forgive 2Forgiving infidelity is a another difficult part of the affair recovery process.  In the book “How Can I Forgive You?” by Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D. the author describes four different approaches to forgiveness:  Cheap Forgiveness, Refusing to Forgive, Acceptance and Genuine Forgiveness.  While the second two are more flexible in nature, according to the author, the first two are dysfunctional.

Here is a brief summary of each approach:

Cheap Forgiveness.  With this type of forgiveness, the offender ignores your pain and does not come to terms with the injury that he has caused, nor does he participate in the healing process at all.  The injured person does not come to terms with the injury either and is so frightened of his anger or rejection and so desperate to save the relationship that she is willing to do anything – even forgiving him.

But this forgiveness is undeserved, superficial and premature.  It is a forgiveness that is offered before there has been any processing of the impact of the violation or thought as to what might lie ahead in the relationship.

Refusing to Forgive.  Not forgiving infidelity makes you feel powerful and in control, but it is a reactive response to the violation that often leaves one stewing in hostility and resentment.  Spring says a person may choose not to forgive for three basic reasons, (1) when you want to punish an unremorseful offender; (2) when you associate forgiveness with reconciliation or compassion, neither of which you are prepared to offer; and (3) when you use retaliatory rage to protest a violation and see anything that resembles reconciliation as a sign of weakness.

The injured person does not come to terms with the injury, the offender does not participate in the healing process and there typically is no reconciliation that results.

Acceptance.  This approach is a responsible, authentic response to an injury when the offender cannot or will not participate in the healing process.  The offender is either unwilling or unable to make good.  Acceptance is more a program of self-care.  Spring says that it is a healing gift to yourself, accomplished by yourself, for yourself and asks nothing of the offender.  Basically it is an approach that offers you choices.

You can choose to discontinue the relationship with the offender or you can choose a partial and imperfect one.  You don’t have to dwell on the injury, but you don’t have to forget or minimize it either.  You can choose to be yourself in his presence and accept that he’ll never change.  You can also give him a chance to right the wrong, do better and possibly earn Genuine Forgiveness.

Genuine Forgiveness.  Unlike the previous three approaches, this approach to forgiving infidelity requires that both parties participate in the healing process.   Spring says that there are three core features of this type of forgiveness:

1.  Genuine Forgiveness is a transaction – a shared venture between two people bound together by a violation.  It is not just a pardon granted by the injured person.

2.  It is conditional.  It must be earned.  Genuine forgiveness comes with a price that the offender must be willing to pay.  In exchange, the injured person agrees that the debt is settled.  As the offender works hard to earn the forgiveness with generous acts of repentance and restitution, the injured party works hard to let go of resentment and the need for retribution.  If either party fails to do the work that is required then there can be no genuine forgiveness.

3.  There is a transfer of vigilance.  If you are the betrayed spouse, at some point you probably became hyper-vigilant and put up barriers so that you will never be hurt or fooled again like this.  At times, you may have obsessed about the affair and all of the details.   At the same time, the cheater may want to deny, repress or minimize his actions.

With Genuine Forgiveness, Spring says that a “profound shift in preoccupation takes place.”  The offender will demonstrate that he is fully aware of his transgression and intends never to repeat it.  As this happens, the injured person can start to become less preoccupied with the injury and begin to let it go.

Forgiving infidelity is much more satisfying and heartfelt when it is earned as it is with Genuine Forgiveness.   It is much more gratifying because it is adopted by both of you, not just one of you alone.

I’d be curious to know where you are at in your process for forgiving infidelity and what approach (described above) you have been practicing up to now.

 

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There are misconceptions about forgiveness that cause many misunderstandings and also serve as roadblocks to the healing process.

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    32 replies to "Four Approaches to Forgiving Infidelity"

    • InTrouble

      Just an observation: The interpersonal dynamics in the forgiveness models you’ve described above strike me as pertaining more to the typical husband-cheats-on-wife model. Somehow none of them strike a familiar chord in my own non-typical situation.

      • Doug

        I think that the approaches that Dr. Spring describe could pertain to any scenario where there was an interpersonal injury caused by another. It could be husband cheating on wife, or wife cheating on husband – both physical or emotionally, or it could pertain to any non-infidelity related scenarios. Perhaps you can describe your situation in greater detail and how forgiveness (or lack of it) has played out.

        • Paula

          Doug, I agree, I’m not quite sure where InTrouble is coming from, either, I know she is having/has had/has considered having an EA and is trying to work through it with her H, but I can’t see that Dr Spring’s comments are gender specific, both sexes are equally capable of being in either position. Are you suggesting, InTrouble, that men are never prepared to forgive, or try to, and that only women will? What happens in same sex situations? Sometimes, I question whether you are fully “owning” your position here InTrouble, and seem to often be trying to still justify your feelings and actions, which is perfectly understandable, but not necessarily all that helpful to you and your H’s recovery.

          InTrouble, your comments about H having a PA and you leaving (on another thread) are very understandable, I was that woman, I would never have thought I would even consider staying, but circumstances are all different, I still feel like it is incredibly difficult to “get over” a PA, but in our particular set of circumstances, and I’m sure there are others here, too, there is a hell of a lot of good still between us, and a “moment” – albeit a long one! – of madness, and I totally understood how he felt about our relationship, just don’t understand the way he coped with his pain, means that I have changed my stance a little, to see if it is possible to heal, learn and stay together, after all, we still love each other very deeply, and have a lot in common, and still very much enjoy each other’s company, wit, and intellects, and that’s without even starting on the fact that we have three children together, and I am very mindful of what they will take out of the way I/we handle this most devastating of situations, both good and bad, I don’t want them to think it’s okay, that I’m stupid for staying, but I also want them to know how much we love each other, and how hard we are prepared to work, to try to save what we have/had. I’m not saying that we definitely are going to be okay, but who can ever say that? I often think about living separately, and staying the best and closest of friends, and I know I could do that, but he says he would find it too difficult, longing to be with me, and (ironically) struggling with jealousy if I was seeing someone else. Therefore, the blanket, if you shag someone else, I’m leaving, has proven to be not really the case for me, after all, even if I am still struggling quite a lot.

    • just me

      I’m working on the Acceptance approach at this point. I hope that at some point my H and I can have Genuine Forgiveness, but even though he is aware of the damage at some level he is still involved with this AP, not living at home, and not ready to change. Maybe its foolish, but I still hope that he’ll come to his senses before it’s too late.

    • Notoverit

      You know, for a long time my psychologist kept telling me that I had to work on forgiveness. Then in another breath she would say that I had to learn to let go of the anger and resentment. She never put the two together. I went for weeks trying to figure out how I was going to “grant absolution” to my H when I was so very angry. One day I read an article that said forgiveness begins with letting go, moving on and trying to get passed the pain and hurt. A light bulb went off in my head. What I, being raised in a Christian household, was trying to do was to tell my husband that all was forgiven, go forth and sin no more. THAT I was not about to do. He had to earn it. I also learned that I had to earn it too. I had to start trying to get passed the pain and anger, leave it in the past where it belonged. He had to honestly deal with what he had done and be truly remorseful. So far we are working on it pretty well. I sometimes slip and get angry but I can say that I want this mess in the past where the OW is supposed to be along with the affair.

      I wish I had seen this blog months ago. LOL Maybe I wouldn’t have been wandering around in the dark for so long trying to figure out how to forgive my husband and move on. I believe that forgiveness WILL NOT come unless you are in a place that you do not constantly go back to the details of the affair and linger in the past. This is a wonderful post Doug!

      • Healing Mark

        Very much agree! Well said.

    • justsad

      Notoverit…this is where I know I am getting hung up…I am having a very hard time not going over the details of the EA in my head. Even when I try not to dwell I feel like there is this constant noise in my head and it is just a jumble of all the things I have found out. I am only 10 weeks out from finding out and I seem to have moved from utter sadness to anger with swings back to sadness.
      My husband is truly sorry and keeps asking me what I need him to do to help me feel better and forgive him but I don’t even know what I need. Obviously no contact and transparency, which he is doing but I just continue to have such a sense of anxiety. It doesn’t help that he travels all the time for business and I know there will come the day when he does cross paths with her since she works in the same industry as he does.
      I have never felt the way this has made me feel and while I want to be able to forgive him I can’t stop trying to find the answer to why this happened. He says he honestly doesn’t know and didn’t see it as more than a friendship until he saw the look on my face when I discovered the first text and then when I pointed out all the ways his connection to her just crossed so many boundaries. He says he was not trying to replace me in anyway but I feel like that is what was happening..she was getting time talking and texting with him that should have been my time, if that makes any sense.
      I know you are right that I have to get to that place where I can let the past go and focus on the future. I hope I can get there!

    • Notoverit

      Justsad, your words are the same ones out of my mouth a few months ago. I am by no means “over it” but I am moving toward forgiveness, slowly (I am ten months from D-day). My H also said he didn’t recognize what he was doing as an affair. The OW did and proceeded to tell everyone out of his earshot that they were having an affair (women intuitively know those boundaries and to me they cross them with no care about who they hurt – sorry to the guys whose wives have cheated on them but women do know and a lot of times they intentionally cross them). No offense Doug, but men can be sort of stupid that way. A lot of men, my H included, do not know the boundaries until they have crossed them. Then, well, then it’s too late. I know this does not excuse what they did and it definitely does not mean what they did was all right by any stretch of the imagination but in a way it has helped me to cope somewhat (he’s just stupid – sorry but it’s true). I kept asking why, why, why until I nearly incapacitated myself with the question. I kept getting the same answer “I don’t know, it was just fun.” A lot of others on this blog have said they still can’t get an answer to the Why because I think the CS is confused too. What they did is out of character for them and they can’t make sense of it either. I think in time, by talking, you will learn bits and pieces of the “why” but right now you are probably like I was, too overwhelmed to calm down. Try to distance yourself everyday from the obsessing (I know it’s hard but you can do it – I did). I had to limit my time to an hour a day and tell myself when I would start that I had to wait for my hour then I could obsess on the why to my heart’s content. That seemed to work so that I could function the rest of the day – waiting on my hour was delaying it but it helped. Since then I have learned a lot about where we were in our marriage – going in different directions, no communication, no closeness. Your H sounds like mine – he didn’t really care about, i.e. “love”, the OW. All he keeps saying is that the excitement of calling and texting was fun. He had no intention of anything going any further. I have had to take all those “jumbled” thoughts and try to make sense of them in order to move on. Time is the factor. It just takes time to process all of this. The conclusion I came to is that our marriage needed work, he wasn’t really looking for a replacement and the other woman is a bitch. LOL

      That said, it still hurt because, like you, he was giving her all the time I should have had. So, my first order of business was to get him to focus back on me. From what others, including Linda, have said is that the way to do this is focus on yourself. That is the hardest thing to do when all you want to do is collapse on the floor, kick and scream and, ahem, in my case, break things. Certainly not very attractive. The reason is that if you are working on yourself, they’re kind of like kids, “hey, she’s doing something interesting over here, maybe I can join in.” If you become self-confident and show him that you are a person of value and you have a purpose in life without depending on him for validation, you become more alluring. Plus you start to get your self-esteem back (very important for YOU). I was working with a very good psychologist from nearly the beginning but this blog has helped me the most to understand what I was feeling and how my husband had been looking at things. Please go back and read other posts and comments. I found I had to limit myself on the number I could read because some days it was just too upsetting. There is a lot of good advice here. And remember, all this is so very fresh for you – IT DOES GET BETTER with time if you both are committed to working on it. Geez, sorry Doug and Linda about the length of this comment but Justsad’s comments made me remember how I felt. Your blog has been a lifeline for me and I think, that by sharing how we all feel, good or bad, helps others.

    • Kristine

      I forgave long before I accepted. I forgave him while he still in sin but forgiveness is actually a PROCESS. It’s not something that just HAPPENS and you’re done forgiving, it’s over a period of time that forgiveness is slowly released until you reach final forgiveness. At least that’s how I describe it based on what I went through.

      I forgave him spiritually but emotionally I still had to work through the emotions of being betrayed and trying to come to terms with how he chose to deal with his feelings. Basically he had been unhappy with a lot of things for a while and rather than choosing to talk about it, he held it all in and then BLEW UP. Ridiculous if you ask me *but* we all bring baggage to our relationships. I had some and it was through this trial I learned what they were and have torn down the walls. I figured it would behoove him, me, US to work through his issues together as well especially since he had come to his senses the way I was praying. I also knew the actions my husband was displaying were not my husband. They just weren’t. In all the years we had been married I had never seen him that way, it was like he was someone else and as much as I hurt, I often hurt at times for HIM because I knew one day he’d wake up and regret everything.

      Just Me, my husband moved out after a month of finding out about his adultery. He was deep in the fog and even told me when I asked him what he was going to do, “I won’t stop talking to her.” OUCH. When he moved out is when I was able to LET GO and stop trying to manipulate and get the answers and actions I wanted to see. I turned him over to God and watched his choices crowd him out. It was 10 weeks later when he asked me out and he asked me “where would you put all the stuff I bought?” meaning where would I put everything from his apartment in the house.

      rejoiceministries.org is where I learned to stand

      There is hope!

      • E

        Thank you, Kristine, for your comments – it reflects so closely to how I feel. Thank you also for the reference to the website, I have found myself not being able to pull away from it today, it has been so uplifting to me. I am thanking God for my H who is home with me and after many setbacks has chosen to end his affair, but we are both still struggling to heal.

    • InTrouble

      In re-reading the forgiveness approaches I can see that maybe I over reacted by thinking they seemed more relevant to a woman forgiving a man. That is probably because of my own personal situation.

      Paula – I am so sorry if you thought I was making a blanket judgment about leaving a husband who has had a PA. Believe me, I did not mean that at all. I was speaking strictly from my own perspective. Everyone’s relationship is different.

      Off topic: Not one hour after I posted my comment on here I got an email from OM. We have not contacted each other in 8 months. Let’s just say it sent me to the therapist this morning. OMG 🙁

      • SuzieSuffers

        Better to the therapist than to get pulled into his character flaw.

    • Paula

      InTrouble, no offense taken, I really do get what you said about what you think you’d do if your H had a PA, I thought the same way! And I also thank you for your perspective, and Alone’s. I knew that the attachment to the OP was real, and there were very real feelings involved, and that is why it was so hard to make the “right” decision for all the CSs here, and I actually feel for them, as it is very hard to give up someone you genuinely care about, like someone asking you to stop “being friend” with someone you care about, but worse! That said, that is part of why it hurts so much.

      • Healing Mark

        Paula, a couple of thoughts (yes it’s a slow day at work). While it drove me a bit crazy, and also hurt me, that my wife was effectively mourning the loss of a relationship with another man during our marriage, I chose to put myself in my wife’s shoes and concluded that I would also mourne the loss a relationship with a person that I had grown so close to that we established an EA. I stopped getting angry about it and started to acknowledge her feelings as valid ones and empathize with her. This helped our relationship mending a lot and also, surprisingly, helped my wife get over, for a short time, having no contact with her AP. As I believe that I have indicated before, for my wife and me, an aspect of the “forgiveness” that we both wanted to occur was that my wife could re-establish contact with her AP, but that if she even once overstepped our agreed upon boundaries she might find herself single again and the AP’s wife would absolutely be clued in to what had and would then be transpiring. The AP knows this as well.

        Second, while I have never had an EA, I can tell you that if I became so close to another woman that we established what we all classify as an EA, it would be just as hard for me to move on and get over the ending of the EA as it would if the woman and I had had sex. Don’t get me wrong, I love sex. And the sex with the AP would not even have to be bad. But to get to and continue with an EA, I would have no doubt already done plenty of intimate things with my AP. The sex would just be another one (I’m assuming, of course, that I had practiced safe sex or I had not and got lucky that no STD’s had popped up). It’s just another thing that I would have done with my AP that I shouldn’t have, and to remain happily married my wife would have to, it seems to me, forgive me for all of the stupid and hurtful things I did during my affair. I’m not suggesting that forgiving a PA is the same as forgiving an EA, just suggesting that you shouldn’t think that because your husband had a PA that the relationship was materially different than the relationship he would have had had he and the AP kept it an EA. They would not be that much different to me unless, I suppose, the sex was OUT OF THIS WORLD, in which case…

        Finally, I hope that your husband is a decent enough guy to either tell you the truth that the sex wasn’t any good at all, or to totally lie and say the same thing! As I believe you and I have noted before, it’s not like our spouses never had sex before we began dating and ultimately married them. Presumably those sexual experiences didn’t bother us then or now. Yeah, I know it’s different because the affair sex was a violation of trust and the promises made at the time we became married. But you know, so many other aspects of an EA are violations of trust, and lies about the EA or aspects of it are also, of course, the same. Your partner went crazy and f _ _ ked up and you are just going to have to find out if you can forgive them and get back to being happily married. If you can, you might find a different but in some ways stronger marriage. If you can’t, you divorce and move on the best you can, but hopefully you can at least say to yourself that you did all that was humanly possible for you to get past the affair and save the marriage.

        • Paula

          Thanks Mark, well said, again. I know the affair was real, the feelings were real, but as my OH now says, they were the feelings and actions of a crazy and desperate man, and he can’t really relate to who that person was now, let alone believe it was him! When the OW told me that they had been sleeping together for all of the time that I thought they had just reconnected their old friendship, I immediately said to him -as I knew that the affair was over, but that he was still in contact with her (she was an old friend of both of ours) – that he should go and talk to her in person, maybe with me (she wouldn’t agree to that) but on his own was fine, to say goodbye, forever and let her know that I forgave her, and hoped she found happiness in her life. I told him, you have a week, and then you will never contact her again, please. In a weird way, my heart was not only breaking for me, but for them. I asked my OH several times if she was “The One” – and if so, he should be with her. He told me he was already over her, she was a cow, which was why he had ended it months earlier than my discovery (great detective work on my part, the OP just straight out told me, thicko that I am, hadn’t really suspected a thing!!)

          I know that most people think that he is just being a gentleman/good guy in telling me the sex was pretty bad (half the time he had erectile dysfunction with her, and she never seemed too worried, or questioned it, or tried to “help him out” ! – he’s never had that problem with me in 24 years) and at it’s best, just very nice, very average and pleasant sex, never any fireworks. I found that very, very hard to believe, how the hell do you have a sexual affair, where you live over two hours apart (the arousal whilst travelling, the anticipation should have made it extra exciting!) and there is nothing exciting about the sex, WHAT??? He couldn’t understand it either, he says, he couldn’t believe she would meet him at the door, like anyone else, ask him in for COFFEE, or, shock-horror, a glass of wine, and then talk about her son, never in her underwear, never ripped his clothes off and took him on the entrance floor, NOTHING, he felt like she just did the “sex part” for comfort, not excitement. Sometimes they wouldn’t see each other for several months, and still no fireworks, you gotta wonder about that. Great sex or average sex, he still violated me by not ever wearing a condom.

          However, it is about the only thing I believe he is telling me the truth about, as he told me that 25 years ago (she was an ex-girlfriend of his) and other times over the course of our relationship, she was one of the worst sexual partners he’s ever been with, she’s a selfish and lazy lover, a bit like what Kristine says, thinks she’s a lot sexier and more beautiful than she is in reality! I guess that means you just turn on men by existing, you don’t have to do anything fun or exciting in bed!

          The point is, I do forgive her, I don’t understand her, I’m disappointed my long-standing friendship (32 years) with her meant nothing to her. She has a dysfunctional family, with cheating all over the place, all hidden behind a religious mother’s very middle-class niceness, what else could she have ever learnt? But I can’t affect her, and I refuse to let her nastiness since destroy me, so the only option is to forgive her and shift my focus to myself, as obsessing over her and her actions is pointless and destructive.

    • DSSM9500

      This post is very relevant to me. I tried to forgive while I was still hurt, angry, and had not accepted. Guess I tried the forgive and forget Christian approach and it did not work – it started the process and I realize its a long journey. A question I have, maybe its for me to decide, but is it possible to really forgive while the EA continues? She has apologized but not stopped contact. We are now getting separated.

      • Healing Mark

        I hope you thought long and hard about whether to separate. My wife and I each concluded that the likelihood of us getting over the EA in the event we separated would be considerably less than if we stayed together and worked together to heal and reach genuine forgiveness. Our counsellor felt very strongly in this regard as well.

        If the EA is continuing, what the hell do you think you are going to be forgiving? The fact that they tried to hide it from you? And it the EA is continuing, what the hell did your wife apologize about? Again, the fact that she and her AP tried to hide the EA from you?

        It seems to me that if your wife is unable to end her EA with this person (and if your wife is willing to keep up this affair even after you know about it, I can’t imagine that it won’t be too long before this changes to a physical affair), you have two choices. One, accept the fact that if you stay married to your wife, you are going to be married to someone who is going to be unfaithful to you, probably continue to lie to you about things related to this and any subsequent affairs, and to someone that is unwilling to give herself emotionally to you 100%. If you can accept this, I suppose that you can stay married to your wife. If you cannot accept this, and want to be married to someone who is going to be faithful to you, not lie to you (at least not major ones!), and who is going to give herself emotionally to you 100%, then you are going to have to divorce your wife and move on with your life. Again, just my two cents worth.

        God bless and good luck.

        Healing Mark

        • B

          Mark brings up an excellent point about seperating. Many of you know me and are familiar with my wife’s EA (which I believe has turned or at one point turned physical). While my wife and I have been staying together and working on things, there are still things that anger me and that is because the whole truth refuses to come out. I’m assuming that your wife is a lot like mine and tells you just enough to pacify you so you are left to wonder. You can’t forgive something that is still happening and you can’t move past something that is at the root of all your troubles. Staying together is the best way to reconcile, but if your wife is continuing this EA or PA, she isn’t really reconciling is she? She is having her cake and eating it too. In my case, my wife promised no contact and it seemed that way for 3 or 4 months but
          just yesterday she received a blocked call on her cell phone and talked to this unknown caller for 16 minutes. So a lot like you, I sit here wondering if forgiveness will ever really begin because I have forgiven her multiple times only to be duped again. I agree with Mark that when a CS refuses to let go of their EA, it has become physical. When a CS looks around at their family (kids, house, career, etc.) and can still be deceptive, then they are nowhere near ready to stop playing. The problem is, this game has no winners and ultimately everyone feels like a loser. My advice to you (DSSM) is that if you are going to separate, STAND YOUR GROUND. She started this, she chose this path, regardless of what troubles existed in the marriage she chose to look elsewhere, so if you separate she needs to experience life without you. It may be the only way she realizes what she wants (good or bad). I am at the brink of this decision myself because I don’t feel as though it is over and until my CS tells me the whole truth I’ll never be at peace and never be able to forgive. Honesty = a starting point.

          • DSSM9500

            Outstanding points. Its no wonder that she thinks I’ll never forgive her and trust her – she can’t stop the EA (which she now downplays as “just friends”). OM lives across the country so it would be a stretch for this to become a PA unless she made a long air trip. We have thought long and hard about separating. I feel it is the best move since she wants to maintain the friendship/EA, needs to “find herself”, and we keep fighting. And just to show how twisted she is, she apologizes yesterday for still talking to OM when I told her how much it still hurt and I then checked the browser history today and saw she chatted with him again today. She is so far gone I’m ready to give up.

            • Healing Mark

              Don’t mean to be a downer, but I have first hand witnessed a wife with two lovely children, a million dollar home, what to all appeared to be a VERY comfortable lifestyle, and a respected and well liked professional in the community leave her husband for an old boyfriend that was an ex-con after establishing an EA and then a PA utilizing phone calls, emails and texts. Sad as it is, sometimes the person you marry decides that they no longer want to be married to you and there is nothing that you or anyone else can do about it. The result is divorce, and it will forever change your life, but it does not have to wreck it. The husband and wife I described above have divorced and are jointly raising their children and they at least appear to be, and say that they are, still friends but certainly no longer in love.

              God bless.

              Healing Mark

    • justsad

      Notoverit, you are so right that the why, why, why can become incapacitating! And the “I don’t know response” is so frustrating for me. H and I had a talk yesterday…well he talked and I worked really hard to listen without interrupting (not always my strength!). It was good to see and hear that he has been thinking about all of this. Like your H, the relationship was fun and easy. He said he thought maybe the fact that it was just easy and there were no expectations, no daily grind of regular life to get mixed in…no complications if that makes sense? I get that…after being married for 15 years, having two young children, and his crazy travel schedule we aren’t necessarily as lighthearted and fun with each other as we used to be. It doesn’t make it ok that he chose to find that fun part with someone else(whether intentionally or not) but I can see why it would be enjoyable but I am still so angry. I know that we have been disconnected and his in and out travel exacerbates that.
      I think my thought is similar to yours in that he wasn’t trying to replace me (he actually is feeling so awful that I felt like that was his intent…when in his own words “he was just stupid and not seeing it as it was”), and yes our marriage needs some work (have to find a way to get our connection back) and the other woman is a bitch (who may have been more vested in the relationship then he was based on a voicemail I heard and some of the texts from her that I was able to recover). (Is it wrong that I swing back and forth between wanting to talk to her rationally and calmly one minute and then wanting to pull her hair out the next??).
      I do try to set a limit on my obsessing. I need to in order to be as fully present as possible for my children. Since H travels so much it is always just me and while I admit to letting them watch a lot of tv for the first couple weeks after discovery while I fell apart behind my bedroom door I have had to rally and pull it together for their sake. Unfortunately this means I obsess at night which affects my sleep for sure!
      I know that in order to work towards forgiving and moving on with our future I have to come to terms with the jumble of stuff rolling around in my head. I also know that my defense mechanism is to shut him out to avoid the possibility of getting hurt again. This is certainly counterproductive to trying to get our connection back! But this whole thing has been so emotionally and physically draining and it feels like it is a never ending process…the swings from sadness to anger…the brief moments of feeling normal before the obsessing intrudes on those moments. I feel like I am constantly trying to keep my balance on the deck of a boat and just when I think I have regained it another big wave comes and knocks me down again.
      I am trying to focus on myself too. I have taken to getting on the elliptical trainer, sticking my iPod on and exercising to work through the out of control feelings. So a plus is that I am getting in better shape.
      My H firmly believes that we can work together to rebuild our relationship and he says there is nothing he wants more than that and I want to believe that…I just wish it was an easier process. Well actually I wish we had never ended up in this place in the first place.

    • RecoveringMommy

      I would venture to say that I’ve genuinely forgiven my H for his EA. His actions over the past 16 months have said to me that he truly is sorry for his actions and that he fully understands the hurt he caused everyone involved. My forgiveness “issue” right now is with the OW. Before D-day, I considered her one of my best friends. I know it is my responsibility as a Christian to forgive her, as Christ forgave me. I even think I want to forgive her. But I cannot let go of it. And I think the reason is that she does not act remorseful at all. I also know that my forgiveness is not supposed to be based on conditions. But she acts as if she did nothing wrong and I know for a fact that she’s still lying to her H about the EA. Not only did she illegally enroll her daughter at the same school mine goes to (she lives outside of our school district), but now she is putting her daughter in all the extracurricular activities that my daughter is involved with. She lives in another town! That town also has all of these activities offered there. I don’t understand why she just can’t stay in her town and I’ll stay in mine! And yes I know that sounds completely childish. I’d like to think if I’d done something to hurt another family on this level, I would have enough decency and respect to try and stay away from them. But she doesn’t have a conscience apparently. To me it says that she IS NOT sorry for what she did and that she has no respect for her H or her daughter. For someone that claims to “put her family first,” I don’t understand how she could put her husband in the position of being around the OM (my H) and how she could confuse her daughter by shoving her in things with my daughter and telling her they can’t be friends anymore.

      • Kristine

        Recovering,

        I can’t imagine having to see the OP and have them interact with my, my spouse and their children with my children. Even from a distance. It really does show the person is missing a sensitivity chip. Does her H know about the infidelity? If not that could be why, trying to show that nothing has changed to him, saving face, trying to pretend things aren’t as bad as they really were/are.

        I don’t have to see the OP, never have in person although I do know WHO SHE IS and have seen her facebook page, photos etc. She’s pretty bold though and I believe if she did live in the same area she’d do the same thing. No morals, truly a lack of sensitivity to others. I realized that when she reached out to my H when she came for a visit to the area (she lives out of state). This was almost a year since we reconciled and yet she emailed him like it was nothing, like she wouldn’t be opening up an old wound and like she had every right, no respect for boundaries which I told my husband I get because during his adultery he didn’t have any boundaries either but now that he’s set the boundaries and had cut off all communication, I was expecting her to be mortified to some degree, have a wake up call, shrink back, be embarrassed. Nope, not at all. She sent him an email like they were old friends and had lost touch and even had the nerve to say she was surprised she hadn’t heard from him the past months.

        REALLY?

        Which further confirmed for me she knew FULL WELL what she was doing and didn’t have a problem getting involved with a married man and no issues with purposely trying to manipulate him and sway him to leave his family.

        As for forgiving, I’m there with you. I have forgiven. I have, I don’t know what happened in her childhood, teenage years, young adult life, past relationships etc etc that caused her to view things the way she does and would purposely go after a married man and purposely try to dismantle a family but what I do know is she’s in sin just like my husband was and I don’t have to understand it to forgive. I really have forgiven her but I’m not trusting her either. I know if she ran into my H she’d walk right up to him and if she ran into him and he was with me she’d prob make her presence known. She truly has that type of personality and thinks very highly of herself and her looks (more than they are I tell ya) so I know it. I can forgive her for her actions but I don’t have to pretend I’m blind. I’m full aware of her type and her mindset so rest assured you can forgive but it doesn’t mean you have to understand or relate to what she does.

        I imagine with her being a past friend and not seeing remorse or sensitivity to what she did or what you must be going through is hard. More than hard. It keeps emotions alive. I’ll be praying for you!

        • RecoveringMommy

          Thank you for the prayers, Kristine! They are always welcomed and needed! I’m working really hard on forgiving her because I know it will benefit me most of all. I know my anguish is not bothering her one bit. I don’t know a whole lot about her past other than her parents divorced at some point before she graduated high school. I almost pity her in a way because *I think* part of her problem is that maybe she was unpopular when she was younger or something. It just seems that she tries TOO HARD to make people like her and accept her. And she has her poor daughter shoved in so many things, I can’t imagine the little girl enjoys it. I believe it’s more for her (to be know in the community) than anything.

      • monalisa

        Recoving Mommy,
        The answer is simple……She is a BITCH! Ignore that slut because it is only a matter of time until she finds another “victim”. I am sure there is another stupid man out there somewhere that will fall for her crap!

    • Kristine

      ARGH! I typed up this super long reply to you Recovering Mommy and it didn’t post, I think Mozilla didn’t upload it. I’ll try retyping it tonight! 🙂

    • Kristine

      UGH! I guess it did post lol

    • hotnmadinAZ

      i think i’ve been through all of these types of forgiveness and back again. although we haven’t reached the genuine forgiveness yet…we are trying. my H says he’s stopped all contact and in order to move on, i haven’t checked in on him. i still think about the ‘why’ and ‘how’ and it consumes me sometimes. i don’t want to think about it sometimes too.
      i’m only one week post d-day and my thoughts are still all over the place. i can’t even write what i’m feeling or that i totally relate to everyone on here, because emotions have gone crazy.
      on d-day, i kicked my H out and it helped. i allowed him to come back home a few days later because i knew ignoring it wouldn’t be good for me.
      we are trying to mend things. he’s remorseful and he’s really trying to improve and to be honest with me. i don’t know how, but his EA always seems to end up my fault. which makes me go back and forth between all of these types of forgiveness. ignore it. don’t ignore it. make him work for it. just give it to him.
      ugh!!!
      really makes me sick and tired.

    • Changes

      I am not sure which stage we are with regards to forgiveness. My H says he has forgiven me but continues to ask questions about the EA and insists i planned the whole EA. I keep telling him that it wasn’t planned and that due to how our relationship was at that time i liked the attention and the appreciation the OP was giving me, it made me feel young again and made me wish i had that kind of a relationship with my H. Looking back now, i wish i hadn’t become friends with the OP. I never saw it as an EA until the night i ended it when the OP kissed me and i kissed him back. I couldn’t sleep that night cos i became aware of all the things i had done that led to this. I beat myself up everyday for my mistakes and wish my H will try and look beyond his pain and see what i am also going through.
      My H is finding it difficult to let go more than 12 months after the EA. I have pledged and promised that it will never happen again but he keeps asking why? He insists that i was in love with the OP but i wasn’t. How can i convince him to make an effort for us to put this behind us. I’m not asking him to forget completely but the persistent questioning is making me fall sick.

    • InFlux

      I’m in ACCEPTANCE but I long for GENUINE FORGIVENESS. I’m 42, wife is 40, married 11 years with 2 daughters (10, 7). Long story and the why doesn’t really matter as we each have our own bag of BS but the result is that wife has been in an EA and PA since last October with another married man (with kids no less). IMHO she is going through a classic MLC and is “self-medicating” with the affair. She feels absolved as “I knew about it”. I’m not on-board with open marriage-but she decided to tell me that she was going to “mess around” and encouraged me to do the same because our sex life was non-fulfilling to her. To be honest it wasn’t great for me either (no physical issues — everything functions) — more of a communication problem, but I told her the fact that we have sexual issues is a symptom of more fundamental unmet needs in the relationship on both sides. If we worked-on and addressed those issues I’m confident we could fix the symptoms, including the sex. In any event, I told her to I do not approve of going outside the marriage because I don’t belive it solves anything but would not prevent her because ultimately we each make our own decisions and have to live with the consequences. Unfortuneately she decided to jump off the cliff instead of focusing on herself and us. Maybe I don’t feel the violation of trust as much but certainly it violated my will. Predictably, things have been going down-hill fast since with me pulling-away further, withholding intimacy, just feeding into the EA/PA even more. She said she “dropped the guy” a few months ago and wanted to reconcile. She presented it to me as a great gift and sacrifice for her (which I’m sure it was — hard to quit cold turkey) but without any sense of remorse for the hurt she caused. I think she was expecting more of a reaction from me but without the remorse I was/am unwilling to let go. I told her I needed to know the MOTIVATION for her dropping the guy and the sudden change of heart towards reconciliation. After pulling teeth I got: she was fearful of not giving our relationship “one last try”, she was fearful for our kids, for the future, she wanted to see if we could learn to love each other like we once did (implying there was no love from her). I was waiting to hear the reason I needed to hear for myself which was something akin to “I want to reconcile because I’ve realized I love you and salvaging that is more important to me than anything else.” I didn’t get it and it crushed me. I believe humans are motivated by either fear or love and I heard fear driving all the reasons she gave me. I needed to hear a love reason. I told her all this and she started the affair up again shortly thereafter when she told me I “could care less” about her “offer” to drop the guy. She went to individual therapy but “had nothing to talk about” after one-and-half sessions. Fast-forward to today and I’m on the verge of filing but as crazy as it sounds I’m still holding on to the dream of the marriage I once had, thinking the bull is going to stop rampaging the china shop.

    • RJ32

      Hi Everyone… I am knew here and seeking so much advice and hoping to have guidance on the right things to display how much sorrow and remorse for what I have done. I am 32…recently married back 9/16/2011. The happiest day of my life…well since 9/21/2011 I have been living in a constant inferno. Back in January 2010 I met the man who has given me eveything that I never had before…he was tall, handsome, a hard worker, dedicated, and a great father. We fell in love… He proposed May of 2011. In this short time we both expierenced a connection with each other we never felt with anyone else. I truly love him. Well in June we started having really bad issues…. I have 3 children from a previous relationship…and he also has 3 children from previous relationships. One of those women did cause severe issues in our relationship. I am responsible for what I do and my own actions…with all the problems we were having…I took it upon myself to reach out to someone else…another man. The conversations were only by e-mail..but they did get a little intense. To me the conversations where only a temporary fix for the moment. Never did I have any true intentions of going along with any of it. It felt good to be wanted & that someone wanted me. My husband is a great man but can be very cold…almost emotionless. That being said…he found the e-mail conversations with this man from June to September. Not everyone of the convos were about sex…kind of just flirting. Well 5 days after my marriage…I log into my e-mail from home…leave everything open and when my new hsband goes on he sees it all. It first started with the 3 pictures I sent to this man…the pictures were of me fully clothed just standing in a mirror smiling. Same pics that I sent to my husband and girlfriends (at the time I lost 30 pounds n felt great of what I was seeing). That day he left and vowed to never come back on pictures. A few days later…he comes back and retrieves his things…and he askes to see my e-mail again and asked me to log into other accounts and that is where he found the e-mails of this man & I flirting back and forth from June to September. So now he has it in his head that I actually slept with him. With all of the back and forth.,..and me telling him I did nothing with this person… I offered to take a lie detector test to prove that I did not sleep with him. At that time my husband said if you pass the polygraph test we will slowly work on our marriage. He moved back in by the end of the weekend. I am sorry for what I have done….and know that he is all the man I want…. I have tried everything to show him that I only want to be with him & that this e-mail convo meant nothing to me. I changed all my e-mail addresses & phone numbers and gave him passwords to it all. Even without him asking. I made a horrible mistake for those 3 months. I did not know what I had in him… I just want my husband back …the man I love …it just seems next to possible. I have spent the last 2 months in hell. One minute we are good for a few days and then I am back to being a backstabber, liar and whore. What do I do? So confused??? Just seeking advice….how to handle him…and how to handle the colder times. I do not do well talking without getting emotional. I start to cry which in turns bothers him. I have had more of those days than good days. He isn’t wearing his wedding ring…and refuuses to say he loves me. He says it was all taken for granted before so why should he say them now. That he feels jaded. I crave and long to hear it…and do not stop telling him it. Do you guys think this is something that hopefully will disolve itself and become better in time. I ave learned so much from this expierence and will never hurt him again. AS I told him…I almost lost him once I wouldn’t be stupid enough to try and lose him again.

    • chely5150

      Well after reading all comments there is so much I would like to say, but will do best to not be too long.
      1) in todays technological world you do not have to be physically in the same room to be intimate. If you have a smart phone it can be just as physical as being in person without touch.
      2) there are many ways to carry on an EA without any history showing anywhere,incognito browsing and chatting as well as VPN’s.

      3) if you are less than a year after d-day, you still have a LONG way to go –
      4) this especialy to the woman who was only 1 week out. Don’t make the same mistake by forgiving too soon so that there are some consequences for them. I thought i did it for the right reasons but later realized that I hadnt dealt with my anger enough to offer it yet. We are somewhat in the acceptance stage- although a struggle to get there
      5) the biggest hurddle in recovering from this is the fact that my H is a successful covert narcissist- who cant acknowledge that he wears a mask for the world to see and is someone different at home
      6) he has accepted very little responsibility for what took place, really shows no remorse and wants to pretend never happened-he has no empathy whatsoever.
      7) i know i don’t know the big picture (even little one) of what may have gone on during our 20 year marriage-you may ask why i stay?

      Because despite all of the bad in our marriage there has also been a lot of GOOD- does that excuse abuse and infidelity absolutely not. But i took vows for better or worse i just happen to get both.

      Is it perfect? Nope never will be anywhere stay or go. So I stay i love him and some recents events brought that home. Our dear neighbors have tragedy ahead she just found out stage 4 cancer throughout whole body spreading fast now that they can finally be together and enjoy life she will be gone. It makes you appreciate the good things that we forget about most days. If you’re still with your partner show them why you love them everyday if they don’t get it leave, life is too short- everyone deserves to be loved.
      7)please understand im not saying to stay in an abusive relatioship at all -just for me riding this roller coaster for so long im changing me standing my ground and if he dont like it then be a man and leave. I will not be his scapegoat any longer. I call him on his shit and he knows it. You gotta stay nuetral married to a narcissist. Anyone who wants more of my story check out my blog – wishing healing for all that suffer from infidelity. Wouldnt wish that on anyone- well maybe i could think of one or two-lol

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