How To Forgive A Cheating Wife: Is Reconciliation Possible?

Updated July 30, 2021

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?

What Happens After An Affair

Reconciliation After Cheating Is Hard
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The aftermath of affairs differs from relationship to relationship. Some spouses find out via a third party, 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.

When a spouse discovers that their spouse is cheating via a third party, 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.

If you discover proof of your spouse’s infidelity through hotel receipts, illicit texts or emails, suspicious phone calls, or suspiciously lost funds, confrontation is also likely. Again, confrontation might take some time while you gather everything you need to prove your spouse’s guilt. 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 telling you 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 is substantial. 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 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

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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:

  • 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.
  • 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 After Cheating Is Hard
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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. 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 suffers 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.

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.

How To Forgive A Cheating Wife

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.

Counselor Reviews

“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.”

 

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