Infidelity is an emotionally traumatic situation that not all couples recover from. The process of recovery from cheating is a process of asking for forgiveness, and having it be accepted.
If you’ve cheated on your partner and want to make up for it, you must know firsthand that the road is going to be a real rollercoaster. Repairing a relationship is no walk in the park.
That’s why sometimes it’s considered a whole science. And the truth is there is an entire science behind it!
Cheating on the person next to you is a betrayal of that person’s trust; there’s no doubt about that. That’s why there is no forgiveness for cheating despite couples staying together. Resentment builds up.
Note: Alexandra is a professional Psychotherapist with specialized knowledge in relationships.– Worried Lovers
Forgiveness for the ones hard to forgive
They say the hardest person to forgive is the one closest to you.
But people talk less about what the transgressor may be feeling about his actions. Infidelity affects the victim of the cheating, as well as the one that cheated.
Therefore, it is a situation in which both partners should practice empathy. Both people must be seen and heard, as they both need it and deserve it.
You’re doing the best you can. Your partner is doing the best they can. That should be your starting point.
And after all, that’s the only thing you can do.
Neither partner should believe that the other is the only one that is 100% at fault for the infidelity.
Forgiveness is a strength and a superpower.
Forgiving the affair is often seen as a sign of weakness. That’s why talking about this brings feelings of shame for so many couples.
Forgiveness seems to be so stigmatized nowadays, and I think that’s because unforgiveness is portrayed as such an empowering alternative.
Unfortunately, it is a romanticized version. True power comes from being able to understand and accept someone’s transgression.
Just imagine how much clarity it takes to see a person despite their wrongdoings, as opposed to just seeing the details about their mistake.
The benefits of forgiving someone:
True forgiveness has plenty of benefits.
Forgiveness is one of the most predictive factors for satisfaction in a relationship. This applies not only to infidelity but also to many other aspects of life.
More so, forgiveness can have a beneficial effect on your mental and physical health.
Apart from having all these advantages, it is the only way to revive the lost trust that results from the betrayal.
Understanding what forgiveness truly is.
I know that you must be hurting and don’t know how to deal with your guilt. However, I am also aware that repairing the relationship may be hard for you.
You may be getting a lot of hurtful words from your partner. It’s understandable, but that doesn’t make it any less painful.
When we talk about cheating, forgiving and asking for forgiveness are both verbs. They require more steps and constant effort. The process is painful, but the end of the journey is worthwhile.
Decide if you want to ask for forgiveness or not. Whatever you do, don’t fake an apology, just because that’s what you think you should do.
Understand that asking for forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciling.
But if your partner allows you to get involved and work as a team, you have to move to action right away and not let things fester.
There’s no easy way out of this, and nobody hands you out any instructions to follow. Let your care and honesty thread your steps.
If you want your current relationship to work out, you have to engage in behaviors that bring improvement. Actively, day by day.
7 Ways to ask for forgiveness from your partner after cheating.
1. Show empathy.
This seems like such simple advice. We all think we are empathetic individuals, and a lot of times, we are. But in stormy weather, we can be pretty mean as well.
Not feeling empathy for others all the time doesn’t make us horrible people. Defensiveness, contempt, criticism – all cloud our understanding and make us see only our hurt.
To reach greater empathy and togetherness, you must believe that you are not in a relationship just for yourself/your gains. You are in it for your partner as well.
Real empathy is seeing the pain in the other person and staying with that pain. It should not be about fixing the issue or giving advice.
Let your partner’s emotions take them where they need to. It’s the only way that can ease the shame.
2. End the affair.
Besides asking for forgiveness for your cheating verbally, we must practice showing it to our partners.
It goes without saying – or at least it should – that if you want to show true remorse and empathy, you must cut all contact with the person you cheated your partner with.
Not doing so shows the other person that they don’t matter as much as the affair, and makes them feel disrespected.
3. Give reassurance.
Giving your partner reassurance whenever they need it is key to making them feel worthy and significant.
It doesn’t matter if they ask for it many times. Even a couple of times a day.
Don’t get angry because of their sudden “neediness”, but rather show availability.
Validate your partner’s feelings, even if the main emotion is anger. But, simultaneously, soothe them by showing them that they don’t have to worry anymore.
To simply put it: Self-regulate yourself and self-soothe your partner.
4. Let your partner see everything.
Engage in complete honesty, no matter how painful it may be. This can also mean showing your partner your conversations, your emails, or your social media.
Giving him/her access to all your platforms and applications will make it more possible to establish trust in the relationship.
Make full disclosure while being mindful of delicate details about the affair. You can spare some unnecessary info. Being honest and open must be done gently.
I never understood why brutal honesty is so praised. Being completely honest, lovingly and kindly is a better alternative.
Attunement is a part of the Gottman Revival Method.
Attunement means taking a look at your actions and how they affect your partner.
Of course, you can do this only if you become proficient at accepting the emotions that the other may be experiencing.
Acknowledging the emotions that you are feeling is also important. But you must be able to identify them at every moment.
In a nutshell, you must be able to put a name or a label on them every time they come around.
Forgiveness for cheating is not possible without vulnerability and taking a deep dive into all the nuts and bolts of the affair.
6. Take accountability for your mistakes.
Show how sorry you are and do the best you can to make up for everything. See your part in the situation and have a repentant attitude about the whole thing.
Explain why you did the things that you did. Don’t use excuses. Their only use is to shift the blame on the other partner.
When you feel like you’ve tried everything, try a little bit more.
Don’t hide the guilt that you feel, even if your gut is telling you to. If you want to repair the affair, you must let yourself feel whatever it is that you’re feeling.
No matter what your partner says – whether out of anger or out of sadness – do your best not to respond defensively.
How can you do that if you feel flooded? By practicing all the other steps.
7. Give space, but stay close.
Your partner may be in a phase of discovering themselves and their life outside of you.
While it may be anxiety-provoking, you must let them follow this path of self-exploration.
Once your partner realizes that their life is more than just a relationship, the decreased negative thoughts can certainly make him/her see things more clearly.
That means they can also think of solutions and be willing to work on the relationship.
Give space for your partner to clear their mind, but show genuine interest in making amends and reconciling. Never let that go unsaid.
Ultimately, you will have to accept whatever your partner decides. That includes them not receiving your apology and not being willing to work on the relationship.
Asking for forgiveness after cheating is done both for the other person, as well as for your well-being. The condition is that it must be honest. You must truly feel sorry for your wrongdoings.
Knowing that you’ve done everything that you can do won’t help if you still lost the one you loved in the end.
But knowing that you have given your all may help you forgive yourself and help ease the guilt, at least a little bit.
After all, you understand yourself better – and that includes the reasons and the causes behind your actions.
Don’t forget, healing depends on several factors (each person’s attachment style, the duration of the affair, the dynamic of the couple).
Forgiveness might not be an option for some partners.