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

Ever associated forgiveness with a big price tag?

What is the cost of forgiveness? What does this have to do with forgiving infidelity? We’ll talk about that in a moment, but first let me tell a story. Seventeen years ago, within the first two years of marriage, Sandra had multiple affairs. Doubts of whether she’d married the right man plagued her even before the wedding. A better man than Campbell she’d never find, but the spark was missing. She feared he’d be a Steady Freddie who was dull and commonplace. His impeccable character and undying love had captured her attention, but where was that romance of man and maid she’d so longed for? Those feelings never came.

About a year into the marriage Sandra’s boss invited her to lunch. From an innocent beginning blossomed a growing conflagration of passion. He understood her womanly need of small attentions and seemed to get her in ways Campbell never imagined. Justifying her affair was all too easy. She’d never felt like this before, confirming in her mind that she’d married the wrong person, and now she’d found the love of her life. Besides this wasn’t some spur of the moment impulsive whim, they’d spent their days at work talking about music, philosophy, religion and life. Milton knew her better in a month than Campbell had in 2 years.

For the first time in her life she felt compelled to recklessly abandon herself to another. It was like nothing she’d ever experienced, until Milton’s wife discovered their affair and filed for divorce. Milton immediately resigned his job and moved his family to another state. She was shocked; they had planned their future together and now, just like that, he was gone? He even told her he wanted nothing to do with her and to quit bugging him. The pain was unbearable, and even she was surprised at her response. Rather than grieving the loss and moving on, she numbed the pain with three more short-term affairs. What was the difference; she didn’t envision Campbell as any part of her future.

However, about a month after affair number three ended, she and Campbell conceived and life suddenly changed. She loved life as a mom and admired the way Campbell stepped up and supported the family. Over time she even grew to love her life and recognized she had indeed married well.

Skip forward 17 years when Campbell received a call from Milton’s wife. “I told him if it happened again I would no longer keep his secrets, and I just discovered he’s doing it again,” she said. “I thought that you might want to know your wife isn’t who you think she is. Why don’t you ask her about Milton?” Milton’s wife was coping with infidelity in a flurry of anger.

Initially, Sandra lied. She had decided to take the secret of her infidelity to her grave, but eventually she came clean about all four affairs before their first child’s birth. She pleaded for forgiveness; after all, it was 17 years past. But for Campbell it wasn’t seventeen years ago, ground zero was just last month. Forgiving infidelity for him didn’t seem possible. Seventeen years of faithfulness did nothing to ease the pain of her betrayal. In fact, it made it worse. She had caused him to live a lie for 17 years. He no longer trusted his current reality, his past, his future, his wife or himself. How could he have been so blind? How could he just forgive and move on?

For the sake of our discussion let me point out that there are two elements to what we refer to as forgiveness. The first is an internal matter where we choose to forgive the wrong committed against us and no longer expect justice as a result of their offense. Even more, we wish them well. The second element of forgiveness is about reconciliation. It’s where we choose to continue in relationship with that person in spite of their offense. For the sake of this discussion I’m focused on the second element, reconciliation.

All too often we talk about the high price of NOT forgiving. That forgiveness is a gift you give yourself and how failing to forgive leaves you forever a victim. We extol forgiveness as a virtue and share examples of those saints who forgave much to show forgiveness as a possibility. (Even though the fact we even share such stories indicate those people may be the exception, not the rule.) But forgiveness isn’t natural, especially when it comes to forgiving infidelity. It flows against our basic human nature. For most, our initial response to coping with infidelity is justice, not forgiveness. We want restitution, not mercy. We want the scales of justice to be balanced.

An understanding of the high cost of forgiveness seems to go missing when an offense is committed. Far too often I see an entitlement mentality when it comes to receiving forgiveness from our mate or forgiveness from God. As humans we’re supposed to forgive, right? In Christendom we teach “as God forgave us so we’re to forgive.” Isn’t that the lesson we teach our children? But we forget that forgiveness comes at a price. Even the Christian tradition teaches that the price God has paid to forgive mankind’s offenses was the life of His own Son. In the same way, the price paid by the betrayed spouse, if there is to be reconciliation, is high indeed.

What was the price of forgiveness in Campbell and Sandra’s case? Campbell had been an exceptional husband and father, not perfect by any means, but he’d lived and loved well. For him, forgiveness meant violating his personal beliefs and values. He would never have chosen to be with someone who betrayed, lied, and deceived him. He believed in the sanctity of marriage, and to choose to stay with Sandra came at the price of settling for something he never wanted.

Forgiving infidelity would mean sacrificing his dreams of the type of marriage he’d wanted. He’d never have the opportunity to brag to his children about the fidelity of their marriage. To stay meant sacrificing a marriage that was free from doubts. How could he ever again believe a word that she said if she’d been able to deceive him for 17 years? Staying meant the sacrificing of his dignity. He personally knew two of these men, and he now imagined how they’d seen him as the fool. To stay he’d have to sacrifice his rights. Didn’t he have the right to leave and find another who would be faithful to him? Staying and coping with infidelity meant sacrificing the ability to be honest with family. He couldn’t share his struggles, for fear of more complications. To stay would cost him pride. He’d always believed people who stayed were too weak to leave. To stay would cost his self-respect. He couldn’t believe things he’d said and done in his fits of rage. It would be so much easier to be away from her and not be triggered by her presence. To forgive seemed to make a mockery of all he’d sacrificed for the sake of their marriage. Instead of being proud of what he and Sandra had built, he now felt he’d been played the fool and taken advantage of.

All Campbell ever wanted was to love unconditionally and to be loved by someone special, but now his heart was so full of pain and distrust he wasn’t sure whether he could give himself to Sandra or anyone else again. Could he walk through the pain of her betrayal and face the demons he’d encounter if he ever gave himself to her again? For him, choosing to stay would cost him dearly.

Grace isn’t cheap; it comes at a high price. Failure to appreciate the high price paid by those choosing to forgive minimizes the magnitude of their sacrifice. The currencies used by the betrayed spouse to pay off the debt incurred by their mate’s betrayal are pride, ego, and suffering. Forgiving infidelity costs their dignity when they choose to stay rather than leave. 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. It costs them their dreams because this road isn’t one they’d ever planned on traveling. It costs them health because the pain of the offense consumes their life. And I’m only beginning to scratch the surface.

As one who believes in the value of forgiving, I never want to be guilty of cheap grace, where I think it’s something to which I’m entitled. If justice is the standard, then the consequence of betrayal is the loss of relationship. Anything short of that is mercy, indeed. Failing to consider the price paid by others for my sake causes me to be careless with my behavior. Forgiveness and reconciliation are expensive gifts purchased through great suffering and sacrifice on the part of the offended. Failure to understand that reality makes me blind to the love displayed by those who choose to continue on in relationship.

If you’re coping with infidelity and trying to overcome the crisis created by a betrayal, please consider one of our online courses. Our hearts' desire is to help those impacted by infidelity find new lives of meaning and purpose. If you’re searching for how that’s done, we can help.

How would you describe the cost of forgiveness from your own experience?

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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.

Forgiving

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.

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. 

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...

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.  

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...

-Betrayed

Powerful

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

Thank you

I hope you don't mind, Mr. Reynolds, but I reblogged your article on mine with my comments. I found it profound and needed. I'm a recovering wayward spouse of a wife who has shown the character and immense love to forgive me and move forward. This article, like others, helps me to see things through her eyes.

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.

Freedom

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.

 

Amen!

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...

Forgiveness

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.

Wow

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 to what happened to Campbell. 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.

Too Many Affairs

I'm light headed just thinking about my husband's indiscretions. This is the 1st time I've put it in writing...he left me two times, both when I was pregnant and both to move in with another woman. One he bought breast surgery for and one he had an actual physical affair with. We moved across the county after the 1st incident but the second woman has children the same age as my own and I see her often. I've chosen to attempt to move forward in our marriage as he has been seeing a counselor and seems to genuinely understand his own inability to cope with stress/life. The problem is I hate myself every day for compromising everything I am to keep my family together, my kids worship their dad and I can't stomach the thought of joint custody when I did nothing to deserve losing the right to see my kids every day. I take it out on him daily...which is not the person I want to be. How can I forgive multiple affairs? the abandonment? I hate him and I hate myself for this outcome...

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