How Do You Forgive A Spouse Who Won’t Confess To Cheating Or Having An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: Sometimes, I hear from a spouse who is fully aware that their spouse is cheating and having an affair. They feel that they have sufficient proof to know the whole truth. In their hearts, they know that he is cheating and they are more than ready to deal with that. At this point, they just want to begin to move on. However, they aren’t sure how they are going to do this when their spouse continues to deny that anything has happened. This can be infuriating, especially when you feel that you’re working really hard to make some concessions and he won’t even give enough to admit what you already know is true.

In this situation, you might hear a comment like: “I know that my husband has been cheating with a coworker. There is no doubt in my mind. I don’t even question this a little. In fact, I have talked with the other woman on the phone and she has confirmed everything. She has told me when it started and what exactly has happened. She told me that she was going to break things off because now that she sees me as a real person with real pain, she can’t just continue on with the lying and the deception anymore. There is a relief to know that. And it makes me feel that if I don’t have to worry about the affair still going on, I can begin to place my focus on healing, forgiving, and moving forward. The problem is that my husband refuses to confess. I have confronted him with details about my conversation with the other woman and he insists that she is just a woman who is obsessed with him, but he says that he doesn’t feel the same way about her. He doesn’t have any explanation about the texts that I have seen between them other than to say that they sometimes flirt with one another, but that is as far as it goes. I don’t believe this. It’s awful to say but I believe the other woman over my husband. I know him very well and I can tell when he is lying. I know that he is lying now. The irony of this whole thing is that if he would just confess, I think that I could forgive him and move on. But it doesn’t appear that he plans to tell the truth. How can I forgive him if he won’t confess?”

This is a tough question. I am only speaking from my own experience, from which I formed the opinion that I am about to share. But I am not sure if I could forgive him if he was continuing to lie to me. I firmly believe from my own life that forgiveness is more for the person doing the forgiving then for the person being forgiven. You do it because you don’t want to carry the anger on your shoulders any longer. You want to release yourself from that fear, anger and negativity.

With that said, I think that for the most part, it is easier to forgive if you see that the person is making a real effort and is genuinely remorseful. If he is continuing to lie and is looking you right in the eye and denying what you already know to be the truth, then I would think that there is still more work to do before you are at that place where you can very honestly forgive.

Attempting To Get To The Truth. Why He’s Lying In The First Place: I believe that most often, people lie about the affair for a couple of reasons. The first is that they do not want to face the consequences for their actions. And the second is that they do not want to hurt you. It can help to show them that these two things are going to happen anyway, whether they make the admission or not.

A suggested way to start this conversation might be: “I know that you insist that there was no affair. But, you are asking me to ignore the facts and the evidence right in front of me and instead listen to someone who has already admitted to inappropriate behavior and secrecy. This just doesn’t make sense. You are asking me to turn away from common sense and the proof that is right in front of me. I suspect that you don’t want to hurt me and you don’t want to put our marriage in jeopardy, but I can tell you that both of these things have already happened. You need to understand that the worst case scenario is already here. And, if you want to begin to make this better, then you need to just tell me the truth so that we can begin to move on. We can’t do this if you continue to keep the truth from me. What you don’t understand is that I already know. Your putting my knowledge into words isn’t going to make it worse than it already is. But what is going to make it worse is for you to continue to try to deceive me. I’m going to have much more respect for you if you stand up and take responsibility for your actions. I can and will go out and get further proof. But that is a waste of our precious time. It only delays us getting to work. I’m asking you once again to have enough respect and commitment to me to tell me the truth.”

I can’t promise that he will suddenly come clean, but at least you have communicated with him that he’s really not gaining anything by lying to you. Once he sees that it’s really not helping his cause to continue to lie, he will hopefully just show some integrity and own up to what he has done.  Because when he does that, forgiveness will be much easier.  Perhaps I am petty and spiteful but I couldn’t forgive my own husband until I believed in his remorse.  However, I will say that forgiveness was freeing and helpful. If it helps, you can read about my own forgiveness on my blog at

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