Forgiveness After An Affairby Sally R. Connolly, LMFT and John E. Turner, LMFT
Can there be forgiveness after an affair? Are spouses or betrayed partners really able to let go of resentment, anger and the fear of more betrayals?
|The simple answer is “yes” although the process to get there is not an
easy one. |
Forgiveness is tough.
Most wonder how they can be expected to forgive one of the most painful experiences of their lives.
True forgiveness, however, brings about an inner peace in your heart and in your mind. It allows you to be different than the events in your life. You no longer define yourself by your injuries.
Forgiveness should not come quickly and best comes with dialogue and work with and by both partners.
Even if the person who has had the affair is not willing to work; however, and the marriage may not be saved, it is still an important step toward health for the one who was betrayed to find a way to forgive.
Let’s talk for a minute about the idea of forgiveness, what it is … and what it isn’t.
Forgetting. The affair
(or affairs) happened and affected your life. Shake hands with that
experience but develop a richer and fuller story about yourself, about
who you are and what your life is about. You might be a betrayed spouse
but that is not all that defines you as a person. Remember the much
bigger story about you.
| ||Letting the person who had the affair off the hook.
You can choose what relationship, if any, you want to have with your
partner and you certainly will want to go slowly with any decision.
Forgiving does not mean that you will not talk together and ask him or
her to find ways to build trust.|
Reconciling. Forgiveness does not mean that you have to reconcile. With forgiveness, however, you can calmly and slowly decide whether or not you want to work to put the relationship back together. Forgiveness allows your heart to mend.
Allowing it to happen again. With forgiveness also comes a need to learn self-protection and self-care. There have to be conversations, safeguards and work together to find ways to affair-proof a relationship and trust to build.
|Letting go of the desire for revenge,
not investing any energy in fantasizing or planning ways to get back at
or punish your partner. What is wrong cannot be “righted”. The affair
happened and nothing can change that.|
Forgiveness involves reinvesting that energy in taking care of yourself in protective and healthy ways. Later, maybe much later, it involves emotionally reinvesting in the marriage.
It starts with a decision and a choice to forgive and does not "just happen". It takes time. Making the decision allows for changes in feelings. We each have the ability to control our thoughts and can make that choice to forgive.
|Forgiveness involves protecting yourself and not letting the offense continue. With
time and conversation, reading and listening, you can have a much
better understanding of how the affair happened and what you, and what
your partner, can do, to protect the relationship.|
It is more about you than the person you are forgiving. You may never tell your partner about the forgiveness, rather you will engage in life with a freer heart and mind.
|Struggles with an affair in your relationship?|
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