Much has been said about infidelity in marriage. It’s a popular topic on media. But until you’ve been part of it, you won’t really understand the pain of being cheated on.
If you’ve just found out that your wife is cheating on you, then you’d likely be in so much pain. You may still be reeling from the shock of finding out about her infidelity.
Yet this leads you to many questions. Should you forgive your cheating wife? And how do you forgive a cheating wife?
Continue reading to know more.
Many men will agree that being cheated on is the most painful thing that could happen to a married man.
According to a relationship expert, Wayne Powell, infidelity is often associated with men. Therefore, when a married woman engages in infidelity, the act is widely condemned.
Men are more likely to cheat than women, according to a 2017 survey in the United States. The General Social Survey showed that 20% of married men cheated on their partners, while only 13% of married women committed infidelity.
However, the number of women who are being unfaithful to their partners is said to be on the rise.
Esther Perel, an author and a psychoanalyst, claims that the rate of married women committing adultery has been on the rise since 1990.
In her book “State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity,” Perel said that the rate of infidelity among men had remained the same. Perel says that more and more women are cheating on their husbands.
Academician Zhana Vrangalova, Ph.D., who teaches human sexuality at New York University (NYU), validates Perel’s claims. In an interview, she says that today’s men and women are cheating at similar rates.
However, she also notes that older and younger generations practically have the same reasons for cheating on their partners.
Reasons Why Married Women Cheat
Women have varying reasons for cheating on their partners. The desire for an emotional connection is one of them.
Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, who wrote the book “Why Him? Why Her? and Why We Love,” argues that lonely women tend to cheat on their partners. This is because they want to be emotionally connected.
Men, on the other hand, primarily cheat because of sexual motivations.
The loneliness could be due to a wide variety of factors. It’s common for men to find themselves too focused on their careers. Their work may demand too much of their time. This leads them to spend less time with their wives.
As a result, their wives feel neglected and lonely. They end up looking for someone who can fill the void left by their husbands.
If your wife cheated, it might be because you’ve stopped giving attention to her. You may have stopped complimenting her.
Perhaps, the dates have become few and far between. Or you just see your wife as a partner in life, someone whom you share a room with.
In turn, your wife may have felt more like a nanny than a spouse. Feeling ignored and unloved may have pushed her to crave the attention of another guy.
Lack of intimacy may also cause your wife to be cheap on you. You may be the most generous partner in the world. You could be that man who cares a lot about his wife.
But if the romance has died down, then your wife would naturally look for another man to be intimate with.
Kissing, holding hands, and cuddling are some of the ways to sustain the fire in your relationship. Women tend to complain when their partners stop making these simple gestures.
Finally, the cheating may have been a result of lack of sex. Clinical sexologist Dr. Robert Weiss writes that contrary to popular misconception, it’s not only men who love sex.
Married women covet it, too. And when they are not getting enough action at home, they tend to seek it elsewhere.
Coping With Infidelity
Most men would find being cheated on difficult to accept, if not totally unacceptable.
If your wife betrayed you, it’s likely you are angry right now. You may feel betrayed. You may even feel embarrassed. And let’s accept it, being cheated on is simply heartbreaking.
Being the victim of infidelity can make you question yourself.
Did she cheat on you because you’re not good enough? It can make you question everything about your relationship.
Was she really happy being with you? It can even make you question your life. Is it even worth continuing after your wife cheated on you?
But let’s be clear about it– the cheating is not your fault. You should never be blamed for your wife’s infidelity. This is something that you should always keep in your heart and mind.
Marriage and family therapist Sheri Meyers says that cheaters should not blame their partners. She writes that the blame falls squarely on the cheating partner. She argues that sometimes, there are problems or conditions that make a person commit adultery.
However, these problems should never be used as an excuse for cheating. Instead, the cheating party should have faced and addressed those issues. In short, cheating should never be the solution to marital problems.
To cope with the infidelity, you should first accept what happened. Your cheating spouse is not a dream. It really happened.
Nicole Richardson, a marriage and family therapist, says acceptance is the first step to a possible reconciliation. You can’t forgive your cheating wife without first accepting the infidelity.
She also says that it takes time before you can accept a cheating wife. In her words, acceptance is something that doesn’t happen overnight. Therefore, you should be patient.
Moreover, whatever you are feeling right now is normal, whether you are pained, shocked, or sad. You may even be on an emotional rollercoaster. Don’t feel bad about yourself. Your feelings are perfectly normal!
Once you have accepted the cheating and its associated feelings, you should avoid seeking revenge. Many men would likely resort to violence when they find their wives cheating on them. In fact, many societies have accepted this behavior.
One study in Australia showed most participants think it is OK to beat a woman who has been unfaithful.
Being cheated on can induce rage in many men. When you’re furious, you may instinctively punish your wife. You could utter words you’ll regret later on. You may even hit her. Or you could even think of getting even by having an affair yourself.
Sure, there’s a sense of satisfaction from these actions. Yet keep in mind that sense of satisfaction is temporary. Worse, it could only make things more complicated.
Hitting your wife, for example, could put you in legal trouble. And having an affair will only worsen your marital problems. Moreover, taking revenge keeps you angry. It won’t let you heal or move on from the infidelity.
You should also avoid involving the kids in the discussion. Never, ever tell your kids about the infidelity. After all, the situation is between you and your wife. It should never involve your children as the young ones will be negatively affected.
When a child finds out that mom cheated on dad, he or she will likely be embarrassed. And because the topic of infidelity is taboo, the child could suffer in silence. He or she will not be able to talk about it with friends and your family members.
You can also expect a child to feel angry after learning of the infidelity. It’s not unlikely that your child will avoid your wife. It will not even stop there for some children. Some kids will blame the cheating parent.
Other kids will feel confused. They’ll ask questions like, “why did this occur?” Others might ask for a scapegoat. “Who’s to blame?” It’s hard for parents like you to answer these sensitive questions.
As parents, we often ask our kids to follow the rules. But now that your wife broke a cardinal rule, then your kid would be confused. He’ll ask, “what’s the point of following the rules when my mom broke one?”
Adult infidelity can also have a long-term impact on children. Upon learning that the mom cheated on you, your child could develop skepticism. He or she might find it hard to trust someone. You can blame this for the infidelity of your wife. And your child might grow up having trust issues for the opposite sex.
You can also seek professional help. This is highly recommended if you want someone who will listen to you. A therapist could prove to be a supportive listener. He or she can listen to you.
In turn, you can reveal your real feelings about infidelity. Depending on your plans or feelings, the professional can help you get over the betrayal. You might even pick up tips on how to forgive a cheating wife from the therapist.
Forgiving a Cheating Wife
Should you forgive a cheating wife? Many experts have varying opinions.
Take, for instance, Dr. Stephen Diamond, a known clinical psychologist, and author. He says that it’s acceptable to forgive a spouse who cheated once. He writes that it’s possible to work things out with your cheating wife if she comes completely clean.
This means that your wife should take full responsibility for the adultery. Moreover, she should beg for your forgiveness.
He also recommends addressing pre-existing concerns in the relationship. For example, if your wife has been complaining about your lack of time, then sit down and talk about it. Address the issue head-on. Explain why you have been like that.
But take note: she should not use your lack of time for her as a justification for adultery. Remember that being the offended party, it is not your fault that she cheated on you!
Dr. Diamond also recommends the improvement and evaluation of communication skills. He says that a therapist can help in this regard. The idea is to re-establish communication lines with your spouse. This way, she can win your trust back.
Speaking of trust, Dr. Diamond says that trust must be rebuilt after an affair. He reminds couples that trust should not be given freely. It should be earned again.
This is particularly true for your wife. She should make an effort to win your trust again. She can do it by consistently doing whatever she says.
There’s also research suggesting that a cheating spouse will likely commit adultery again. And if this study is true, then it doesn’t make sense to forgive a cheating wife at all.
According to the study, a person who has cheated once has a three-fold increase in the likelihood of cheating again. The study was participated in by 500 people. It was led by Kayla Knopp, a psychologist from the University of Denver in the United States.
Ms. Knopp explained that a person who has cheated once already knows the existence of extramarital affairs. She added that the cheater might also believe that those affairs remain available to him or her. Therefore, there’s a high risk or probability that the person will cheat again in the future.
How to Forgive Your Cheating Wife
But let’s say that you are siding with Dr. Diamond. You believe that your cheating wife deserves a second chance. Now how can you forgive a cheating spouse?
As mentioned earlier, you can begin by seeking professional help. A therapist can give a neutral voice. He or she can give expert advice on how to cope with your negative emotions.
This way, you can start the healing and forgiving process. Also, a therapist can facilitate communication between you and your spouse.
Speaking of communication, it’s best you talk with your wife. You can’t forgive your wife if you don’t talk it through at length. Without a lengthy talk, you can’t hear her side. You can’t also air your pent-up emotions. This can only grow into resentment on your part.
During your talk, it’s best that you discuss the details of the infidelity. An author and a marriage therapist Abe Kass says there are three Ws that you should be asking. These are who, what, and why.
First, ask your wife, who is her lover. You need to know if the guy is someone you know. You should also ask how she met the person. You might also want to ask if the other guy knows your wife is married.
Second, ask your wife what happened. You can go into the details.
Ask if she did “it” with the guy. And if she did, where? Was it a one night stand? Or did she do it multiple times? Ask, too, what your wife told her lover about you. You could ask her if she thought of leaving you.
Then you need to ask why she committed adultery? Why didn’t she stop after the first encounter? Why didn’t she realize that she was making a huge mistake?
These questions could make for a long and ugly conversation. But it’s something you should go through.
For you to be able to believe in your spouse again, you should know what happened between her and her lover. This way, you can have all your questions answered. This should speed up the acceptance phase. And it can give you a way forward.
Dr. Kass adds that you should ask those questions calmly. Also, be calm in listening to her answers. Try to take notes while she is speaking.
For sure, you’ll be angered and emotional during this phase. You might not fully understand what she’s saying. Taking notes should give you a better perspective and picture of what happened. It can also help you in evaluating your next move.
You need to ensure that the affair is over. You need to know if your wife ended her affair. You can’t forgive her if she’s still seeing him.
Some questions to ask her are: “when and how did it end?” “Was it years ago?” You can also ask, “what moves have you made so he won’t be able to contact you?”
You must also make your cheating spouse realize that she’s no longer entitled to privacy. This is a consequence of her actions.
You are reasonably suspicious of her actions. She, thus, needs to earn your trust again. You can also ask her what she can do to make you feel safe again.
Next, your wife needs to show genuine regret. You can’t forgive a cheating wife if she has not shown this.
She should be remorseful for the pain she caused you. She should display sincere regret for her actions. And she must take full responsibility for it.
Signs You’re Ready to Forgive Her
You might be tempted to forgive her once she’s said sorry and showed remorse for her actions.
Of course, you can always follow your feelings and forgive her. But according to author C. Mellie Smith, here are signs you’re ready to forgive:
- She’s no longer defensive about her actions.
- She doesn’t blame you for her infidelity.
- She has asked for reconciliation.
- She’s been communicative and honest with you.
- She’s willing to become more transparent with you
- You’ve processed the painful experience
- You’re no longer hurt
- You still love her
- You want to save the marriage
- You feel like forgiving her
If these signs are present, then you should consider forgiving your partner.
After Forgiving Her
When you forgive your wife, remember that you’re not weak. It’s simply letting go of the grudges and pain. You’re also the better individual. You are not looking at your partner’s mistakes.
Instead, you are using your time and energy to save your marriage.
You must know, too, that forgiving means not having the right to discuss her sins when it’s convenient for you. This means you should not remind her again and again of her wrongdoings. This could only worsen things between you and your spouse.
Finally, you can forgive your partner, but you don’t have to continue being with her. You don’t have to love or like her.
In fact, you can leave the relationship even though you forgave her. If you don’t want to see her face again, you can choose that. It’s a decision that you can opt for.
Being a victim of infidelity could be one of the worst things that can happen to you. If you’re in pain and hurt, take the time to heal.
Don’t let your partner rush you into forgiving her. The last thing you want to happen is to be resentful.
Give yourself enough time to heal before thinking of a possible reconciliation.