Should I forgive my husband for cheating?

My Questions and Answers | | Expert Author , Psychologist
Should I Leave My Husband

My husband of 15 years had an affair with someone from his office. It went on for 2 months and I only found out because I checked his phone. He said he has ended it and it was a mistake. But I don’t know if I believe him. Cheating is a choice and it doesn’t just happen. However, we have built a whole life together. We have 2 kids, a 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter. We have also shared some very happy times together. Should you forgive a cheater? I am not even sure where to start. Part of me wants to know every detail but each time he tells me something about them, it breaks my heart. I can’t have him touch me without thinking about how he did the same thing to her. Is it even possible to move past this? Please tell me how I can forgive my husband for cheating. Sometimes I feel like I deserve better and want to end the marriage. But other times I realize how we’ve spent many wonderful years together and we shouldn’t just throw it away because of one affair. My husband says he is willing to do anything to fix things.

Related Reading: My husband still talks to the woman he cheated on me with


Cheating is a painful experience to navigate through, and while many couples choose to part ways after, some do manage to come out of it stronger than before. In your case, there are a few things to consider to help you make a decision:

  • Your husband’s ability and willingness to take accountability for his actions. He needs to acknowledge what he did, not brush it off as a mistake, and without blaming it on something else.
  • Making a relationship work after cheating takes a lot of effort from both partners. You will have to sit and acknowledge any other problems in your marriage, and account for the role you played in them as well. This will, naturally, require honest and vulnerable communication. Is that something you are prepared to do?
  • Remember that there really isn’t a right or wrong choice here. Just a choice which feels right for you.
  • I would highly recommend speaking to a marital therapist/counselor due to the nature and complexities of your relationship. A professional can help you both through communication and trust building exercises, understanding where you both stand in terms of commitment to change and where to go from here. A professional can provide an unbiased, mediating view on the troubles in your marriage.
  • Consider personal counseling or therapy for yourself to help you figure out what it is that you want to do, what is your reasoning behind it and what you need right now in order to be okay, and for your marriage to work.
  • Don’t hesitate to voice your needs to your husband – whether it be needing space and time, reassurance, etc.
  • Set expectations and boundaries with your husband about what both of you need from the marriage and see if the other person is able to provide you with what you need.
  • Reach out for emotional and practical support from people you trust to have your best interests at heart.

As for forgiving him, forgiveness is a personal choice. One which you can’t be forced into making. Whether you should forgive him or not, is your decision entirely. However, before you decide, be sure of “why” you choose to forgive him. In order to forgive him, you will require him to:

  • Acknowledge the pain he’s caused and be genuinely apologetic and willing to make amends
  • Some time to process and digest all of this. Be patient with yourself and don’t rush yourself into feeling a particular sort of way.
  • You need to let go of resentment you may be holding onto from past and the present event. This will take some time, so try not to rush it.

Related Reading: I’ve forgiven my husband for his affair but I still don’t feel at peace


1.⁠ ⁠Can you truly forgive a cheating husband?

Yes, you can. However, forgiveness is a personal choice, and it often requires a lot of reassurance and security in a relationship in order to be able to forgive your husband for cheating

2.⁠ ⁠Can a cheating husband be trusted again?

Whether you should trust him again or not is your decision to make, based on the history of your relationship and how you feel about the entire event and him as a person. It is important for you to stay authentic to your emotions. 
Your husband will also have to commit to making an effort so that you are able to repair this trust together. Remember that it is a shared responsibility, meaning, that both partners have to make the effort to make it work

3.⁠ ⁠Should I stay after he cheated?

Your decision to stay or go needs to take into account:
1. Your feelings on the matter, and if you think you will be able to trust him again
2. How willing are you to making an effort to make this marriage work
3. Is your husband genuinely apologetic
4. Is your husband willing and capable of providing you with what you need in order to overcome this?
5. Take practical matters into consideration as well, such as finances, housing and your children. It would be best to consult a lawyer just to understand your options better. 
6. Do reach out for help from your support system or a mental health professional.

4.⁠ ⁠Can a relationship go back to normal after cheating?

A relationship can recover from cheating. However, it does not go back to what it used to be before infidelity. Rather, the patterns of interaction and communication between the partner changes. 
Couples who do overcome cheating, come out stronger on the other end because of the shared effort to put into repairing their relationship, maintaining healthy communication and strengthening trust and friendship

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