Can You Forgive and Rebuild Trust After an Affair?

Can you forgive your husband after the affair and rebuild trust in your marriage? The short answer is yes, forgiveness is possible! You can learn how to trust your husband again – even if he was involved in a long-term affair. The long answer is that rebuilding trust takes time, patience, and a conscious choice to forgive.

“My husband cheated on me with his coworker, who has since left the company,” says Lisa on When Your Husband Still Works With His Ex Affair Partner. “How do I forgive my husband after the affair? I can’t look at him, much less let him touch me. How do I trust him after he cheated on me? I want to forgive and move on but it’s so hard.” If you truly want to forgive and rebuild trust in your marriage, you will. Forgiveness and trust are choices that you have to make. You may have to choose to forgive your husband every single day – or even every couple of hours at first. But eventually, it does get easier.

“Forgiveness doesn’t mean agreeing with, condoning, or even liking what has happened,” says Iyanla Vanzant, author of Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything. “Forgiveness means letting go and knowing that – regardless of how challenging, frightening, or difficult an experience may seem – everything is just as it needs to be in order for you to grow and learn. When you focus on how things “should” be, you deny the presence and power of love.”

Can you Forgive Your Husband and Rebuild Trust?

Give yourself time. Learning how to forgive and rebuild trust is a process that doesn’t happen quickly. After an affair, both you and your husband may feel confused and insecure, anxious and suspicious. It’s impossible for your marriage to go back to the way it was. Both you and your husband are different now, and so is your relationship.

It’s also important to remember that forgiving your husband after cheated doesn’t mean you have to stay married. Forgiveness is for your emotional and spiritual health. Learning how to forgive and rebuild trust isn’t for your marriage or your husband’s sake. It’s for you. Whether or not your marriage survives, it’s important for your own heart, spirit and soul to learn accept this betrayal.

Forgiving and Rebuilding Trust After an Affair

Men and women stay in bad marriages because they fear they’ll never find love again. If your self-esteem is low, find ways to boost your self-image without relying on your husband or marriage. Get as emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy as you can. The healthier you are, the more centered and calm you’ll be. The healthier you are, the easier all your decisions in life will be – including the most difficult ones. Deciding if you should forgive your husband after an affair and rebuild trust may now be the most important decision you’ll ever make in your marriage.

“All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should learn the art of making love,” says Ann Landers. “Good battle is objective and honest – never vicious or cruel. Good battle is healthy and constructive, and brings to a marriage the principle of equal partners.”

Learn why your husband cheated

signs Your Husband is Cheating
The Truth About Cheating

One of the first steps to forgiveness is to find out why your husband had an affair. As painful as it is, knowing the reason he sought intimacy outside your marriage can help you rebuild trust. Books like The Truth about Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It are helpful because they give an objective perspective (which you and your husband don’t necessarily have).

If your husband cheated because he wasn’t getting something from you or your marriage, then it may be easier to trust him again because you can change your relationship. Change is possible. It isn’t easy, but you can work together to rebuild your marriage. But, if your husband cheated because he was bored or it’s in his nature to roam, then it’s more difficult to trust him. The reason he cheated may help you decide if you can rebuild trust in your relationship.

If you can’t understand why your husband had the affair, read 8 Reasons Why People Cheat in Relationships.

Know the difference between forgiving and rebuilding trust

Forgiving your husband for having an affair is one thing. Rebuilding your marriage and trusting him not to cheat again is a different – and more difficult – level. It’s important to remember that you aren’t responsible for doing all the work. You may want to figure out why your husband cheated, how he can overcome the temptation to stray, and how to rebuild trust in your marriage. But your husband has to take responsibility for the affair. This may involve talking about why he cheated and working hard to make your marriage better.

How did you catch your husband cheating on you? Forgiveness and rebuilding trust is easier if you didn’t catch him having an affair – or lying about it. “It’s best to come clean as early as possible,” says marriage counselor Gary Neuman in The Truth about Cheating. “Be honest with your partner when you’re just beginning to become interested in someone else.”

Decide what you need from your husband

Nobody can predict if you can or will actually trust your husband again. But, chances are in your favor if your husband knows and is willing to give you what you need to rebuild trust. Before your husband can give you want you need, you have to figure it out for yourself! What do you need your husband to do, say, or change in order for you to trust him again? Be honest with yourself, and with your husband.

For example, if your husband travels for work or spends a lot of time on external activities, you may need him home more often. If he isn’t willing to talk about his feelings, reasons for having an affair, or your relationship, then you may need your husband to be more open. Before you can decide if you can rebuild marriage trust, try to understand what you need him to do. How can your husband wipe the slate clean after having an affair? He can’t. But he can work to regain your trust.

Decide if you can live with your husband the way he is today

Are you willing to live with your husband the way he is right now? He may not change his behavior or routine because you ask him to, or even if you need him to. You can’t convince your husband to change but you can decide if you can live with your marriage the way it is today. This includes accepting your husband for who he is today – affairs and all.

Some wives overlook their husband’s affairs and rebuild trust by redefining what “trust” means in their marriage. This may involve accepting a man for who he is no matter how often he cheats. If neither you nor your husband are willing to change so you can forgive and rebuild trust, then your marriage must be accepted for what it is. Or, a separation or divorce must be sought. You do have options, even if you feel like your hands are tied.

Ask your husband what he’s willing to do to save your marriage

After you figure out what you need from your husband, ask him clearly if he’s willing to give you what you need. Will he spend more time with you? Go to couples counseling with you — or get online help from a marriage coach? Start individual counseling for himself, if he needs to work through his issues? Read books about rebuilding marriage trust after an affair? If your husband isn’t willing to work towards saving your marriage, then you shouldn’t trust him again. You can’t save your marriage by yourself.

Talk is cheap, as they say. Words are the easiest, laziest part of love. Any man can say “Please forgive me for having the affair.” What is your husband willing to do to help you trust him and your marriage again?

Is Your Marriage Over? 6 Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore.

Note that men and women perceive affairs differently

Men and women don’t see cheating the same way. According to a study in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy men perceive physical affairs to be “worse” than emotional infidelity. Women, on the other hand, see emotional affairs as more upsetting than a physical betrayal.

One of my friends’ husbands had a physical and emotional affair with her best friend. My friend forgave her husband and they rebuilt trust in their marriage, but she said it was a long, difficult process. She also said saving her marriage would have been easier if it was “only” a physical affair…but he was in love with her best friend. That, she said, was worse than just physical intimacy. But they worked hard actively live out their faith, dwell in forgiveness, and rebuild trust so they could save their marriage.

Be willing to work towards forgiveness

“Accept the events of the past, while being willing to change your perspective on them,” says Iyanla Vanzant. “Only forgiveness can liberate minds and hearts once held captive by anger, bitterness, resentment, and fear. Forgiveness is a true path to freedom that can renew faith, build trust, and nourish the soul.”

It takes effort, energy, time, and commitment to rebuild trust in marriage after a husband betrays his wedding vows. But, some marriages become stronger, happier, and healthier after an affair. Untangling emotional issues related to the aftermath of an affair is difficult; a marriage counselor can be a valuable source of support and information. A counselor can help you rebuild trust by giving you specific steps to take and supporting you along the way. Marriage counseling doesn’t have to last for years or even months; sometimes it just takes a session or two to see what the issues are and how to resolve them.

forgiving your husband after affair

Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken: Finding Forgiveness and Restoration is one of the most popular books on  forgiving and trusting your husband after an affair. It’s a long process that doesn’t happen overnight – it can take years to forgive him after he cheated.

If your husband is still hiding his affair from you – or trying to make you feel crazy for thinking he cheated – then rebuilding trust in your marriage may not be an option. But if your husband is honest about why and when he cheated, you might find it a bit easier to forgive him.

Did your husband life about his affair? Gary Neuman, author of Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship, appeared on the Dr Oz show. He and Janine Driver of the Body Language Institute discussed several ways to tell if someone is lying about having an affair. I describe their tips in 5 Signs Your Husband is Cheating and Lying About His Affair. Do you recognize your husband in their signs?


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22 thoughts on “Can You Forgive and Rebuild Trust After an Affair?”

  1. How about a cheating wife? Is it the same? There is very little out there on the other side of things. Wives cheat just as often (if not more) should a husband put up with it? Should I leave my wife who’s cheated on me and is now in an affair?

  2. Well, I’ll give this a go. My boyfriend and father of our 5-month old child cheated on me. I found out because he recorded it and I found the video in his phone locked away. I was already healing from forgiving him for flirting with girls on Facebook and having them send him naked pictures. Then I found that video and even more pictures. I broke up with him. I’ve had enough. I’m staying at my moms with the baby. But part of me hopes that he would get it together and be faithful and put more time into me and our child if we have some time apart and talk things out. I want to learn how to rebuild trust after an affair.
    We were always best friends and I love him so I never expected this. But I am unbelievably angry and hurt of course. And he had the nerve to get mad at me for wanting to go out with my girlfriends (he doesn’t like them) to clear my head, saying he would be “worried” about what situation they get me into. I can think for myself and I always have the baby while he’s out doing all this stuff behind my back so I feel I deserve to have some fun! But anyway…I don’t know if maybe I’m crazy for thinking we’ll work it out. Don’t know if I can ever trust him again though I want to. Wanting to fix things not just for me, for our family. But I don’t know if I can. This sucks…

  3. I am so sick of reading about forgiving your cheating spouse and trying to reconcile. There are 10,000 crappy sites like How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage… and Jesus Thinks You’re a Failure If You Divorce compared to the much needed “leave the jerk already” site. To begin with, there are people far better than the one that cheated on you. Actually, you could walk into any bar in the world, swing a cat, and hit someone that is better than your current spouse, simply by virtue of the fact that that they have not cheated on you.

    I don’t believe people that say their marriages are stronger than before. If you lost a leg, you would not argue that now your body is stronger than before. You’ve lost your trust in your spouse. Your security. Your ability to ever love your spouse unreservedly again. Your spouse can’t unring that bell or unf*** that other person. And while you may be one of the rare couples that reconciles successfully, you’re over selling it when you tell people your marriage is BETTER. It endures. Affairs don’t make marriages better, no more than spousal abuse and hurling your spouse down the stairs once, makes a marriage better.

    For every day of your life you have to live with the knowledge that this person cheated on you and gutted you emotionally. If it didn’t gut you emotionally, you weren’t that connected to them in the first place and your marriage has never been “great.” They are capable of betrayal. And while you may be able to do the mental gymnastics to live with that, I can tell you from experience, that it IS better on the other side. Either being independent and alone not living with the drama (BTDT) or happily partnered up with a person who loves you right and doesn’t need therapy and 12-steps to be faithful. Cheaters often cheat again. Who wants to live waiting for that shoe to drop?

  4. I know that wives cheat on their husbands – my husband reminds me of that all the time! I say that men cheat more than women, but he keeps telling me about his friend whose wife cheated on him and left him with nothing.

    I don’t think women cheat more than men, though. And I do think that a man should leave his wife if she cheated – if, of course, he doesn’t want to try to work it out.

  5. An affair can make your marriage tolerable. It can provide a sweet escape from your troubled marriage. If I were not having an affair I don’t think I’d have the will to stay married at all.

  6. My husband had an affair thru chatting and he spend alot of time chatting & calling the woman, its been 2 mos fr now since i catch him having an affair and he already stop but the prob is i cannot accept what had happen and trust is not there yet at the moment, i keep on digging up things reg their chatting affair that i cannot forgive and have a peace of mind as i was cheated that i relly cannot accept what he’d done. How can overcome of this feeling i want to move on but i keep on imagining things of thrir chatting affair
    Pls help! Thanks

    1. A woman who loves her husband and her family

      It is a healing one. I didn’t feel the love or emotional attachment since the first day of marriage. I assumed the reason was a new relationship based on an arranged marriage and long-distance dating ( kind of) for one year. I waited for our marriage to mature and followed him blindly, loving him deeply as any other woman whose husband is her first and last love would do. We had differences but it was possible to sort and resolve the problems. He never wanted to open up or talk to me about what he wants. He is eldest in his family with highest income. I accepted all the facts that I came to know after I started living with him, 3 years after the marriage. At times, I even thought that could had been the reason of his disinterest.
      But I realised it very late that one of the reasons he chose me to get married was that he needed someone who can do a very good job and support him economically. I was in my sophomore year, had just passed the qualifying exam of Ph.D. I worked really hard after my marriage so I could secure a good job when I join my husband finally. But usually, things do not go the way you want. There were other barriers to securing a good job. It was not in my control. I badly needed help that time. I was not the kind who would beready to lose family, relationship, love and affection
      For career. I would not I am not ambitious but it is just about what is most important for you. My husband was happy as long as I was doing job. I always respected him and his family. I still do. But the fact that they will do the same only if I don’t act like a wife but a slave, gave my life this turn. I don’t blame them. They are better than many other families who believe marriage is all about bringing a girl to support their support system. People say ” ignorance is bliss .”

  7. I am sorry I don’t think you could ever convince someone with any amount of psycho babble that an affair made a relationship better. What a way to spin the affair around and try to convince the person betrayed that an affair is good. Sick.

  8. Thank you for being courageous, and sharing your story here. It’s a huge, devastating, painful betrayal when your husband has an affair – and learning how to forgive is not easy.

    I think it might be helpful to talk to someone who understands, who has been through it. Try to open up to women you trust. Talking about your husband’s affair will help you work through those painful emotions and feelings of betrayal.

    And, keep reading about how to forgive your husband after an affair. The more insight you get, the easier it’ll be to forgive — up to a certain point! Then you just need to let it go.

    Here’s an article that my help:

    How to Trust Your Husband After He Betrayed You

    Forgiveness is a daily practice. It takes effort, and it will unfold over time. Forgiving him won’t happen overnight – and it’s not a one-time decision. It’s a painful process that WILL bring healing, but it requires your commitment. You need to commit to forgiving him, and move forward.

    I know this is easier said than done. I will keep you in my prayers! May you find peace and healing, and may joy and trust be restored to your marriage.

  9. I have been married for 10 yrs now and had 2 children and 8 1/2 months pregnant when it happened. I knew something was going on but he always said I was crazy he would never do such a thing. 5 months later I get a call from his own family and they tell me about his affair and how everyone knew about it except me and how serious it was going. I confronted him about it and at first he denied it. But then said some of it was true not all. He said they would only text each other but that ended months ago,when I had deliv er ed our baby.but I knew that wasn’t true.,and never thought of leaving his family.i asked for details but never got clear answers. He said his sorry and won’t do it again but I don’t know if I wanna be with him anymore.But he won’t open up and answer my questions or act any different with me. He acts so normal to everything won’t act sorry or truely ask for forgiveness. I haven’t talked to anybody about this. I’m very emberrased about this situation. Please give me some advise.

  10. Heavenly Father, I lift up these women to you. May your peace, forgiveness, and love fill their hearts and souls. Give them people to connect with, resources to help them heal, and your spirit of forgiveness and grace. Give them wisdom to know how to forgive their husbands after the affair, and strength to move forward. Help them know with confidence what to do next. Give them life, power, and courage. Amen.

  11. I found out that my husband had an affair with a coworker one year ago. If I had found out about it during that time I would have left him. But it’s been 1 year… I want to forgive him but I keep thinking about it. I keep reading the text messages in my mind. I don’t know what to do. I feel it’s almost not relevant anymore. The worst thing about it is that I was pregnant! He said he will never do it again. But he is the boss and i feel that anyone will want to be with thier boss … But I can’t ask him to leave his job that he has work so hard for.

  12. I tried to let it go and I can’t. I think I have died inside. There’s nothing in my heart for him. Every time I did forgive, I would find his texts/messages again. I see that after some years of trying to mend things, I haven’t done any good for myself. I have been intimate but forced myself. This desire is gone. I am not bitter but I am cold.

  13. How can you tell your partner you love them and then cheat on them , lie and disrespect , betray them , to me the word love is very strong , I was cheated on ,I knew from my intuition and a few people told me , we’ve been together 5 &1/2 years , I finally said to him , Im growing spiritually and will not tolerate any more lies , as he couldnt tell me the truth , finally I said I cant move forward unless you tell me the truth , so he told me details , was very hard listening and keeping my anger inside , I said how hard was that , I just wanted truth from the beginning , I feel he not only lied , betrayed and disrespected me but also our kids and family ! I am in limbo about wanting this to work ,I am 51 years old , I have never been married because of the trust with partners, best of luck to all you women who have to get through the emotion and pain , but if he does it again , time to move on as he will never change and we deserve better in this life !!follow your gut instincts and your heart ladies , its your life , live it well as we have only 1 life , thankyou

  14. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    If you have children and you really want to know how to forgive your husband after an affair, you need to realize it’s a daily process. Every day, you have to choose to forgive his affair, and work on rebuilding your marriage. It’s a difficult thing to do at first – but soon you will find forgiveness and love will be easier.

    1. Good day!thenks for the advice i was really appreciate that!from now on as you said to me im going to forgive him and accept him !thank you very i was very helpful to me!

  15. My husband was cheated me 2 months ago!after I noticed he cheat me ,he stop the relationship with the girl!he told me that he never love the girl ,that was the temptation only because we are far to each other!untill now he always ask my forgiveness but for me it is hard to accept i dont know what to do and i dont want him to separate cause we have a 2 children!

  16. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Forgiving your husband after an affair is a very personal decision that only you — as his wife — can make. If you’re struggling to know if you should forgive your husband after he has an affair, or if you don’t know how to forgive him for cheating, I encourage you to talk to counselor. I can’t give you the guidance you need, or advice about forgiving your husband after he cheated on you.

    My prayer is that you find peace and wisdom. May your path be clear – even if you can only take it one day at a time! May you find courage and strength as you try to figure out if you should forgive your husband after an affair, and may you decide what to do without being motivated by fear, insecurity, or bitterness. May God’s energy, light, and spirit energize and lead you beside the still waters, even if it feels like you’re walking in the valley of the shadow of death. Amen.


  17. i was paging my husband phone then i found out that he is cheating on me for the 4th time now n its killing me i dnt knw what to do . or should i confront him ? but what if he ask me what was i doing with his phone? what will i say? should i forgive him after another affair?

    1. Here is a dose of reality, he will probably never be faithful to anyone, definitely you as he’s proved quite a bit. You know what you must do…leave. If you don’t; you need to work through why his partial commitment is all you feel you deserve. As articles have said, Forgiveness is for you, but forgiveness doesn’t always mean staying with them. If children are involved, you need to be cordial for their sake and they only need to understand that they are loved by both of you. And by the way, if he asks what you were doing with his phone, that just a diversion from what he was doing wrong don’t let him go there, stay on point. He’s proved how much his relationship means to him. If it were me, I’d quit beating my head against the wall trying to make this relationship what I hope it is and understand what it actually is, toxic.

  18. I’m wondering if my partner even wants to b with me after his affair- he says that he only slept w her twice and seems remorseful but he says he doesn’t know y he did it. Am I fooling myself thinking that he won’t do it again? Idk. Gut tells me he is sincere today but not so sure about tomorrow. I guess we’ll have a go at it and c.