Probably one of the biggest fears any married person has is when they find out their spouse has been cheating on them. But if you still love your spouse despite everything, how long does it take to forgive a cheating spouse?
Affair recovery experts say that it generally takes 1 to 2 years to forgive a cheating spouse. Some may forgive immediately, some may take a few months, others a year or two, and some may never fully forgive. The time it takes for someone to forgive a cheating spouse depends on several factors.
These factors include:
- How emotionally connected you are to each other
- How remorseful they are
- The severity of the cheating i.e. for how long, how many times, or how many partners
- Is this the first time they cheated
- How soon after, if at all, you went to counseling
Read on to learn more about how long it takes to forgive a cheating spouse.
How Long Does It Take to Forgive a Cheating Spouse?
There are some people who believe that once their spouse has cheated on them, there is no way for the relationship to ever go back to normal, especially since there will always be distrust in the relationship.
It is possible that things can get better, or maybe even go back to the way things were. But it is also possible that things can worsen and eventually lead to separation and divorce.
However, every person, relationship, and situation is different, so how the relationship will fare after the cheating is discovered is not set in stone. Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors that affect how long it takes to forgive a cheating spouse.
1. How Emotionally Connected You Are to Each Other
An emotional connection is a bundle of feelings that bond two people together. These are intense feelings and emotions that can include love, joy, and maybe even anger and a thousand other emotions. These emotions link both people together and it becomes a bond or a tie to someone.
People can build an emotional connection over time. Couples usually start building these connections while they’re dating, during the process of being a couple, and eventually as they get married. Every day you spend with a person and the experiences you share with each other allow you to create emotional connections.
This emotional connection you have with your spouse will greatly affect how soon you will be able to forgive them when you find out they have been cheating. Are you willing to throw away everything you’ve been through together because of that mistake? Or are you willing to take another chance at love and look beyond the infidelity?
2. How Remorseful They Are
Another factor that can help you in forgiving your spouse is how remorseful they are. Is your spouse willing to move mountains and cross heaven and hell just to earn your forgiveness? Or is your spouse not even showing any signs of remorse? You are the best judge as to how remorseful your spouse is, and if the remorse is genuine at all.
Some tips to help you identify if they are truly remorseful are:
- Body language: the person apologizing will often look at the person they are apologizing to, in order to see if they are being heard. The person’s facial expressions, gestures, and even eye contact should help you tell if they are acting or if they are truly remorseful.
- Spontaneity: the spontaneity of the response is often a sign that the person is truly remorseful. They are not thinking first before speaking, they are just speaking what’s really in their mind and letting their emotions take over.
- Denial gestures: keep an eye out for sly smiles, smirks, or even looks to the floor. Sometimes these small gestures are signs of insincerity. They can say all the right words and sound super sincere but these non-verbal cues should give away someone who is not truly remorseful.
- Vulnerability: a person who is truly remorseful and is genuinely asking for your forgiveness will often show signs of vulnerability, like a lowered head. They are truly sorry for what they’ve done and is humbly asking for your forgiveness.
3. The Severity of the Cheating
Is this the first time for your cheating spouse? Or is this the first time you caught your spouse, but they have been cheating multiple times? How long have they been cheating?
This is a painful fact to face, but it is something that you must do. You should ask your spouse to come clean and let you know everything that happened if they want your forgiveness.
Some people are able to forgive their spouse if this is the first time they’ve cheated. Some are able to forgive even after multiple incidents of infidelity. For others, once is enough, yet there are others who give their spouses a second chance – if they cheat again, the relationship is over.
As mentioned before, everyone is different and how long it takes to forgive your spouse, if you even forgive them, varies from one person to the other.
4. Is This the First Time They Cheated
As previously mentioned, is this the first time your spouse cheated on you or is this the first time you caught them? There is a difference because it’s possible that they have been cheating on you for a long time with multiple partners but you only found out recently.
However, it is also possible that this is the first time. But the problem with cheating is the distrust it creates – are you going to believe that this is the first and only time they’ve cheated?
You should be the best person to know and judge if your spouse is telling the truth. The emotional connection you’ve built over the years, and how remorseful they appear should help you in deciding what to believe.
5. How Soon After, if at all, You Went to Counseling
When answering the question, “how long does it take to get over cheating?”, we have to look at whether you went to counseling or not. Asking for professional help can be one of the best decisions in this case. Counseling is a great way to help you overcome the mental and emotional trauma that comes with discovering your spouse has been cheating on you. This is something you do not have to face alone.
Counselors will be able to give you professional advice thanks to their years of experience and interaction with other couples who have faced the same situation as you. They will also give you an objective point of view, and help you overcome your feelings and emotions, and eventually help you heal.
During this time, what is important is that you take your time and make decisions based on what is good for you and your mental and emotional health. It’s completely fine to prioritize yourself and your feelings, you are not being selfish in doing so. You need this time to get over and forgive your cheating spouse.
How Soon to Forgive a Cheating Spouse
When you’ve decided in your mind and heart that you’re going to forgive your spouse, how soon do you forgive them? Do you forgive immediately, or do you prolong their agony and let them wait a little bit?
Forgiving too quickly does have its own advantages and disadvantages. For starters, forgiving too quickly can be seen as a sign of weakness on your part. Your spouse might think you’re head over heels and too desperate not to lose them, and they may think that it’s ok to cheat again.
On the other hand, if you really love your spouse and you are willing to forgive and move on, forgiving them quickly speeds up the healing process since it’s something you don’t have to think about anymore. You don’t have to stress over what happened since you already got it off your chest.
If you decide to delay forgiveness, you risk cultivating ill feelings between you and your spouse. Giving them a hard time just because they cheated on you is wrong; one wrong thing should not be replaced with another wrongdoing. On the other hand, waiting and giving your spouse a hard time to earn your forgiveness will make them strongly consider before cheating again.
Signs that It’s Safe to Forgive Your Spouse
Surviving infidelity is a challenge. Some couples are able to move past it, while others are unable to get over the distrust and end up separating. If you’re not certain if you should forgive your cheating spouse or not, consider the following signs:
- Your spouse acknowledges that they made a very serious mistake, and are willing to do everything they can to win you, your trust, and your love back.
- Your spouse acknowledges the reasons why they cheated and wants to work with you in fixing these so that there will be no other reasons in the future.
- Your spouse admits the mistake wholeheartedly, without a hint of defensiveness. They are assuming full responsibility for what they’ve done.
- Your spouse is not playing the blame game and is not blaming you for the mistake they made. Your spouse is taking responsibility for the mistake, and is not projecting it towards you – they cheated because you have no time for them, you are always busy at work, you are rarely home, etc.
- Your spouse knows that you need time to heal, and they are not rushing you or anything. They are communicating well without any pressure or assertiveness. They are giving you enough space, but are not leaving you alone either.
- You and your spouse are communicating your mutual needs and working on how to prevent any further cheating incidents.
- Your spouse’s current behavior is leading you towards feelings of compassion, and they are showing true remorse for what they have done and the hurt they’ve caused you.
- How your spouse is working on earning your trust again is encouraging the formation of emotional bonds that you may have lost over time with each other.
- Your spouse has volunteered steps they are willing to take to ease any doubts you may have. For instance, you may be given full access to their phone, their social media accounts, etc. to ensure full transparency so that you feel as comfortable as possible.
- You’ve started to feel relief, and life is slowly going back to normal. You don’t have thoughts of resentment with what happened. Your mind is not always full with thoughts of cheating, and your heart is not heavy with anger.
- You see yourself and your spouse having a better future together. You see yourself moving on from what happened and enjoying life together.
You will be the best judge when it’s time you can forgive your spouse. As you’ve lived together and spent a lot of time with each other, you will be able to gauge whether their actions are genuine, and they truly regret what they did. More importantly, you will be able to tell if they are making the effort to win you and your trust back and move on from the incident.
Conclusion: How Long Does It Take to Forgive a Cheating Spouse?
Getting over infidelity is a challenge. But if you’ve decided to look beyond the infidelity, how long does it take to forgive a cheating spouse?
How long does it take to get over cheating and forgive your spouse? Affair recovery experts say that it generally takes 1 to 2 years to forgive a cheating spouse. Some may forgive immediately, some may take a few months, others a year or two, and some may never fully forgive. There is no exact time for everyone, of course, as it depends on several factors.
What’s important during this time is for you to take the time you need to help you heal mentally and emotionally. You need to be healthy and happy if you want your relationship to succeed and overcome this challenge.