Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

What Is the Cost of Forgiving Infidelity?

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Although there's no undoing the hurt caused by infidelity, it is possible to accept it and also accept where your life is at because of it. That's where you can begin to be free of it. Forgiveness is how you take back your power. Forgiveness is for you.

At EMS Weekend, I talk a lot about forgiveness and how it's a gift we give ourselves. When we fail to forgive, it can cast us as victims rather than victors in our own lives. As our true selves, forgiveness is a natural practice . As our false selves, the identity we can slide into after the trauma of infidelity, forgiveness doesn't feel quite as natural. When we're broken, our initial coping response is to seek justice. The truth of the matter is this: It's not forgiveness if it's contingent on justice.

One of the ways couples can get to a better, new life together is through a commitment to forgiveness. If one partner is unwilling to participate in forgiveness, the other partner can still benefit from the process. In our broken state, forgiveness can be scary and challenging. Please understand that forgiveness does NOT mean forgetting. And it might not mean reconciliation as that requires a level of safety, an admission of wrongdoing, and real behavior change.

So what is forgiveness? I believe there are three key elements of forgiveness:

  1. Accepting that we're all human and that we all fail sometimes.
  2. Agreeing to accept the costs of another person's mistakes.
  3. Committing to not settle the score if your mate messes up.

Attempting to settle the score isn't just unhealthy, but it may also elongate your pain. Forgiveness, true forgiveness, can be a rewarding and restorative act. There are some costs associated with forgiveness, so to put them into perspective, I'd like to share this story about Susan and Steve.*

The Problem With Staying Angry

About a year into her marriage to Steve, Susan's boss invited her to lunch. At the office, they'd connected on a deep level over their shared interests in music, philosophy, and religion. What began as a platonic friendship blossomed into a romantic relationship. Susan believed her boss knew her better than her own husband. She started to believe that she married the wrong person, and she was convinced that her boss was her true love.

Susan found it easy to justify her affair. She enjoyed the romance, passion, and excitement that she had with him. This all came to a screeching halt when her boss suddenly resigned from his position and moved his family to another state. His wife had discovered the affair, and she threatened divorce unless he ended things immediately. Susan, on the other hand, kept the affair a secret from Steve. She was distraught and shattered. She believed she had a future with her affair partner, and her marriage was going nowhere. Not only that, she felt it lacked the love and attention she needed. Susan continued to contact her boss in search of answers, but she was shut down. "I want nothing to do with you," he firmly relayed. He shut the door.

Instead of confessing to Steve, seeking forgiveness, and working on a healthier marriage, Susan attempted to fill her emotional void with more affairs. She was living a secret life until, out of the blue, the phone rang. It was the wife of her former boss. She said, "Your wife isn't who you think she is. Ask her about the affair she had with my husband. I told him if it happened again, I would no longer keep his secrets. I just discovered he's doing it again." She was coping with infidelity in a flurry of anger, rage, and desire for justice. What the boss' wife did is, in many ways, understandable, but it didn't make her feel any better. Instead, it caused her and others, including Steve and Susan, more pain. It also didn't change her situation. Ultimately, as the months went by, choosing to act out of rage instead of empathy, kept her stuck in her hurt.

In Susan's world, things began to crash down all around her. At first, she denied the affair; eventually, she came clean. She pleaded for forgiveness. She said she now realized she had married well, and that she loved the family she and Steve had created together. But for Steve, this was all new to him. This was his ground zero. He no longer trusted his current reality, his past, his future, his wife, or even himself. For him, forgiving infidelity just didn't seem possible. I'm here to tell you that forgiveness is always possible. It isn't necessarily easy, but it's important when you're trying to move forward.

The Cost of Forgiveness for the Betrayed Mate

Whether you're the wayward or the betrayed mate, the path to true forgiveness comes with costs and, yes, pain. For the betrayed mate, these costs can be significant. Take Steve, for example. He had been a good husband and father. Although he was by no means perfect, he'd lived and loved well. For him, forgiveness meant violating his personal beliefs and values. He never would have chosen to be with someone who would deceive him. Staying with Susan came at the cost of settling for something he didn't want.

For betrayed mates, forgiving infidelity takes sacrifice. It means giving up all hope for a better past. It takes letting go of what you thought your relationship was and making peace with what it really is. It takes accepting that although this isn't the road you wanted to go down, this is your reality. By choosing to stay with the wayward partner, you're saying that you love them in spite of their brokenness and want to pave a better, brighter future that includes them. Understand that when you choose to stay, it can cost you your pride, self-respect, and dignity—at least for awhile.

When you choose to forgive and stay with your mate, you're ultimately taking a leap of faith. It takes loving them unconditionally, even though it may cost you to do so. You have no way of knowing whether this will be the last time they make a fool of you. But to truly forgive them, you'll have to show them ongoing grace, compassion, and support — even when they screw up. Forgiveness isn't just a one-time thing.

The Benefits of True Forgiveness

When I strayed from my marriage, my wife continued to love me even though I'd hurt her greatly. She extended me grace when I least deserved it. She helped me see that our marriage wasn't the problem but, rather, the problem was within me. She could have written me off and stayed angry at me for eternity — I wouldn't have blamed her! Instead, she stayed by my side. She helped me see what true love really was.

Like Susan, I was seeking attention and admiration outside my marriage because I was broken inside. It wasn't easy for my wife to forgive me, but I'm blessed that she did. It cost her to do so but, in return, we now have a stronger marriage than we ever had before. I know firsthand that severe crises can lead to radical transformations. Again, forgiveness can feel unnatural and difficult when we're in a broken state. For the betrayed mate, forgiving infidelity may also come with these costs:

  • Their reality might get interrupted with painful memories of the past.
  • They might have to sacrifice their dignity, pride and dreams.
  • They will have to surround themselves with people who support their decision because there are many who will encourage them to flee the marriage.

When you truly forgive the betrayal, you can come out on the other side of your trauma. To get there, I recommend betrayed mates register in our Harboring Hope course. It's a safe place where you and other hurting partners will gain tools to accept the past, forgive the betrayal and build a new, brighter life. If you're the wayward mate, I recommend signing up for our Hope for Healing course. It's a safe place where you and other wayward partners can escape the isolation, shame and even apathy you might be trapped under.

For your sake, I hope you'll try to embrace forgiveness — not anger — and take steps toward personal healing. If you find yourself stuck along the way, we at Affair Recovery are here to help. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us about any of our courses and programs at: info@hope-now.com. One of our knowledgeable and caring employees will get back to you as soon as possible.

*The names and some of the details of this story were changed to protect the identities of those involved

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thank you for an article so

thank you for an article so well said. I'm 3 years out from discovery and decided to forgive and reconcile. Everyday I struggle with my pride and ego wondering if I was weak to stay. Everyday I am reminded of infidelity from TV, Internet and gossip of other neighborhood couples. So no matter how hard I try to forgive and forget, I'm reminded by almost daily how foolish I was not knowing what was going on behind my back. This path of forgiveness and reconciliation is hard to travel.

Hard but worth it

I too am three years out from D day, of more than one affair my partner had during our 25 years together. I too felt weak and it too hit my ego in a big way but not anymore. I never thought I would say this but our marriage is better now than I could’ve ever dreamed. I am actually thankful (weird to say) of the affairs she had, it has forced us to address issues in our relationship and as individuals, issues that would’ve kept us from true intimacy and transparency with each other. We’ve both made mistakes, her affairs just hit harder for me. But now we say our mistakes are laughable, decisions we both made that were from old wounds and some from new. we have chosen to not focus on the mistakes and give ourselves and each other grace. After all, every mistake we made does not define who we are, not anymore. All those mistakes, on both partners, have brought us to where we are now. I believe with all I am that we never would’ve been this close or intimate without the train wreck of emotions and the absolute resolve to make our marriage work. I watched every video from affair recovery and my wife watched some here but found help from” one extraordinary marriage.” Plus we had a great counselor. The cost was very high for reconciliation but the reward has blown me away, God tells us He can take any bad situation and make it good and we are proof. I have had to set my ego aside many times and not worry About the remarks or looks from others. we don’t have the perfect history with each other instead that history has proven to be the catalyst that healed our marriage.


As a betrayed spouse, It is a lot harder to stay in a marriage and work on reconcilliation than it is to leave and abondon the marriage and family unit.  Our situation was very public to neighbors, friends, and co-workers and at first I wrestled with the loss of my sanity, dignity, self respect, and respect from others.  However, when I thought of the marriage and family, this major upset in our lives was a small part of the larger picture. If I could keep the marriage and family together for the next 40 years,for all the right reasons,  than I would have accomplished something bigger than myself.  Different rules and guidelines were established to encourage a healthy, loving and trusting relationship.  Yes, I was dealt a very bad hand for a time in my life, but I worked on becoming better, not bitter.  And because of my growth, I regained my sanity, self respect and dignity, and gained huge admiration from others. To this day, I am still a work in progress. In a heart-felt letter to me from my son, he said I showed him "how to survive through pain and how to forgive".  Being able to teach a life lesson to my son, and come out of it as a better person, is worth the hard work and sacrifice needed in the beginning.  It may not be for everyone, but it is sure the effort.

Thank you for your comment.

Thank you for your comment. I'm going through this and only hope and pray that I can come out the way you have and that my children one day will learn a life lesson that your son says. I needed the encouragement that it is worth the effort. Many blessings to your marriage.

Inspiration personified

It says you commented here 7 years ago! I would love an update on how you are doing today. I wonder if you will have any notification that there are new comments here for you. The letter from your son says it all. What a great human being you are. I am putting my children first in order to survive this. I thank God today for coming across this article and equally, coming across your comment. Whatever the situation is now, I would love an update 7 years later. Thank you so much.

Price of forgiveness

I think you did well to outline the cost of the injured party. It is a high cost but just because you reconize that and are willing to work through that, if the other party thinks that it is just part of the process and that you should just get over it, it is amazing how cheap they feel it is.

I was the cheating spouse.

I was the cheating spouse. Once I was discovered my husband decided that he could not sacrifice all of those things you mentioned---dignity, pride, his values & beliefs, etc.---and he chose to divorce me. I don't blame him in the slightest. I deserved it without question. The good news is that now, over two years later, we are reconciling. He processed his feelings about my betrayal on his own and somehow, some way, was able to find acceptance and, yes, forgiveness. I will never forget the day, after we began a new relationship, that I asked him to forgive me for what I had done. He told me that he had forgiven me long ago. I am blessed.

In the beginning, were you

In the beginning, were you able to understand his pain or try to anyway?  I would love to reconcile with my husband, but all he has said is that he broke up with her and he is trying to work on himself to be a better man.  It's been almost 2 months since he said that and we have not gone to counseling or taken any healthy steps towards reconciliation.  He had told me at that time that he had stopped going out to bars and clubs b/c that is where a lot of his infidelity has occurred and stemmed from, but recently he has started going out again.  There just doesn't seem to be anything that says he wants to actually work through things.  He has not shown any apathy or ownership for the affair.  I would just like to know from others who are reconciling where the cheating spouse was at when you began to reconcile.  It doesn't seem to me that my husband is anywhere near the mindset for reconciliation and it is very hard to me to acknowledge that and move on as many people are telling me to. 

I was encouraged by your

I was encouraged by your story. I hope 6 years later you are thriving. I would love to know how you are doing individually and as a couple. As a former unfaithful, it is a tragedy what we have done. If something new and beautiful can come out of it that is the richest blessing. The cost though, and the process :(. I don't want to give up hope.

The cost of forgiveness

I am overcome with emotion. I have read so many books and visited numerous websites on affair recovery, but have never read or heard anyone speak of forgiveness this way. I'm in tears. The sacrifice... your words touched me deeply. I have felt incredibly confused and guilty that I am having difficulty making the choice to forgive. After all, I am a Christian, shouldn't I just be able to forgive freely? Thank you for recognizing and validating how I feel. I am eight months out from true discovery ( I had signs the last couple years that my husband was cheating on me but he would always dismiss, have an answer, or make me feel like I'm crazy), I am in a very ambivalent state. Hurt, debilitating anxiety, anger, grief. You covered most of the emotions I am feeling. My husband's affair lasted 4 years, he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on her (paid her rent, bills, extras) and discarded my kids and me for those four years. He stole from us, time and money...but mostly he stole my dreams. I am bitter but don't want to be. This was my high school sweetheart and I wonder how he could have changed so drastically after 20 years of marriage. I ask myself who is he? I just don't know how to get through the pain of this deep betrayal on so many levels. We are trying "controlled separation" right now. I have never felt such deep pain. Thank you for acknowledging the sacrifice of the betrayed... regardless of the path we take. It truly is a high price and I pray every day that God will knit my heart back together. I want to be restored. Better, not bitter. (I forwarded this article to my husband. I hope he reads it.)

your comment on cost of forgiveness

i read your comment & see it has been 2 years since you wrote it. I just wondered where you are now in recovery. I'm almost a year from discovering my husbands long term affair that I describe very similar to yours.

How are you doing, LoriC? I

How are you doing, LoriC? I am 15 months out from my husband ending his long term affair. I still deal with all these emotions...

It's still very tough! It's

It's still very tough! It's been over 3 years & we are still married & no one knows any of what has gone on. My kids are almost grown & have been spared the pain. I work daily to get through the triggers & sadness. My husband does the best he can to show remorse. Most days are great & some are just good.

Working on forgiving

At the forgiven, we are 2 years post my confession of 12+ years of infidelity. We have the best connection we've ever had in 29 and half years of marriage

Very well explained!

This is an excellent article. One of the best I've read over the past year of looking for help and added strength through AffairRecovery.com. I'm planning to share the link in my blog about my own experiences and hopefully others will find their way here where they can decide if AR is something that can be helpful to them as well.   Rick, your descriptions of the price of forgiveness were straight to the point. It isn't pretty, this process of forgiveness and it isn't quick. I don't think one article is enough to cover it. I'd even  suggest and entire course on helping the men and women who have committed adultry to truly experience empathy and a deeper understanding of this price of forgiveness.   There are so many aspects to the healing process on both sides of the marriage. Learning to understand what happened, learning to forgive your partner, learning to forgive yourself, learning to change beliefs, thinking, behaviors and set boundaries, learning to rebuild, and everything in between. But the one aspect I consistently hear and read about is the difficulty or the failure of the wayward mate to truly understanding what their partner is experiencing, and the price of that forgiveness they are asking us for.   I'm inspired as I often am by the strength of so many who do learn to forgive and rebuild and who also learn to heal, grow and become stronger than ever. That's what I focus on and where I want to be! I'm just this month, one year into the process. I feel tremendous pressure to forgive and get on with reconsiliation. With each month I feel more obligated to let it go which causes equal or even stronger sense of anger. My mate is making many efforts but he's not a patient soul. He's always wanted instant gratification and this is no different. I'm certain that in his mind he feels that a year to heal is an extraordinary display of his intentions and I'm sure he also feels hurt and offended by the hurt left inside of me. While he never voices the words there is an unmistakable vibe that enough is enough, I want to move on already!  

I don't speak of this daily. Sometimes I don't mention it for months. I'm not beating him over the head with this. Any attempt to discuss it ends with me smoothing his wounded feelings or insecurities.      So the one thing I really ache for, even more than that nagging desire for justice, is for him to truly understand the price of this forgiveness. I have no doubt I'll come out stronger.

  The hardest thing for me to come to terms with is If I'm going to go through hell finding my way to forgiveness why do I want to share my hard won sanity with someone who can't comprehend the price I'm paying to get there.  Or if he can never comprehend the identity taken away from me or the beliefs or the shattered dreams I must agree to sacrifice in order to stay with him?   For me personally, healing is hinged on that one missing element. A real and genuine empathy on his part. The belief that he gets it, feels it and regrets it not because he's suppose to but because he's finally learned to really understand the cost of it all.

Thanks for your comments. 

Thanks for your comments.  Blessings to you as well as strength and hope in the days to come.   Finally beginning to feel like you again is a positive step toward healing.   You're right, the process is exhausting and you're not the only one stuck in the process.  I  wish no one ever had to experience this process of healing after affairs but we're here and the only way forward is one step at a time.  Right?  Things do get better.  


Good summary. You described what I am going through. He is attending weekly therapy sessions and “working” on himself, but until he has empathy, understands the depth of his damage, and develops moral/ethical rules about how to treat human beings, in general, my pain will never go away. He can say he's sorry and regurge as many compliments as his therapist tells him to. I won’t believe that he understands the cost to me until I see that there truly has been an emotional cost to him.

Forgiveness has cost me many

Forgiveness has cost me many hopes and dreams, my dignity,my pride, my sense of who I really am. Forgiveness has taken it's payment from every part of my being. Has it been worth it? I might never know...

More than 2 1/2 years later...

Was it worth it? That's a mixed bag. I am happy that my family has stayed intact and that my children seem to be thriving. I'm glad we moved..I feel better. I'm glad that my wife (the betrayer) has found a healthier environment.
But forgiveness cost me my soul. It cost me my pride and more than a hundred thousand dollars in financial sacrifice....cars, house, etc. to escape the place she desecrated. I have lost all that I have felt about myself as a man and have come to realize that I'm not even close to the person I once was. A friend recently pointed out how much I've changed and my confidence is lost. Her affair destroyed me and I can never be fully healed.
I cannot really tell my wife that I love her. I love her, but not what she did to our family. I don't respect that and I have not yet found forgiveness. Understanding the "why", I completely understand most of the factors and situation that created the atmosphere for her to cheat...but that doesn't justify her decision to sleep with him, to sacrifice our family, our children's safety, desanctify our home, ridicule me, and deceive everyone.
Knowing what I know now. ...I might have made a different decision.
This article points out the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. I think I've done then in the wrong order. True reconciliation cannot come without forgiveness.

Cost of Forgiveness

Brilliantly written.  I cried almost all the way through reading it.  I have shared your articles on my blog before.  This one will get a full post all to itself.

Thank you ever so much.

We are 5 months from D day

We are 5 months from D day and I chose to forgive my husband. He had no reason for his infidelity; however, he is extremely remorseful and has gone to counseling with me. He has been going through a mid-life crisis and I don't know how to help him, except to be beside him. I NEVER, ever thought he would be unfaithful and the fear of "what's to come" (especially with the mid-life crisis) is really bothering me. It's difficult to listen to conversations, watch television or listen to music when the subject is infidelity. I can't even listen to the "love" songs that we used to listen to. The worst times? When a song comes on that we danced to at our wedding. All those hopes and dreams seem to be so far away from where we are today. It was just a one time thing, no feelings attached (for him anyway). She evidently was hoping for more and tried to break us up. I find myself praying for the best for my husband and hoping for punishment for her. She knew he was married, how dare she! They say that you should forgive the affair partner but, I can't...no right now and I don't know if I ever will. I think what makes it more difficult, is that she had an affair with a friend of ours and my husband knew this beforehand (I found out when he confessed)! Why would he even give her the time of day????? I'm thankful that we do not live in the same city, that I don't know her personally and that I don't have to see her after all of this. This has definitely made me doubt myself as a wife, mother and woman but, I'm a work in progress. I love my husband and family, with all my heart and soul. Walking away was never an option for me. I told him the only way I would walk away was if he told me that he didn't want me anymore. He begged me to stay and I pray that he means it. Lord, help me put my broken heart back together.

I'm right there with you

There were a few things in your post that really hit home with me. Hearing songs, shows, etc. about infidelity is just brutal. It makes me cycle down and seems to set me back to square one. And pictures of happy times in the past do the same. I think, "What did all that mean? It doesn't seem real. At least part of it was fake." And, like you, I feel a million miles away from whatever that happy time was.

Oh man, this hit the nail on

Oh man, this hit the nail on the head - right where you hold the hurt inside your chest...where only a deep breath will quench the tightness feeling somedays.  I have loved so many of the articles you've written (ie, the Truth about Trust - safety).

Who whould have ever thought this was us?  I would say no one.  Not perfect, we were just great - loving, caring, fun, easy, real, all of it - the dream - just great.  Life was great.  I started to type "our story" but really, it would take many years of nuances and the slow fade that happened in just a short year or so.

I read and paraphrased this to my husband tonight thru tears, me and him.  The sacrifice and hurt and pain and maybe pride?, but moreso oh the feeling of giving up the life I wanted - that is it.  Life has taken a different course.  The seemless happiness I miss.  This was never going to happen to us.  The feeling of never being able to go back.  The desire to know without a doubt he will never ever bring this back into our lives.  The seemingly uncontrollable intrusive thoughts.  Never being able to brag on ourselves, thats tough.  The lost diginity in front of that person ?maybe.  I could go on and on, but yes, this was written so soothingly. I have wondered about the forgiveness "for yourself" part. 

I told him tonight, amongst other things and feelings, that I crave and pray for that solid feeling between us, and for us to get there again.  A million prayers for that...


Oh Man, This hit the nail on...... Brief Comment

Your heartbreak and vision of "Paradise Lost" is something that I can empathize with and offer you virtual "hugs" as well as thoughts and prayers for. .All the Best Wishes for your Future !


As the betrayer, this a powerfully written reminder of the patience and compassion needed to help my partner heal.

This Article Spoke to Me Directly

This article struck to the heart of my pain.  I have felt like "the fool", completely unaware of a relationship that went back to before my marriage and spanned many years.   It does make me feel like a consolation and someone who was "safe".  My wife felt she was in love with another, despite building our life, raising kids and telling me daily that she loved me.

Our relationship is no longer built on integrity.  Decisions were made based on falsehoods, and we can never go back and undo a marriage that lacked honesty and disclosure. 

My wife has been supportive and understanding.  It has not been easy for her!  However, she knows how she felt and no longer feels the same (says this now).  She wants to move forward and truly mentally distorts the damage  that has been done.

I have based my life on my marriage.  It has been the ONLY thing in my life that I was certain about.  My wife has been my best friend and confidant.  I really have never had any other confidant.  That has been the hardest thing.  I'd like to make sense of things, but am still trying to figure that out.

Yes, most definitely! If you

Yes, most definitely! If you believe that God's word is true, you believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, that when you commit adultery, you become one with them too, compromising the purity, the loveliness of your marriage bed. Early in the forgiveness process, I found that each time I made that stalwart decision to forgive and love and make love to my husband, it became easier. After almost 4 years of full disclosure, knowing that he is a new man in Christ, I view our defiled marriage bed like a view him: it is a new bed because of Christ. I pray that you will be able to forgive your wife and that your bed will be renewed.

the cost of forgiveness

This was an amazing article.  It summed up so much of how the betrayed spouse  feels and now sees the marriage. 

I think, not totally sure b/c maybe I am blurring things, I have been able to forgive my spouse for his EA, but am stuck on the reconciliation part.  Forgiveness is something we actually give ourselves.  It makes me not be vengeful towards him or the AP.  He did it, okay, he said sorry, okay, I accept the apology, forgiven.  I forgive him for all that he did, for hurting me, but for me, I cannot bring myself to reconciling the marriage.  I am too distrustul, way too vulnerable now, and yes, even though it was an EA and not physical, it has still defiled our marital bed. 

Yes, I can relate. 

Would like to hear more, learn more, because I did tell my H just today that I now feel totally checked out of this marriage b/c of what has happened.  I am steps away from consulting an attorney and financial advisor.

Numbness in my heart

Sir, You have described aptly where I am. I also forgave easily because I loved him but there is a numbness inside when he is loving in speech and action. This was same way he was before my discovery of his affair. I look normal but the heartache never goes, the trust never returns like it was. Our love was a lie. His touch unlike before leaves me numb. Our intimacy is nothing like before, it is no longer an act of of passion and near like reverence it was to me before. It is indeed"a pale shadow of what it was before." I have to live with someone I never knew, whom I will not have married if I'd known this side of him. I find it hard to relate to the man I know him to be. I refrain from judgement because I pray for the mercy of Christ as I have betrayed also my lords trust in me before. I pray to love after forgiveness like he does. I asked the Lord to follow him with the rod of correction if he PRACTISES deceit again. Based on that, I draw my comfort and try faithfully to live my life to Gods glory.

Wow! You could have been telling my story.

What an insightful article. Campbell's story, his feelings of grief when he discovers that his reality for so many years has not been real, merely an ideal, is my story too. Thank you for addressing the great cost of forgiveness. I have forgiven my husband for his unfaithfulness during our second year of marriage. It's been almost 4 years now since he revealed that 29 years earlier he had 2 affairs that spanned a year. His own remorse had progressively grown and become unbearable for him to hide; for that I'm thankful, but I will always have to live with the acceptance of a new normal. What I thought for so many years was my life was not really my life, but a misconception based on my husband's deceit. I try not to revisit these feelings, but I have to admit that even after 4 years of his love, and I believe total honesty, I am plagued with sadness several times a day. That said, forgiveness has been worth the cost. My husband, because he is a new creature in Christ, has fought to help me heal. Even though I'm a naturally happy, optimistic person, I will probably always deal with my secret daily sadness. This is my new normal, and it's all right. As you so aptly point out, God has sacrificed exceedingly for our sins. As I read through the many comments, my heart connects and I pray for each. Thank you for providing this forum.


Betrayal in a marriage has many faces. The only break from pain is to know that this is a wake up call to true freedom in Christ. No one accepted as many costs as Christ, as my Lord. Now, to release all that bound me, my expectations, my pride, my entitlement, my earthly anchors that I put before God, in that is true freedom. To love others, no matter what they cost me. To believe I make the choices for my heart, but God is sovereign and the goal is whatever is takes for him to be glorified. The gift of accepting the costs of any injustice, accepting forgiveness despite immense shame, and allowing God's love to flow through me at any cost, is true FREEDOM. To forgive is to know the heart of Christ. This is a life long journey and I have no idea what the life will look like, but Life will be richer, not forever "less than", because my God is first. Without this belief there is no hope in me.

Great article

Wow every single detail of the sacrifice of forgiveness is provided in this article. It is a hard price to pay when you forgive. It helps me understand the analogy of christ dying for us. I always wondered how him dying was going to free us... it makes sense now.  Thank you for a great article.



So true! Christ's sacrificial act of forgiveness makes so much sense in light of the fact that we have, in our own way, done the same. We can be thankful to have this special insight during our grief.

This article is the best

This article is the best description of what the betrayed feels. I have re-read this several times and wept just to know someone understands and explained it so well the intense cost, pain and gut wrentching challenge it is to stay and chose reconciliation. Not one single day has gone by where I dont think about what he did. Making Love is almost impossible without visions and horrible thots overwhelming you. In a world where so many women stuggle with body image how in the world can one ever make the marrige bed special again. It has been defiled. Its next to impossible....one has to compromise all their feelings and dreams of what a marriage is when you choose to reconcile instead of leave.... "Pain...I have chosen to stay and forgive over and over each day and power through for my children and family. But the isolation is so intense because you see they dont know and I protected their dad and their hero...Only remindig myself daily what jesus did for me can I even take one step in front of the other..... Thank you for being the first one to truely put iton paper so I can read over and over and know that some really does understand how I really feel...


Your description of forgiveness is simply beautiful! Thank you for such confirming truth. As the betrayed spouse...unfortunately my sacrifice of forgiveness and desire for reconciliation for the last 2 1/2 years means nothing to my husband or soon to be ex-husband. He told me 6 months ago he wants a divorce. I guess he hasn't hit bottom yet. He still has blinders on and longs for his affair partner. I say all that to say that sometimes you can do the best you can and choose the right thing....but they have a choice too and don't always choose God. I want to encourage those in my shoes to cling so tightly to the Lord and let Him be your husband. He loves and cares for you like no one else can. Also keep forgiving...He forgives us. Be faithful for He is faithful. To God be all the Glory!

Well said. Thank you.

Well said. Thank you.

This article is spot on. It

This article is spot on. It has been 5 years since the touch and go days of D-day. We are making it thanks to the help I received from Harboring hope. For me forgiveness came in stages. Every time I faced a loss because of the cost of staying I need to forgive again. It has become a life style of forgiveness. Hard, gut wrenching and humbling with a soul cleansing quality. I feel it strip me of my earthly pride every time, but it also has a strange strengthening effect. Feels like my spine gets stronger and my personality more grounded. Close family is treating me and my kids in a passive aggressive way because I choose not to divorce. They have told me so many times that I deserve better and can find someone "better". It is hard to put into words of how much I miss their companionship. If I have simple marriage problems I can't event vent about them because it all gets piled up into "that's because my spouse is a terrible person and I should leave him." Even when someone else's relationship is discussed I have to keep my mouth shut because supposedly I don't know how to have a good marriage. The truth cannot be further. I feel strong and authentic in my choosing to stay. I see in my spouse the same qualities and imperfections that people who do not know about his affair do, so my relative's actions speak more about who they are than my spouse or our relationship. So there is a cost to forgive and continue to do so every time a complication from it arises. I dread the day my kids ask about it. One day someone will spill it to them, I'm sure. By that time I will hope to have a beautiful love story of forgiveness to tell them. Maybe I would be able to show them that forgiveness is expensive and Christ paid his life for us. I did not spend that much to forgive their father.


I must say your thoughts were amazing. On my strong days I feel similarly. May I ask how you are all doing currently?

Ever Associated Forgiveness With A Big Price Tag?

The best article I've ever read on how I feel inside about forgiving and the cost you have to pay to do it. It's true, you are suppose to forgive someone who has hurt you to the deepest core of your being. But when that person doesn't appreciate and seem's to expect it and go on their own merry way, it's like a slap in the face. But you took a vow when you married them and are trying to continue with that vow, but it's hard when their is only one person working on the marriage. I forgave 25 yrs. ago after a 3 year affair, that I never expected in a million years. I thought we had the happiest marriage and loved my husband so much. He knew my feelings on infidelity, as we knew some couples that had went through it. Even though he didn't work on the marriage with me after his affair, I still did to salvage it. I finally after 5 years of counseling decided to make a conscious decision to love and forgive him again. During the next 20 yrs. their were so many up's and down's, I continued forgiving, no affairs, just a lot of other things that were not acceptable in my marriage. So now, at 68 and the past 3 years have really been rough, I feel that I can't forgive anymore. I'm tired of being the one to try and keep the marriage together, with his continuing to make the same mistakes. He learned nothing from the affair that he had, didn't show hardly any remorse and didn't become a better person for it. Now in the past 9 months he's trying to hold the marriage together, but I feel that I can't forgive or love him anymore. It's sad after 50 yrs. of marriage, but I don't know how to get those feelings of love back again. So, I would say, that is the price that I paid for forgiving, like the Lord told us to do.

Ever Associated Forgiveness With A Big Price Tag?

The best article I've ever read on how I feel inside about forgiving and the cost you have to pay to do it. It's true, you are suppose to forgive someone who has hurt you to the deepest core of your being. But when that person doesn't appreciate and seem's to expect it and go on their own merry way, it's like a slap in the face. But you took a vow when you married them and are trying to continue with that vow, but it's hard when their is only one person working on the marriage. I forgave 25 yrs. ago after a 3 year affair, that I never expected in a million years. I thought we had the happiest marriage and loved my husband so much. He knew my feelings on infidelity, as we knew some couples that had went through it. Even though he didn't work on the marriage with me after his affair, I still did to salvage it. I finally after 5 years of counseling decided to make a conscious decision to love and forgive him again. During the next 20 yrs. their were so many up's and down's, I continued forgiving, no affairs, just a lot of other things that were not acceptable in my marriage. So now, at 68 and the past 3 years have really been rough, I feel that I can't forgive anymore. I'm tired of being the one to try and keep the marriage together, with his continuing to make the same mistakes. He learned nothing from the affair that he had, didn't show hardly any remorse and didn't become a better person for it. Now in the past 9 months he's trying to hold the marriage together, but I feel that I can't forgive or love him anymore. It's sad after 50 yrs. of marriage, but I don't know how to get those feelings of love back again. So, I would say, that is the price that I paid for forgiving, like the Lord told us to do.

it is what it is?

Spot on with me too!  Your description of my state is 100%!  I NEVER imagined my husband would stray... for 6 years with a despicable, and I mean despicable, co-worker.   I, like some of the others, thought that our marriage and relationship was strong.  Even in hindsight, it was a good marriage (yeah, I know, not really if he was cheating on me... but relatively speaking).  I've known now for 15 months.  I absolutely LOVE the comradery that is here on this post.  I love that we are all here, reading, seeking help, and like the article says, have too much pride to discuss it all too openly.  I'm at a point where I want to put it behind me.  What's occurred to me is that the betrayed spouses who actually have put it behind them, the ones who Rick mentions (in other articles) who move on and enjoy a fulfilling marriage and hopefully a fairly peaceful state... they aren't here seeking solace anymore.  This article was so good.  And our comments are absolutely comforting.   But, Rick, am I right .... there'd be lots more of even more comforting words if those success-story-betrayed-spouses still regularly checked in to the website?  Oh, don't say no... You know what, I'm proud of me, right?  I do have hope.  :)

Have you put it behind you

Have you put it behind you yet? Just wondering how long it is going to take. For me, now, it has been 20 months since discovery and him moving out. He moved back in a year ago. Just wondering.

Yes I forgave

I hope you can forgive. After 25 years of marriage, my husband strayed. He came back and I tried to reconcile. All of what you are feeling I went through, feeling ugly, unloved, stupid for not seeing, and the awful intrusions, etc. I gave it all to God and through the help here with affairrecovery.
I was finally better at one year, almost normal at two years. And finally at 3 years post, I am in my new normal. happy and loving. My husband was very remorseful and wanted our marriage, but I forgave again and again, It is possible. I hope you come to love your new normal.

the cost of forgiveness

I've been on this site for a good part of the evening and am now shaken as I read this article about the cost of forgiveness and the posts by everyone.  This article sums it up.  It explains how I feel today.  So amazingly written.  I felt that each reply was a part of me, too.

Great, great article.

It has been three and a half

It has been three and a half years since my husbands affair. Like so many other sleepless nights, I search for answers to ease my pain. I came across this article and feel that I finally have found someone who acurately describes the depth of hurt his betrayal caused. All I can say is "Thank You", it is comforting to finally feel that someone understands.

My story is very similar to

My story is very similar. My wife had a dirty secret which she had keep me in the dark for 13 years until recently I discovered by myself. It didn't take me too long to decide to forgive her. We had a long conversation and things are going well.  But my heart is still full of pain.  It keeps haunting me most part of the day. This article well described my feeling as the hurt partner who is willing to forgive the unfaithful partner. I hope my wife read it and understand the cost of the forgiveness which nobody but only me have to pay for her.

Forgiving Her is the hardest.

My husband's affair was 2 yrs. ago with his ex-wife. We had been married for 29 yrs, They were together for 18 months (from the time they started dating, married and she walked out of the marriage). I knew he wanted closure. I was even supportive of him contacting her. I knew of the emails at holidays to each other. He asked if it would be ok to have lunch with her. I knew that my husband had such low opinions of "cheaters", I gave my blessing. BIG MISTAKE!!! After lunch she began texting him while he was in town that weekend. She begged him not to go home until they had a chance to meet again. The first kiss was all it took. He was taken back to where he was 32 years before. He said that he never stopped loving her. He said that he stayed married to me because it was the right thing to do. She even talked him into quitting his job, moving back to the town where she lived and find a job there. He first weekend in his new house she told him that she and her husband were going to marriage counseling. That is when my husband realized he was just a pawn. He put is career, his reputation and most importantly his family with me at the top of that list into the dump. When he finally owned all of what he had done, we decided to try to make our marriage work. Because I believed that 29 years was worth something, I still loved him and I knew in my heart God wanted me to forgive him. I have and I do every day. He is finally the husband to me that I deserve. My problem is forgiving her. She hurt him in his first marriage. She made the first moves. She hurt him again by leading him on the 2nd time. She tore our family apart. His dad wouldn't speak to him for over 6 months. One of our daughters still won't speak to him. I am the collateral damage in that relationship. I don't know what I want from Her. But forgiving Her is just so hard. I say it, and pray it but I just don't feel it yet. Will I ever forgive Her? Will she always be this thorn in my side?

Thank you so very much for writing this

It has been 6 weeks since D-Day. My wife's affair blindsided me completely. This posting captures so much of what I'm feeling. In spite of the fact that she seemingly desperately wants to work things out, I'm finding it nearly impossible to forgive, to move on. To read that others see that forgiving and staying means sacrificing my dreams, my dignity, my rights, and my pride, This line is so true and so crushing: " Instead of being proud of what he and Sandra had built, he now felt he’d been played the fool and taken advantage of." The affair robbed me of something so very special. I was so proud of my wife. I was so proud of our relationship. I would take quiet satisfaction from knowing how strong we were and how good she was to me. Now all that is gone. And I'm left with the pain and shame I live with every day.

This part was just spot on, too: "The currencies used by the betrayed spouse to pay off the debt incurred by their mate’s betrayal are pride, ego, and suffering...It costs them their just due when they choose to forgo justice for the sake of the relationship. It costs them their sanity because they don’t control the painful thoughts invading their mind. Their present-day reality is constantly interrupted with painful memories of the past."

I really don't see a way out of this. I feel light years from the happiness I believed we shared and any potential for happiness in the future.

Awesome article

This is an amazing article. I was betrayed two and a half years ago when my husband walked out to be with a woman 11 years his junior leaving me with our 4 and 5 year old children. In my circumstances he never even gave me the choice of whether I could possibly forgive him or not. That plus the total lack of communication from him the day he packed his bags and left. I don't know whether I would have been strong enough to forgive him had he given me that option but I still cannot work out whether the fact that I had no choice was actually a blessing in my favour or the extra special kind of agony not included in your article

2015, I discovered the affair

2015, I discovered the affair. He says it wasn't an affair, because all they were doing was sexting. She was pregnant with her first child, had been married for about 4 months. They were co-workers. He had been acting strange for about 6 months and I couldn't figure it out. My husband suffered an aortic anyeurism. All I thought about was getting his phone, as the paramedics worked on him. That's when I discovered the truth. It's 2017 and he thinks I should forget about it, but as far as I know, it's not completely over, because I discovered another sexy message in this year. I told her was going to let her husband know, she said she wanted to talk. I went to her home to talk and she filed stalking charges on me and a restraining order, so I wouldn't tell her husband and her job. It's hard, but I am trying hard to pull my marriage back together. He said it was just a game, he and her were playing. Games aren't fun if someone is being hurt. She even moved her family around the corner from us.


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