Yvette feels like her heart has been ripped out and stomped on. This is how raw and ragged she has felt since finding out that her husband, Bryan, has been having an affair with another woman.
Now that she has confronted Bryan about his cheating and he has broken off the affair and renewed his promises to her and their marriage, Yvette still feels broken-hearted. Deep down inside, she knows that she needs to forgive him for cheating so that the two of them can try to rebuild trust.
It’s just not easy for her to do.
Whether you are a man or a woman, if your partner cheated, you may feel broken hearted, just as Yvette feels. Your partner might have already apologized hundreds of times for his or her actions and the two of you may have agreed to try to put your relationship back together again.
Your mate may even be working very hard to prove to you that he or she is trustable again.
Until you can forgive and release the past, however, you probably aren’t able to fully acknowledge and appreciate any of this.
We understand if you are hesitant to forgive and if you possibly feel stuck in the pain of the infidelity. Such a betrayal of your trust probably seemed to strike at your core. There is no doubt that an affair reaps significant damage in a relationship.
You might even be wondering if your partner is worthy of forgiveness.
You get to decide.
The choice is yours. Nobody can tell you when, how and whether to forgive anybody else.
There have been couples who have carried around resentment, blame and hurt about one another for years and years. And, as you might guess, they are almost always miserable.
For particular reasons– that perhaps seem to make a lot of sense to the people involved– holding on to the upset and pain and staying together is chosen over taking steps toward releasing it.
We’re going to cut to the bottom line here: When you hold on to blame and resentment toward your partner, the person that keeps getting hurt the most is you.
When Yvette takes a step back and really looks at her marriage right now, she can see that she is the one who continues to be in agony. Yes, Bryan is sorry and is his trying to make amends. But he also somehow seems freer than he used to be.
He is reading books about relationships. He is suggesting communication techniques that he’s learned about. And he is more open and available to Yvette than he has been in a long time.
It is Yvette who can’t seem to see beyond the past and the affair. It is clear to her that by holding on to her anger and sadness and by continuing to focus on the infidelity, she is becoming more closed down and withdrawn.
We aren’t suggesting that you force yourself to forgive your partner. This is simply impossible to truly do.
Instead, if you have decided to stay in this relationship and try to rebuild trust after an affair, we encourage you to do whatever you can to heal your broken heart and to get unstuck from the pain of the past.
Be gentle with yourself. This, of course, is a process and might take some time.
You may jump start the healing process by re-thinking forgiveness, however.
Many people consider forgiveness an act that you do for the benefit of another person– the person who “did wrong.” As we mentioned above, forgiveness is as much, if not more, for your benefit and healing.
As you take steps toward forgiveness, you affirm to yourself that you want to feel more ease and even happiness in your life. You are moving away from the pain of the betrayal and toward the kind of future and relationship that you’d like to build (or rebuild).
Does forgiveness mean that you will pretend that the affair never even happened?
No. You can acknowledge the infidelity– as well as other dynamics in your relationship that contributed to disconnection and mistrust– and, at the same time, you can shift your attention back to this present moment.
Hopefully, this is a present moment where you and your partner are recognizing the habits that you both have that move you further apart. It is in this moment that the two of you can learn to tune in to what each of your needs are and then to communicate with one another about them in connecting ways.
Even if you have decided to leave this relationship, forgiveness can still help you to heal.
Again, when you forgive, you aren’t indicating that the cheating was an acceptable thing for your partner to do. Instead, you are making a choice to release the build-up of pain around the infidelity and to move on with your healing and your life.
Forgiveness is a key to being able to live more fully– with or without your partner– in the present moment. The present, not the past, is the place for creating the future you want.