‘Will my husband ever forgive me for cheating?’ I get asked this question more often than you’d think. There are things you can do to speeds things along but obviously, it’s going to vary a little between couples. So what signs can you look for and how can you speed things up?
Surveys suggest roughly 15% of wives have cheated on their husbands to some degree and 57% of those who cheated were forgiven for it. The average timeframe for forgiveness is 1-2 years if you just wait. The likelihood of your husband forgiving you is largely down to how you handle things afterward.
If you’re going through this situation it can absolutely feel like you’re the only one who wants to move on. It’s entirely possible to save the marriage if you’re the only one doing the heavy lifting at the moment.
First, you gotta figure out why he is struggling to forgive you and if he can move past the infidelity. You’re going to have to feel out where he’s at and then we can figure out what to do to move both of you further along.
I’ve covered how long it takes to forgive a cheating spouse before and (in short) the timeframe can vary widely but the average is 1-2 years but we can shorten that considerably if we’re making a consistent effort.
Note: The advice I’m going to cover has to be fairly general and make a few assumptions about your marriage. Every marriage is at least somewhat unique so if you want to get things back on track – take the marriage assessment quiz.
Why Won’t He Forgive Me for Cheating Already?
It’s common to feel frustrated He says you broke his heart and he doesn’t know if he will ever be able to look at you like before. I know you’d give anything to go back in time and undo what you have done. While that can’t be done, I can help you see why your husband might be feeling this way.
Understanding is our first step towards recovery.
According to this study, infidelity is considered to be a traumatic event and 45.2% of the sample reported signs of probable PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) related to infidelity. Your husband is likely in some form of denial. He feels this gut-wrenching pain that makes him physically sick.
Most men will try to hide this pain (often hiding it from themselves as well).
When you cheated on your partner, you basically made him question his self-worth and masculinity. What couldn’t he offer you that you had to go to another man? He has given his everything to this marriage and it still wasn’t enough! Was it the sex? Was it the way he talks or walks? Was it his sense of humor? His self-esteem and confidence took a big hit.
He doesn’t know how to trust you again. You took a vow to stay loyal to each other till death do you part. This feels like death to him. He feels so insecure that every time you talk to a guy he gets paranoid. Every time your phone rings, it gives him anxiety. This relationship was built on trust and when that was shaken, the marriage came crumbling down around him.
He is scared that, you will walk all over him again once he lets it go. He doesn’t know how to feel safe and valued with you again. His life has been a living hell and it’s only natural for him to feel betrayed and broken. When you look at him with empathy and love, you’ll see how badly your betrayal has shattered him.
So, there’s no hope left? As I always say, as long as at least one partner wants to repair the marriage, there’s still light at the end of this tunnel. If you commit yourself to the vows that you took and work hard to show him that you are willing to go through hell and back to stay together, you can gradually get him to put this behind you.
Now, what can you do to facilitate that process? Let’s focus on that.
How Can I Get My Husband to Forgive Me for Cheating?
There’s no straightforward way to get him to forgive you. But I’ll offer you a guideline to walk toward recovering from the affair.
End the affair and own up to your mistake.
If you want your husband’s forgiveness and want to work on the marriage, you need to pull the plug on your affair right away. Then take full responsibility for your actions. Don’t try to justify what you did. Don’t tell him that if he made you a priority you wouldn’t have done this. Don’t try to pin it on your husband.
Don’t be in denial. You blundered! Big time. You put the marriage in jeopardy. Cheating is always a choice. You made a really bad one this time. Good people make bad choices too, right? If your husband is still here to work on the marriage, start putting in the effort to mend his broken heart. Let him know that you know you’d blundered and now that it’s over, you are eager to do everything in your power for him to feel safe and loved again.
Make a sincere apology.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? You have been saying sorry incessantly since you have told him about the affair. But, that seems to fall on deaf ears. Because saying sorry won’t be enough to restore his trust. You need to show him remorse and acknowledge the pain that you’ve caused him. Research has shown that the victim of cheating needs a sincere apology and genuine atonement to heal.
Don’t apologize just because you want his forgiveness. Do it because you understand the gravity of your mistake. Communicate with him and provide him the restitution he needs. Manifest it with your words and actions. You don’t have to keep saying sorry a thousand times a day. Make your fierce loyalty be the apology he needs.
Dig deeper and find the culprit.
Doesn’t sound like something you’d want to do? But didn’t I tell you that, making this marriage work after the infidelity would take hard work? If you don’t find what acted as a catalyst for cheating, you might end up repeating your mistake. Were you drunk? Felt bored and lonely? Had resentment toward your husband for not being around enough?
Finding out the underlying cause and letting your feelings out in the open will help both of you to work on the marriage. Involving a licensed therapist is always a good idea. That way, both of you can process the frustration and resentment in a productive way. Your therapist can help your spouse to rebuild the trust and help him move forward as well.
Let him rant and rave.
You got married to such a loving and compassionate guy. But, you don’t find him anywhere these days. He won’t even kiss you goodbye before leaving for work anymore. He doesn’t look at you. You still share the same bed but he doesn’t let you touch him. He throws tantrums and you don’t know what to do about it.
Well, he is grieving in his own way. He is trying to forgive you. You broke his heart in pieces and he’s trying to figure out how to feel whole again. I know you love him and that’s why you want his forgiveness. But you can’t ask for a timeline from him. It might take months or years to find the strength to trust you again.
He might not know how to act around you anymore. Every time he looks at his loving wife he sees a person who cheated on him. He feels betrayed. There’s no handbook to teach him how to recover from an affair. So, allow him to express his anger and frustration. Give him as much time as he needs to heal. Don’t try to fast forward the process.
Once you cheat, you will find the intimacy you two shared, in dire straits. If you try to initiate it more often, he’d think you are doing it out of pity or trying to make up for what you did. If you give him space and don’t show any interest, he’d relate it to your affair and things will get worse. Doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t.
What you can do is wait for him to wrap his mind around the fact that you’re willing to go all the way if he is. You should make it clear that the affair was a one-time mistake that you regret deeply. Tell him how much you miss the intimacy that you once had. Over time, he’ll come around. Who knows you might end up having a more meaningful sexual relationship than before!
Take him back to the start.
Remember those days when your husband was on top of your priority list? Remember the person you were back then? Your marriage and kids came in the way. You two stopped spending as much time together.
Start reminding him of those days. Let him know you still love him to the moon and back. After the cheating, he might be subconsciously looking for validation. Provide that to him so that he doesn’t go look for it in the wrong places. Take him out on a date. Cook his favorite dinner. Make him feel loved and respected. Plan a trip together and spend quality time with him to reignite the spark. Let your love carve your way back to his heart.
You can never go back to where you were before the affair. Your marriage won’t be the same again. But, bit by bit you can survive the affair while building a stronger bond than you’d ever imagined.