When a spouse has an affair, it can be a devastating time for their partner. The feelings of betrayal can be very strong. The following are some surprising ideas that can help the hurt spouse learn to forgive.
1. Evaluate accurately
Evaluate all aspects of the affair carefully and thoughtfully while managing angry emotions. Keeping a journal is important in this process. When evaluating, think of all involved who may be hurting and in what way, this will lessen the anger and increase empathy, essential in the forgiveness process.
2. Keep a clear perspective
When a spouse commits adultery, keep the perspective that their decision was not something they did to you, but something they did to themselves. Keeping a clear perspective will lessen anger and increase the forgiveness process.
3. Inquire sincerely and keep an open mind
Find out what the offending spouse is missing in their life that contributed to the affair. The spouse may indicate behavior in you or lack of unfulfilled needs that contributed to their decision. Write these things in your journal and ponder on them so you can discuss them at a later time.
4. Don’t accept blame for the spouse’s decision to have an affair
If the offending spouse blames you for their affair without taking responsibility and accountability, communicate calmly to the offending spouse the importance of accountability and appropriate choices that could have been taken rather than the decision to have an affair. Separate your spouse’s decisions from yours. Recognize your spouse has the freedom to choose. Accept whatinfluences may have contributed to the affair and write this in your journal. Writing these influences down and discussing them at a later time together, will help you know how to support one another more effectively and what circumstances the offending spouse may need to avoid a future choice of having an affair.
5. Ask your spouse what support they need during this time of recovery
Due to your spouse’s choice to be disloyal to the marriage their process of emotion will range from blame, self-loathing, anger, guilt, shame or remorse. It’s important to lovingly support them through this process. You will find your anger decreasing and understanding and love for the offending spouse will increase.
In time, as you focus on the above steps, you will be able to let go and forgive.