be far more devastating.
The former is easier to forgive for some reason. Forgiving an affair is never easy but when it’s not person it’s not a reflection on you specifically. They would have done it to anyone. You may feel betrayed at the time and you may not want to be with someone who has extra-marital relationships, but in time the wound fades, and the cheating spouse moves on to relationships that fit their relationship style better.
When you put your foot down and say: “this is the last time,” and proceed as if it’s a fresh start you’re deceiving yourself.
In instances where the spouse that was caught cheating is not a serial cheater, there was probably something really broken in the relationship that set off the fair. In this instance forgiving cheating may come in the form of forgiving yourself. Husbands and wives both can be distant and cold sometimes. When you truly love someone you don’t want to subject them to your worst side so you withdraw. But if your spouse doesn’t understand why they may feel like you’re bored with them or no longer love them. Under the right circumstances they could meet someone who fills that void and suddenly an affair happens. It’s not love per se, but a surrogate for love; analogous to what a methadone shot is to a heroin addict. It doesn’t make them feel good, but the pain goes away for awhile.
Forgiving infidelity in this instance may be difficult but it’s many times more likely if they didn’t lie or sneak around behind your back about it.
This is the most difficult to forgive. Affair forgiveness is predicated on empathizing with offending spouse and a belief that they truly love you. Trust once broken is difficult to rebuild, but it can be done. For instance, sex addicts may sustain healthy relationships after an affair if they can control their addiction. It’s hard to do and requires sacrifice.
What’s impossible to forgive is elaborate lying and sneaking around behind your spouse’s back. If they made you feel like an idiot for believing in them, then there’s little chance you can ever really forgive or trust them again. If that’s the case, you should ask yourself if it’s worth it.