Breakup Advice

How Long Does it Take to Forgive a Cheating Spouse (The Truth)

Dealing with the emotional pain of a cheating spouse isn’t easy. It’s not just the sense of betrayal, it’s also about the shame we feel.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to recover from a cheating partner in a way that helps you cut lose and rebuild your self-esteem.

Let’s get to it.

As a rule of thumb, recovering from a cheating spouse should average around six months and turning your life around should take no longer than twelve months. Taking longer is a sign that you should work on yourself to become a more emotionally mature person.

As somebody who went through a bad break up and wrote the book on break up recovery for men, I know the process inside out, and it’s not what you read on so many blogs.

Let’s start with the tricky subject of forgiveness.

Forget about forgiveness if it doesn’t serve you

The general bumf (sorry, advice) out there always dictates that you should be a forgiving soul. They tell you to forgive your ex, or ask the universe for forgiveness (let me know the number when you find it…) and embrace the situation.

This is nonsense and even damaging to your mental health, not to mention your pride as a man.

I remember watching an interview with a couple. The guy was a well-to-do author who wrote about the law of attraction and other such stuff.

He was explaining that his wife had cheated on him more than once, and how he had found the strength to forgive her affairs each time. And there she was, next to him, wriggling uncomfortably and wishing the Earth would swallow her up right there and then.

Seriously, that was not a happy couple. He looked like he’d taken an emotional beating and was still suffering from lack of closure, and he seemed to be desperately trying to convince the listeners that his wife did love him.

Her expression and body language however said exactly the opposite. She was clearly trapped in that relationship for one reason or another.

Do not become that guy. Forgiving her let’s her off the hook, but doesn’t magically heal your wounds, unless your brain has been rewired to believe overlooking a cheating incident somehow makes you ‘strong’.

Things don’t change if it’s your wife that’s asking for forgiveness. She may be crying crocodile tears in order to get back into your good books if it’s more convenient for her to remain married to you as a couple, whether financially or socially.

Think about that. People don’t have affairs with other people they can count on as a plan B if their affair is discovered. They have affairs with people they like – often times, people who are also married.

This is why when a cheat is found out, they find themselves in a real pickle. No wonder they beg forgiveness!

The exception

Some people need to forgive to stay congruent with their own beliefs. For example, a religious person may believe that marriage is sacred even to an unfaithful partner.

If you genuinely benefit mentally from forgiving your spouse’s extra marital affairs, then do so. Perhaps marriage counselling is a good idea in this instance – let a professional guide you through the months ahead in a productive way.

Otherwise, if you’re like the rest of us, forgiveness is out of the question.

A rough patch is no excuse for infidelity. Highs and lows in a relationship are part of daily life. If your partner needs to cheat every time you’re experiencing an issue, then that’s one flake of a person!

Read on to see what to do next, once you decide not to forgive her.

Work on yourself

Make a decision to work on yourself to become an emotionally secure man. This takes time, but you generally only have to do this once in your life, and it’s worth every second.

Embark on a journey of learning. Learn philosophy from the greats (Plato, Socrates); read (or listen to) The Philosopher King (emperor Marcus Aurelius) and become a stoic. There’s nothing more sobering than Marcus’s teachings.

Learn psychology and neuro linguistic programming (NLP) to fortify your mind.

Take up a new hobby – the type of hobby that consumes you. If you had one such interest before you got married, consider bringing that back into your life.

Become active socially

Start going to parties and hang out with friends. Make use of your phone and rekindle old relationships. It’s all part of the healing process.

Nothing speeds up affair recovery more than a full schedule of things you like to do.

Once you cut loose from your previous relationship, ignore her phone calls (as long as they’re not important or have to do with kids or legal arrangements).

If your ex starts to give you a hard time, check out my article on how to deal with ex wife drama.

Start dating again

Once you start to get your confidence back, and once you’re well on your way on the road to recovery, you’ll start to consider becoming emotionally involved with somebody new.

This is normal. But you need to feel happy and grounded in yourself in order to build a healthy relationship. Do not rush into a relationship after infidelity – this is doing yourself and the other person a disservice.

You owe it to yourself to allow for time to learn and heal, and you have no business wasting somebody else’s time just to create a distraction for yourself.

Take your time, learn and you will find yourself back in a happy relationship. You’ll know when the time is right.

If you need a hand getting over your breakup, read my guide on how to get over an ex. For a real shortcut, buy my book. And if you’re considering online dating, which you should, check out my online dating guide on Amazon.

Other questions

That’s the process in a nutshell. But I realise that you may still have unanswered questions,  because every situation is unique. So let me address the most common questions I come across below:

Does infidelity pain ever go away?

Whether you recover from infidelity is mostly down to your own personality and character. An individual with low self-esteem and trust issues is unlikely to get over being cheated on by a partner even if they say they forgive. Forgiving and forgetting are two different things, and hanging on to resentment will affect all that person’s relationships.

If you’re still in the sane relationship then expect a difficult time ahead. If, on the other hand, you’ve broken up, then focus on rebuilding your life and make working on yourself – particularly your self-esteem – a priority.

You need to accept that not everybody is a cheater – there are plenty of trustworthy people around. But you need to be worthy of them too if you hope to experience a loving relationship, and that means entering your next relationship without mental baggage and assuming the worst from your new partner.

If you still feel very hurt after some months, consider individual therapy.

Can a relationship go back to normal after cheating?

It takes time, patience and understanding for a relationship to get back to normality after a partner cheated. Everything from your everyday life to your sex life will likely be affected in the short term. Succeeding in getting back to normal is going to be mostly down to your strength of character and willingness to make the relationship work.

One thing that can help, if you both agree to it, is attending couples therapy.

How likely is a cheating spouse to cheat again? Do cheaters always reoffend?

Not every cheater is the same. Some partners cheat because they feel they don’t get enough attention from their partner and can become loyal again after feeling genuine remorse. Other people cheat because they have low self-esteem and need attention from the opposite sex as validation. They’re more likely to cheat again.

You need to understand which category your partner falls into as well as her own character (for example, does she flirt with other males constantly?) in order to gauge the likelihood of her cheating again.

What percentage of relationships work after cheating and should you give a cheater another chance?

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy claims 15% of married women cheat on their husbands, while 25% of married men cheat on their wives.

“Studies have found that men are more likely to engage in extramarital sex if they are unsatisfied sexually, while women are more likely to engage in extramarital sex if they are unsatisfied emotionally.”

Source: WikiPedia Infidelity


If your goal is to get your relationship back on track and your wife’s affair is too much of an emotional issue for you, professional counselling should be an option.

If your beliefs dictate that you should forgive her, then, as long as you get mental closure from doing so, go ahead.

However, how long it takes to recover from your spouse cheating on you becomes irrelevant if you want to move on with your life. Instead of hanging on to the past event and looking for a way to reconciliate things, take charge of your life and make a conscious decision to cut lose and move on.

This means putting everything behind you and rebuilding your life from the ground up. If you’re having difficulty accepting the reality you’re in right now, then invest your time in learning the tools to heal mentally.

Learning NLP and even undergoing some therapies can be helpful in shortening the time of emotional recovery.

Similar Posts