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Surviving Infidelity
with Abe Kass, M.A. R.S.W., R.M.F.T.

How to Forgive Infidelity [5 Thinking-Points]

It is very difficult to forgive your partner when he or she has cheated on you.

Relationship cheating cannot be compared to any other type of bad behavior – except emotional or physical abuse which is also very bad!

Infidelity is the ultimate betrayal. It makes no difference what others (even what some so-called ‘professionals”) will tell you — being betrayed by a cheating husband, wife, or partner is not a minor relationship sin. And in spite of what perhaps “you may want to believe,” being betrayed cannot easily be forgiven or forgotten.

As human beings, we are hardwired for exclusivity (having just one partner). True, we are also hardwired to want to have friendship, romance, and sex with many people — but this does not make it a good thing to do.

We also like wealth, that doesn’t mean it is a good thing to rob a bank. When we want more money, and we consider the risks involved in robberies – such as injury, criminal charges, and incarceration – normal-minded people exclude stealing as a way of getting rich.

We have free-will and intelligence to guide our behavior. The challenge is to make the right life choices. Refraining from all forms of infidelity is definitely the ‘right’ choice.

When you have been violated by your partner’s philandering, then your instincts take over and you are naturally devastated. This can be compared to the body running a high fever when under attack by harmful bacteria. To fend off an attack by this foreign invader, your body makes you sick in order to help you get better. This is why you get a fever.

So too in a marriage or committed relationships, you become emotionally ill when betrayed. In fact, the reason many people who do not engage in infidelity refrain is because they are mindful of how their husband, wife, or partner will react upon discovering that they have cheated.

If you have been betrayed, your devastation includes lack of trust, anger, and bewilderment directed at your cheating husband, wife, or partner. To forgive him or her is a monumental task. For some, forgiveness is seemingly impossible!

The reason for this is that you have built-in instincts to react strongly as a protection mechanism. As your health is dependent on eliminating any harmful bacteria and your body makes you sick with a fever to achieve this, so too your relationship and family cannot survive when there is an elicit individual lurking in the background. In response to knowledge of the outside person, each family member will react with emotional explosions.

Infidelity is almost always conducted in secrecy and covered over with lies by the perpetrator in the hope of not triggering “emotional reactions” by family members.

Initially,’not to forgive,’ is imposed upon you by your instincts and you can do nothing about it. However, when you and your partner engage in infidelity reconciliation activities, you can turn the corner and get to a place in your relationship where forgiveness becomes possible and even desirable.

If you want to forgive and can’t, there are things you can do. You can influence your emotions by ‘thinking differently’ about what has happened and thereby remove the emotional blocks to forgiveness.

The following thinking points will help you to soften your heart and eventually forgive your partner.

How to forgive after infidelity

Daily contemplate these thinking-points until they become emotionally real:

1. Everyone makes mistakes and deserves a second chance.
2. I need to look at the big picture and realize that my cheating husband, wife, or partner is much more than just a “cheater.” He or she has many fine qualities and has done many good things in his or her life. They are more than a ‘mistake,’ no matter how big the mistake.
3. To remain angry and hurt is a terrible burden. It makes me bitter and sucks out my joy in life. I want to be free of this burden and to forgive will liberate me.
4. To remain angry, bitter, and mistrustful hurts everyone in our family — myself, my partner, our children, our parents, extended family, and friends.
5. (For those of you who have a spiritual dimension in your lives) It is my purpose in life to contribute to the well-being of others. True, my partner fell short of his or her responsibility to be a contributor of good by betraying me. Nonetheless, my response should not be to abandoned my mission. Rather, after a period of healing and grieving, I should get on with my life and continue to do that which is meaningful to me and to others. My life has a higher purpose; it is not meant to be squandered in sadness and regret.

Decide to forgive. Then do your best to carry out this decision. There are many tools to help you. Use the suggestions above, find a good therapist, find a spiritual activity that will raise you to a new level, or be creative and find something novel to do that leads to forgiveness.

For many, forgiveness can and should be, a choice.

Proof you ‘have forgiven’ is confirmed when you revisit in your mind details of the betrayal, and at the same time, you do not have a strong emotional reaction.

Click to get more help surviving infidelity.

How to Forgive Infidelity [5 Thinking-Points]

Abe Kass

Abe Kass, M.A., R.S.W., R.M.F.T. is a registered marriage and family therapist, a registered social worker, a certified clinical hypnotherapist, and the author of more than a dozen books designed to help couples and individuals live a more loving, more satisfying life.


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APA Reference
Kass, A. (2018). How to Forgive Infidelity [5 Thinking-Points]. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 21, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/infidelity/2018/06/how-to-forgive-infidelity-in-marriage-or-a-committed-relationship-5-thinking-points/

 

Last updated: 18 Jun 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Jun 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.