I was talking to a colleague about her relationship a while back and she told me she no longer spent quality time with her husband and that they had lost their connection. She told me that she had cheated on him twelve years ago. They had spoken about it at the time and had decided to stay together as he said he had forgiven her.

Had he really? Whenever my colleague and her husband argued, he would say “We wouldn’t be arguing about this if you hadn’t had an affair!”

He had not forgiven her and used this incident from twelve years ago as leverage to gain power now.

Having an affair can be extremely damaging to your relationship. I do not advocate telling your partner if you have had an affair as the potential for damage is so great. If you do tell the person you are supposed to love the most that you have cheated on him or her, then you usually expect forgiveness.

Let’s analyse this further.

You’ve cheated.

For whatever reasons, you were unfaithful. And now you are experiencing remorse, your conscience is getting at you. You feel guilty, you can’t look in the mirror, you feel like a prick. You are feeling bad all of the time, you have trouble sleeping and your appetite is low. You fear your partner is sensing something. You can’t kiss your partner as freely as before and having sex feels wrong.

Now, you want to confess and tell another soul so that you can free your mind from this burden. You want absolution. And you turn to the one person who is deeply hurt by your behaviour and your violation of trust and safety. There is no absolution to gain. You want to clear your conscience, but you only destroy your partner’s trust.

When you ask for forgiveness you need to first and foremost forgive yourself.

Let’s now flip the page and ask if you could forgive your partner after he or she has cheated on you? Forgiveness means that you are completely and utterly forgive the other person for their action and the consequences. Are you 100% prepared to never mention it again? Do you want to try to start your relationship again and patch up the wound and keep loving, trusting and respecting your partner?

The simple answer is: Don’t cheat on your partner in the first place!

If you have cheated, don’t tell your partner. By telling you make it worse for all people involved.

If you have cheated, try to forgive yourself and tell no one.

If your partner has cheated on you and told you, try to forgive. Forgiveness is always an option. Try to completely and utterly forgive your partner and try to rebuild your relationship to one of love, intimacy, respect and trust.

If your partner has cheated on you and you have forgiven, never again mention the affair and do not use it as leverage in the future.

(This is an excerpt of my new book “Why Money is more important than Sex”) You can purchase it here.