As you’ve understood by now, forgiveness after an affair is a choice, and you have to choose to have faith in a healthier future with your partner. The more you actively choose to think this way, the more your mind will make a habit of it. With repetition, things begin to feel more natural, and you will start to have the natural reflex to choose forgiveness for what happened.
That said, I am writing this article for those of you who have already made the decision to forgive your partner for cheating. If you’re still on the fence about it, ask yourself what you’re fighting for. If the good outweighs the bad, remind yourself of the journey from start to finish. What have the two of you built together? What goals have you accomplished together? If you’re looking for positivity, then remember that common life projects are strong things to hold on to when you’re struggling with forgiving infidelity.
It’s really all about mindset. The key to forgiving infidelity is allowing yourself to believe and know that you two can come back from this as a stronger couple. It is what will help you to operate as a team and work towards the common goal of revamping this relationship. If you can reshape your thinking and allow yourself the time you need to heal, this will become infinitely easier. It can be very hard for someone to work through difficult issues when they’re blinded by strong emotions, and painful or difficult emotions only get stronger when they’re fought or suppressed. Like I said in the very beginning of this article, the first step is allowing yourself to heal. You have to take care of yourself and work on strengthening your sense of wellbeing. Once you do this, you can tackle the issues within the relationship.
The thing about infidelity is that it is usually a symptom of a bigger problem. When a person cheats, it is usually because they are not getting something that they want or need out of their relationship. We saw this in the example of Isabella above, and we can also see it in Matthew’s story. When he came to me, he was heartbroken and furious at the same time. He had just learned that his girlfriend of many years had been having an affair with a man that she worked with for the last three months. When he learned of this, he approached her about it and she was forthcoming with honest information. She explained to him that yes, she had, in fact cheated, she admitted to everything, and she ended her affair with the other man. She explained that she missed the romance in their relationship and admitted that she was wrong for looking for it elsewhere…
They decided that they wanted to make their relationship work, but Matthew was having a very difficult time moving past it. He had trouble believing that their relationship could truly be saved and that he would be able to feel confident that this would never happen again, and that he would feel fully loved and respected. What it boiled down to was that he was afraid to trust her. Forgiveness after infidelity is no easy feat, and it takes time.
He didn’t know how to rebuild trust and forgive his girlfriend for cheating on him, so we started to focus on exercises that were rooted in personal development. The goal was to find ways for him to allow himself to feel vulnerable and safe with her. He also had to work on allowing himself to be vulnerable with himself again. He felt unattractive, unlovable, and somehow “deserving” of being cheated on. He felt so low that he wasn’t sure how he was going to pull himself out of this rut. As we continued to work together, he came to some very interesting conclusions that ended up being what saved the relationship.
He came to understand that after the years they spent together, he had started to neglect his relationship and put all his focus on his work. Without realizing it, he expected her to maintain their relationship alone, and though this in no way excuses what she did, it helped them to define solutions to ensure that it would never happen again.
What I would like for you to take from this success story is that people can make mistakes and the ones that are able to learn and grow from these mistakes are the ones that deserve a second chance. It is up to you to evaluate the situation and determine whether your significant other has understood the gravity of their mistake and are willing to do their part in earning your trust back. This is a two-way road, and you’re going to have to operate as a team if you want to overcome this once and for all. Saving a relationship cannot be done by one person alone – whether that’s the person who did the cheating or the person who was cheated on.