INFIDELITY: You Can Forgive, But Can You Forget?

After infidelity, many people sweep their feelings under the rug. Some people go to couples counseling and work through the issues in the marriage that were causing problems that predated the infidelity. Some people stay married and stay angry. Some actually move on emotionally.

Recently I have had several calls from people who have said that although they have stayed in the marriage, forgiven their spouse, and really believe that things are better, they cannot forget the infidelity and just can’t seem to trust again.

This is not uncommon. Restoring trust after any betrayal is hard, especially one so deeply emotional as infidelity in a relationship. There are really two kinds of trust that need to be worked on. The first is trusting that your partner will not be unfaithful again, but the second is even more important: believing that your partner will deal kindly and genuinely with any concerns you may have,, and not leave you feeling sorry that you recommitted to the relationship.

The biggest problem is that the partner who was unfaithful wants you not only to forgive but to forget, whereas you can always remember the details and events that were part of you becoming aware of the infidelity.

While there are many ways to rebuild trust, in order for you to reweave a stronger relationship, you must work at setting aside the crushing memories of the betrayal. This does not mean that you forget them, but that you stop using them as a cudgel with which to beat up your partner. You make a conscious decision to put aside the obsessive thoughts of the infidelity and focus instead on more positive ways to move forward.

If you would like help in evaluating your relationship and moving forward, contact the Health Psychology Center at 732-933-1333.