Eva is struggling to put the past behind her, and has asked YourLifeChoices relationship expert Jo Lamble for some advice on how to forgive and forget a friend’s past indiscretion.
Years ago, my husband cheated on me with one of my friends. My husband and I decided to stay together because of our children. But my husband still sees my cheating friend’s husband. The men have somehow managed to get over the betrayal, but I find it very difficult to be around her. I’d like us to be friends again, but is it possible? How long does it take to forgive and forget? Is there a way you can help with this?
A. Your lingering pain is understandable. The betrayal we feel if a partner cheats can be stronger if it’s with a friend. First, it may not be that your friend’s marriage has been unaffected. We never know what goes on in someone else’s home and it’s just as likely that they have struggled as well.
I’m assuming that you have forgiven your husband, so you’re now considering how to reconnect with your friend. To be able to resume the friendship, you need to know that your friend is sincerely remorseful. Has your pain been validated? An apology is often not enough. We need to feel understood. We need to feel that the perpetrators of the betrayal truly know the impact of their actions. If our feelings are acknowledged but then we are told to move on too quickly, then resentment and jealousy can remain for years and years.
Your friend may not have given you the validation you need because she is embarrassed or ashamed. But it’s not for you to make her feel better. If you think that your friend has empathised with your feelings, but you’re still having trouble forgiving and forgetting, remember that you have a choice. You did not choose for them to have an affair, but you chose to stay with your husband and you can choose whether or not you want to reconcile with your friend. It feels better when we know we have a choice. Ask yourself what you miss about the friendship and see if the positives outweigh the difficult emotions that are triggered by seeing her.
If you decide to work on this relationship, take it slowly and ask for your husband’s support. Spending time with her will probably cause spikes in your feelings of betrayal, and he needs to be patient and understanding during the process.
If you have a question for Jo Lamble, please send it to [email protected]