How do I forgive a cheating husband?
Thank you so much for asking this very important question that I know will touch many people’s lives when it comes to forgiving anyone about anything. Forgiveness is the only way for anyone to truly move on with their life after any hurtful situation. I also want to mention that forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean keeping the person that hurt you in your life; even if you leave someone it is necessary to forgive in order to remove the heaviness from one’s heart. So much for forgiveness in general, let me speak to your situation.
Forgiveness is not an easy road and it requires a lot of self-examination. This is because the hurt, resentment, and all other ill feelings are inside of yourself, therefore, looking at anything outside of yourself won’t help.
Since I can’t know exactly all the emotions that you are feeling I will have to use examples with some of the most common emotions and thoughts that clients in your situation have expressed to me.
This first thing is about forgiving yourself. Which is due to most women feeling that they are to blame for their husband cheating. Something almost each client has expressed is feeling inadequate and wondering what they did wrong or what was wrong with them. This feeling of inadequacy usually stems from our insecurities about ourselves. A woman will look at what she is uncomfortable with such as her body, age, personality, etc. and believe that one or all of what she is insecure about was the reason her husband strayed.
To move past this particular feeling a woman must come to understand that her husband didn’t cheat because of her. No one does anything because of anyone else. Whether he didn’t have the self-control to resist or he is acting out because of his own insecurities about aging, his manhood, inability to ask his wife for what her really wants, etc., it is never about his wife. With that point of understanding a woman must still forgive herself for any flaws she feels she has. She must recognize that it is not her duty to be perfect in any way shape or form and that no human being is – This is the first piece of forgiveness.
From here you must examine your emotions one by one and question them in order to discover what they are about for you. The best thing I can recommend is what I call the “Because Question”. Use the following statement: I am feeling _________ about/that _____________ because ______________. The “because statement” will always be about yourself. I will give you an example below.
Another frequent emotion in your situation is grief, which is always about the loss of something. In this case the Because Question may look like this: I am feeling a sense of loss that my husband wasn’t faithful because I have lost the dream that I am the only one he could ever have feelings for.
As you explore your emotions and realize that they are all about your beliefs about yourself and life it slowly lessens all the negative feelings you are now holding inside and you start eliminating the blame. This is how it becomes easier to forgive. When there is no longer any blame and you have no ill feelings, forgiveness is possible.
Again, this is not an easy process and it takes time – it does not happen overnight. Even though you work through an emotion once does not mean it is finished with – the same emotion will tend to come back with a different “because” answer. What this means is that the emotions you are feeling will repeat themselves. This process is best done within counseling. I wish you all the best with this long and very worthy process.
Vicki’s answer is thorough and complete. I am therefore just going to take a more general viewpoint on forgiveness.
1. The process of forgiveness can only be started after you have worked through your own feelings. In this case those feelings are probably anger and grief.
2. If you have decided to stay within the relationship, the act of forgiveness does suggest approval.
3. To forgive is to give yourself freedom. When we dwell on our pain we risk damaging or physical health, our mental well-being, and we risk it eating away at us spiritually.
4. It is important that once you have started to forgive that you do not use your husband’s cheating as a weapon. You cannot keep throwing this act back at him. If you do this then it is a sigh that you have not forgiven him.
5. The act of forgiveness is a gesture towards the healing of yourself and will allow your relationship to start growing again.
I echo Vicki’s wishes for your success at this difficult time.
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