So, You Discovered He Cheated: Can You Forgive Your Spouse After An Affair?

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Heartbreak

If you've just found out that your partner cheated on you, you're most likely asking yourself if forgiving the affair is possible.

After all, how do you forgive someone who has betrayed you? The person you love and want to be with has been with someone else.

And you wonder if you'll ever be able to get past it and if you'll ever be able to happy with your person again.

It's possible to forgive someone who has had an affair but it will take some time effort.

Here are 5 things you need to do if you're considering forgiving your cheating partner.

1. Ask yourself if and why you really want this.

You've been betrayed. You're devastated. You're angry. You're sad.

And you probably want, more than anything, to go back to that time when you didn’t know your partner had cheated because you were happy then.

So, let me ask you: Are you seeking to forgive your partner so that your life can get back to normal? Or are you seeking to forgive your partner because you want to move forward together towards a healthy relationship?

Forgiveness doesn’t mean burying your head in the sand so that you can get back to the way things were. Doing so will only prolong your pain and any chance of recovery.

Once you're clear on why you want to work to forgive, it's important that you decide whether or not forgiveness is something that you're determined to achieve.

This process won’t be easy. It’s going to take determination and work to get to a place where you can forgive and move forward.

So, take a good, hard look at whether you think you can get to a place of forgiveness. You might find that you aren’t sure if you can get there yet, but that you're OK taking the first steps down the road.

Take it one step at a time, reevaluating as you go along if forgiveness is possible.

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2. Talk to your partner.

It's essential that you and your partner discuss what happened.

There has been a betrayal and there's a serious breach of trust between the two of you. And for you to be able to move forward, your partner needs to acknowledge what has happened and accept responsibility.

After they've cheated, many people refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Instead of saying, "Yes, I did it," they lie, they deny, they blame, and they justify.

You will find it very difficult to forgive someone who doesn’t acknowledge their actions and the effect that it has had on you.

It's essential that you and your partner are able to talk honestly about what happened, so that can have the opportunity to forgive.

If your partner doubles down and refuses to discuss it, you will be left with nothing but questions and pain, making forgiveness impossible.

3. Don’t ask for details.

I have a client who, once she found out that her husband was having an affair, insisted that he let her read all of the correspondence between him and his lover. Boy, did she regret it!

On top of the knowledge that her husband was cheating on her, after reading the texts she had insight into the intimacies they shared.

His declaration that he needed to be with his lover, his lover saying deprecating things about my client, their plans for going away together, and talk of the future were all devastating to see.

And once she had seen them, she could never unsee them.

What happened next?

Even though she wanted to forgive him, even though he was willing to take responsibility for what happened, even though they sought help, the words that she read stayed in her head, playing themselves over and over and over.

As a result, she was never able to reach the forgiveness that they both hoped she would achieve and their marriage ended.

So, talk to your partner but don’t ask for details. If you do, you might very well regret it.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Stop Ruminating Over The Guilt Of Cheating On Your Partner

4. Get help.

It's important that you get help processing what happened with your partner.

You've been betrayed by someone you love. You're most likely furious but also devastated. You might even blame yourself.

All of these are things that, if left unmanaged, can hinder your ability to forgive and only plunge you deeper into dark places.

Seek help from a therapist or life coach to process what happened, take a look at your role in it, define steps that you, personally, need to take to work through this, and hold you accountable to do so.

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If you actively want to forgive someone who has had an affair, get some help.

Don’t just talk to your friends about what happened. They will tell you what you want to hear, which won’t help you moving forward and might even hinder it.

5. Consider couples counseling.

So, you've decided that you're going to work on forgiving your partner for what happened. You've talked about it together, have done some work on your own to process what you're going through, and learned how to take care of yourself.

Now comes this very important part: couples counseling.

Ugh, I know. Counseling sounds so horrible and, for many people, the embarrassment around an affair is enough to make them avoid therapy at all costs.

But, the affair didn’t happen in a void. Something missing or amiss in your relationship opened up the door for cheating. And this thing is important to identify.

Furthermore, a therapist can help the betrayer understand how the betrayed feels, which is a key to forgiveness — knowing that their person truly understands the effect the cheating had on them.

I know that your instinct is to try to work through this together without help.

I'm guessing that your partner, in particular, doesn’t want to go down this road with a professional. But, getting some guidance when working through this is the key to forgive someone who has had an affair.

Learning how to forgive an affair is not an easy thing.

What happened is big — almost like a death — and dealing with it will take time and work.

Not everyone can reach a place of forgiveness and, if that's you, it’s OK. It’s OK to want to move forward alone, so don’t judge yourself for deciding to do so.

On the other hand, if you want to forgive and move forward, it’s definitely worth trying — so, go for it! You might just find a happier, healthier relationship on the other side. (Yes, it's possible!)

RELATED: The Most Important Questions To Ask Yourself After Catching Your Spouse Cheating

Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. Let her help you find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live. Email her at mitzi@letyourdreamsbegin.com and get started!

This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.