If you've tried to forgive and failed… if you want to forgive a cheating spouse and yet, you just can't seem to do it… then chances are one of seven things are standing in your way
Few things in life have the power to devastate and disappoint as deeply as the discovery of a partner's infidelity. Welcome to Forgiving Infidelity 101! This is my crash course on the seven key things you need to know about forgiving a cheating spouse.
Things You Need to Know About Forgiving a Cheating Spouse
True Love without forgiveness is impossible.
“No gift of love has been more misunderstood than forgiveness. It may seem unfair to ask you to forgive the person who hurt you, lied to you and disappointed you so badly. I am fully aware of that. However, keep this in mind: forgiveness isn't logical… it's about love. And like love itself, it cannot be earned, bought, bargained or forced; it can only be inspired. So what on earth can inspire you to do something as difficult as forgiving a cheater? Only one thing… True Love. Therefore, the real miracle is not forgiving, but loving someone enough to forgive.
Know the Signs
True (Unconditional) Love
Limited (Romantic) Love
- Wants the other's happiness
- Accepting of flaws and imperfections
- Loves beyond the body
- Seeks correction for mistakes
- Effective coping strategies
- Prefers to be happy (rather than right)
- Puts the other's well-being first
- Lives in a “we” universe
- Sees partner as equal
- Communicates to empower
- Lets injustices go
- Supports and elevates
- Loyal to growth
- Wishes them peace
- Avoids guilt
- Patient and willing
- Marries to share values
- Sex is a meaningful connection
- Wants the other's compliance
- Rejects ALL signs of imperfections
- Love is limited to body and behavior
- Seeks to punish for mistakes
- Dysfunctional coping strategies
- Prefers to be right (than happy)
- Puts personal agenda first
- Lives in a “me” universe
- Sees partner as inferior or superior
- Communicates to disempower
- Measures and keeps score
- Threatens and humiliates
- Loyal to comfort zones
- Wishes them pain
- Traffics heavily in guilt
- Impatient and unwilling
- Marries to get needs met
- Sex is a means to an end
Depending on the type of love you have, forgiving your partner will be the easiest (or the hardest) thing you'll ever have to do because love without forgiveness is like a bird without wings — it has very limited range. Forgiveness is the “what” that gives ordinary love the wings that lift it up beyond limits, beyond ego, beyond pride, and even beyond the understanding of most people. So when friends and family say they can't comprehend how you could even think about forgiving them, smile… because True Love does surpass all understanding.
Forgiving infidelity is not difficult, but it is different.
“It may surprise you to know this… but dirty socks left on the floor has the same potential to ruin a marriage as an extramarital affair. Why? Because unforgiveness is at the root of most relationship problems. The challenge is that most of us don't recognize this simple truth. Forgiveness is not the question… it's the answer. It's not the problem… it's the solution to the problem. Until we are able to separate the truth from the myths about forgiveness, we spend our time avoiding the very thing we are trying to find.
5 Common Myths About Forgiving Infidelity
Ask not to learn how to forgive. You already know how to do that. Instead, simply ask that the obstacles to forgiving be removed from your mind, thereby restoring to your awareness the many moments of love, appreciation and gratitude you have felt in the past towards your partner. It's those memories that can help to open your heart — allowing forgiveness to return more naturally.
There's no substitute for truly forgiving.
“Sadly, there's a lot of counterfeit emotions often mistaken for forgiveness. For example, every time you bury the hatchet, you find a way, reason, an excuse or a trigger that causes you to dig it back up. If this has happened to you, don't despair. Every attempt to forgive — even those that fall short — takes us closer to actually forgiving. In other words, there's no wasted effort, but there's also no substitute for truly forgiving either. So how many times and how many attempts to forgive should you make? Answer: as many as it takes.
Know the Signs
False (Counterfeit) Forgiveness
- Inspired by love
- Lets go of the past
- Allows the wounds to heal
- Willing to forget
- Releases the hurt
- Takes on no guilt
- Unconditional, no strings attached
- Given as a gift (no risk)
- Freely given (never earned)
- Compassionate view of mistakes
- No exclusions
- Views self as equal to others
- Views forgiving as a favor to one's self
- Motivated by fear, guilt or ego
- Keeps the past alive in the mind
- Picks at the scabs of the wounds
- Never lets you forget
- Suppresses the hurt
- Takes on guilt for what happened
- Strings, terms and conditions attached
- Seen as an investment (therefore, risky)
- Must be earned (never freely given)
- Contemptuous view of mistakes
- Lists many exclusions and expectations
- Views self as better than or superior to others
- Views forgiveness as a “favor” done for others
Suppressing, denying or justifying is not the same as forgiving. Suppressing is like swallowing a ticking time bomb; forgiving is like deactivating the bomb. And keep this in mind: When you truly forgive your partner, you'll experience a sense of freedom, release and relief. No other emotion can replace that feeling. So don't settle for anything less than your total and complete freedom from pain… because nothing else will make you happy again.
Time heals all wounds — except unforgiveness.
“There are many things that time heals, but unforgiveness isn't one of them. In my work, I've come across partners who, even after five, ten, even twenty years after an affair… have still not forgiven their partners. I have even met a woman whose husband was dead… and she still was bitter about what he did. The point here is that unforgiveness (bitterness, hostility, contempt, hate) has no expiration date. In other words, you could carry a grudge all the way to the grave… and no one can stop you. But it might be wise to stop and ask yourself… if time will not heal unforgiveness, then what are you waiting for?
Forgiveness waits on your decision, not on time. Keep in mind that while you're waiting on time to decide, you're also losing your own time and energy to bitterness and anger. So why put off your own healing? Time is not the deciding factor — YOU are. Remember, time will never give you permission to do anything… only you can do that. And since you're the only decision maker, I would suggest you make the decision to forgive sooner rather than later.
Forgiving is a process of “removing” rather than “adding”.
“If infidelity were a fire, then forgiving would be the fire extinguisher.” One of the important things that a fire extinguisher does is to remove the oxygen from the air. Without oxygen, the fire naturally goes out. The process of forgiving a cheating spouse works much the same way. It's really more about removing the obstacles to forgiving, so the unforgiving feelings naturally go away.
The 5 Biggest Obstacles Standing Between You and Forgiveness
for me to forgive. I've
got to make them
wait to forgive.”
I'm weak. Who does she think she
is to do this to me?”
to forgive because I want
him to know that what he
did was wrong.”
back, then all my friends and
family are going to think less of me.”
my way of making him suffer for
what he did.”
Forgiveness is not about doing; it's about undoing. It's not about learning; it's about unlearning. It's not about adding anything; it's about clearing away the obstacles. Do this and you'll be surprised how quickly forgiveness happens. For some, it happens instantly. For others, it comes more slowly but surely.
Forgiveness is for you.
One of the big misconceptions about forgiving infidelity is the idea that it's a favor you do for them. This isn't accurate. When you consider that no thought ever leaves the mind of the thinker, you begin to realize that every unforgiving thought you allow to linger… remains trapped in your own mind. And all those contemptuous thoughts punish you, the angry thoughts sour you, and the hateful thoughts drain away your happiness. And this is why it's so often said: “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” So is there any good news in the midst of all this? Surprisingly, there is because the opposite is also true. Since no thoughts leave the mind of the thinker, this means that loving, compassionate and forgiving thoughts heal you right away. They rejuvenate you and restore your peace of mind.
4 Surprising Reasons Why Forgiving Them Actually Benefits You
Heart to Love
Forgiveness reopens your heart to love. Love cannot enter into an unforgiving heart. When you forgive, it's like removing the bars from the doors of your heart… allowing love to return again.
Frees You from the Negative Side Effects
There's no doubt you've been negatively impacted by their choices (that's the bad news). The good news is that it doesn't have to stay that way. You also have a choice. You can choose to forgive and free yourself from the negative side effects. (Go you!)
Ends Your Pain & Suffering
The one thing infidelity unleashes is pain. But remember, if infidelity is the fire, then forgiveness is the fire extinguisher… because it permanently puts out the flames of anger, bitterness and obsessing.
Restores Peace to Your Mind
It's a fact: You cannot punish them in your mind without also punishing yourself. And if you have no wish to cut off your thumb to spite your fingers, then you must forgive. So in the end, forgiving is not a favor for them… it's really a favor you do for you.
At first, it may be hard to believe, and yet, it's true: When you forgive them… you win! Why? Because it's what allows you to find (and stay in) that peaceful place at the eye of storm. Think of it this way: Forgiving them doesn't prevent the storms from raining on your dreams. But what it can do is place you at the “center” of those storms, so you can stand there in peace… even in the midst of all the chaos and confusion swirling around you.
Above all… forgiveness is a choice.
Do you know the definition of a miracle? It's been described as having a shift in perception. It's also been called an “insight” or receiving an intuitive flash. Oprah calls them “Aha! moments”. I believe that anything that restores your awareness to the fact that you have the power to choose (or to go against) forgiveness qualifies as a miracle, because the way I see it, the real issue here isn't whether or not you can forgive them — of course you can, you've done it many times before. And it's not even about knowing how to forgive because we're all born with forgiving hearts. The real issue is that most of us are unaware that forgiveness (and unforgiveness) is a choice. Both of these choices are simply two different ways of coping with the unfair things that happen in our lives. So the real question you must ask yourself is this: “Which is the better choice for me?” And while you're thinking about that, I want you to also consider this: the choice to forgive moves you forward, and the choice not to forgive keeps you circling backwards. So when you really break it down… this is really a question of direction, isn't it? Forwards or backwards? These are your choices, and the choice is always yours to make.
Forecast: Dark and Cold
Forecast: Sunshine and Light
You're at that place in the road where you must decide which way to go from here. If you choose to stay on the unforgiving road, then expect things to get worse before they get better. That's because the unforgiving road is harsh and merciless to those who embark on it. However, if you choose to take the forgiving road instead, then I take my hat off to you, because when it comes to dealing with infidelity… forgiving is certainly most often the road less traveled, and yet it's also the only road that leads you out of all the pain and suffering.
Where can you find both the inspiration and the step-by-step Instructions for forgiving infidelity?
What is my TRUE FORGIVENESS HOME STUDY COURSE?
True Forgiveness is a three-session online course that is designed to coach you step by step towards truly forgiving infidelity… and releasing the pain it brought into your life. It's one part self-help, one part myth busting, and one part forgiveness coaching — all designed to ensure forgiveness becomes a real and lasting experience for you.
5 ways True Forgiveness helps you to forgive and move on
My Final Thoughts…
I believe that infidelity is a call for help (not hate). I believe that mistakes are a call for correction (not punishment) and above all… I believe that once a painful thing has happened, you basically have two choices:
You can keep circling the hurt or you can keep moving forward.
These are two totally different coping strategies — one is effective and the other is dysfunctional. One strategy leads you to post traumatic growth, and the other leads you to post traumatic stress. Therefore, I see my function as your marriage coach to remind you this: while you may not have had a choice about what happened before, you do have a choice about what happens next. So my job is to do everything in my power to help you choose wisely.
Until we speak again…
Remember Love wins!