When you find out your wife is cheating, your world turns upside down.
You start questioning everything. Are you a good lover? Is this your fault? Why would she do this?
All those questions flood your mind. You feel angry, betrayed, and scared—and rightfully so. For most men, infidelity is an automatic relationship breaker.
Of course, when you’re married, things aren’t so easy. You love this woman. You might have kids with her, and let’s face it, you don’t want to see your kids feel the pain of a cheating-based divorce.
You want to make sure that you move beyond this and heal. After all, she’s still the woman you married…right?
How do you forgive a cheating wife? Ask if it’s even worth forgiving her at all first!
While men might have a reputation for being stoic or even heartless with their partners, the truth is that they feel deeply hurt by their partners’ betrayal.
The first instinct of almost any man is to try to find a way to forgive his wife and move on with his relationship—or at the very least, fight for her.
Cheating is not something that is as common as you’d think it to be.
Only 13 percent of women have admitted to cheating on their partners. The same survey revealed that between 20 to 40 percent of all divorces start as a result of cheating and that 88 percent of divorcees note it as a contributing factor, at the very least.
You cannot mend the relationship if she isn’t genuinely remorseful.
The first thing that you have to realize is that a relationship cannot work if only one person wants it. So first, make sure that there’s reason to believe she can be trusted again. If any of the following is true, the relationship is beyond salvaging:
- She doesn’t treat you well. Does she insult you, refuse to touch you, or berate you on a regular basis? These are all signs of serious resentment (and abuse) in your relationship. Once resentment creeps in, the relationship is almost certainly done.
- You are resentful of her. Sometimes, infidelity occurs as a result of one partner feeling like their spouse is resentful of them. If you’ve been less than stellar with your wife, ask yourself if you are resentful of her and if you even like her.
- She has told the other man that she intends on leaving you for him. At this point, she basically said who she wants to be with and it’s not you. On a similar note, if she left you for him and came back, there is no saving that. You should never be okay with being someone’s second choice.
- Your wife refuses to cut contact with her affair partner or otherwise refuses to be an open book. If she is not willing to do her share to save the relationship, there is nothing left to salvage.
- Cheating is a dealbreaker. Some men are not going to be able to forgive cheating. That’s okay. You are allowed to have “dealbreakers” in a relationship.
- Your wife keeps saying that you made her cheat. The relationship may have been suffering, but if she refuses to take any blame, it’s done. There is no coming back from this, and it tends to show that she has no remorse.
- When you show that you’re upset, she gets irritated and tells you to “get over it.” You are hurt. It’s okay to heal on your own schedule. If she can’t handle the effects of her actions, it’s time to leave.
1. Ask yourself if you were happy with the relationship before the infidelity
Having a marriage is nice, but having a life that you actually enjoy living is way nicer.
Many men are feebly trapped in relationships with women who don’t pull their weight and no longer treat them well. Before you decide to give your wife a chance, ask yourself how you really feel about the marriage.
A lot of men who were cheated on honestly weren’t having a good time in the relationship beforehand. Does your wife do her fair share of the chores? Are you still attracted to her, or has your interest in her waned?
Sometimes, the universe gives us a convenient “out.” If your relationship was already on the rocks, this is your sign.
The end of a relationship is not a failure.
There’s a tendency in life to tie divorce to the word “failure.” In reality, this isn’t true. Relationships end for a variety of reasons. These reasons include fundamental incompatibilities. Sometimes, leaving is the best way to choose yourself and work towards having the life that you want.
2. Start your journey by finding out the truth about the affair
Before you can truly forgive, you need to know everything about the affair that you want to know.
This includes where they met the person, how long the affair happened, what they did, why they did it, and whether feelings were involved. Ask to see everything, even if it hurts.
This may seem counterintuitive, but this is the first real step to forgiveness.
You can’t forgive someone unless you fully recognize what they’ve done. In many cases, adulterers don’t openly say the full story of what they did. After you find out everything, it’s time to take a step back and work on healing yourself.
In Russia, they have a saying—”trust but verify.” It’s often wise to get a program that helps show additional phone numbers she may have hidden or to look through her phone.
Sometimes, even contacting the affair partner can help you determine if she’s totally truthful or just sorry she got caught.
2. Ask your wife what she wants to do with the relationship from here on out
If she says she doesn’t know whether she wants to stay with you or says that she’s leaving for the affair partner, focus on healing yourself. If she says she wants to fix things, ask her what she thinks that will look like.
It’s important to listen to what she thinks the relationship should look like now that she has cheated. If it seems unreasonable to you or isn’t what you’re willing to tolerate, it’s time to consider a trial separation.
3. Ask your wife to cut off contact with the affair partner and mend her ways
There is no point in forgiving a wandering spouse who continues to wander.
If you want your marriage to survive, your wife has to make the effort to fix what she has done. This includes quitting any contact with the affair partner—and if it’s a coworker, resigning from her job.
If she balks at the idea of ending communication or walking away from what she had with the affair partner, it’s important to emphasize that she does not want to fix the relationship. Unfortunately, it takes two to tango.
Her efforts have to be sustained. If she stops talking to him for only a month or so, it’s not a legitimate effort on her end. There may be an attempt for her to try to convince you that she can control herself. This is an effort to undermine your needs and power as a betrayed spouse.
4. Heal yourself by regaining your power and recognizing your needs
In order to be able to continue in your relationship, you have to get a hold of yourself as well.
First, allow yourself time to experience those emotions.
It’s okay to cry and vent. It’s alright to feel like your world is falling apart. If you feel it’s appropriate, it’s also okay to be open about what just happened. That’s your own personal choice to make and every situation is going to be different.
There is nothing wrong with being upset or showing emotion. It’s part of being human. Many men should consider hiring a therapist or a men’s coach that can help them process what they’re going through. Sometimes, being given the right advice and having someone who understands what you’re going through can change how you handle things.
Your power as a man is realizing that you do not need your wife to validate you.
A lot of women who are ready to leave or who feel like they are able to do whatever they want will try to make it feel like you desperately need their validation. They will encourage you to go out of your way to do whatever it takes to keep them from leaving for the affair partner. It’s often called the “Pick Me Dance.”
Men who find themselves emotionally weak will start to chase after their cheating spouse as a way to gain validation. The truth is, this only makes your wife respect you less and destroys your chances of getting a good relationship.
You do not need your wife’s approval to exist. The only validation you need is inside of you. Keep that in mind and don’t be the guy who foolishly begs and pleads for his wife to choose him.
5. Remind yourself that the affair is (or should be) in the past.
Good women can make bad mistakes that hurt people around them. When you have those images pop up in your mind, it’s time to repeat a mantra, “It’s in the past. It’s done now. She’s with you.”
Eventually, those mental images will typically lessen and get weaker the longer you work together on your marriage. If they don’t, it may be time to re-evaluate whether cheating is a dealbreaker for you.
6. Forgive yourself, too
Infidelity is an eye-opener and often not a good one. You might have realized that your relationship is tanking because of something you did. You might feel emotions or have thoughts you normally would never have.
It’s okay to feel like you are acting out of character and it’s okay to be shocked at your reaction. Most men do feel some kind of a shame, embarrassment, or rage when their wife cheats.
You are going to have to forgive yourself for any type of behavior that led up to this point and move on to be happy and mend your marriage.
7. Start mending your marriage as you heal
It’s important to realize that you still need to work on your marriage as you heal. If you focus on yourself entirely, you are going to have a hard time keeping your relationship intact. Doing this is not a simple process. It’s a long journey that will take years to complete.
Ask her why she cheated and listen. While men and women both cheat, studies show that the reasons why they typically cheat are different.
Men tend to view sexual relationships as “just sex.” Attention, sex, and validation are the key indicators here.
Women are different. A large percentage of the time, women cheat because they are trying to fill an emotional void or deep unhappiness with the relationship they currently have. So if you want to fix the relationship, you need to figure out the why’s.
Only 34 percent of women who cheated were happy in their marriages, compared to 56 percent of men. If she mentions she feels lonely, underappreciated, or in a dead bedroom, it may be time to listen without being defensive.
8. Determine what you both need to continue the relationship
Intuitively, you might think that you’re going to be able to be the one to call all the shots when an affair has happened. This is a bad way to think about it because infidelity generally is a symptom of larger problems. What does this mean?
- If she notes that she felt alone, ask how much time she needs to feel less lonely. Working an 80-hour week is a good way to leave your wife alone in the relationship. If this was a regular complaint prior to the affair, it may be time to re-evaluate your lifestyles together.
- If it’s a matter of a dead bedroom or a lack of affection, then you are going to have to try to have more sex with your wife. Women want men who initiate in the bedroom. If matters of sexual compatibility remain a serious problem, then it may be time to ask for help or re-evaluate the situation.
- Figure out how you can be a partner she swoons for. This is not always easy to do. Men get mixed messages about what they should do every day of the week. Women want a leader, so lead by example.
- Be direct about what you want from her and let her be direct about what she needs from you. Sometimes, the biggest issue is just an overtime workweek. Seek guidance from a relationship coach.
- Keep your boundaries firm. Part of embracing the masculine side of forgiveness is knowing when you’re being taken for a ride or when things just aren’t right for you. If you notice backsliding, be direct and say that you’re no longer interested in working this out.
9. Re-establish your bond one day at a time
There had to be a reason why you and your wife got together in the first place. Part of figuring out how to mend the relationship is about getting both of you to get back on that same page. Women are attracted to that masculine go-getter energy.
In this case, it’s time to use that energy to get back with your bonding time. Have you lost yourself in this relationship? Is the relationship hurting because you no longer lead or because you both forgot who you’re with?
Your relationship is never going to be the same, but you have to move on.
Affairs have the same effects on relationships that a flying baseball bat does on a vase. They break them. However, with enough work and the right circumstances, you can still put them back together. They won’t quite be what you remembered them to be, but they can be quite beautiful in their own, newer way.
It’s important to realize that mending a relationship after an affair means that you are going to have to both rebuild trust and avoid resentment. That’s a tall order, even if you are a very emotionally strong man. That might be why only 15.6 percent of relationships survive an affair.
Having a coach can help you overcome your personal stumbling blocks on the path to forgiveness.
When an affair happens, the most common feeling that men feel is grief. Right behind that is a sense of being lost. What do you do? How can you get all those images out of your mind? Should you just leave?
When you feel that sense of aimlessness, of being emotionally cornered, you often need to have someone on your side. Men cannot always count on therapists to understand their unique struggles of a man. We’ve all heard about horror stories where men have felt “dogpiled” by a wandering wife and a therapist.
Join our exclusive client orientation where we take a look at your life and offer the guidance you need to be a man and the best version of yourself. We’re here to empower you when you feel lost and help you become the man you’ve always wanted to be—the man who your wife fell for.
The question is, are you ready to take that step and reach out for help.