I Spoke To A Women Friend And She Told Me That My Wife Won’t Forgive My Infidelity For Years

By: Katie Lersch:  When you are first caught cheating by your spouse, you usually will completely understand their anger at you.  Even if your marriage wasn’t always great or if, deep down, you feel a tiny bit justified, you still know that cheating is very destructive and that your spouse has every reason to be furious.  Most of us can mentally put ourselves in our spouse’s position to know that if the roles were reversed, we too would be outraged at being cheated on.

But, once some time passes, the feeling of wanting the anger to fade and the desire to be forgiven can surface.  And this is understandable also.  After a while, no one wants to feel like the bad guy all of the time.  So you will start looking for clues that some day soon, your spouse might be open to forgiving you.  But you may not find these clues in the time frame that you had hoped for.  That’s when you may start looking or asking around.  You may approach friends or family members who have gone through this and what you find my be somewhat discouraging.

For example, a husband might ask a female friend, coworker, or family member who has dealt with infidelity for a rough estimate of a time line.  He might explain: “it has been over seven months since my wife caught me cheating.  I immediately apologized, broke off the affair, and told my wife that I would do absolutely anything to save my marriage.  I have tried to back this up.  We went to counseling briefly.  I have been loving, patient, and supportive.  I like to think that, at this time, I am a pretty decent husband.  Many colleagues describe me as ‘kind’ and ‘a good guy,’ but my wife still acts like I am an awful human being.  She is still very cold and sarcastic to me.  Sometimes, I will bring her attention to this, and she tells me that she is trying, but that she believes recovery is just going to take some time.  I hear what she is saying, but I wonder if this means that we are going to limp along like this forever – with me being the awful spouse and her being the long-suffering one.  I asked a coworker about this.  We are good friends and I know that a few years ago, her husband cheated.  I asked her how long it took to forgive her husband and she told me that, quite frankly, she HASN’T forgiven him yet.   It has been two years and they still struggle.  I could not believe this.  I asked her twice and both times she insisted that all has not been totally forgiven.  She says it’s just something that she doesn’t know if she will ever get over.  This is so incredibly depressing to me.  I am not sure if I can stand more years of being treated this way.  I really wanted to save my marriage and I still do, but I don’t know if I can wait years to get it back.”

I hear from a lot of people who feel exactly as you do and my response is always careful.  I don’t want to discourage anyone or tell you that you may have to live a certain way for a certain period of time.  Because that simply might not be true.  There are so many variables that come into play.  At the same time, I do not want to downplay how difficult recovery can be because there are so many factors that go into this as well.

All I can say is that I know many couples (and I was one of them) who didn’t take years before we were able to move on.  However, to be fair, we were extremely aggressive about healing and moving on.  And I made a very conscious decision that I WANTED to move on and to not live in purgatory.  That said, this is not a simple matter of mind over matter.  I do not want to imply that wives can simply decide to move past the affair and then they are miraculously able to do so.  This really is not the case for most of us.

Rather, it is more like we made a decision to move on and we find the resources, the people, and the things that can help us to do that.  There’s no magic answer.  There’s no set period of time.  You simply constantly take inventory and you ask yourself what is making things better and what is making things worse and you adjust accordingly.  Sometimes, you may need professional help for this as long as it takes and other times, you won’t.  I have no way to predict that.

I can tell you that two determined and committed people CAN and DO recover and offer forgiveness in reasonable time frames with the right tools and circumstances.  And I do want to stress that forgiveness is not the same as forgetting.  Your wife may well decide to forgive you because she truly wants to move on in a healthy way.  But this is very different than her acting as if the affair never happened.  That’s just unrealistic.  It’s possible to carry on with your marriage as if it was just a blip, but that doesn’t mean that you expect your spouse to deny it’s very existence.  However, to answer the original question, you don’t always have to anticipate years and years of recovery, but you should also do absolutely everything in your power (except for pressure) in order to help move things along.

I was very motivated to move quickly because of my children.   Hopefully, you and your wife can use whatever motivation you have in order to move on.  With that said, you never want to gloss over or rush healing.  You legitimately have to do the work.  And until you do, you can’t ask or expect your wife to just “get over it” or move on.  In my own experience, the more patient my husband was with me, the more I wanted to move on.  You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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