Can My Spouse Ever Forgive Me For Cheating? Is This Even Possible?

By: Katie Lersch: I’m pretty sure that if you were to ask any twenty cheating spouses what they most wanted once the affair was over, at least fifteen of them would say that they wanted their spouse’s forgiveness – especially among those who want to save their marriages. I have to tell you that in my experience and opinion, most people who cheat eventually deeply regret doing so. However, the reality quickly sets in that you can not take this awful thing back, and that it is going to have awful consequences that are going to very negatively impact your marriage and the spouse that you might still love. After looking at this reality, it’s very common to wonder if hoping that your spouse will one day forgive you is just a waste of time.

I might hear from a spouse who explains it this way: “I cheated on my husband while he was overseas in the military. I realize that this fact makes my infidelity even more heinous. Here my husband was fighting for our country and his own wife betrayed him. I am so ashamed of myself. I am not sure why I did what I did except for the fact that I was so stressed out and overworked having to care for my kids and the house all by myself. The affair was a boost to my self esteem and a stress reliever, I suppose. But that is no excuse. And I am filled with remorse. I know that it is selfish to even think about my spouse forgiving me one day. But this is what I would like more than anything. He says he doesn’t know if he can ever forgive me, even though he has agreed to try to make our marriage work because of our children. He says that he may not be able to get past the fact that he was working so hard for our family while I betrayed him. He also says that he doesn’t know how he can trust me the next time he goes overseas. One of my friends says that I am just wishing for the impossible. She said that people who have been cheated on don’t ever really forgive. Sure, they may agree to stay married, but you can’t ever truly forgive because the betrayal is too great. Is she right?”

This is just my opinion as someone who has been through this (on the side of the the faithful spouse. It was my husband who was unfaithful.) She may be right in terms of her own situation and her own marriage. But, choosing to forgive is a decision that every one must make for themselves. Whether or not it is going to be possible is going to depend on the depth of the betrayal and the feelings of the betrayed.

While I can’t tell you anything that I can guarantee will make your spouse forgive you, I can share some things that my husband did that encouraged me to forgive him. Notice that I didn’t say “make” me forgive him. Because I don’t think that this is possible and advisable. Your goal should be to set it up so that your spouse actually wants to forgive you out of their own free will and not from any manipulation on your part.

You Must Become A Spouse Who Is Above Reproach: The first thing that you can do is to sincerely become the most loving, loyal, and honest spouse that you can possibly be. You should never again hide or keep anything from your spouse. You should consider seeking counseling and / or work tirelessly to ensure that you have the strongest marriage that you possibly can. You need to make sure that you are patient and supportive. Don’t pressure your spouse or try to make them feel guilty because you feel miserable. Never try to make your spouse feel badly that they haven’t yet offered forgiveness.  Because this will make that same forgiveness less likely.

Make it clear that you realize that you are in this unfortunate situation because you put yourself there. Let them know that you are willing to take complete and total responsibility and are more than willing to give them whatever they need in order to feel secure. You should know that this isn’t likely to be fun. You may have to be quite humble and patient. But if that is what it takes, so be it.

Your Spouse Has To Be Made Whole Again Before They Can Truly Forgive: Here is something that I can tell you for sure that I hope you find helpful. Once your spouse feels loved, happy, and secure, the chances are much better that they will forgive you. I can tell you from experience that it is much easier to forgive once you can look at your life and honestly say that things are once again OK.

But if your spouse is still suspicious, angry, or hurt and your marriage is still struggling, then your spouse has plenty of reasons to still be angry and resentful. And all of this means that there is really no decent reason for them to forgive you. Because they haven’t yet been made whole.

That’s why I hope that by now it’s obvious that your job is to do everything in your power to make your spouse whole again. This means helping them to restore their self esteem, working hard to restore the trust and intimacy, and making sure that your marriage is solid once again. This isn’t a quick process. It took quite a while before I could forgive my husband.

But the reason that I forgave him is that I could look at his past behavior (before the affair) and his current behavior (after the affair) and it was relatively clear that he was conducting himself in a way that was meant to prioritize our marriage and our family. In short, he had been a good husband before the affair. And he worked very hard to once again become a good husband after the affair. Because of this, I decided that it cost me too much not to forgive. And I offered it because I wanted to and not because he pressured me to do so.  If it helps, you can read more on my blog at

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