You can’t move forward until your heart is back in the game.
We know how it is. Your partner cheated and now you’re pi**ed off. You’re also crushed. The cheating has made you question everything you ever believed about love, your partner and your relationship. Especially your relationship.
When your partner has an affair, you go through a whole mess of potentially mixed-up feelings: Anger, sadness, grief. A swirl of distressing emotions is common during such confusing times when you’re surviving infidelity.
Whether or not you’ve decided to stay in this relationship or marriage, you might feel expected to forgive your partner for what happened. But learning how to forgive someone is never easy.
Well-intentioned family and friends may advise you to “forgive so you can move on,” regardless of whether you’re staying in the relationship or not. And though it may sting to hear it, “forgive to move on” is actually really smart advice.
If you continue the relationship, the vital work of rebuilding trust happen most easily when you’re first able to forgive. And even if the relationship ends, forgiveness allows you to heal and more completely let go of the past relationship as you move on to the kind of future you want.
The only trouble is — you just don’t feel like forgiving! Your heart is not in it. You may even actively resist the idea of forgiving your cheating partner. That’s OK. That’s honest. You cannot force yourself to forgive after an affair — or any other betrayal.
As with just about everything, if your heart isn’t on board, the action is futile. It can even backfire because a false sense of forgiveness can mask the resentment and unresolved feelings you might be having. You and your partner may think your relationship has improved when it actually hasn’t (or not as much as you thought).
So, how do you forgive your partner after he or she cheats on you? Here is the process that can help you get there:
1. Figure out what “forgiveness” means to you.
For many people, the word “forgiveness” seems BIG! It can trigger an incorrect assumption that whatever happened will be erased from memory or that forgiving somehow excuses the infidelity, saying it was okay when it wasn’t. It gives the impression that you condone or accept the betrayal or hurt.
None of these understandings are accurate. You have to decide what’s true for you. In order for forgiveness to heal and rebuild trust question and shift your understanding of what forgiveness actually is.
2. Put yourself before all the confusing feelings.
Remind yourself what your true priorities are right now. In all of the turmoil and confusion, it’s easy to forget (or get caught up in the emotions you’re feeling).
Forgiveness is about making your healing and your happiness the priority — not events that are no longer occurring. Note: When you forgive your partner for cheating, you aren’t doing them a favor, this is mainly for YOU.
Forgiveness is about releasing the hold that the past and the pain have on your present life. Forgiveness is ultimately about you deciding that it’s more important to release the past and re-focus on what you want in this moment.
3. Forgive the small things at first.
Instead of telling yourself that you have to forgive your partner all at once, consider forgiving one moment at a time. This type of forgiveness requires you to stay tuned in to how you are feeling. It might be that one moment you can acknowledge and even appreciate the way that your partner has made a conscious effort to be honest and open with you.
There will possibly be other times that you keenly feel the hurt still and your emotions seem more raw. That is probably not the time to try to forgive from the heart. But do remind yourself that, with self-soothing and nurturing, these feelings will pass and you can experience improvement. Forgiveness may begin to come more easily and, over time, more frequently until it’s less effort and lasts from moment to moment.
Forgiveness is about deciding to let go of the past and beginning to live more in the present as you point towards the future you want. It all starts with a decision and then is followed up by staying true to how you feel in each moment. Be patient with yourself and allow the healing and letting go to happen.