If your spouse cheated and your marriage is in crisis, your days are more than likely involved with working on saving your marriage.

But the wounds inflicted by the revelation of infidelity may remain deep, with built-up anger and resentment over the breach of trust. You don’t know how you’ll ever get to the point where you are able to move forward and just forgive.

In this blog, let’s examine some of the underlying feelings you may be experiencing and what forgiveness means to you. It may help you become unstuck, if that’s what you are feeling now. Please keep reading…

“I’m Sorry” Seems Small Compared to the Pain

Your spouse may have said “I’m sorry,” but it rang hollow to you—the words not giving you the closure you thought they would. Three syllables or supposed to undo the hurt and emotional pain you’ve been reeling from since you discovered the affair?

Or, maybe you are still waiting to hear your spouse express remorse and beg your forgiveness, and you feel your life is on hold until he or she does.

If you are waiting for your spouse to apologize for having an affair, you have personal reasons for why you need to hear those words—and know that your spouse truly means it with all of his or her heart.

When a cheating spouse says “I’m sorry,” it helps to validate the deep pain you are feeling over the loss of trust. It also shows that your spouse has some grasp that their actions have caused you pain, negative thoughts and devastating emotions.

A heartfelt apology can be the first step you require before you’ll even begin to think about how to save your marriage. And if you haven’t heard those words yet, you may feel you can’t move forward because you’re still waiting for this person to come to you and unlock the door with admissions of guilt and responsibility, and recognition that you are the victim.

Your cheating spouse owes you, at the very least, a sincere apology. But that doesn’t mean the victim of an affair is going to receive a request for forgiveness. You may never hear an apology cross your cheating spouse’s lips.

So should you remain stuck in place, waiting for words that may never come? Or, as the victim of an affair, should you make the decision on your own as to whether or not you should forgive your cheating spouse?

Whether you decide to forgive or not—that’s entirely up to you. No one can make this decision for you. Whatever you decide, you must understand what forgiveness means to you, to healing the devastation to your marriage, and ultimately—to saving it.

The idea of forgiveness can be confusing. Culturally, many of us have learned that true forgiveness is something only a divine being is capable of. We’ve also learned that old adage, “Forgive and forget.”

If you’re in pain after learning your spouse has cheated on you, you may wonder how your spouse saying a simple “I’m sorry” is going to make you forget all about the ugly after-effects of the affair. You wish it were that easy to escape the painful memories and images, but you know it’s not an instant cure for the pain.

Here are some steps you can use in determining whether or not to forgive your spouse, and whether it really will change anything for you:

Step 1: Define What “Forgiveness” Means For You

Think of everything you’ve ever heard about the idea of forgiveness, whether from your religious background or what you’ve witnessed in your personal life.

Write out your thoughts on what you understand forgiveness to mean.

Step 2: Define What “I’m sorry” Could Do For You

Hearing your spouse say “I’m sorry,” what does this mean to you? How will it affect your life? What do you see changing? How do you visualize yourself feeling, or what do you see yourself able to now do?

Write out your thoughts on forgiveness as it relates to your world.

Step 3: Imagine a Remorseless Spouse

If your spouse were never to ask for forgiveness, what would this do to you? How do you envision your life and how you wish to live it, with no apology in hand? Do you think your life will—or should—remain in limbo? Could you ignore the whole idea of forgiveness, and simply rebuild the marriage?

Sometimes, the only way to move forward so that you can rebuild your marriage, is by redefining your own ideas of what it takes to get there. Go through the exercise. Afterward, you may see things differently, and the words “I’m sorry,” whether expressed with remorse or not, may not hold the power over you they once did.

My best to you in seeking to define forgiveness and saving your marriage …

What is “forgiveness” for you?

After doing the steps in this exercise, did your ideas change?

If you’ve heard the words from your spouse, what did it do for you, if anything? Were you surprised by your own reaction?

Please share your thoughts and experiences on this topic by leaving a comment below.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Stephanie Anderson


Marriage Sherpa

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