I am opening the door a bit more to the idea that forgiveness can happen. I don’t have to rush it. But I don’t have to keep refusing it either.

forgiveness can happen

By “Tryingtogetover”

God bless our couples therapist. I know there are a lot of lame ones out there, but I struck on a good one with my first, terrified phone call after D-day number two (literally a whispered call I made from within a closet at work). She coached us through our third and final D-day two months later and is with us still, a little more than two years down the road.
Her only miscalculation was, early on, indicating that my goal could be forgiveness. The idea enraged me.
My goal was saving my marriage, and as far as I was concerned, that required him to change but forgiveness did not need to play into it. Forgiveness is for our higher power. Or, for me when I forgive my kids for behaving like the age they are. I’ll also forgive a friend for a dumb act that happens once. And all of that.
Forgiving my husband for a long, deliberate and calculated affair that required 24 months of deceit, followed by lies that went on long after that? Hell. No. I’m not that stupid.
I read a book early on that indicated, as much expert advice does, that forgiveness was a gift to give myself, so that I could move on. But it never felt that way. It felt like forgiveness would gloss over my pain and make me a dupe all over again. I have a hard time, even now, looking back on how trusting I was. I keep thinking, “never again will I be like that” and “never, ever will I forgive.”
So, it’s with some amount of sheepishness that I admit that I recently felt forgiveness despite myself. It crept in, and I actually pushed it away. I think it came because, with the passage of time, I see that my husband can’t escape what he did, and it haunts him. This gives me the constant moral higher ground, which makes me feel a little sorry for him.
I pointed out to him, in therapy, that he will be lucky enough to die with a partner who was always faithful, and that I will never have that. He looked so crushed. I think most men want to be good, to be superheroes, to be considered great and constant husbands. He can’t have that back.
Looking over at him as he tackled the irreversible nature of his bazillion mistakes…I felt sorry for him. I had an out-of-body experience and pity washed over me. I do, after all, love the man. I have known him 25 years, and I know he would take back everything evil that he did if he could.

A Cheater’s Mistakes After the Emotional Affair

At that moment I also knew that my anger at him was separate from knowing that he had, unfortunately, ruined his own life story. That’s the nugget of compassion that turned into a feeling of forgiveness. It required separating my own poor-me thoughts out of the equation for a moment.
The feeling didn’t last, but it happened. Then I snapped back into my own familiar thoughts and felt mad again. During all the internal back-and-forth I saw a recommendation on these boards for the book called How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, and the Freedom Not To, by Janis A. Spring. The title appealed and the reviews were good, so I got it. I haven’t read it straight through, but I have been jumping around in it, and it’s helpful.
The basic premise: You can accept rather than forgive. The author especially recommends this in cases where the person who hurt you completely denies your pain. Part of the idea, roughly, is to come to a place of that happened rather than torturing yourself with why did that happen?
But Spring recommends considering forgiveness if the person who hurt you 1) is truly sorry and 2) has changed their ways. Both of those apply to my husband, so then I had to consider all the reasons why I was refusing to forgive. The author lists a lot of them, and they’re not noble. The one that rang true for me is that I feel, as long as I don’t forgive, I am a little protected. But it’s a false sense of protection.
In this video, Dr. Spring gives us an example of genuine forgiveness vs cheap forgiveness…

So, I am opening the door a bit more to the idea that forgiveness can happen. I don’t have to rush it. But I don’t have to keep refusing it either.
My husband is struggling with what he can never undo, and with the fact that he has been his own worst enemy. And I feel bad for him. And I admit that makes me feel lighter. Maybe it’s a bit of forgiveness. Maybe it’s just that I no longer feel so bad about myself. Either way, things are feeling better.
Thanks so much to ‘TryingToGetOver’ for sharing her experiences with us in the aftermath of an affair.  We love to share articles from our readers.  So if you’d  like to submit an article for us to possibly post on the blog, feel free to contact us about your ideas.
See also  How to Forgive but Not Forget - Mark Manson's 5-Step Process

    9 replies to "Opening Myself Up to the Idea That Forgiveness Can Happen"

    • TryingHard

      Thanks T for your insight into forgiveness. It’s truly the last hurdle the betrayed tackles. And as with everything infidelity/betrayal it’s 5 steps forward 2 steps back. So not linear right?

      Seems most days I’ve got this whole forgiveness thing down then bang something rears it’s ugly head. I can say for the most part I’ve forgiven. My forgiveness may not look like anyone else’s forgiveness and that’s ok. There is no medal for it at the end. Forgiveness is organic. It seems to happen day by day until one day you’ve got it. And you know when you’ve got it.

      Most importantly is don’t try to force it. Don’t forgive because it’s what YOU should do. Don’t forgive and try to fit into someone else’s mode of forgiveness. Forgiveness is whatever it means to YOU.

      I’m pretty sure my h is thinking i haven’t forgiven him no matter how much i show him i have. But that is his problem. I believe he hasn’t forgiven himself.

    • tryingtogetover

      Yep for sure I know what you are saying TryingHard. Forward and then back, all the time. And yeah, you are right, each person’s forgiveness can look different. But none of us will forget, that’s for damn straight!

    • Betterdays

      I’m more in the camp of accepting than ever forgiving (19 months out). Accepting that I’m living and sharing my life with a wife that is fully capable of cheating on me. I don’t think I will ever let my guard completely down. It just seems foolish. I think really for any relationship going forward. Trust but verify. A spouse/marriage is a partnership. Partnerships fail all the time. Keeping it more business like from here on out.

    • Tcoulte

      This is all very fresh to me. DDAY was only a few months. I want to forgive and begin the healing process but I go from anger to depression to being somewhat happy. Then I seem to have flashbacks and it starts all over again. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

      • MovingOn

        You wrote this post on the day I found out my husband has started his affair. Then got physical. He decided to leave me pregnant, continue his affair for 4 months. Then took 6 months to get over her or realize she was nothing.
        I think it does get better. We really are just starting to heal and work on our marriage now. A year later. My therapist said that moments when your going for a walk or cooking together or building something together or gardening – those are not the times to talk about the affair and the hurt they caused. It’s to make a new connection and with that it can help with healing. The defensiveness prolonged the healing to begin which I wish my husband freaking knew that. I now can bring up the ho-worker and he doesn’t get defensive and will open up more and not ask “why do you always bring her up”. I think it’s because we have started to reconnect which is so hard. Therapist said both people in a partnership need to feel safe and secure for that reconnection and defensiveness to go down.
        I hope a year later you are doing better!

    • Debbie

      I am in the same boat. For me it’s been 7 months. I can be good then I can’t stand the sight of him. I have chosen not to celebrate our 30th on April 27th. I feel that what I thought we accomplished we failed. Or should I say he ruined! I don’t know if I can live with someone that I will always doubt. We have been in therapy since the begining. This has been a tough week. Me also any help would be appreciated! Thank you all.

    • Chad

      My heart breaks for both of you. I can tell you this, it will get easier with time but you will probably still have some dark times ahead of you as you try and work through the mess that they have caused. I can also tell you that there is the possibility of a better stronger marriage as you work through all the crap.. I honestly did not believe that was even a possibility when I was at your stages in the recovery, but I can tell you from first hand experience that it is. I’m at 7 1/2 years since the first d-day and a little under 7 years for the second d-day, things were rough for a while and there were times where I wondered if it was worth the price that we were paying, but things have been good for a little while now. For me, I believe my recovery took a little longer than most because I held on to the anger and resentment that stemmed from some of the things my wife said while in the affair fog, that hurt me deeply. I just wanted to give you some encouraging words, if this is something that you want or even think that you might want, don’t give up, brighter days will come. I’m sorry again that you are having to go through this.

      • MovingOn

        Thanks Chad for the encouraging words. We are trying to move forward in our relationship. But I am in the anger stage. I feel like mine has so many layers to go through. Started affair then I found out. He left me to continue it. I would say abandoned me (because I was pregnant with our first) then when they ended he would say he wants to work on us but wasn’t “over” her or the affair or I don’t even know. I’m just so worried because so many of you are married for 10+ years when affair happened and mine was only 2 years of marriage and he left me. Was so manipulated by this girl and he said things to her also. But the things my husband said to me I struggle with also. And he recognizes that. The shit that came out of his mouth… it’s hard. I’m trying. And he is also. But ugh.

    • Debbie

      Thanks so much. We were at therapy last night and I actually used the word resentment! I feel like why am I doing all this work and trying to move on when none of this was my choice! He is very remorseful and sorry. This was a emotional affair. They only seen each other like 3 times for very short minutes. A lot of Facebook messenger wich I can’t see cause they were all deleted. I have phone records. I can see how often they spoke and texted. Her husband contacted me. He was aware of the friendship for months. I think he was a little unconscious for the most part!!! Believe me I woke him up quickly! We have been together since we were 15! This is the one thing we always both agreeded we would never have to struggle with. We have many friends and family that have done so. I can’t believe after 7 years you still look at this page. Thanks for your encouragement.

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