Expert Tips
On Moving Forward

An affair can be devastating to a marriage or relationship. If you have decided to stick with your partner after an affair, you need to truly forgive him. You don't want to live your life always suspicious, resentful and bitter. Larry A. Bugen, Ph.D., author of Stuck On Me…Missing You: Getting Past Self-Absorption to Find Love, offers these tips for couples who want to move forward after an affair.

Broken trust

Forgiveness


All affairs are a violation of trust. When there is an affair there is a universal requirement for forgiveness: contrition. The unfaithful partner must be grieving and penitent regarding shortcomings and imperfections. Furthermore, the unfaithful partner must share this grief openly and directly with the person(s) who has been impacted. When we ask for forgiveness we are opening up a dialogue with those who have been hurt the most. We transact. True forgiveness always involves a dialogue, and it is within this dialogue that healing occurs.

At the core of forgiveness lies empathy. Our capacity for empathy reflects our ability to gently lift ourselves out of our own self-absorption long enough to really understand the feelings of another human being. Therapists would say that this capacity to understand is intended to grasp the experience of someone else from their personal frame of reference: in other words, we try to put ourselves in their shoes.

Each of us loves poorly and conditionally, and most of us do not suffer fools gladly.

Empathy

Empathy allows us to let go of our self-absorbed reverie of self-as-victim and recognize that imperfection drives human behavior and all human behavior is destined to be imperfect. People in glass houses should not throw stones. We need only to look inside our own pain to recognize that we each have been forgiven many times by others –- often not knowing until years later.

This is the key. If others have forgiven us because we were worthy enough in spite of our misdeeds or imperfections, should we not be able to extend the same to others? This is empathy. This is our capacity as human beings to renew all. We have a responsibility to do so in our most cherished relationships –- which means we have the ability-to-respond.

Healing

Once again, you will be able to express forgiveness face to face, or in a letter when you truly believe that:

  • The transgressor has taken responsibility for the pain created.
  • The transgressor feels genuine remorse/regret over his/her actions –- has said, "I'm sorry."
  • The transgressor has learned from his/her mistakes – the fall.
  • The transgressor will be mindful of his/her actions from this day forward –-pausing to consider the impact of all behaviors on others.
  • The transgressor gave the gift of time needed to heal and rebuild trust.
  • You are truly special again.

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Tags: forgiveness moving forward

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Comments

Comments on "How to forgive and move forward after an affair"

Mike March 14, 2014 | 7:33 AM

@Annie Did the women love honor and cherish him? Fidelity is just one of many vows taken. Most times a marriage breaks down because people are taken for granted and are made to feel like paycheck only.

Annie Banks January 15, 2014 | 3:39 PM

I disagree with the woman who said she looked back on her and her husband's marriage and said that both of them were to blame for him having an affair. Even if they had become "ROOMIES" that does not give the right for the husband to go and seek ual gratification, words of praise or whatever a person might need to make it through the day. He took vows and made a commitment to their marriage. He does not get a pass from me!

still hurting June 13, 2013 | 6:22 PM

Yours Truly you are spot on "Best sentence I have ever read and it holds so true...so if anyone out there is having issues with moving forward (with your spouse..not divorcing)..play this sentence over and over again in your mind and think about your relationship before you became aware of the affair...and it will definetly help you in moving forward...we are not perfect...we all make mistakes...be happy your spouse wants to be with you and fix issues...I can promise you a much stronger and healthier relationship going forward...and thats what its all about...getting over the hurt and moving forward...together" THANK YOU!!!!! We live in a society today that is disposable and no one wants to fix or work on things.....if the environment is right and your partner is showing you remorse and the desire to make your marriage a better one then do it! Don't listen to all the people around you who want to dispose of your marriage when you find out your partner has cheated......do what feels right to you!

lynn May 23, 2013 | 8:36 AM

my husband of 26 years had an affair, i discovered it by accident. My heart was ripped out of my chest but, I truly love him and have forgiven him. I looked back at my relationship and found that we had let it go and had become like roommates.Now I am not condoning his actions but we are both to blame. We are now working on our relationship and it feels like it used too loving and caring I will not ever let my relationship get in a bad state again.My advise to people out there is to water your grass it will get as green as in the next yard.

Cary December 30, 2012 | 11:14 AM

I am right there with you Yours Truely! I am currently in a mid-life situation with my man of 10 years and just found out he is having an affair. He succumbed to a woman from his past that has just recently divorced due to her spouse cheating. How does this happen? We women should at the very least feel empathy for these situations especially when they have just happened to us!!! Ironically, I forgive her and her ways and his as well. His mind is ill and she swooped in to take advantage of that. My heart hurts for the children involved. Her daughter is witnessing these events and she too will grow to believe this is how we treat people. Generations are effected by one persons actions and this is no way to heal the world!! So I will start and be positive for my own children and teach them that forgiveness and empathy are the higher road to take. I pray each day for peace in my heart and the strength to stand tall with pride. Unfortunately, not something that she can do and I feel sad for her. Treat each other with the true respect and kindness you wished to be treated with. Good will come and true love will prevail :)

Tiffany August 21, 2012 | 10:44 AM

This is great if you do intend to move forward, but honestly there is no way that I could. I have a tendency to hold grudges, and a grudge like this is something I'd never be able to get over. I know it'd be best for me (and him!) to just go our separate ways.

Yours Truly July 15, 2011 | 6:45 AM

I have read so many articles on affairs and how to overcome them and move forward with life...after finding out about my husbands affair, it really made my eyes open to the hurt that I had inflicted on him in the past without even realizing it..I do not blame myself for the selfish choice my husband made on being with another women...but I do realize that when you sit down and really think about your past with your spouse, you can see that things do happen for a reason...and again..I am not saying that it makes it fair to go outside of the marriage...but I do have more of an understanding now...Well I am writing this to tell you that your article, though short, is amazing and points out a very valid fact...."If others have forgiven us because we were worthy enough in spite of our misdeeds or imperfections, should we not be able to extend the same to others?" Best sentence I have ever read and it holds so true...so if anyone out there is having issues with moving forward (with your spouse..not divorcing)..play this sentence over and over again in your mind and think about your relationship before you became aware of the affair...and it will definetly help you in moving forward...we are not perfect...we all make mistakes...be happy your spouse wants to be with you and fix issues...I can promise you a much stronger and healthier relationship going forward...and thats what its all about...getting over the hurt and moving forward...together

Richard Solar May 23, 2011 | 1:03 AM

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