When you find out that your husband has been cheating on you, your emotions will all be full of hatred and pain. Your heart and soul screams hate and you want nothing more but to punish and plan your sweet revenge. The anxiety, frustration, and anger wake you up from your sleep and you vow never to forgive. Right at that very moment, it is very difficult to let go of these emotions.
Indeed, it’s easier said than done, but a majority of mental health experts and individuals who were cheated on say that forgiveness actually benefits the person without fault more than the cheating partner. The negative feelings you feel because of the infidelity are like poison to the body and mind, and forgiveness is apparently the antidote – the solution to getting rid of the poison within.
But how can you forgive? Let us try to understand what forgiveness means and how we are able to achieve it.
What Is Forgiveness?
“Cheating in a marriage or other committed relationship is so destructive that about 50% of the time the couple breaks up.” Dave Stacho LMHC explains. Forgiving a cheating husband doesn’t mean that you assure him that you are going to forget about what he did. It doesn’t even mean that you’re staying in the marriage if you don’t want to. This is about how you feel about your partner and your internal emotions.
A mental health professional defines forgiveness as stopping the feeling of resentment towards an offender. He emphasizes, though, that the act of forgiving is not actually for the offender but for you, the individual who got hurt, cheated, and is now holding the resentment. It is part of the individual’s journey towards recovery and healing after being hurt by someone that you truly love. It is moving on after being humiliated and disrespected, so much so that your physical, emotional, and mental health is at the risk of failing.
How Will Forgiving Help Me?
Again, forgiving is not about the cheater but more about the offended – you. And because of this, forgiving can benefit you more than you realize.
- One Step Towards Believing Again. If there is a little part of you that wants to rebuild your marriage after the infidelity, you will need to trust your husband again. Infidelity destroys a person’s capacity to trust, and forgiving helps rebuild that. If you can’t do that, you may carry the hurt and grudge, affecting your character negatively, even rubbing the dishonesty on you. Remember, “Recovering from an affair is not impossible, but it takes a lot of work. It takes commitment and a willingness to forgive and move forward.” Donna M. White, LMHC, CACP said.
- Resenting Is Mentally Draining. When your mind is full of thoughts about cheating and how to get back at your husband, there’ll be no space left for positivity. Eventually, these thoughts will consume you and you will be damaged physically and mentally. Releasing the resentment will allow you to hope and be encouraged that things will be better tomorrow. Maybe not for you and your husband but for you at least, initially. Dwelling on anger, shame, and revenge will never let you move on.
- Forgiving Is Healthy. Forgiving is a healthy way of feeding compassion, love, and respect to the soul. It promotes mental and emotional wellness. It also improves your health because it lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and anxiety levels, decreases symptoms of depression, boosts the immune system, increases self-esteem, and improves heart health. As Ryan M. Niemiec Psy.D. explains, “The strength of forgiveness has been shown to have a powerful buffering effect on stress. Those who are highly forgiving of themselves and others have a far less chance of having a mental illness.”
Should I Stay In The Marriage?
Before answering this in your mind, think about the strength of your relationship. If it was built from a weak foundation, then it cannot withstand the infidelity and you might as well leave and save both you and your husband from more pain and hostility. To be fair to your husband, the cheater, you also need to tell him that you might never forgive him, or not for a long time at least.
However, if you are one of the wives or individuals who are willing to forgive and release the anger, hurt, and resentment for a better life, then continue reading.
How Do I Forgive?
Forgiving your husband is going to be the hardest part of this advice. Even if you’ve decided to take that step of forgiveness, it seems so difficult to do. If all else fails, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
Therapy is a vital step towards the journey to forgiveness. Counseling will depend on which path you took. If you decided to end your marriage, then individual counseling will work best for you. If you opted to give your marriage another go, then you can try couples counseling. Whichever type of counseling you choose, the results are all worth it.
In therapy, it is important to realize that the therapist won’t erase all your problems in one flip of his wand. As a couple, you should work with the therapist in slowly but surely opening up, releasing your emotions, and starting the journey of healing and reconciliation.
There is freedom in forgiveness, that’s what experts say – freedom from the ill feelings that will drag you down to your misery and failure. Take that big step now and find out for yourself. It might be your ticket to a happier you.