Often, the articles that I write are meant to help wives who are having problems or difficulties forgiving and healing from a husband’s cheating. The other day though, I got an email that was a little different. This wife was writing not because she had trouble forgiving her husband’s affair (she already had), but because he couldn’t forgive himself for his cheating and of course that was also making it difficult for both of them to move on. In the following article, I’ll tell you the advice and tips that I told her – meant to help her husband forgive himself for the affair.
Understand That A Husband’s Cheating Is Often Tied To His Low Or Lowering Self Esteem: Many people mistake the reasons for affairs. So many assume that it has everything to do with sex or that a couple’s sex life has become stale at home, so a man will cheat as a way to broaden his sexual horizons. I guess this might happen from time to time, but more often than not, the affair comes about because the husband is trying to fix some perceived inadequacies within himself. He’s not feeling young anymore, or powerful, or worthy, or attractive.
So, when the opportunity presents itself, he can justify it because he sees it as a way out of the negative feelings that have been plaguing him. Many men think that they will just take care of this problem, end it, and then move on as if nothing ever happened. They assume that they aren’t going to be caught and so they don’t see the need to complicate things with confessions or explanations.
But, something obviously has gone wrong. The wife now knows about the affair and it has caused her a great deal of pain. He knows that he needs to make amends and to make things right. But, the pain and hurt in your eyes and in your very stance continues to remind him of that weakness that he was trying to cover up in the first place.
Does He Know Or Feel That You’ve Really Forgiven Him? Does He Doubt Your Sincerity?: Often, when I get these situations where the husband can’t forgive himself for cheating, I have no choice but to look back at the wife. Because often a man’s feelings about this are going to come from the either silent or not so silent cues that he’s getting from his wife.
Many men will tell me that although their wives have said that they’ve forgiven the cheating and have moved on, their body language, actions, suspicions, and resentment all tell a different tale. The wives will continue to look at them with downcast eyes, will continue to shy away from intimacy, and will continue to keep their husbands at arm’s distance. He’s not letting himself off the hook because deep down, you aren’t either.
He can take one look at you and tell that you, and the marriage, is still very much damaged. And, he knows without a shadow of a doubt this is all his fault. His already low self esteem combined with this guilt and shame is a very dangerous situation that is not at all fun. But, he knows that he’s made this mess and he can’t see a way out it.
How Both Of You Can Ultimately Forgive The Affair And Move On: Honestly, truly healing for an affair takes time, patience, and commitment from both parties. You have to be patient with yourself. And, you have to be willing to be completely honest, excruciatingly vulnerable, and willing to open yourself up to someone who has hurt you. This can feel risky and wrong. But, for a marriage to truly heal, these things are necessary and the rewards can be great.
The key to this whole thing is for both of you to believe that you can right this wrong together. It truly is possible to use this as the stimulus you need to fix things until they’re not only no longer broken, they’re better than they ever were. This does happen. When I tell people this, they’ll often say “well, that’s going to happen for me.” I understand why you may think this way, but this does nothing to help you right now.
The people who actually emerge OK after an affair are able to do so because they’ve rebuilt the trust and they’ve established a marriage that is actually better than the one before it. They’ve learned to communicate on a deeper level and they feel completely understood. As a result, they’re satisfied and fulfilled. In short, they are happy, so they have no need to keep picking at the scabs of the past. They’ve forgiven because not only are they OK, they’re in a better place than they ever were.
Granted, this may read like the whole process is backwards. Maybe. But I promise you if you can get to a place where your marriage is fulfilling and whole (and sometimes you just have to trust the process and go along even if you have your doubts), then forgiveness will be the last thing on your mind. Honestly, eventually, that becomes yesterday’s news.