Why Should I Forgive After An Affair?
How to Forgive a Cheating Husband
If you’re dealing with your husband’s affair and the thought of forgiveness seems impossible, don’t give up hope. Work through your own emotions and take the time you need away from your spouse. When you feel ready, have a meaningful discussion together. While forgiveness won’t happen all at once, make positive steps toward forgiveness and create a new relationship together.
Coping with Your Emotions
Acknowledge your emotions.Don’t ignore your feelings like they don’t exist, but face them head-on. Acknowledge your emotions in a way that feels good to you, such as writing them down or talking to a friend. Focus on how you feel and what’s happening in your body.
- Don’t be surprised if you feel betrayed, hurt, angry, upset, sad, confused, or in disbelief. It’s normal to feel many emotions.
- Your emotions can bring clarity. For example, you might realize how much your marriage means to you or how deeply you feel hurt by your husband’s actions.
Release your emotions in a healthy way.Especially if you feel angry, you might want to act on your feelings right away. While it might be tempting to get revenge or hurt him back, this won’t help you to feel better or move you closer to forgiveness. Find a way to process your emotions on your own without taking them out on your husband.
- If you feel angry and need to express the anger, punch a pillow or go for a walk.
- Journaling can be a great way to work through your emotions and understand them better.Use your writing to reflect on the experience and write how you feel.
- You can express your emotions through art, writing, music, and dance.
- Avoid turning to alcohol or drugs as a way to deal with your emotions.
- Try to avoid projecting your anger on your husband, friends, children, and other family members. Don't make snide remarks or passive aggressive statements towards them.
Cool down when you feel highly upset.If you immediately act on your anger or upset, you might end up doing something you regret. When you notice yourself getting angry or upset, remove yourself from the situation and focus on feeling calm. Go to a different room or take a walk outside. Avoid the temptation to lash out at him or do something that will permanently hurt him, you, or the relationship.
- Take some deep breaths to help calm your body and your mind.
- Use your senses to cope with difficult emotions. Focus on one sense at a time and find ways to connect with it in the current moment. For example, notice all the sounds around you from nature sounds to footsteps in the room next door.
Take time away if you need it.It’s understandable if you need some time away from your husband, especially if you just found out the news. Living in the same home may be difficult, so you may want to find a friend or family member to stay with temporarily. If you choose to stay in the same home but feel uncomfortable sleeping in the same bed, sleep separately for the time being.
- This can be trickier if you have kids. You might want to tell them you’re taking a weekend away or that you’re temporarily sleeping in a different room. You don’t need to disclose what happened.
- Let your husband know this is temporary. If possible, tell him a return date so that you can both prepare to come back together.
Avoid blaming yourself.No good will come of blaming yourself for the affair. You will only feel bad about yourself. Even if you feel that your actions contributed or led to your husband’s affair, don’t get stuck on it. If you feel partly responsible, then take responsibility but leave the blame.
- When you feel like blaming yourself, give yourself compassion instead. Extend kindness and understanding to yourself. Learn to love yourself by supporting your health and well-being and by sending love to yourself and those around you.
Communicating with Your Husband
Ask questions you need answers to.Some partners prefer not to hear the details of the affair, but if knowing them will help you forgive and recover, ask. Try to focus on emotional questions rather than logistical questions. For example, instead of asking which hotel they met in, ask your husband why he decided to cheat. This is a healthier way to move towards forgiveness.
- Ask questions you need to know the answers to. For example, ask your husband if he’s been tested or is willing to be tested for STIs (also known as STDs).
- Ask your husband if he intends to leave you or if he wants to stay and make the relationship work. Clarifying this as soon as possible will help you prepare for the future and move forward.
Talk about how you feel about the affair.Affairs can bring up many feelings, fears, and insecurities. For example, if you’re worried about him cheating again, you’re concerned he doesn’t love you, or you can’t get over how unfair this is toward you, say this to him. It’s important for him to know how the affair affects you and what difficulties you are facing in moving forward.
- When talking about your feelings, keep them focused on yourself by using “I” statements. This will allow you to express yourself without going into blaming or shaming your husband.For example, say, “I feel so hurt and disappointed.”
Create boundaries for talking about the affair.Ideally, you do not want the affair to be the center of your relationship. You don’t want to completely ignore the affair, yet you also don’t want it to be the only thing you discuss together. Boundaries can help you discuss it in a healthy and productive way. For example, if one of you wants to bring it up, make sure you have enough time to have a real discussion.
- If talking about it has become all you talk about, take some steps back and make some boundaries together, like only talking about it once each day or once each week.
- If you and your husband have children, agree not to discuss the affair with them.
Confirm the outcome of your relationship.If you’re choosing to forgive your husband and move on in your relationship together, make sure your husband is on the same page. He should be clear in saying that he wants the relationship to work and be rebuilt. If he’s unsure about moving forward or seems more inclined to divorce, talk about it further. If you know you want to divorce, let him know that clearly.
- If you and your husband want to keep your marriage and improve your relationship, you should make a new commitment to each other. When you are ready, you can return to physical intimacy as well.
Working toward Forgiveness
Remember that forgiveness is for you.While your husband may feel relieved by your forgiveness, keep in mind that forgiveness has more to do with you than it does with him. Holding on to anger and resentment hurts you more often than it hurts him. Forgiveness means letting go of pain and resentment and being willing to move forward.
- Whether you continue a marriage together or decide to divorce, it’s in your best interest to let go and forgive your husband.
- Forgiving your husband does not mean that you have to stay in the marriage if you don't want to. That said, if you stay in the marriage, forgiveness will help you heal and move on.
Let go of the affair.Recognize that if you stay together, both you and he need to build a new relationship and not try to recover the previous one. Be willing to move in a new direction and create something fresh. Letting go of the affair means that the desire to create something new must be more powerful than the desire to resent him or stay locked in the past.
- Let go of your resentment, feelings of unfairness, and blame. While this is easier said than done, it’s also necessary to move forward in your relationship.
- Have a letting go ceremony together where both of you write down what you want to let go of, then burn the papers. This can provide some closure as well as create an opening for the new relationship to blossom.
Attend counseling.If you choose to move forward in your relationship, couples’ counseling can be a big part of coming together again with your husband. Therapy can help to create new roles in the relationship and frame the future differently from the past. Even if you choose to split, therapy can help both of you do it amicably and with each others’ best interests.
- Find a therapist who specializes in working with couples. You may even find a therapist who specializes in infidelity.
- Look for a therapist online or call your insurance provider to find someone who’s within your network. You can also call a local mental health center or get a recommendation from a friend or a physician.
Rebuild trust intentionally.Checking your husband’s phone or email isn’t a way to rebuild trust. In fact, this practice will likely negatively impact both of your trust. In order to rebuild trust, start by open and honest communication. Choose to believe what he says instead of questioning it or doubting it. While it can take time to rebuild trust, be hopeful in moving forward.
- Cynicism and doubt are roadblocks to rebuilding trust. If you’re struggling with trusting your husband again, talk to a counselor.
Improve your relationship.When you create a new relationship with your husband, find new ways to connect and be partners together. If you’ve had problems communicating in the past, seek to improve your communication and speak honestly. If sex was an issue, find ways to work together for mutual pleasure. Be there for each other in new and meaningful ways.
Reaching Out for Support
Talk with your closest friends and family.Going through this experience can be difficult on your own. Reach out to trusted friends or family members you can talk to about your experience. If you know someone who’s gone through something similar, they might be a good person to talk to. Be clear in stating whether you want a listening ear and/or advice. This can help them know how to best respond to your needs.
Look for support from church and community groups.Reach out to your community for support. Whether you attend a church or spiritual center or feel supported by your kickball league, it’s okay to ask for support. If you feel uncomfortable disclosing your situation, make it clear that you’re going through a difficult time and need some friends.
- You may choose to disclose what’s happening or not. It’s up to you. Whatever you do, be clear in creating boundaries so that your privacy is protected.
Help your children feel supported.Most couples choose not to tell their children about an affair. Even if you do not disclose the affair to your kids, they will likely pick up on tensions in the home or between their parents. Assure them of your love and support. Keep things as normal as possible for them and show up for what’s important.
- Don’t answer questions you do not have an answer to. For example, if your kids notice you fighting and ask, “Are you and dad going to get a divorce?” respond back by saying, “We’re going through a tough time and I know it’s tough for you, too. We both love you and we don’t want you to be worried.”
- Family therapy is a good way to heal tension for your children. Family therapy can help you determine how your children may be impacted by this event and how you can help support them.
QuestionI caught him with another woman. He beat me in front of her. Then he came back and told me he loved me. What should I do? I still love him.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLeave him and file a restraining order. It doesn't matter if you still love him, he's abusive and you can't trust him. He'll hit you again, even if he said he won't. You deserve better. Tell him it's over, and if he comes near you again, call the police.Thanks!
QuestionI forgave my husband for cheating on me the first time, but now he has been unfaithful again. What should I do?Top AnswererFool you once, shame on them. Fool you twice, shame on you. This is your decision. Do you want to keep this cycle of forgive and cheat for your entire life? Do you want to let this happen? Does it hurt you? Consider marriage counseling or divorce, especially if he refuses to stop cheating.Thanks!
QuestionMy husband has been working out of town. When I first found a pic in his phone, he said he didn't know who/how it got there, so I didn't argue. The next week I found panties in his bag. He's says there's no sex, just talking. How can I forgive him?Top AnswererHave you, or any woman, ever given your panties to someone you were "just talking" with? It seems like a huge red flag, I would act accordingly.Thanks!
QuestionMy husband confessed to have feelings for his colleague and he is trying to make things right. He is asking me for help/support. How do I do that when I am in pain myself?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerEnroll in couple's therapy.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I forgive my husband for cheating on me when he goes back to the woman after we fight?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou don't. You do not need to forgive him for behavior that he is not sorry for and not trying to change. You should not tolerate this at all. The self-respecting thing to do would be to end this marriage.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if the woman was a friend? What do I do about my relationship with her?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerShe is no friend if she crossed that line. She needs to be removed from your life.Thanks!
QuestionAfter admitting he has cheated and asked for forgiveness, how do I help him not to cheat again?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can't, it is not your fault he cheated. He did it, not you. You need to think about how you will feel if he cheats again as he will if he wants to and you cannot stop it. More than anything, do not accept talk that blames you for his indiscretion -- it was his weakness and his inability to respect your relationship, not you. If you are incompatible for other reasons, that needs to be sorted out but it is a separate issue from his cheating.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if all of my spouse's friends encourage his cheating and nobody holds him accountable?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStop blaming his friends. If your husband cheats on you and hangs around with people who encourage it, he has made his priorities clear. If he's unable to make you his number one priority, and you're not okay with his behavior, it's time to make some changes.Thanks!
QuestionMy husband left me and our children in the house to sleep with another girlfriend, before returning the next day without any explanation. How can I forgive him?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSometimes it is not possible to forgive a cheating husband, if the cheating is egregious enough. If you find that you simply cannot forgive him, don't force yourself to do so.Thanks!
QuestionMy husband hurt me verbally and he calls his mistress his "girlfriend" like this is a normal thing. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAsk yourself: "Will I ever be happy in this relationship, even if I forgive him?" I know it might be hard for you, but your relationship with your husband is unhealthy. My advice: Don't forgive him, get out of the relationship.Thanks!
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