If you have just found out that your partner has cheated, I am guessing that you are asking yourself how to forgive someone who has had an affair.
I mean, your person has betrayed you. The person you love and want to be with has been with someone else.
And you wonder if you will ever be able to get past it. Ever be able to happy with your person again.
I can tell you that it is possible to forgive someone who has had an affair but that it will take some time effort.
If forgiveness is something that you actively seek, here are 5 things that you can do to get there.
#1 – Ask yourself if and why you really want this.
You have been betrayed. You are devastated. You are angry. You are sad.
And you probably want, more than anything, to go back to that time when you didn’t know your partner had cheated. Because you were happy then.
So, let me ask you, are you seeking to forgive your partner so that your life can get back to normal? Or are you seeking to forgive your partner because you want to move forward with your partner towards a healthy relationship.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean burying your head in the sand so that you can get back to the way things were. Doing so will only prolong your pain and any chance of recovery.
Once you are clear on why you want to work to forgive, it is important that you decide whether or not forgiveness is something that you are determined to achieve. This process won’t be easy and it’s going to take determination and work to get to that place where you can forgive and move forward.
So, take a good hard look at whether you think you can get to a place of forgiveness. You might find that you aren’t sure if you can get there yet but that you are ok taking first steps down the road. Take it one step at a time, reevaluating as you go along if forgiveness is possible.
#2 – Talk to your partner…
It is essential that you and your partner discuss what has happened.
There has been a betrayal and there is a serious breach of trust between the two of you. And for you to be able to move forward, your partner needs to acknowledge what has happened and accept responsibility.
Many people, after they have cheated, refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Instead of saying, ‘yes, I did it,’ they lie, they deny, they blame, they justify.
You will find it very difficult to forgive someone who doesn’t acknowledge their actions and the effect that it has had on you.
It is essential that you and your partner are able to talk honestly about what happened so that can have the opportunity to forgive. If your partner doubles down and refuses to discuss it, you will be left with nothing but questions and pain which will make forgiveness impossible.
#3 – …but don’t ask for details.
I have a client who, once she found out that her husband was having an affair, insisted that he let her read all of the correspondence between him and his lover. Boy, did she regret it.
On top of the knowledge that her husband was cheating on her, after reading the texts she had insight into the intimacies they shared. His declaration that he needed to be with his lover, his lover saying deprecating things about my client, their plans for going away together and talk of the future were all devastating to see.
And once she had seen them, she could never unsee them.
What happened next? Even though she wanted to forgive him, even though he was willing to take responsibility for what happened, even though they sought help, the words that she read stayed in her head, playing themselves over and over and over. As a result, she was never able to reach the forgiveness that they both hoped she would achieve and their marriage ended.
So, talk to your partner but don’t ask for details. If you do, you might very well regret it.
#4 – Get help.
It is important that you get help processing what happened with your partner.
You have been betrayed by the person who you loved. You are most likely furious but you are also devastated. You might even blame yourself. All of these things are things that, if left unmanaged, can hinder your ability to forgive and only plunge you down into a darker place.
I would encourage to seek help from a therapist or a life coach, to process what has happened, to take a look at your role in it, to define steps that you, personally, need to take to work through this and to hold you accountable to do so.
If you actively want to forgive someone who has had an affair, get some help. Don’t just talk to your friends about what happened. They will tell you what you want to hear which won’t help you moving forward and might even hinder it.
#5 – Consider couple’s counseling.
Ok, you have decided that you are going to work to try to forgive your partner for what happened. You have talked about it together and you have done some work on your own to process what you are going through and how to take care of yourself.
Now comes this very important part. Counseling.
Ugh, I know. Counseling sounds so horrible and, for many people, the embarrassment around an affair is enough to make them avoid therapy at all costs.
But, the affair didn’t happen in a void. There was something missing or amiss in your relationship that opened up the door for the cheating. And this thing is important to identify.
Furthermore, a therapist can help the betrayer understand how the betrayed feels which I have found is a key to forgiveness – knowing that their person truly understand the effect the cheating had on them.
I know that your instinct is to try to work through this together without help. I am guessing that your partner, particularly, doesn’t want to go down this road with a professional but getting some guidance when working through this is the key to being able to forgive someone who has had an affair.
Learning how to forgive someone who has had an affair is not an easy thing.
What has happened is big – almost like a death – and dealing with it will take time and work.
Not everyone can reach a place of forgiveness and, if that is you, it’s ok. It’s ok to want to move forward alone so don’t judge yourself for deciding to do so.
On the other hand, if you want to forgive and move forward, it’s definitely worth trying so go for it! You might just find a happier, healthier relationship on the other side!