Should people pay for their wrongs?
Forgiveness can be hard, especially if we believe in justice and fairness. Most of the times we think people should be punished for bad behavior. This can make being forgiving difficult.
Forgiveness means that you give up resentment. It means that you stop being angry and that you give up all claim to punish.
That is a lot to ask from someone whose partner has been unfaithful.
The aftermath of infidelity
Forgiveness is not denial.
It is not pretending that infidelity never happened.
And it is definitely not condoning the wrong behavior.
Forgiveness is essential if you and your spouse want to leave the past behind and start moving towards a brighter future.
The usual aftermath of infidelity is far from this bright, new future. The aftermath likely includes rage, shock, denial and a strong desire for revenge. It is hard to put these emotions aside.
Emotions are complex and complicated. You might feel anger for your partner, while still loving him or her very passionately. This is even more true when you have been together for many years. Despite the treason of infidelity you are able to forgive your partner – in due time – and have an even better relationship.
Couples that survive through the destruction of infidelity grow stronger and more intimate. It will take time, but if you work on your problems together it is do-able.
When there is still love…
If your partner is sorry for his or her actions and if you are able to forgive and there still is love, then there is a way out of this aftermath.
After the initial phases of shock, anger and revenge there will come a time that you are able to let things go. You might be willing to forgive and start building trust again.
It is hard to trust your spouse if has cheated on you, but it is surely possible. In order for you to trust again you will need time to heal your wounds. One of the ways to improve the process is by having your partner bring all his or her cards to the table and being open and honest. Only when the truth is completely out can you start regaining trust in yourself and in your partner again.
Both you and your partner will have to commit to this process. It will take time. It will be hard. But it will also be worth it.
Without the basis of trust you cannot have a healthy, good relationship. But after infidelity, trust is of course destroyed. Building trust again is slow, while losing trust in someone can be rapid.
How to forgive infidelity: Moving forward
A relationship counsellor can be beneficial in the process of forgiving infidelity.
This counsellor can help you and your spouse to reflect upon what has happened. The goal of the counselling is to get to know yourself even better, be aware of your own needs and those of your spouse.
Something went wrong earlier, or else your spouse would not have cheated. Now is not the time to point fingers, but simply ask ‘How can I be an even better, more loving and attentive partner?’.
If both of you are committed to becoming better partners then you will eventually be better partners. You will reap what you sow.
Forgiving infidelity is a process and it takes two. It takes you and the one that you need to forgive. It will take small sacrifices and investments – in yourself and your partner – for you two to have an even better relationship with more intimacy and trust. In order for this to happen you will have to look at your behavior and identify where things went wrong. The same is true for your partner. He or she must be willing to self-evaluate.
Keep in mind that you will never again have the marriage that you had. That is also exactly the point. That kind of marriage do not last. So now you and your partner are building a stronger, more loving marriage. Some people might not get this. They cannot understand your forgiveness towards your cheating spouse. As a result it might be best to minimize advice or input from others. Not everyone has your best interest in mind and definitely not everyone knows or feels what you know or feel. Everyone is different and other peoples advice is usually tailored for them, not you.
With that being said it is time to say goodbye to the old relationship and build a new one. A new anniversary date, news ways of communicating with each other and renewed commitment are just some of the things you can think of in order for your renewed marriage to work.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.