‘How long does it take to forgive a cheating spouse?’ Can be anything from hours to years. I know that’s unsatisfying, but that’s the truth of it. I know you might want to forget it ever happened but it’s rarely that easy. Let’s look at what it takes to reach forgiveness and how you can help speed things up.
It’s generally accepted that it can take 1-2 years to completely forgive a cheating spouse but 57% of marriages do recover eventually. Some may forgive much sooner depending on the circumstances around the cheating and the actions they took afterward.
Whether you’re the one who cheated or dealing with the pain of being cheated on, there’s no handbook that will tell you exactly how much time it’d take for you to heal from infidelity but I can help you speed things along.
Does Infidelity Pain Ever Go Away Completely?
Cheating can cause shattering pain to marriage and leave the other spouse ready to fall apart. When the wound is fresh it can feel like this pain will never fade and your marriage will never recover to what it once was.
The pain is going to vary based on the severity of the infidelity and the overall health of the marriage otherwise.
It always has the chance of fading completely. But you have to remember the rule of thumb here: while it won’t happen overnight, you need to have faith that it will eventually go away. Trust the process. It’ll be painful but worth it. You’ll have to undergo a lot of changes and make tough decisions. Let’s focus on what you can do to ease the pain and hopefully get rid of it.
It’s a two-way road and both spouses are going to have to want to move past it.
I can give you stats on how long does it take to forgive a cheating spouse and talk about the surveys and studies till we’re both blue in the face but it’s going to vary. Every marriage is unique in one way or another. I’ll get into the general advice which I genuinely think can help you both get back on track but if you want to talk specifically about your marriage then take the marriage assessment quiz.
Step 1: Acceptance
The cheating spouse needs to take responsibility for their mistake. Regardless of whatever justification they felt they had, they need to make it clear that this was a mistake.
Both spouses likely play some role in letting things reach this stage but this isn’t the time for half measures.
Step 2: Validate Your Feelings
Acknowledge and validate your feelings and emotions at the moment. Take as much time and space as you need. If you suppress how you truly feel about the infidelity and keep it bottled up, you put both your physical and mental health in jeopardy.
Bottling up your feelings is not only unhealthy (increasing your risk of several diseases) but it’s going to come back and bite the marriage later on.
Our goal is not to pretend the cheating never happened. It’s to accept it happened, examine what needs to be done, and move beyond it.
Step 3: Talk (Honestly) About It
While neither of you should be dwelling on the infidelity in the long run you do need to openly talk about it.
You should share a clear picture of why the cheating spouse had an affair, what happened and how you both want to move beyond it. As hard as this conversation might be and as uncomfortable as it might make both of you it needs to happen.
It might involve going over some uncomfortable details of the affair and some might prefer to go through this step with professional help from a marriage counselor to mediate.
The goal isn’t to cause more hurt or pain, it’s to help both of you understand what’s happened so you can work on moving on.
Can You Ever Forgive a Cheating Spouse?
As a betrayed spouse, you want to forgive your cheating spouse to move on. If you are the one who cheated, you’re not in a better place either. You want to know if you can ever mend your spouse’s broken heart and be forgiven. I’ve got good news for both of you. Yes, a cheating spouse can earn forgiveness but it’ll take hard work and unwavering dedication from both sides.
Ask yourself the following questions to get a precise answer.
A Bump Along the Way or a Dealbreaker?
There are certain dealbreakers for everyone and an affair ranks first in a lot of people’s list. But if both partners still love each other despite the affair, they can move past it together.
Let’s see how statistics back it up; 57% of unfaithful partners have been forgiven by their partners while 21% forgave immediately and 36% took some time. They chose forgiveness over a breakup or divorce.
Your core values and sense of morality might make cheating a dealbreaker. But if your spouse has been really loving till this point and you think you can rebuild trust, would you still want to throw away everything you built together?
If you consider this as a bump in the road of your lifetime journey together, over time you can forgive a cheating spouse and come out as a stronger couple.
Genuine Remorse or Not?
When you give your cheating spouse a second chance, you keep looking for genuine remorse. Sometimes due to your shattered trust, you keep doubting if their repentance is heartfelt. When they’re showing signs of atonement and beating themselves hard for breaking your heart, how about you try letting them know how much you appreciate them for choosing you once again?
Maybe your partner honestly is trying to work on the marriage, giving it all they’ve got. They’re accepting full responsibility for their action. They aren’t getting defensive or playing the blame game with you. They are truly remorseful and eager to build trust again. Giving them another chance to love you right this time will make you forgive them in the process.
Working Hard or Hardly Working?
Marriage is a two-way street. Both of you need to adapt to a healing mindset to salvage the relationship. Sure, you’re heartbroken over the infidelity or over breaking your spouse’s heart. But, when you both start working hard on fixing it, you start to feel a little more valued and safe every day.
If the cheating spouse is inclined to make effort and adjustments so that this never happens again, you shouldn’t take them for granted. When they provide constant reassurance and maintain 100% transparency, that allows you to stop doubting their integrity. They’re proving their faithfulness and commitment to the marriage. This will slowly allow you to rebuild the trust that you once had.
On the other hand, if the two of you are not working to get things back on track then it’s time for another honest discussion about what will happen if this continues.
Getting Professional Help or Helping Yourself?
When you repeatedly talk about the affair, your partner might feel like you’re trying to point fingers. After all, they don’t feel proud of breaking your heart. You on the other hand need to rehash the details of the affair in order to heal. When you do that with the help of a professional, you can process the pain better and your spouse can express what made them go astray in the first place.
Couples therapy will guide you both through this hard time. The unfaithful spouse might’ve felt ashamed and didn’t want to share those details with you. When a professional is involved, they can realize why you need to go through those details over and over again. That way they’ll feel more empathetic toward you.
When and if you decide to give them another chance, don’t hold this over their head. You don’t want to carry that burden throughout your life.
How Long Does It Take to Heal From Cheating?
According to affair recovery experts, it takes a year or two on average to heal from cheating. Does that sound like an eternity to both of you? Maybe you feel like you can’t bear this pain anymore. If you’re the one who cheated, living in agony and craving his forgiveness is killing you. But, recovering from an affair isn’t essentially a one-size-fits-all approach. There are a lot of factors that affect how long recovery takes.
Think of a physical wound. How fast the wound can be healed depends on how deep the wound is. Is the wound open or closed? In most cases, open ones take longer to heal. A person with diabetes would sure take longer than a healthy one. Do you see where I am going with this? You two will surely heal from cheating but at your own pace.
Don’t let anyone including each other rush you into healing because it doesn’t work that way. But, you can facilitate it by accepting professional help and supporting each other.
Accept Professional Help
The gut-wrenching pain that you have felt, when you got to know about the affair might have led to PTSD. It’s going to be very hard to recover by yourself. You can’t heal from the traumatic experience if you don’t process the pain and anger. When you try to do that by yourself you end up feeling more broken than before. The cheating spouse doesn’t enjoy seeing you suffer like that and they need to express their feelings and struggles as well.
Yes, they cheated on you which is unacceptable. But, they are trying to make amends and it can take a toll on them. A licensed therapist can guide both of you through the agonizing journey while you express your emotions and feelings. After a few sessions that memory starts to lose its hold on you. One day you both will feel like you are ready to turn over a new leaf where neither of you is haunted by the cheating anymore.
Hold Each Other Up
Affairs tend to damage relationships in more ways than one. Both partners’ emotions and feelings are all over the place. One keeps feeling paranoid about the cheating partner’s whereabouts. Another one is drowning in guilt and shame.
The way both spouses treat each other after cheating has far-reaching effects on their recovery. When the cheating partner shows genuine remorse, tries to acknowledge the pain they have caused, and provides as much reassurance as needed, their efforts need to be acknowledged. Gradually the thoughts that drive you crazy, start to fade away. Your heavy hearts start to heal.
Forgiveness and healing take time. Keep moving forward with unending love for each other and never look back.
Start Moving On