Learning how to forgive your spouse for being unfaithful is possible.
Forgiveness. That one word holds so much weight.
It might not even seem possible to forgive your spouse right now.
Especially if Discovery Day of the affair was very recent.
You’ll need time to work through all the emotions of pain and betrayal.
But it IS possible to get through this.
It won’t be easy though, as you probably already figured out.
The pain of being betrayed by the one closest to you cuts deep.
Going through this will probably be one of the hardest thing you’ll ever have to go through.
There will be days you think you’re on the way to figuring out how to forgive your spouse for being unfaithful,
and then you may have a setback and feel you’ll never truly be over it or able to forgive.
That’s completely normal.
Forgiveness may feel impossible right now as you struggle to make sense of their actions.
Feelings of rage, depression, loneliness, grief and confusion are all normal.
It’s important not to stay in those feelings. Easier said than done, huh?
It would also be helpful to read what forgiveness is NOT, as you venture down the path of learning how to forgive.
These 6 steps to take first,
as you try to figure out how to forgive your spouse for being unfaithful:
1. Train your brain.
Thinking about what you’re thinking about. What I mean by that is there will be thoughts that will invade your day of what that person did to hurt you.
Our brains are more powerful than we give them credit for. What we focus on will often become our reality.
If you’re constantly dwelling on your spouse’s infidelity, you’ll have a much harder time forgiving.
This doesn’t mean deny your pain or anger, just don’t get stuck there.
Do you have actual images of text messages or emails you read, videos or pictures, or the actual act itself?
Those will be replayed in your mind over and over and it may seem impossible to ever be free of them.
But you have a choice to make.
You can choose to dwell on those things, thereby staying in your anger and resentment.
Or, you can also choose to train your brain to think on something different.
A good thing to remember is-
your thoughts will eventually become your feelings.
your feelings will eventually lead to your actions.
actions done over and over will eventually become your habits.
Stopping our negative thoughts in the beginning, before allowing them to fester, is the best way to be free of them.
Sometimes just saying STOP out loud when those angry thoughts or hurtful memories come in help little by little.
Again, this doesn’t negate your feelings of anger and you still need to work through that,
but it is a cognitive therapy technique of intentionally replacing your memory or thoughts with something else.
2. Set boundaries with people around you.
Surround yourself with people who support your healing and won’t be speaking negatively about your spouse.
You may have to tell people closest to you that you’re working on forgiving your spouse.
Letting them know you’d like to not hear negative things about your spouse, as that won’t help you during the process.
Sometimes, you may have to cut ties with those who refuse to respect your boundaries of not bashing your spouse or your marriage.
Some people will not understand why you chose to stay with your spouse and unfortunately, may not support this decision.
It will be up to you to know which relationships you can, and can’t, keep in your life during this vulnerable time.
We all hope our friends and family will support our decision to stay in the marriage and try to work it out.
Hopefully they can support our desire to try to forgive.
They most likely want the best for you and don’t want to see you hurt again.
Only you can determine your breaking point and limit in your marriage.
If someone is influencing your decision now, you may regret that decision later.
My husband unfortunately got some bad advice to change the locks on me and many wanted him to end our marriage.
I’m thankful he didn’t give up on me or our marriage, our lives would have been so much worse now if he listened to them.
I will always be thankful for the few brave people that encouraged him to hang in there with me and thankful he knew what we really had together.
3. Call on a higher power to help you forgive.
There are many things in life that are beyond our own ability to achieve on our own. Forgiving your spouse after they were unfaithful definitely falls under that category.
During those days when the triggers of their betrayal are constant, call on God to help you forgive, if you are a person of faith.
He promises that when we call on Him in our weakness, He will be our strength. God will help you have compassion for your spouse in ways you cannot by yourself.
I’ve found Him to be faithful to that. When we are at our weakest, He can be our strength.
If you are a believer in Jesus, then you already know how much he’s forgiven you. He expects us to forgive others as well, not just when we feel like it.
Keeping a journal while you work through the pain is also very helpful…you can use it as a prayer journal or just a way to vent your anger.
4. Stay humble to your own faults.
When we’re facing the daily agony of our spouse’ unfaithfulness, it’s very easy for pride to rise up as we whisper to ourselves that we would never do such a thing.
That may or may not be true, but if it wasn’t infidelity, what else could it be for you?
Are you without faults or incapable of making such terrible choices?
Just as the woman caught in adultery, her accusers were ready to stone her, being unaware of their own sins.
If given a certain set of conditions and circumstances, I’m convinced we all are capable of doing far worse things than we really think we are.
Although you are not responsible for your spouse’ decision to stray, was there a part you can acknowledge that led to the relationship breaking down?
Looking honestly at this is humbling, yet important in learning how to forgive your spouse for being unfaithful.
5. Don’t rush forgiveness.
After reading all 4 prior steps, this may seem counter intuitive.
Although forgiveness is vital for your own healing and growth,
quickly forgiving will only hinder your healing.
Quick forgiveness is usually incomplete forgiveness.
The pain will eventually surface again in the marriage later on.
For some people, it seems easier to forgive quickly and to try and forget.
However, the magnitude of the offense must be felt and walked through properly. It can’t be fully forgiven if it hasn’t been fully realized and dealt with.
So, it will be important during this time to seek counseling and work through the anger you feel.
The unfaithful spouse needs to be patient as you must be allowed to express the pain, and yet, not stay in the pain too long. A good counselor can help you navigate that balance.
6. Forgiveness is for you, even if the marriage fails.
Forgiving your spouse cannot be conditional on their behavior or if the marriage is going to survive. That’s not true forgiveness. True forgiveness says “no matter what you do or have done, even if this marriage doesn’t survive this…I will forgive you. I release you of this debt that can never be repaid.”
A funny thing often happens after you get to that place- your marriage may begin to heal quicker than you thought possible.
Harboring resentment and being unforgiving is a certain final nail in the coffin of many marriages.
Obviously, the unfaithful spouse has a lot of work to do on their end too. All ties need to be cut off to the affair partner, but you can’t do their work for them.
Just as they can’t do your work for you. Your job is to walk through the stages of grief, anger and denial to get to a place of mercy for them.
Remaining unforgiving unknowingly puts us in a prison of anger and resentment.
When we can forgive our spouse, the key to our own jail door is opened and we are not bound to the injustice done to us.
- nobody can really tell you completely how to forgive your spouse for being unfaithful.
Healing takes time, forgiveness is ultimately a choice. Everybody heals differently to some extent. But training your brain to not dwell on the offenses of your mate are vital to the process.
- If you find yourself feeling more crummy some days, go back and think about what you’ve been thinking about.
I usually find I’ve been unknowingly dwelling on things that hinder my healing and joy.
- These 5 steps are just a start as you make your journey to healing and forgiveness.
- Remember to read what forgiveness is not, as these are important pieces too.
- If you are both trying to heal your marriage, it’s also helpful to read how to rebuild your marriage after an affair.
Forgiveness may seem impossible right now as you walk through the grief and anger of your spouses affair, but it is attainable in time.
What about you? Do you find one of these harder than another when thinking about forgiving your spouse? Has other techniques worked for you in forgiving your spouse for their unfaithfulness? This can be either an unfaithful wife or husband. Leave a comment below.
Hi, I really enjoyed your blog. This helped me. Thank you for expressing this.
I still find it difficult to overcome this it happened 18years ago. We – me and The Other Women never spoke on it,because my husband blamed me for what had happened. I’m full time Nurse and Mother. I filled for Divorce, was not granted , because I didn’t had a place where I could stay in South Africa, because I was working in Australia. A child was born in the Affair, my husband thinks the world of her and the Mother. Still contact them on a regular basis. Which made me so angry, what must I do? Please give me advice.
Ester Sophia Petersen
WOW, My wife had an affair 3 months ago to say it’s been life changing is an understatement. She is my best friend & world I found out by finding pictures & a 2 videos on our desktop after she forgot her iPhone uploaded images through iCloud. I suspect it 2 months prior & confronted her to which she made me feel so bad for thinking that of her I let it go. I caught her red handed after she spent Valentine’s Day 2020 with him.
We will get through this because we are actually best friends & I am forgiving her daily. We’ve done lots of counseling & soul searching along with finger pointing. At the end of the day people make mistakes, I don’t want a life without her, I’m doing a course on line which has given me hope however I came across a photo on the desktop that’s went through the cloud
(ironic) that she snap shotted
BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR NEED TO KNOW ALL THE DETAILS & OBSESSIVE THINKING. Wow the chapter on learning how to forgive a spouse after cheating changed my world.
Thank you for being you & for creating this amazing tool. We will get through this with the good grace of god (my wife has no attachment to god) & the will to grow together we will continue to heal.
Angel Rodriguez says
Thank you for your knowledge and wisdom. I need it now more than ever. It helps to read and learn that I’m not alone in the struggle. Just now a day into knowing about my wife’s infidelity, I can only be thankful for me being at home working through the pain. I was just near the airport when I got a call from my wife asking me to come back home, so we can work on our marriage, so I did. God has forgiven me for 50 years of sins, so the right action is to do the same for my wife, who He bound to me, so that I may love her unconditionally.
1 Corinthians Cp 13, vrs 4-7 is the Holy grail of what a marriage should be like, look like and feel like, not forgetting Christ The King. Is where my heart needs to stay in tone with. Do I feel crushed, yes, but God who is the redeemer and makes everything new, is now, in the realm of healing my marriage. He is healing my wounds and my wife’s as well. She is broken too. God the creator is still in the business of creating from nothing. And creating a marriage back from the dead, is what, He is an expert at. Just like He did the first Adam and his wife Eve- from nothing to something. My marriage is His best creation, just like the church is His soul purpose of our existence. My marriage in Christ, and The Church in Christ, our of equal value and definition . Now for our healing part. God will heal, when, when He is ready. I might have to go through more pain, more unfaithfulness so that my wife can get closer to Him. Does that sound crazy, yes but God is a good and faithful God. His ways are not mine. My wife knows about Christ, but she’s not deeply in love with Him. She love work and money and now has or had feelings for someone else. To deal with such bondage might take a huge effort to get out off. On the other hand, I really think that God through this situation wants to bring my wife closer to Him, so I have to help Him. It’s my job to do my part and also is to my best interest if I want to be married to my wife. Does He need my help, no, He can manage all on His own. But the journey, I think, is for Christ and I to move in unison with what ever plan He has and get my wife closer to Him. Is crazy probably to analyze from that point of view, but God always seem to have an A’s with everything He does. And if not, His getting me ready for something amazing in the future. At the moment, I’m asking for His strength, and His safety and His hand of love for me and my wife. Pray for us as I will be praying for each of you. God bless you all and thank you for sharing.