How do you begin to forgive a cheating spouse—or do you forgive your partner at all? According to Rabbi Shmuley, whether you truly loved the person before
the cheating occurred will determine if the affair can be forgiven. "Marriages that still have love and affection can be mended," he says. "For couples who already feel like strangers to each other, the affair becomes an excuse to sever the relationship."
If you decide to keep the marriage together, Rabbi Shmuley offers these guidelines:
- You can forgive a spouse for an act of infidelity, he says, but only if your spouse promises to work on it. "Your spouse needs to show that they're serious about repentance, commitment to you and not doing it again," Rabbi Shmuley says. Counseling is also often needed to repair the relationship, he says.
- Beware of a repeat offender. "If the spouse slips up more than once after their promise to change, your partner is not serious about changing," Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Women often feel tempted to know details about the other woman, but don't compare yourself to her, Rabbi Shmuley says. "The time will come when your husband can talk about it if it's still bothering you," he says. "But don't have your husband relive it when he's trying to heal."
- Forgive only if your spouse agrees to sever all communication with that person, he says. If it's a co-worker, he says the cheating spouse must leave that job.
"Marriage is sacred—but an act of infidelity doesn't have to destroy a marriage. A spouse that is truly sorry will promise to take tangible action to repair the damage, completely cut ties with the 'other person,' and never do it again. Repeat offenders, however, should not be forgiven. You can transform this dark spot into something positive by directing love toward the injured party."