I can't forgive my husband after he cheated on me, what can i do?

I feel resentment and anger all the time. it has been 2 years now but i still feel the same pain..i think about divorce every day but can't take that decision
Asked by Lili


First of all, it is very normal to struggle with building back trust and grieving the deep betrayal of infidelity.  This is why so many couples divorce. You have stayed for two years in a great deal of pain, so it seems that there is a big part of you that believes remaining married is what is best.  Maybe you have children and you do not want to disrupt their lives.  Maybe you have religious reasons. Maybe you are afraid to be on your own and deal with all the pressures of life—job, housing etc. alone.  I am not sure because you have not offered more information than that you feel resentment and anger all the time—over two years and that you are in deep pain and feeling indecisive about divorce.

Divorce will not automatically resolve all the pain of betrayal—you will still have to do work on yourself in grieving and letting go of the pain, but it does give a small sense of justice that might stimulate the personal healing needed after divorce.

Whatever decision you make, to divorce or to remain married, you will need to do a lot of work on facing the pain of your betrayal and recognizing that you are not in control of being betrayed again, but you are in control of allowing yourself to heal and give the shame of the betrayal back to the betrayer rather than being crushed by the pain.  I would encourage you to work on yourself first before you make the final decision about whether divorce is what is best for you.

Why do you need to work on yourself since you have been faithful in the marriage?  It’s the same with being married to the an alcoholic.  The spouse has the disease too even if she doesn’t have a problem stopping drinking.  She is affected by the husband’s drinking and she needs to work her own program in overcoming the insanity that living with an alcoholic brings to her life.  That is why Alanon—the support group for people who live with or loving an alcoholic.  The resentment and anger and pain is only hurting you at this point.  You are being rewounded over and over for two years.

The first place I would start with is catharsis—which means to express the damage the betrayal has done in your soul.  I often have people write a letter of rage to the betrayal that they are not going to send.  We work through that letter together and it is often helpful in discerning the pain and shame that belongs to the betrayer and not to you.  You might also write a letter of anger that you will not send to the person he had the affair with.  Once your soul can release these strong toxins that you have not been able to get rid of just using time as a healer.  Time does not heal this kind of pain.  You need to be brutally honest with yourself.  Often when you have gone through the trauma you end up storing lies about yourself or your relationship that you don’t even realize.  These letters help bring that to light and then you can make decisions that are best for you and your relationship.

It is possible for marriages to come back stronger than ever after infidelity, but not without soul-searching work on the part of both partners.  If you choose to work on your marriage eventually your spouse must be willing to do the same.  You could either start marriage counseling together to do this or each work separately at first.

It is important for you to understand that you went from 100% to 0% of trust in your husband when you found out about his infidelity.  Perhaps these two years have helped you increase your trust to 5%, but marriage counseling would help you increase trust to a more acceptable percentage like 70-80% where you are both comfortable with the commitment you have to be faithful.  No marriage, no matter how strong is 100% immune from infidelity.  It is healthy to know this in a good marriage. 

I hope you will reach out for individual or marriage counseling so that you can move beyond your resentment, anger and pain to find contentment in the decision you make to be with  your husband or to divorce him. 

I hope this helps give you direction and understanding of what you are facing.


Dr. Newman

(D., Phil., LPC, LMFT)