I often hear from women who are worried that they've been struggling with forgiveness after their husband's cheating for far too long. I often get comments like "I had hoped that I would be over this by now," Or, "when my girlfriend went through her husband's cheating, she healed much more quickly than I am. What is wrong with me?" Or, "why can't I just let this go and move on once and for all?"
In truth, these comments make me somewhat upset and sad. Part of this is because they bring back memories for me. But the other part of it is that these women are taking someone else's decision onto their own shoulders. They had no say in their husband's cheating and they are doing the best that they can, but they are still allowing his actions to cause them pain and make them feel inadequate. They have done nothing wrong and yet they still feel like they are at fault.
Please believe me when I say that there's no set time line by which you must forgive. I can't tell you that you should be able to forgive in six months, or a year, or even later. This is very individual for everyone, depending upon you, your marriage, and the circumstances surrounding both the affair and what you receive in the way of help in terms of healing. Still, based on my own experience and the correspondence that I get, I notice that women who are ultimately able to move on have some things in common. I will discuss these things in the following article.
You Have To Come To A Place Where You Don't Blame Yourself For Your Husband's Cheating: The place where I see so many women getting stuck is the place where they think that their husband acted because of something that is wrong with them or because of something that they did not provide or did wrong. When you take this burden onto yourself, you're so much more likely to allow it to keep playing out over and over in your own head. You will relive exactly where you went wrong and you'll allow the fear to keep sneaking back up on you.
Please believe me when I say that most men cheat because of what is wrong with them, not because of what is wrong with you. Men cheat on beautiful, sweet, and near perfect women. We see this in the tabloids every single day and yet when it happens to us, we're much more willing to blame ourselves than to realize that our husbands were acting as the result of their own shortcomings.
Frankly, in order to forgive an affair, you often have to forgive yourself. And I say this not because I think that you did anything wrong. I strongly suspect that you didn't. But I also know that if you don't get to a place where you're not taking this personally, where you're knowing that this is his fault and not yours, and where you're doing what you need to do to build your self esteem and self confidence, then you're much more likely to dwell on and cling to this to the point where you can't seem to move on.
You Need A Workable Plan That Helps You Understand Why The Cheating Happened And Ensures That It Won't Happen Again: Probably the most persuasive feeling that keeps you stuck is fear. You live in fear that you won't be able to move on to a better place in your heart and in your life and you worry that he doesn't really love you and is going to do this again. Finally, you worry that you just won't be able to handle this and recover more than once if in fact you deal with this more than once.
So to alleviate these paralyzing fears, you really do need a decent plan to help propel yourself forward. You need to roughly understand why this happened (although I have to be honest and say that there aren't always satisfactory answers) and then to fix the issues in the marriage or within your husband. It's usually only when you can have the confidence restored in your marriage, your husband, and yourself, that you feel somewhat safe to go ahead and forgive and move on.
Your Own Happiness And Well Being Is The Number One Thing That You Need Intact To Forgive His Cheating: Many people can forgive cheating when they return to healthy and happy place in their own lives. Once you're at a place where you are no longer in pain or experiencing doubts that follow you around and sap your happiness, you're usually in a much better position to forgive because you are no longer feeling that same doubt and pain and you know that you have so much to look forward to so that you don't have to continuously dwell in the past.
When Most Wives Are Able To Forgive His Cheating (And How Long This Takes Varies): In my experience, most women are able to forgive the cheating once they begin to believe that their husband is truly remorseful and is believable in his assertions that he wants to save the marriage. Most wives get to this place once they have understood why this happened and worked to ensure that these things are removed for the future. Most of the time, these women have worked hard to restore their self esteem and to come to a "good place" in their lives on an individual basis. Because of this, they've eventually come to learn that this was not their fault, so they aren't going to continue to drag this around for the rest of their lives.
It's very common that at some point, most of us just get tired of continuing to live with the pain, the hurt and the doubt. There comes a time when we realize that we must focus on ourselves and on our own well being. Sometimes, this includes our husbands and our marriages and sometimes it doesn't. But at the end of the day, most of us realize that it's up to us to ask for what we need to heal and then to accept nothing less. And, once that day comes, most of us who can and do forgive do so for ourselves rather than for our husbands. We do it not to let him off the hook or to erase the past. We do it because we want to be free of all that was holding us back and sapping our happiness.
I can't tell you when this day will come or how long it will take. But, I can tell you that it will come much faster if you are proactive about asking for and receiving what you need to feel stronger, more in control, and less responsible about someone else's actions.
There was a time when I wondered if I could ever forgive my husband after his affair. What moved me forward was focusing on myself. Restoring my self esteem and self worth took work, but it was so worth it. I now understand myself, my husband, our marriage, and our intimacy on a much deeper level and I no longer worry that he will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com.