Whether your spouse has said they’re sorry and asked for your forgiveness or not, you may still struggle with the idea of forgiving their heinous, cheating actions.

It’s a thorny question: should you forgive your cheating spouse, or should you not offer them the absolution of your forgiveness? And if they haven’t asked for forgiveness, what does it mean for you?

Read on to determine the answer that fits your situation.

When Forgiveness Has NOT Been Asked For

You find out your spouse had an affair, and he or she seems nonchalant about it, as if this is no big deal – you should just brush it off and get over it.

This is a very tough stance a spouse can take and to be confronted with as the victim. You feel it’s your right to be able to grant forgiveness or not, but your cheating spouse needs to do their part and show remorse and ask for forgiveness. If they don’t ask, you feel angry and saddened that it all means so little to them – while it has completely rocked your world for the worse.

You may wonder how you can move forward and heal from the pain caused by the affair, when you’re apparently at a stalemate.

Shouldn’t forgiveness be one of the milestones on the road to healing from affair pain? Does this mean the end of your marriage?


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“I’m Sorry” – Figure Out What It Means to You and Your Marriage

You may long to hear those words come from your spouse’s lips. You may feel stuck, locked into the emotional pain and suffering that came on the heels of discovering the affair.

If you feel as if your life is on hold until you hear those words, there is a need inside of you that goes beyond just the utterance of two very small words. Maybe it means a form of proof that your spouse really gets the pain you’re feeling – and that they are the author of it. Or, it will show you that your spouse understands the horrible mistake they made in cheating. Maybe you feel it’ll offer you release from the binding emotional pain you’re experiencing day and night.

Whatever those words signify to you, know that there is a deeper need you are trying to fulfill. And usually, it’s a means of moving past the pain of the affair and to a place of healing.

So if you never heard those words from your spouse, what would it mean to you? Would you remain stuck in pain forever? Do you really want to wait for your spouse to show remorse before you seek relief?

Yes, your spouse certainly owes you, at the very least, an apology for the actions they took and the pain they’ve caused. But what they should do and what they will do are two different things.

And you shouldn’t be caught in neutral (i.e. pain) until they figure it out.

Which means, you need to take this matter in hand and manage it: only you can control your reaction to your spouse’s ability to apologize or not, and what it means to you to hear it or not. Remember: ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not you forgive your spouse – regardless of whether they ask or not.

What you have to decide is what the term, forgiveness means for you, personally. It’s a vague term, if you think about it. It can mean different things to different people, depending on your belief system and background. Here’s how to get a handle on how you view forgiveness:

Step 1: Define forgiveness in your own terms

When you think of forgiveness, what do you understand it to mean? And if you were to forgive your spouse, what would that imply?

Step 2: What would it mean if your spouse asked for forgiveness?

Let’s say your spouse has asked for forgiveness, or came to you this evening and asked for it. What would it mean to you? How would it change you? How do you think it would feel to hear those words, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me”?

Step 3: What would it mean if your spouse didn’t ask for forgiveness?

And just as important is what it would mean to you if your spouse never asked for forgiveness. Would you stay stuck in a state of pain? What would it mean for your marriage? Ultimately, would it take away your power of your own feelings?

My very best to you as you evaluate forgiveness and what it means to you.

Has your spouse apologized to you? Did they ask for forgiveness?

If your spouse has not apologized or asked for forgiveness, why do you think that is?

Would forgiveness release you from the pain you are feeling?

Please share your ideas and experiences with the community.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Stephanie Anderson


Marriage Sherpa

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