Toxic Love > Harmful Patterns > How to Forgive Your Husband for Cheating While He Was Alive

How to Forgive Your Husband for Cheating While He Was Alive

After her husband died, Kate found out her husband was having an affair. How do you cope with your husband’s death — and forgive him for cheating on you while he was alive?

Here’s my reader’s comment:

“Nobody has addressed being married to husband who died, then finding out he cheated with a coworker for the entire marriage, or most of it,” says Kate on Help and Hope When You’re Living Alone After He Dies. “You’re left to grieve your husband’s death and the ‘loss of your life.’ You also have to recover from being cheated on, but not finding out until after he died. This is even more unbearable than the death itself. How do you cope with that?”

Finding out a terrible secret after a loved one’s death is difficult. Rebuilding trust after your husband’s secret affair is painful. And the combination of those two losses is devastating,

How do you forgive your dead husband for cheating while he was alive?

By weaving forgiveness and acceptance into your grieving process. Forgiving and accepting your husband’s affair with his coworker won’t be easy, and you’ll never “get over it.” You’ll always carry a shadow of sorrow in your heart, for both your husband’s death and his secret affair while he was alive.

My tips won’t miraculously heal your wound, but they will help you move forward.

5 Ways to Cope With Your Husband’s Affair After He Dies

My “She Blossoms” articles are broken up into five different categories, for a holistic approach to life and relationships — whether I’m writing about forgiving your dead husband’s affair or falling in love for the first time. I write about the whole woman: Spirit, Heart, Soul, Body, and Brain. The separate Blossom Tips help you identify which works best for you.

1. Spirit Blossoms – Decide you will forgive your husband

You don’t need to forgive your husband for cheating while he was alive for his sake. You need to forgive him for your sake. It won’t be easy, but the healthiest way to cope with your husband’s secret affair is to choose to let it go. You must decide to move forward, even though your heart has been broken by his betrayal.

Forgiving a husband who didn’t ask for forgiveness — or is too dead to confess and repent — isn’t like rebuilding a marriage with a real live man. Rather, it’s about reconstructing your current understanding of your relationship. It’s very similar to starting over after a sudden abandonment or unexplained rejection. I learned how to do this when my sister suddenly cut me out of her life over 10 years ago, and it wasn’t easy. But I learned how to forgive someone who can’t or won’t be part of the process of starting over.

And if I can do it, so can you.

2. Heart Blossoms – Renew your relationship with your husband

Even though your husband is dead, you still have a relationship with him. You were married for years, and a marriage doesn’t just disappear. Death changes a relationship; it doesn’t erase it. When your husband dies your marriage isn’t completely over; it’s just one-sided. Sometimes, in fact, some widows feel their husbands’ presence and life even after he dies.

My ideas for forgiving your husband for cheating while he was alive are based on that thought: renewing and rebuilding your relationship with him. If you can reformulate how you thought about your marriage, you will be able to move on — even after discovering your husband had an affair before he died.

3. Soul Blossoms – Find supportive, trustworthy companions

Don’t rely on the internet for personal support. It might be helpful to search for tips on forgiving someone who broke your heart and healing your heart without relationship closure. The internet is a great place for finding information and tips, but it’s not good for getting personal advice or learning how you can forgive your husband for cheating while he was alive.

An online grief group can show you that you’re not alone. For example, a widow in a group shared this:

“After my husband died, I realized how little I actually knew about him,” said S. “I found out he’d had multiple affairs while he was alive, and one of his girlfriends actually stayed with us for a week when her basement flooded. After six years I finally forgave my husband for cheating on me while he was alive. The bitterness I felt was eating me up. We have to let go of the past or it will kill us. Sometimes rituals help with letting go. Write your feelings down and then burn the paper, or tear it up and toss it in the air, then vacuum up the pieces and throw them away. There is no changing the past.”

Online support is good, but don’t rely on it. Talk to someone you trust in person. Express your grief and shock, and explore different ways to heal the pain.

4. Body Blossoms – Take good care of yourself physically

How to Forgive Your Husband for Cheating While He Was Alive

5 Ways to Cope With Your Husband’s Affair After He Dies

Grieve the passing of your marriage as you knew it. Your husband died, and so did your understanding of him and your marriage. This grief and sorrow — of losing what you thought was true — needs to be woven into your grieving process as a widow. Grief often involves feelings of shock, anger, disbelief and numbness.

The grieving process also involves physical responses, such as exhaustion and illness. Your body is telling you the truth: you’re shocked and devastated. Instead of pushing yourself to learn how to forgive your husband for cheating while he was alive, give your body time to adjust. You’ve experienced two horrible shocks: your husband’s death, and the secret affair he had while he was alive. Give yourself time to recover.

5. Brainy Blossoms – Learn when you’re ready

In Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back, I share 50 “Blossom Tips” to help women walk through loss and move into a new season of life. The biggest thing that helped me forgive my sister’s sudden rejection and let go was changing how I saw myself. I couldn’t forgive her — or myself — when my self-identity was based on who I was as a sister. It was only until I founded my identity on God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice that I could freely forgive and joyfully move forward.

When you’re ready, start incorporating activities that will help you forgive your husband for cheating while he was alive. Learn thoughtful strategies for picking up the pieces of your broken heart. Console yourself with comfort and hope after your husband’s death.

May you find healing and forgiveness. I can’t imagine how you feel, and my heart is broken for the pain you’re feeling. I pray for strength and comfort, and that you find people and places that will help you move from pain to peace and joy in your life.

What do you think? Your comments – big and little – on how to forgive a husband for cheating while he was alive are welcome below. I read every comment, and would love to hear from you. And don’t worry: I won’t give advice or tell you what to do. It’s your turn to talk!

If you need a virtual hug, read When You Miss Him Like Crazy.

Take good care of yourself. You are already walking into the next season of life, and blossoming into who God created you to be.


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15 thoughts on “How to Forgive Your Husband for Cheating While He Was Alive”

  1. My grief and anger is so fresh! My husband just died a month ago. We were living in separate residences at the time of his death. But, this man was a part of my life most of my adult life, for 33 years. He also told me he loved me. 3 weeks before he died suddenly, he brought me a nice car because my car was getting old. I had NO IDEA that he had been carrying on (in adultery) with more than one woman during the course of our marriage. But, there was a one woman that he had been in a serious adulterous affair with. The saddest part for me was for 3 days, I was texting and calling him on two different phone he had, and there was no answer. I finally had the police do a wellness check. Three days after he was dead, the police show up at my door to tell me my husband was dead. I am grieving and immediately my son and I was hysterically crying, this was on a Sun.. Then, the next day, I am going about trying to get answers about his death. It turns out that he was with the girlfriend when he died. She told the cops that my husband had no next of kin. And then, she proceeds to tell them that she is my husband’s only ‘next of kin’… from there she goes about trying to take care of his funeral arrangements!! I quickly stopped all of that. I was and still am, so furious about how the authorities did not even bother to check that my husband and I were married. If they had done a quick search, they would have seen that he was married and that we filed taxes together still, etc.,etc. And then, I am struggling with all the lies my husband fed me for YEARS and the adultery. And I am struggling with hating both of them! I know I am not supposed to hate and I don’t want to, but I am not to the point yet, of forgiveness and letting it all go. Also, I am still having to take care of the financial mess he left behind…, debt, no will, etc I had to hire a lawyer to be able to have my legal matters handled and that my rights would be watched over. This woman also stole things, items from my husband’s house, his cell phone, etc., etc. She then, proceeded to trash my husband’s house, throwing around things, upending mattresses, etc. And she opened two safes and took everything out. The law has not been helpful to me in this process at all.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss.
      I utterly cannot believe that how much your situation mirrors mine!!!! I litteraly had to carry our marriage certificate around with me.
      I love him so much… But I’m so so pissed I feel like tarring and feathering her!!! Cheeky b***h. That’s my HUSBAND home wrecking…
      Were a family.
      He’s gone and I can’t talk to him ever again, I don’t know what to feel like about all of it. Love, miss yeah… Angry and feel unloved? Hell yeah..

  2. So I am ‘ the other woman’ although I did not know it.
    I thought my partner was my partner until he died and his partner showed up. The shock nearly killed me.
    I would never have embarked on the relationship had I known there was someone else involved. She did not live with him and I found out they did not have a sexual relationship. So to my mind she is ‘the other woman’. But I know she would not agree. And after his death people deferred to her, so in public at least they were seen as the couple. This was a year ago. I know some of you may find this hard to read. But reading your accounts helps me have compassion for her. And that is healing. So I hope this might ultimately help you too.
    I had conflicting feelings – sometimes understanding, sometimes anger, sometimes an overwhelming sense of betrayal that made grieving so much more complicated. The worst thing is that they cannot answer all your questions…Why? Did you love me more than her? Were you ever planning on telling me? Did you ever imagine the pain this would cause me when it came out? But you know – I am sure his other partner has all those same questions and much the same pain. Why should I hate her?
    Today, 15 months on, I am closer to forgiveness. I see that humans are imperfect, that love is complicated. I feel (mostly) now, that he is dead and that his absence still hurts beyond belief, so why torture myself further? When I can feel forgiveness for him I feel at peace. He was not a bad man. I do believe he loved me. He probably loved her too. We offered different things. I imagine I was intended to be a fling but I know he quickly fell in love with me. He gave me everything I craved and made me very happy while he was alive. I don’t want to destroy that wonderful feeling. Life is hard enough. We do our best. Sometimes our best is a load of rubbish. Sometimes we are selfish. Or cowardly. Life is short. Carpe diem.