Coping after your spouse cheated
Forgive your cheating spouse. So you've been betrayed. The person that you considered your best friend, the one you trusted most, has lied to you, cheated on you, shattering your life as you know it. This tragedy has left you angry, shocked, afraid, and with no self-confidence whatsoever. It's a horrible feeling. The previously solid foundation of your marriage, built on fidelity and trust, is now broken. This is the worst possible crisis that could hit a marriage; but you have decided that you want to save your marriage despite the cheating, and move forward with your life. There's just one problem: you do not think you are able to forgive your husband or wife.
To forgive and forget is easier said than done.
The pain is too deep. You can't trust him or her anymore, and you don't know if he will do it again. You know you won't be able to go through something like this ever again. But the truth is, if you don't forgive, it'll be very difficult to rebuild your marriage.
You say you wish for things to go back to the way they were before, and most of us do. We just want our relationship to go back to the way it was before the betrayal. But why would you? The way it was is exactly what led you to the kind of pain you are going through right now!
Trying to return things to the way they once were won't solve your problems. There is a different path to take try to make your relationship better than it was before. But that means you have to forgive. So I hear your question: Rev, How can I forgive my spouse for cheating when I did everything to avoid that? And you probably did.
Well, you probably realise by now that you can't just 'decide' to forgive. It doesn't work like that all the time. Forgiveness takes time and work. If you're seeking a genuinely deep reconnection, the work starts with step number one: ACCEPTANCE.
The work you have to do starts with acceptance. Acceptance is the road you take on your way to forgiving. Without this critical first step, it is very hard to achieve real and sustaining forgiveness. It will allow you to cope with your anger and anxiety and help you rebuild the trust.
What does acceptance mean?
It means that you have to come to terms with and face head-on the terrible event that happened to your marriage. A betrayed person can spend most of his or her time shocked. You are just amazed that this thing happened to you and you are curious to know how it happened behind your back when you were certain that everything was just fine.
I will say that as hard as it is now, you have to get past the initial denial, although you can't undo the reality. You can't go back to how things were in the past, and if you are honest with yourself, you know that things weren't so great then.
Accepting means realising that forgiveness will not happen in a day, a week, a month or even a year. So I encourage you to take that pressure off yourself because those awful feelings will not disappear anytime soon. Try to accept that and don't try to ignore it or just get over it. It will only make things worse and your healing time prolonged. You want to restore the love, the intimacy, and the trust you once had, but it will take time.