Forgiveness After Cheating
By Susie and Otto Collins
When your partner has an affair, it can certainly tear you up
inside. And if you decide to stay in the relationship and work
together to rebuild trust, forgiving is a very powerful step you can
take in the healing process.
But when you've been betrayed and hurt, the last thing you might
feel capable of is forgiveness.
We recently read an interview in Oprah's O magazine with Elizabeth
Edwards. As you might already know, Elizabeth is married to former
U.S. Senator-- and Presidential candidate-- John Edwards.
The big news that erupted during John Edwards' Presidential campaign
was that he had an extra-marital affair.
In the article, Elizabeth talks with Oprah about the post-affair
journey she has been embarking on. She is honest and does not
pretend that everything in her marriage is
close and connected.
But she also asserts that she and John are still together as they
take it day by day.
You can choose to forgive as a way to move beyond the cheating and
toward the close relationship you want.
It is vital, however, that you get clear about what forgiveness
means to you and then be patient with yourself as you move toward
What does forgiveness mean?
"Forgiveness, I have been told, is the gift I give to him; trust he
has to earn by himself," Elizabeth Edwards writes in her new memoir
which includes her account of John's affair.
We believe that everyone has to figure out how they specifically
define a concept-- especially one as powerful as forgiveness.
At the same time, we don't agree with Elizabeth Edwards that
forgiveness is mainly "a gift (one) gives" to the person who
cheated. In fact, we believe that forgiveness is most powerful when
it is re-defined as something that a person gifts to him or herself.
Of course, when you forgive, your mate will usually benefit because
you are releasing the hold a painful past event has on you. You are
then more available to connect and love more deeply.
There is an inevitable trickle down effect.
But the major effect of forgiveness is that the person feeling the
pain, bitterness and betrayal of another will no longer have to
carry around those weighty and draining emotions.
The affair is not condoned or even erased when a person chooses to
forgive. Instead, the one doing the forgiving is giving him or
herself the gift and blessing of a freer and lighter life.
Widen your view.
Even as you decide how you want to define forgiveness, it may still
remain a daunting prospect to think about actually doing. Give
yourself permission to take your time as you move toward
It can-- and usually is-- a process.
Sometimes widening your view of your partner and your relationship
can be helpful.
In her interview with Oprah, Elizabeth Edwards acknowledges that her
husband John is the man who had an affair (and maybe even fathered a
child in the course of
Additionally, she reminds herself that he is same man who fed her in
bed and cared for her as she dealt with the effects of breast cancer
and her medical treatments.
For Elizabeth Edwards, it seems that John's cheating does not
override the many many acts of love, kindness and connection that
have happened in their years together.
It seems that she is able to find a sense of hopefulness and a
softening when she widens her view to see all of what her husband
does and has done.
You can also expand the way you see your partner and your
relationship. We aren't suggesting that you ignore habits and
tendencies that you'd like to change.
Address them and make agreements with your mate to bring about those
At the same time, make sure you are seeing more than just the affair
and the possible disconnecting habits present in your relationship.
Create space within your heart for forgiveness. If you want to
forgive and release the past, make it your intention to move in that
direction and begin to do so.
Relationship coaches Susie and Otto
of "Should You Stay or Should You Go?" and "No More
Jealousy" are experts at helping people get more of the
love they really want. Learn the 5 keys to a closer, more
loving relationship, click below for your free 5-part mini-course: