SURVIVING INFIDELITY

Everything You Need To Know About How To Forgive Your Partner That Cheated On You

To forgive or not to forgive?

By marriage expert Abe Kass MA, RSW, RMFT, CCHT

Quick Links:
Quiz: Has your cheating husband or wife earned forgiveness?
Video: How to forgive a cheating husband or cheating wife
Infographic: To Forgive or Not To Forgive a Partner That Cheated
Self-help worksheet: How to Forgive Infidelity in Marriage or a Committed Relationship

You have been betrayed by your partner and it is difficult to forgive!

Relationship cheating cannot be compared to any other type of bad behavior (except emotional or physical abuse which is also very bad!). Infidelity is the ultimate betrayal. It makes no difference what others (even what some so-called 'professionals") will tell you — being betrayed by a cheating husband, wife or partner is not a minor relationship sin. And in spite of what perhaps "you may want to believe," being betrayed cannot easily be forgiven or forgotten.

As human beings, we are hardwired for exclusivity (having just one partner). True, we are also hardwired to want to have friendship, romance, and sex with many people — but this does not make it a good thing to do. We also like wealth, that doesn't mean it is a good thing to rob a bank. When we want more money, and we consider the risks involved in robberies such as injury, criminal charges, and incarceration, normal-minded people exclude stealing as a way of getting rich. We have free-will and intelligence to guide our behavior. The challenge is to make the right life choices. Refraining from all forms of infidelity is definitely a 'good choice.'

When you have been violated by your partner's philandering, then your instincts take over and you are naturally devastated. This can be compared to the body running a high fever when under attack by harmful bacteria. To fend off an attack by this foreign invader, your body makes you sick in order to help you get better. This is why you get a fever. So too in a marriage or committed relationships, you become emotionally ill when betrayed. In fact, the reason most people who do not engage in infidelity is because they are mindful of how their husband, wife, or partner will react upon discovering that they have cheated.

If you have been betrayed, your devastation includes lack of trust, anger, and bewilderment directed at your cheating husband, wife, or partner. To forgive him or her is a monumental task. For some, forgiveness is seemingly impossible! And the reason for this is that you have built-in instincts to react strongly as a protection mechanism. As your health is dependent on eliminating any harmful bacteria and your body makes you sick with a fever to achieve this, so too your relationship and family cannot survive when there is an elicit individual lurking in the background. In response to knowledge of the outside person, each family member will react with emotional explosions. Infidelity is always conducted in secrecy and covered over with lies by the perpetrator in the hope of not triggering "emotional reactions" by family members.

Initially,'not to forgive,' is imposed upon you by your instincts and you can do nothing about it. However, when you and your partner engage in infidelity reconciliation activities, you can turn the corner and get to a place in your relationship where forgiveness becomes possible and even desirable.

If you want to forgive and can't, there are things you can do. You can influence your emotions by 'thinking differently' about what has happened and thereby remove the emotional blocks to forgiveness. The following thinking points will help you to soften your heart and eventually forgive your partner.

How to forgive after infidelity

Daily consider deeply these thinking-points until they become emotionally real:

  1. Everyone makes mistakes and deserves a second chance.
  2. I need to look at the big picture and realize that my cheating husband, wife, or partner is much more than just a "cheater." He or she has many fine qualities and has done many good things in his or her life. They are more than a 'mistake,' no matter how big the mistake.
  3. To remain angry and hurt is a terrible burden. It makes me bitter and sucks out my joy in life. I want to be free of this burden and to forgive will liberate me.
  4. To remain angry, bitter, and mistrustful hurts everyone in our family — myself, my partner, our children, our parents, extended family, and friends.
  5. (For those of you who have a spiritual dimension in your lives) It is my purpose in life to contribute to the well-being of others. True, my partner fell short of his or her responsibility to be a contributor of good by betraying me. Nonetheless, my response should not be to abandoned my mission. Rather, after a period of healing and grieving, I should get on with my life and continue to do that which is meaningful to me and to others. My life has a higher purpose; it is not meant to be squandered in sadness and regret.

Decide to forgive. Then do your best to carry out this decision. There are many tools to help you. Use the suggestions above, find a good therapist, find a spiritual activity that will raise you up to a new level, or be creative and find something novel to do that leads to forgiveness.

For many, forgiveness can and should be, a choice.

Proof you 'have forgiven' is confirmed when you revisit in your mind details of the betrayal, and at the same time, you do not have a strong emotional reaction.

 


Quiz: Has your cheating husband, wife, or partner earned forgiveness?

Forgiveness is dynamic between two people. As such, not every person is entitled to be forgiven for their relationship sins. Take this CONFIDENTIAL (no email necessary) with IMMEDIATE RESULTS quiz to see if your partner who cheated on you deserves to be forgiven.

Instructions

1. When answering the questions, if there are inconsistencies in your partner's behavior answer "yes or no" based on the most common way he or she behaves  —  how he or she behaves on 'most' days. 

2. Keep scrolling down until you have answered all 18 questions.

3. After you have completed your Infidelity Forgiveness Quiz, continue reading this page to learn more about how to survive infidelity. 


 

Video: How to Forgive Infidelity Video

Surviving infidelity requires great effort. The emotional trauma is overwhelming.

However, effort alone is not sufficient to rebuild your life and your marriage. You need the"right" effort to succeed.

The information in this video will target exactly what you need to do to successfully survive infidelity and then forgive your cheating husband or cheating wife.

This video will show you the 7-steps to surviving infidelity that when completed, make it possible to "forgive" a cheating husband or a cheating wife.

The seven steps needed to forgive:
Step #1: All contact with the outside person must cease.
Step #2: Prove the cheating has stopped.
Step #3: Your partner recognizes how he or she has hurt you.
Step #4: Your partner that has cheated must take 100% responsibility for the affair.
Step #5: Make times to discuss the affair and your feelings.
Step #6. Work on having a "normal married life."
Step #7. Build a healthy and happy marriage.

 

Infographic: To Forgive or Not To Forgive a Partner That Cheated?

cheating husband, cheating wife, infidelity, surviving infidelity
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Worksheet: How to Forgive Infidelity in Marriage and a Committed Relationship Worksheet

Let's consider some of the tasks necessary to make it reasonable and easier for you to forgive. 

Write your responses to the following thoughts and questions.

You may want to print this exercise for ease of use. Click the Print Friendly button above. From there you can also format this exercise into a PDF file or email it to a friend. Note: Printing from a computer works best.

Has your partner stopped doing what he or she has done in the past that has hurt you so much? (If the answer to this question is "no", and you are still being hurt, then there is nothing to forgive, and you need to consider how to protect yourself.) 

 

Forgiveness Self-help Worksheet

Describe briefly what is the event that caused you so much pain and that at this point you wish to forgive the offender  —  your partner —  for his or her behavior.

 


 


 




What can the offender do to make it easier and more reasonable for you to forgive?

 


 


 




If you need to tell your partner "what" he or she can do to help you forgive, when will you do this?

 


 


 


   
If you "choose" to hold on to your grudge and anger, in what ways do you imagine you will suffer in the future?

 


 


 



If you "choose" to hold on to your grudge and anger, in what ways do you imagine your partner and your relationships will suffer in the future?

 


 


 


   
How would you be better off if you chose to forgive and you do so?

 


 


 



Describe a time in your life when you have forgiven somebody for having wrong to you.

 


 


 



In your above example, what did you do forgive?    

 


 


 



Regarding the situation you're working on right now (the event(s) you described above), what do you need to do in order to forgive your partner for having hurt you?

 


 


 



After you have succeeded in forgiving your partner, what will you notice about yourself that is different?

 


 


 



After you have succeeded in forgiving your partner, what will he or she notice about you that is different?

 


 


 



After you have forgiven, how do you think you will feel differently than you do now?