How To Forgive A Cheating Wife: Is Reconciliation Possible?
Much is said about cheating and infidelity in marriage. Songs, books, TV shows, and movies all focus on the person who has been wronged and how they go about moving on, but most people and media fail to discuss the nitty-gritty of what happens after an affair and both spouses wanting to make the marriage work. Can there be reconciliation when a wife has cheated? Can you forgive a cheater?
What Happens After An Affair
When a spouse discovers that their spouse is cheating via a third person, confrontation is usually the next step. You might confront your spouse immediately, irate at what you have learned, or you might wait to find your evidence to suggest that something has gone awry. You might even decide to ignore what you’ve been told, in favor of trusting your partner, and resolve to make your marriage work. In this scenario, your spouse can certainly deny that they have done anything wrong, and it may be nothing but a lingering suspicion.The aftermath of affairs differs from relationship to relationship. Some spouses find out via a third person, some find out via their spouse’s effects, and some are told directly by their spouse. Each of these ways of finding out has its drawbacks and boons, and each will likely affect whether or not the two of you are willing and able to seek reconciliation.
Confrontation is likely if you discover proof of your spouse’s infidelity through hotel receipts, emails with an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, suspicious phone calls with a coworker, or suspiciously lost funds. Again, confrontation might take some time while you gather everything you need to prove that your husband or wife cheated. You might also hope that you are wrong, somehow, and confront your spouse with the hope or expectation that they deny everything, and your life gets back to normal.
Having your spouse come to you with the news that they have cheated does not afford you the same distance and the chance to compose yourself that the previous two scenarios offer, but does offer a greater likelihood of resolution. After all, it tells of someone’s character if they are willing to come clean about having made a mistake, and talking things through may have been their first step in trying to make your marriage work.
Regardless of the exact mode of delivery of the news, emotional upset, fear, and distrust are sure to follow. When you hear even a suspicion of your spouse’s infidelity, you are likely to feel either intense, overwhelming emotions or an almost deadening of your emotional experience as you work to comprehend exactly what has happened and come face to face with what to do next.
The Emotional Impact Of Infidelity
Although infidelity is an obvious source of distrust in a relationship, the emotional repercussions of being cheated on are significant and can extend far beyond whether or not you trust your spouse. If you are hit with the reality of your spouse’s infidelity, and your relationship was one you thought was filled with honesty, trust, and value, you may experience not only a loss of trust in your spouse but also a loss of trust in yourself, your surroundings, and even your grip on reality. After all, you might reason; how could you not have known that something so monumental was going on?
Aside from losing all sense of trust, the betrayal involved in infidelity can be substantial; many people describe feelings of betrayal as the worst thing to cope with in the aftermath of infidelity. Even a minor betrayal can wreak havoc on your physical and mental state and can even lead to feelings and symptoms similar to those of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Betrayal can cause immense stress levels to arise and make you feel as though you cannot trust anyone or anything. Betrayal can also bring a lot of shame with it, as you might feel foolish and humiliated for being treated that way by your spouse.
Self-blame can also come into play, wherein you take on all of the blame for your spouse’s wandering eye, heart, or hand. You might feel as though it was because of your shortcomings that the affair happened. You might feel as though you should have been better, somehow skinnier, perhaps, or more interesting, or better at staying on top of the bills. The self-blame cycle is difficult to leave behind, but it is important to stay away from it.
Steps To Rebuilding Trust
Open Communication. Communicating openly with your spouse is an important part of regaining trust. Although this can often be mistaken for a free pass to be cruel, unkind, or inappropriate in your speech and habits with one another, open communication also means being considerate and respectful of one another in your speech patterns and habits. One or both parties might be interested in reconciling, following a wife’s infidelity, and this is certainly not impossible; many couples have gone through cheating in some form or another and have come out the other side stronger and more thoroughly aware of their failings, drawbacks, and areas of weakness, as well as their positive attributes and areas of strength. To achieve this, though, couples must be willing to take action to keep their marriage afloat. These include:
- Self-Work. Although there is no excuse for infidelity within a marriage, when a marriage ends (or comes close to ending), both partners need to work on their issues and needs. For some, this means working through trust issues and practicing how to trust. For others, this means working on their expectations and any toxicity that arises from unrealistic expectations. Working on your own needs, faults, and frustrations separate from your partner can help both of you come back to your marriage at your absolute best.
- Willingness to Work. Reconciliation is a hard road for both partners. It requires plenty of time, plenty of investment, and plenty of difficult decisions and compromises. Rebuilding trust and recapturing the love or magic in your relationship does not happen overnight. This kind of work can take months or, in some cases, even years, so both partners would do well to come into the situation with the expectation to work hard and long to reclaim their marriage relationship.
- Leaving Old Habits Behind. A vital aspect of making a marriage work post-infidelity is letting go of extramarital relationships or dalliances. There are often other habits that need to change, too, including using critical language, resorting to silence instead of communicating, and blaming others for your problems.
- Putting Your Best Foot Forward. Trying to remake your old relationship is likely to fail; the trust and closeness you’d previously built were likely destroyed by infidelity. Instead of working to recover your old relationship, see your future together as the start of an entirely new relationship-one marked by commitment and determination. Every couple enters new stages in their relationship as they grow older, face hardships, and learn more about themselves. A couple facing reconciliation following infidelity is no different.
Reconciliation is no longer a small subset within marriages but is an increasingly common response to cheating. Because the dissolution of a marriage is often not only the dissolution of a single relationship, but the termination of a family, the separation of property, and the letting-go of entire social circles and support systems, many couples are opting to learn how to make their relationship work, rather than seeking a divorce.
When Is Reconciliation Impossible?
Reconciliation can also be impossible when both parties are not wholly dedicated to reconciling. Making a marriage work at all is a difficult task, and having to overcome a slew of obstacles and setbacks takes enormous amounts of time, diligence, humility, and grace. If you cannot offer all of these things or your wife is unwilling to offer all of these things, reconciliation is highly unlikely. The ability to reconcile is largely dependent on circumstances and the two people involved. The number of incidents may factor into whether or not reconciliation is possible; there is a distinct difference between habitual infidelity and a long string of affairs and a single indiscretion being the only time. If your wife has made a habit of stepping outside of your marriage to engage in emotional, physical, or otherwise-reconciliation may be unlikely. A regular stream of affairs could indicate that your spouse struggles from sexual addiction, is no longer in love, or seeks something outside of your marriage that she cannot find inside your marriage. All of these can be worked through, certainly, but these issues are largely to do with your wife and her needs and are, in many ways, up to her.
How To Forgive A Cheating Wife
Learning how to forgive a cheater can be one of the most difficult parts of rebuilding trust in your relationship. Forgiving a cheating wife is not a simple matter. Far from a single decision, forgiving your wife and reconciling is a daily, even hour-by-hour decision that can take years to flesh out and embody truly. Although the road there is hard, long, and is absolutely littered with setbacks and roadblocks, many couples are finding that the rewards of maintaining their marriage far outweigh the possibility of divorce and, with the help of one another, a support system, and a mental health professional, take the necessary steps to reunite and become a stable, wholly-committed couple once more.
“Stephen Witte is a fantastic listener! Stephen's guidance and experience with couples helped me and my partner through a time of infidelity and deception. Our sessions with Stephen helped guide us to healthier communication and the road to forgiveness. We used video chats. But I chatted Stephen with messages a few times throughout the week, and his responses helped me through tough/anxious moments with his perspective and encouragement. He was truthful about the tragedy that had occurred in our relationship, yet offered supportive strategies and guidance for us to help us get through. I felt like I could speak at him for minutes and throw a bunch out there, but he had a great way of picking out the most important part of what I was trying to say. He did a great job facilitating the discussion that helped me clarify my thoughts and communicate with my partner. My partner and I had multiple sessions with Stephen and both felt very comfortable speaking to him. Thank you very much, Stephen, for being here for us.”
Austa has been wonderful thus far. She has helped my partner and I during an unimaginably difficult time... She has also guided us in communicating effectively and setting appropriate boundaries in our relationship. I was hesitant to pursue counseling at the beginning, but I truly believe that it is making a difference for our relationship. Austa is easy to talk to and she is a great listener. I would wholeheartedly recommend her as a counselor.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the signs of a cheating wife?
You may suspect your wife or husband is cheating because their behaviors are different or seem off in some way. Cheating women and men may give off signs that they are unfaithful to you, but it's important not to jump to conclusions right away; a change in behavior or mood isn't necessarily proof of infidelity on its own and can be indicative of much different mental health or personal concerns.
Keeping an eye out for blatant signs your wife is cheating is one thing, but talking with your spouse about how you feel and what you've noticed is the best way to facilitate a conversation around this topic (whether or not you have a cheating spouse).
Here are a few warning signs that you can use to observe and see if your wife is cheating:
- They carry their phone everywhere with them.
- If you have noticed that your partner is using their phone more frequently than before or is overly concerned about keeping its contents secret, it may be worth noting. A cheating spouse may attempt to deceive their partner by creating fabricated reasons for their recent bouts of phone addiction.
- You are suddenly receiving too many gifts.
- A wife cheating may try to cover up their behavior by giving their spouse gifts to signify affection. Furthermore, a wife cheating may be better overall despite conflicts or concerns that continue to exist in the relationship. Of course, these signs your wife is cheating could also be misconstrued as your partner wanting to show you that they love, so again, it's important not to make assumptions.
- Your partner is withdrawing money from the joint bank account.
- There could be a chance that your wife or husband is taking out cash frequently if this phenomenon is happening. You may catch your wife exhibiting other apparent signs that indicate she’s cheating. This level of conflict could complicate your chances to save your marriage with your wife or husband without adequate communication and a serious attempt to resolve existing problems.
Why do people cheat on people they love?
People cheat on people they love for many reasons. Some of these reasons are further explored a The Journal of Sex Research's 2017 study in which nearly 500 people who had cheated in a romantic relationship were asked why they betrayed their spouse.
The study identified eight critical motivating factors that led to cheating. A few of these factors include:
- Unmet needs.
- One or both partners may feel that their needs for intimacy, emotional connection, or physical connection go unmet in their relationship. For instance, unmet sexual drives might happen if one partner does not want sex or if both of them spend too much time away from home.
- Falling out of love.
- . Sometimes, a couple falls out of love with one another. Despite feeling a sense of excitement we feel with a person during the beginning of a relationship, feelings can fade away, especially if people grow apart.
- Commitment issues
- . For many people, committing large amounts of time and effort into their relationship may become difficult. Both persons in a relationship may have different ideas about the future, or one party might love the other but is afraid of losing the other. Ultimately, commitment issues can begin to be resolved by having both parties talk to and communicate openly. However, these same issues can give rise to infidelity situations.
Can a relationship recover from cheating?
If a person discovers that their wife is cheating on them, they might wonder if they can save their relationship. It can be hard to comfort your wife or husband if you're going through a rough patch regardless of who's to blame for the conflict.
The answer to whether or not the relationship can recover is, unfortunately, not very straightforward. If you've noticed signs your wife is cheating on you, working through the issue via communication and trust exercises can be an essential first step for helping your relationship recover.
Many people may find that connecting with a mental health professional (like a family therapist) or attending a couples therapy session can restructure one's relationship and make it stronger. Through these therapy sessions and conversations with one another, couples can identify the symptoms leading to the affair versus only focusing on the affair itself.
Additionally, people involved in a cheating affair can rely on their close friends and family for support if they choose to. There are some risks to using social media (instances of spouses going to social media and reporting their spouse's infidelity to a large audience, for example). Still, social media may help you connect with other important and meaningful people in your life.
Do cheaters always cheat again?
Cheaters can often identify the problems that led to them cheating on their spouses and not cheat again. But there is also precedent for people who once cheated to go out and cheat again, especially if they have yet to address the issues that lead them to make these sorts of harmful decisions.
If an individual notices warning signs that lead them to believe their wife is cheating on them, communicating with their partner about issues that contributed to the alleged affair and speaking honestly about emotions is an integral part of conflict resolution. Signs your wife is cheating on you can also be seen as signs that your relationship requires reparations somehow.
If a person's wife is cheating on them, the cheating could be a sign of a lack of proper communication or a lack of problem-solving in the relationship. Many couples find that attending therapy, whether individual or couples therapy, can help comfort their wife, husband, or partner and address these sorts of deeply-rooted concerns. Couples therapy can also provide couples with skills and techniques to help prevent/manage future conflicts.
How do you heal yourself after being cheated on?
After being cheated on, your road to recovery could take some time. Being cheated on is not an easy situation to handle. Some couples divorce but find difficulty falling in love again because they do not want to be betrayed again like they were by their ex-husband or ex-wife.
Other couples may divorce, but after some self-reflection, work together on healing after the affair. Regardless of your relationship status, putting work and time into yourself and self-care is a great way to make yourself feel better.
Take time to try new things, meet new people, and have exciting experiences. Periods of time where you're single are great for self-exploration, so you can view the aftermath of a relationship ended by infidelity as a chance to start over or work to become the person you want to be.
When should you not forgive a cheating spouse?
After finding out that your spouse has cheated on you, you might be unsure whether or not to give them a second chance. On one hand, you may feel as though everyone makes mistakes and you can try to be the bigger man and move forward. But at the same time, your trust in your spouse may be completely broken and you may not know whether you will be able to move past it.
While making this difficult decision, it’s important to take the time to assess whether you believe the relationship is worth saving. It can be helpful to reflect on whether you are willing to make amends, whether you think you could let go of anger and resentment towards your partner, and whether you can still envision a happy and healthy relationship with your partner in the future. If your spouse is distraught about the pain they caused, shows genuine remorse, and re-emphasizes their commitment to the relationship, there could be good reason to forgive infidelity and try to preserve the relationship.
If you decide to repair your relationship with your cheating partner, there is no guarantee that they will not betray you again. However, there are some signs that may indicate that your partner is more likely to cheat again such as avoiding taking responsibility for their actions, an inability to empathize with the pain their behavior has caused, and being dismissive of the infidelity. A partner who is likely to cheat again may not completely understand the depths of the pain they have caused and therefore may try to guilt their spouse into forgiving them.
It is ultimately up to you to decide whether to work towards repairing the relationship and moving forward as a couple. While rebuilding trust after betrayal takes hard work, it is possible. Some couples find that they are able to restore a great relationship and the infidelity has made them a stronger, more honest and committed partnership than ever before.
How long does it take to forgive a cheating wife?
It takes time to learn how to forgive a "cheater wife", but it does not take forever. You can forgive a "cheater wife" and move on with your life. It will be hard at first, but you can do it. You just have to give yourself a little time to heal from the betrayal, accept that it happened and begin to look forward again.
How do I trust my wife after she cheated?
Why do men not forgive infidelity?
Should I stay with my cheating wife?
Do men find it difficult to give their cheating wives a second chance?
What should you do once you've discovered that your wife is cheating on you?
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