Question: I found out that my husband had been cheating on me. He has since ended the relationship and tells me that he loves me and wants to work on our marriage. I want that too, but how can I forgive him when I don't think I can?
This is a very serious question. There is a previous Quick Tips which focuses on the adult, not the inner child, running the relationship. Infidelity is very much an adult decision, and the inner child’s fears and pain cannot dominate.
I’ve seen dozens of relationships recover from infidelity. Here’s how to start the recovery process:
1. Make an adult decision
Your husband tells you that he loves you and wants to work on your marriage. This is something that you need to take at face value if that’s what you want too. You both need to decide that you want to work on this relationship. It’s important just to say that in a very calm and a matter of fact way, so it’s agreed upon.
Decide what the correct perimeters for you and your particular relationship are. You both need to be on the same page to be able to agree on things, be clear on the perimeters and be able to move on from something like this.
Lay out the guidelines. Write down the perimeters that you agreed to go forward with.
Once the perimeters are clear, you can truly just go into the sense of “okay let’s do this together, let’s see if we can get past this”.
2. Foster open communication
Forgiveness and building trust are very long processes. In order for you to really learn to trust a person, it’s important to do it very slowly and gently and with open communication.
Be completely clear about what kind of relationship you DO want. Actually just state that you prefer to be in an inclusive relationship and that you don’t want this to happen again.
Avoid making your husband the only problem, or assuming he is a bad person That’s the inner 10 year old child’s black and white approach. And she doesn’t have a place in an intimate relationship when it comes to making decisions. Instead, leave the inner children with 'Auntie Margaret' - who is a fictional character, always there to look after your inner children, when you need to go into those adult conversations.
3. Start building trust
Start by reading books like “the Speed of Trust” by Stephen Covey, There are sections which cover active measures, which include proactively looking to trust people.
I have this saying “Trust but verify”, where you take what the other person is saying at face value, but you also look for clues to see if what they actually say is what’s going to happen.
So that’s kind of the starting stage. Remember, that sometimes you just don’t heal past these things. Sometimes you realise that you can’t and that’s okay too. Just know that it’s often the inner child being unable to forgive.
I really recommend that if this is something that’s happened for you or to you, that you contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and have a chat with us to see what the appropriate approach is for you personally.
I hope that helps.
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