Your partner forgave you for cheating, but you can’t forgive yourself for having the affair. Sometimes forgiving ourselves is more difficult than forgiving others because of the shame we feel.
Forgiveness: Finding Peace Through Letting Go by Adam Hamilton and Rob Simbeck can help you forgive yourself for the affair.
These suggestions for self-forgiveness are inspired by this reader’s comment: “I cheated on my husband a year ago with his best friend, and I’m truly repentant. My husband has decided to forgive me and move on. But, he’s still hurting a lot even after a year and I’m trying to help him. I’m always so sad when he is emotionally down. I’ve noticed every time he sees his friend, it’s even worse. We see them every Sunday because we go to the same church…please help, what are your suggestions?”
I don’t know what you’ve tried over the past year, in terms of rebuilding your marriage. Have you gone for couples counseling? Talked to other couples in your church or community about healing and forgiveness after one spouse cheated? Sometimes you have to try different ways to forgive yourself, because not everything works for everyone.
Those are good ways to move towards forgiveness, both for you and your partner.
How to Forgive Yourself for Having an Affair
My friend’s husband cheated on her with her best friend; it took her six years to truly forgive her husband after the affair and move on. She no longer speaks to her ex-best friend, because that was the best way for her to cope with the betrayal. You and your husband need to find YOUR best way to cope with your affair. I hope these tips help…
Let your partner be sad about the affair
You may want to help him overcome his grief about the affair, but you can’t do more than you’ve already done. I’m assuming you expressed your grief, remorse, regret, and sadness about cheating with his best friend. I also assume you and your spouse have decided to rebuild your marriage.
An affair will never be “a thing of the past.” It’s part of the fabric of your marriage, and is interwoven into your lives. This is neither bad nor good…it just is.
It’s normal and even healthy for your spouse to mourn the fact that you cheated on him. Obsessing about your affair, on the other hand, is unhealthy. If your partner gets sad occasionally – but he forgave you for cheating – then it may be best to step back and let him be sad.
Consider changing your routine
You had an affair with your husband’s best friend, and your husband forgave you. Has he forgiven his best friend? Equally importantly, what is his relationship with his best friend like now? I imagine they haven’t just picked up where they left off. Or maybe they have, I don’t know.
What I do know is that picking at a wound will only make it worse. If I were you, I’d think about sacrificing the friendship between your husband and his best friend, and work on saving your marriage. If your husband is reminded over and over about your affair – every week his wound is ripped open – then maybe it’s time to reconsider the friendship. Maybe it’s time to find a new church to attend, and build a network of new friends.
Get marriage counseling
Forgiving yourself for having an affair is an ongoing action – you have to do it every day. It’s not about pretending the affair never happened; it’s about using the pain and heartache you experienced to build a better, happier, healthier marriage.
Have you and your partner gone to marriage counseling? If getting counseling from the pastor at your church isn’t appealing, try Mort Fertel’s marriage coaching program. He has personal experience with cheating in marriage, and has helped hundreds of couples overcome the painful consequences of affairs.
For more help with forgiving yourself for cheating, read My Husband Had an Affair With My Best Friend – How Do I Cope?
Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.
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