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

The Fight to Forgive

The Fight to Forgive

Whenever I write about forgiveness, I’m always amazed at the outpouring of heartfelt comments. I grieve over the pain expressed by those who have been injured and pray your mates will come to understand and appreciate the price you’ve paid on their behalf.

Because of the necessity of forgiveness after a betrayal for your own healing, I thought it important to talk about one of the key challenges of forgiving infidelity.

Ongoing Consequences

When it comes to reconciliation and forgiveness in marriage, the ongoing consequences of betrayal may present the most difficult challenge to forgiveness. When a rock is thrown into the still waters of a pond, shock waves travel outward from the point of impact in ever expanding circles. Infidelity’s impact is much the same. Frequently people question whether they’ve actually forgiven when they continue to struggle with something they chose to release.

Most offenses we face in life, such as hurtful words or something stolen,

are one-time events, but infidelity carries an additional element.

The challenge of forgiving infidelity stems from the fact that it’s not just a one-time event; like that rock thrown into still waters, the impact of betrayal expands in ever widening circles. That’s precisely why a critical aspect of forgiving infidelity has to include an agreement to accept the ongoing consequences of your mate’s betrayal.

  1. Each time an intrusive thought interrupts a good moment it’s another consequence.
  2. Just the mention of the affair partner’s name can be another consequence.
  3. Anniversary dates present painful reminders creating yet other consequences.
  4. A call or text from the affair partner is another consequence.
  5. Mental images you can’t seem to rid yourself of is an ongoing consequence.

Even when your marriage is transformed into what you’ve always wanted, betrayal’s consequences continue interrupting your life for a season.

The Enormous Cost of Forgiveness

Here is one of the comments from a recent article we posted:

“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 so well the intense cost, pain and gut wrenching challenge it is to stay and choose reconciliation. Not one single day has gone by where I don’t think about what he did. Making love is almost impossible without visions and horrible thoughts overwhelming you. In a world where so many women struggle with body image how in the world can one ever make the marriage bed special again. It has been defiled. It’s 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 don’t know and I protected their dad and their hero... 

For this woman, each day presents reminders and therefore additional consequences to grieve and release. Each day, as those consequences invade her life, she has to choose. Forgiveness in marriage, let alone the infidelity, has cost her so much. She can either rail against them, shaking her fist shouting, “This is unfair. I did nothing to deserve this. I don’t accept this! This shouldn’t be happening to me,” or she can recognize it for what it is, just another consequence, and choose to grieve it in an attempt to move beyond it. While the pain can seem paralyzing, there is a way out of the agony. There is hope on the other side of this crisis even though right now you may not see it.

Consequences Eventually Subside

For her and many like her, forgiveness requires coming to a place of acceptance where she can say, “it is what it is.” This is what we mean when we define forgiveness as “giving up all hope of a better past.” She has learned that her own healing and recovery hinges on her ability to accept each consequence as it comes her way and choose yet again to forgive, just as she has with the countless other consequences that have rocked her life as a result of her husband’s betrayal.

The good news is, like the waves created by the rock cast into the pond, the consequences of betrayal, eventually subside, but it takes time and intentionality. Eventually, if we’ve chosen to forgive and choose to work through the consequences, we come to the other side of our own trauma. I can honestly say I don’t know anyone who has truly grieved the betrayal who hasn’t come to a place of peace. I stress the “truly grieved” person. However, having safe people to talk with is essential as you strive to move forward.

At the same time, a positive outcome for the marriage largely depends on the one who was unfaithful taking responsibility for their actions and displaying an understanding of the pain they’ve caused. This includes being remorseful for the harm done. Although it will be difficult when they are first coming out of the fog, eventually they will need to take responsibility for their own healing and take steps to make sure this never happens again.

Don’t Make It Worse

To move forward, couples have to make a commitment to not make things worse. There has to be an agreement to work through the issues and to create a safe environment for healing to occur. Both parties need to create goodwill by being respectful and considerate, allowing for positive moments together. Creating a culture which allows the couple to work together as they face the trauma created by the betrayal is of utmost importance. I can say from experience that you won’t end up creating this type of culture on your own. You need support from a step-by-step process to get you there. Our free First Steps Bootcamp is available to walk you all the way from “what do I do now?” to “what will the future look like?”

Forgiving infidelity takes time and perseverance, but it is possible to find a new life that you cherish and will forever protect.

If you’re a betrayed spouse today, I’d like to invite you to enroll in our Harboring Hope course. It’s a safe place where you and other betrayed spouses can work a curriculum specifically designed to help you in your own recovery. Regardless of the future of the marriage, Harboring Hope will provide you with other same sex, betrayed spouses who are looking for new life, new support and a way through the darkness. I promise you, you can one day soon return to a whole person. Become a part of our healing community today.





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I understand forgiveness is imperative to a free life whether in or beyond the relationship. The question I have is why is it a better idea to put ALL of this effort and time and pain into someone who has so completely disregarded, undervalued and damaged you and your relationship? I am in a group of betrayed spouses and I find the leader, even after 20 years post DDay, still suffers from intrusive thoughts and has to revisit forgiveness on a regular basis. Why not simply start a new, clean, worthwhile life? Whether with another partner, or just on your own? Why not give yourself the gift of love and embrace a pure and healthy, unburdened, happy life with someone else, or on your own? That's my big question at nine months post DDay. Of course, I feel love for my partner who cheated on me with porn, lap dances and finally massage parlor sex. I felt love for 20 years it won't just disappear. I am beginning to feel an even stronger bond of love with myself, and I want for myself a life without triggers, without a best friend who betrays me, without a man who is now covered in the handprints of hundreds of other women. I want a man who makes good character decisions and wouldn't hurt another person by lying, immorality, deceit. Don't we all deserve that, or in its absence a life of love and trust with good friends who wouldn't hurt us? Who would want to live in a relationship where there will always be such a sad and damaging background noise.

Total Loss

I struggle with this same question and have yet to find the answer. I understand that forgiveness is for me, it's for our own healing but the triggers and reminders are like ripping off a Band-Aid. Why must we constantly endure this suffering? I look at the betrayal like a car accident, there is so much damage that it's labeled a "total loss". Of course my first priority is to get myself healed and get healthy, but as far as the car, why try to salvage it, why not just start over and start fresh? I often feel selfish for wanting a life without my husband after the infidelity. What about our family and our kids but also, what about me and my best interest? I should matter too. I have a lot of life and a lot of love left inside of me and I don't want to waste it on this.


I agree with you completely! It has been over a year since the serial cheater admitted to some of his transgressions... I feel very little difference.. he has done next to nothing to help me with this process..but why would I expect him to? Cheaters take the easy way out and they are incredibly selfish by nature...so why would I expect that to change? He wasn't interested in my feelings our home our kids before he started cheating so why after? I know there are a few that make bad choices and redeem themselves but I don't have one of those it seems.. I would rather put my hard work and emotions into something or someone new as opposed to throwing good money after bad...just no longer worth fighting for.

I have the same kind of

I have the same kind of spouse. He cheated for years with porn 3 times a day while I was working and then got involved in an online relationship with a woman, began being mean and critical of me and now he moved out and is telling everyone I am abusive and that is why we had struggles in our marriage. He too didn't really want to take care of the house. It was a struggle for him to have the energy to do things in the house because of video games or wanting the entire weekend to himself. I am at a loss. I am now suffering financially and suffering in my health too.

Unable to forgive

I am beginning to wonder the same things. I am 19 months out from dday and I do not feel the same love for him as I used to. He also decided porn and having cyber sex as a dominant (which he is not ever been) was better than the real women that loved him. He can't understand that it's all the emotional effort and hours of talk on the phone he put onto his relationship with her that hurts me so much. He says it was just words that he never meant any of it. So how do I know it's not just words he says to me and that he means them. I'm not anywhere near forgiveness and at this point don't know if I ever will. How do the betrayed do it. Im Here because financially it is for the best


Hi Eleanor
Your post is so well written and describes the sacrifices women make daily, if deciding to stay/leave a relationship that continues tear at the core of their heart. My spouse cheated during our separation of 1-year. I just got fed-up with being last on his list of priorities, with no commitment to true change in our marriage. My spouse is a PORN addict and he does want to deal with that reality, nor does he understand how much damage this has caused us. A 27-year marriage is hard to give up.
Signed Stuck….


I have been where you are. My harboring hope group I was the only one still in the relationship. It made me doubt there was any hope. I was having trickle truths and a partner who was declaring commitment and still in contact with AP on the sly. Until one day the last trickle truth came and he said "enough...I am almost 50 years old and I am not impressed." It was then he decided that a monogamous relationship with me was in HIS best interest and his best hope for growth. I could sense it. From then on the past 2 years was decidedly different. Most evident was transparency checking in, sharing every little part of his day like it is a relief to him that he has nothing to hide. Easily passing back and forth cell phones iPads . I do not feel the impending sense of doom that comes with gas lighting. Sometimes I even forget who we once were. Anniversaries, the daily memory posts on FB can be jarring reminders but I have found gratitude for our experience. I am grateful for the opportunity to see the entire world differently. Ive unraveled the character flaws and habits that made me easy prey. We talk about things on a level I have never communicated with anyone. I speak up for myself in a way I never have before. We outright bicker joke and maintain high expectations of each other. If I did not walk through the pain , how's , whys , and I can't believe I let him live ;)... I would have walked right into the same relationship with someone else because I had already had 2 marriages that ended due to their affairs. This man was different, we were connected in spite of his affair and something deep down told me we were capable of more.


Thanks for your comment. I’ve struggled with the same things as in the article and the first commenter described. I’m almost 3 months out from DDay. Granted, I found out my husband was talking to the woman over four years ago. He swore it was just text messages. Lied for four years. Harbored a porn addiction. Constantly talked to ex girlfriends behind my back. Then the bomb dropped that he had as sexual affair...in our bed with the girl four years ago. I don’t know if it will work out. I don’t know if I can get over it. And we haven’t reached full disclosure yet. But I am constantly wondering if anyone ever truly gets to the point of not feeling hurt and betrayed.

It's not for us

I can't tell you how many times I have felt the same way you have expressed. To be honest, I no longer believe that I can be safe staying with my spouse and have moved out. It's not that I don't love her. It's not that I don't want to salvage our marriage. But it's been 25 months since D-day, we're still in "stage one" of recovery because she won't fully disclose with me, she won't keep the commitments our therapist has recommended for her to do, and I still don't see anything from her to indicate that she "get's it" or even accepts responsibility for what she has done and the damage it has caused.

So why would I want to forgive her?

Because it's not just for her. In reality, forgiving her, is mostly for me.

I'm an RN. If someone came to me with an open wound injury that was caused by their spouse, I would clean it, dress it, and discuss what he/she needed to do to promote healing and prevent scarring. The injured person might say to me, "But he did this to me! Why should I take care of the wound so it can heal?! I didn't do this; HE did!" Nor would I stand by and say nothing if the injured person was constantly picking at the wound and reopening it to prevent it from healing because they were mad at the person who injured them.

It seems like a simple concept when applied to a physical injury, but the principle is the same for emotional wounds.

Forgiveness is letting go of the hot iron so it will stop burning your hand.

We don't do it for the person who put the hot iron in our hand; we do for ourselves.

I also agree with what Rich has pointed out in many of the vids and articles I have read here: Forgiveness is not the same as Reconciliation.

Recently, a friend questioned me (regarding my wife's affairs) and implied that I hadn't forgiven her because I am separating from her and considering divorce. His opinion was founded on the notion that forgiveness "requires" that you stay with your mate and try to work things out, even if they aren't trying. If you're not willing to stay with the unfaithful spouse, then you haven't truly forgiven them, was his message.


If someone punches me in the face and then apologizes, I can forgiven him. If he does it again, and apologizes, I can forgive him again. But if this pattern repeats itself again and again and again and again, it will become necessary for me to get away from the person for my own protection: so I can be safe from further injury. Can I still forgive him for having punched me at the same time as staying away from him so it doesn't happen again? Of course I can. But if I hold on to the anger and hate that I felt toward him for punching me, then I have not forgiven. Letting go of the anger and hate is forgiveness. That is not the same as staying with him and "reconciling".

I'm not encouraging you to succumb to the feelings that are pushing you to seek a happier life, free of the painful past, by leaving him and finding someone else. There is no guarantee that the next person you find won't end up doing the same thing down the road.

But whether or not you stay, you need to forgive him and let go of the past, recognizing that you can't control it or change it. Do what is needed to promote healing of the wound. Forgiveness is perhaps the most important step of healing emotional wounds.

If you keep hold of the hot iron because you are angry at him for putting it in your hand, who suffers?


Hi your questions are mine as well. I’m 5 months post discovery of a 6 years of affairs. My husband was my best friend. I never in a million years would have thought he could do this to me and our family. I want to heal for me and the children so we can all be a healthy happy family. I don’t trust this stranger that has been living with us and lying even after seeing the pain he caused he had to be with his friend one more time. He has the nerve to ask why does this hurt so bad after 6 years of lying. I told him because I didnt know and you had not seen the pain your betrayal caused us but you still had to see her one more time. That has ended it for me. I found out he had been communicating and had seen her after I let him back into our home. We have been to counseling for 4 months when he told me, thinking nothing would happen, it broke my heart again. 1 week after that disclosure he texted a female friend, which was a boundary, no texting females. Again what’s so bad. I confessed. This is not my life. I am not a jailer, his mother or a detective. He is a selfish person that I truly can no longer live with. I work everyday on forgiveness and healing for myself and my children. Do I love him, yes will I always love him to some degree yes. Do I want to live under the shadow of infidelity for the rest of my life NO! I want time apart for me to heal. I am willing to continue counseling but not live together for now.

This is enlightening

I really appreciate the insight this article gives on how the betrayed spouse feels. I feel like I have forgiven my spouse but am still encountering some of the “ripples “. It is so reassuring to hear that this is normal. I was afraid that I was just being too sensitive and hanging on to the betrayal but this certainly clarified it for me. It is inspiring to read your messages. Thank you!


Can you share which article this comment came from? I'm sure I probably already read it, but wanted to check! Thanks

“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 so well the intense cost, pain and gut wrenching challenge it is to stay and choose reconciliation. Not one single day has gone by where I don’t think about what he did. Making love is almost impossible without visions and horrible thoughts overwhelming you. In a world where so many women struggle with body image how in the world can one ever make the marriage bed special again. It has been defiled. It’s 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 don’t know and I protected their dad and their hero...

Rick, this was such a

Rick, this was such a wonderful article. I am just over two years in recovery from my husband’s betrayal. We did so much work in EMSO, and I did Harboring Hope. My husband did all the things you mentioned. The rock in a pond is an excellent analogy for the far-reaching effects of infidelity and how it feels to be subject to its consequences, years later. I already have experienced that the triggers have less and less of an effect on me, and anticipate that they will continue to fade in number as well as impact. Forgiveness truly is a process that takes time, and it is ongoing.


When I was a little girl I started a china piggy bank collection. I got a green one, which was the catalyst for the idea, then later added a pink one...my collection had begun. One day my brother broke my green one. It was an accident and I forgave him, obviously as people are more important than china pigs however, I never, ever added to that collection. I still have them both today, my favourite broken one and his pink mate, who smiles with a silly smile as if nothing has happened.

That’s how I feel now. My favourite thing in the world is broken and I can live with it, because I love it too much to let it go...but i can not add to it.

My husband is and always will be, my best friend. Now he is also my worst enemy and I have no other friend in the world. I am not an attacher...I don’t really let people attach to me...they think they do, but I know they don’t. I don’t let them because it’s too risky...because, someone might have an accident and break you in two.

I am not sure that I have forgiven in my heart but I made an intention in my head and with God to forgive. I know my forgiveness, selfishly, is for me. The more that intention drops from my head to my heart, the more I move from angry to depressed. Depression is the state where you know it’s broken and nothing will make it whole, nothing will make it better. It was in fact, broken for years before you even realised it.

Depression seems to be an end State for me. Anger is the only door out of it and typically, eventually motivates me to take action, thus releasing me from depression. The only action I can think of, leaving is unthinkable as the only thing worse than being broken is explaining to everyone why I’ve left this beautiful man I’ve loved all my life. Anger doesn’t seem to be allowed...when I get angry I scare my husband and he closes up even more than he usually is. So I remain a broken green piggy bank with a sad smile and he a pink piggy with a silly smile, trying to make me smile.

I am broken.

I read your story and I cried

I read your story and I cried and cried. Your words hit home for me. I feel broken and depressed. Anger is my out, but not allowed. I feel stuck, like this is where I will always be.


I so relate to all of the stories. But "broken" you hit home. I (we) have been in recovery nearly 2 years. And I find myself at least twice a week in a "broken" state of mind still asking myself if this is how it will always be. And I've also asked myself would it not be better for both of us to go our separate ways. My husband is remorseful. He has expressed his remorse to me many times. And he is not one to allow anybody to get close to him or for him to share his emotions. He finds it hard to even articulate that into words so you can imagine I don't really trust that I know everything even today that has happened in the past. But "broken" described my days, feelings and thoughts I've been going through for so long. The anger part, the depression part. Even the part where she describes herself as the broken piggy with a sad smile and the other piggy trying to make her smile. That's how we are. Don't get me wrong- we've had some really, really wonderful days too. But you are constantly asking yourself when does this roller coaster ride ever stop and how long can we go through this? Especially when you have absolutely no guarantee.

I'm broken too and trying to remain hopeful.


Depression is a debilitating, paralyzing state to be in.

Broken is perhaps the word I have used the most frequently in trying to describe to others how I have felt as a result of my spouse's betrayals.

Perhaps the most dangerous element of depression is that it clouds your judgment in a very real way. I am just now 'starting' to come out of the major depression I have been in and still feel as though my thinking and judgment are not what they used to be. But during the time I was in the deepest part of the depression, I didn't even realize how clouded my judgment had become.

The pain of betrayal is so intense that it is easy to allow hopelessness and helplessness to set in. Because the pain is so all-consuming, it was hard to see beyond the hopelessness that it made me feel, which left me feeling as though there's really no point in trying to "do" anything. It left me feeling as though I can't really even trust myself to make a reasonable or wise decision about what I should do in the first place.

Exercise helped a little (as it stimulates the same endorphins in the brain that are stimulated by antidepressant medications), but it is hard to motivate myself to exercise when so depressed; depression sucks away your motivation to do anything at all.

Eventually I agreed to see my primary care provider, explain the situation, and request an antidepressant medication. This was very hard for me as I am something of an "anti-pharmaceutical" person; I hate taking any medication unless there is absolutely no other option. I haven't been on the medication long enough to experience its effects yet, but I'm hopeful that it will help.

I think what helped me "start" to work my way out the depression the most, was regularly working with a therapist and talking with others, who I know care and have my best interested in mind. You have to be careful with that though: everyone has an opinion and counsel they are anxious to give, but very very few can genuinely understand what you are going through. Even those who have experienced betrayal will have come from a different background and various nuances of their situation will differ from yours, leaving them ill-equipped to provide truly accurate counsel for you. A therapist who is trained in marriage and family counseling is really the best bet. I think the idea of the support groups offered through Affair Recovery sound like wonderful options that would be very helpful too. However, I don't have the funds to register for their classes in order to participate, so I can't speak from experience.

So I have been working with a few therapists and have sought out friends I knew I could confide in, who I knew would not try to counsel me in any direction, but simply allow me to use them as a sounding board to figure out my own thoughts. This is also what my therapists have provided for me. Only one of them has given me any definitive "counsel" by telling me I need to get away from my spouse if I ever expect to become healthy again. The others simply try to help me see the situation with better clarity so I can more effectively make my own decisions, though they have acknowledge that it is extremely rare for someone to become healthy when there is still a "third-party" (affair person) in the marriage.

I feel for you. It wasn't that long ago that my depression was so intense that I created a plan for suicide and the only thing that stopped me was realizing what it would really do. I didn't want to end my life; I wanted to end the pain and believed that death was the only sure way to make that happen. However, something inside me realized that suicide doesn't actually end the pain; all it would do is transfer it from me to the loved ones I would be leaving behind. I couldn't do that to my children. I'm very grateful now that I didn't.

I don't feel like I'm doing the best job of saying what I want to say. What I really want to communicate to you is that I can relate to how incredibly broken you feel. I still feel broken, but I also am beginning to feel hope that I will eventually be able to piece myself back together. But during the deepest parts of my depression, that hope wasn't there, no hope was there and the only thing that kept me alive was the fear of hurting those I love. I don't know that I would have made it out of that dark place if I hadn't started to see a therapist.

Please, don't let the hopelessness of depression stop you from acting or persuade you to do something that cannot be undone (suicide or even retaliatory betrayal). Find someone who can help you find a flicker of light in the darkness, then hold on to the hope they provide until you can see it more clearly for yourself. Find a good therapist to help you. Find a good and objective (same-sex) friend to help you sort through your thoughts and pain. (I throw the "same-sex" in there because, as I see it, confiding in someone of the opposite sex in this kind of situation would be an emotional infidelity on your part and I don't want to be misunderstood as encouraging that).

That story sums up how I too

That story sums up how I too feel, the broken green piggy bank. I put so much into my marriage and family yet that wasn’t enough, apparently although he was having sex at home he needed extra on the side. I did discover very early on that this girl (she wasn’t even really a woman) was after my husband but he swore black and blue that there was nothing. I chose to blindly believe him after a week of angst.
Turns out the affair happened for 2 years before this girl texted me one night saying my husband was a liar. That’s when it all exploded and the begging for forgiveness began but the real answers have never really come so now I’ve been 10 months in limbo wondering if I should stay or leave.
I love his family and our life together - even during the affair I loved our life as I was oblivious to the other woman - I just feel if someone could give the answers to forgiveness I could move on and continue our former lovely life.

Forgiveness to worth it

Your hurt is palatable and I understand more than you know. My husband had several affairs that came to light 11 years ago. We did Ricks 911 course and without it, would be a divorce statistic. We met another couple online thru this course and after 11 years still talk every 2 weeks. Having someone who understands is invaluable. They are our best friends that we have never met. Forgiveness is worth it along with all the hard work. Both, and I mean both, parties have to be committed to succeed and be willing to put the hard work in. You need to go thru all the necessary steps to attain a full recovery. You could trade in this damaged partner for another, but there are no guarantees about the new relationship. Your pain will not disappear, even if you move on alone. But you have to decide that for yourself. I will tell you that I do not have pain anymore but I have awareness and the security of knowing what I have. If you work hard, you can have that marriage you always wanted. History with someone is worth something and so is your family unit. God knew what he was doing when He created marriage and also knew of all of our weaknesses, and that in marriage we can we help each other, get to heaven together. I will keep all of you in my prayers. You can do this and I’m SO glad I did. My husband is a changed man and our relationship is loving and transparent.

Six years ago, after much

Six years ago, after much emotional and psychological abuse, and colder treatment from my h than I'd ever known - and after cycle after cycle of sexually addicted behaviors - God dropped into my lap the discovery that my h had been involved in a 9-mo adulterous affair with a woman who is also a sex addict. All our 40 years of marriage, I'd forgiven and chosen to trust again; I always thought I don't dare to lose hope, and if Christ forgave my sins, then my only right response was to forgive my h; after all, he seemed sincerely repentant every time he was caught. This was the first time for an outright affair; always before it had been pornographic in nature. I lived through more pain than I ever knew a person could experience and still live. Once again, the repentance seemed sincere, and I chose to forgive, though I cried every day for 4 months straight before the pain started lifting a tiny bit at a time. I thought we had hit rock bottom and there was no way left to go but up. Surely this discovery would shake him to reality; he cared greatly about his image and appearance. But before the first year was up, I sensed it had just been another cycle, and he was on his way down again. I could no longer get him to open his heart to me, and his bitterness toward me was increasing, I believe now, because I had exposed his sin and was trying to hold him more accountable. Two and a half years ago - once more he had returned to the affair partner and had already been in a 3-month adulterous relationship with her again. I had done a lot of reading in the meanwhile, and this time I told him we must separate until I have reason to trust him again; his words no longer mean anything, and I will only observe his actions and attitudes. I haven't divorced; I don't plan to remarry. Both nearly 67 years old, we are still separated at this time. So far I have seen no reason to trust him, even though he says all the right words and has many others convinced he is the victim and I am the unforgiving wife. I do believe I've forgiven him; I've released him and have begun to move on; to put the past behind me. I am actually finding my real self again, and I laugh a lot; it's a miracle. The ripples have slowed. I am still triggered at times, but I no longer live in the depths of gut-wrenching grief, and my recovery no longer takes as long when I'm triggered. I share this to say that forgiveness can take place without reconciliation; they are two separate things. Trust and forgiveness are two entirely two different things, as well. There comes a time to stop enabling, and to allow ourselves to be nursed back to health before we completely die inside. My constant prayer has been that God would help me to be who I want to be at my core, and not let me get hard and bitter. I realize now I was in an abusive relationship with a man who has the characteristics of both an addict and Narcissistic personality disorder. It simply isn't always good to stay.


I would love to hear more stories and articles on forgiveness and reconciliation from the betrayed spouse.

Slowest progress

As I read this and read the comments I see myself in every single comment. I've felt or feel all those feelings of why, why continue to torment myself, why not move on, what would others think... I want to give up but I don't want to let go. I hate him I love him. It has been a year 1/2 for me. I will never know all the details but he made dating websites and met up with one woman -that I know of. Supposedly nothing happened but I will never know what happened and I will never know if there were others. I have wanted to end my torment at times. I have wanted to move on and start over with someone new who would never hurt me. How wonderful that would will to have an untainted love and get what I feel I deserve. He was certainly not to scared to get what he thought he deserved. I have triggers though they are slowly (very slowly) fading. I'm certainly much better than where I was even 6 months ago but I can see I have good days and then I have terrible days. I am slowly walking out of the darkness and back into the light. I am remembering what it feels like to fall in love with my husband again and why I chose him. Because when he betrayed me suddenly all I saw were all of his flaws. He disgusted me at times. I think I fell out if love with him romantically but still fekt attracted to him and loved him as my husband. But I just want in love in a sense that if he would of wanted to walk away I wouldn't of chased him. Somedays I was so disgusted with him I wanted him to leave. As I am slowly healing I am remembering why I fell in love with him romantically. I have had to grieve a lot of things. I also had to consider would I truly be happy if I let him go and moved on... do I want to punish him and myself forever and never be together again as the ultimate life lesson? 5 years from now when we would be with other people would I look back and wish I stayed. I think I would. I think I would miss his arm around me. I would of missed his smell. I would miss his green eyes staring at me. I would of missed having him on my side. I would of missed laying next to him every night. I would miss his jokes most of all. Deep in my heart I had to rediscover that I truly don't want a new start. I wanted him to have never betrayed me or have been given a fresh start with a carbon copy of him and that wasn't reality. It happened... and I know it happened and I WANT to be happy but I know my happiness somehow still involved him being there. I am not in lala land my eyes are certainly more aware of the reality that he is far from perfect. Like when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of life. I was ignorant to the possibility him cheating could ever happen and ignorance was bliss. Then I was awakened to the truth and it was more than I could take. I can imagine in another six more months now that finally after 18 months I am getting some progress... I will have learned to live him more than I do now. I know I love him and even still I know he loves me as well. He can be a jerk and isn't perfect but in my heart and soul I am more sure we can get throuth it. We have started making those happy memories again.

This is me, on the opposite side.

I am the betrayer. I know this is a very backwards situation. The thoughts and feelings you have towards your husband now, after everything, is one my husband is slowly starting to realize. He has major anger associated with this situation and I feel like I have to constantly remind him and "talk him down". Is that wrong? I know he makes the conscious decision to not show his anger to me or the kids, but is that a start to forgiveness? He has never been one to forgive and does not know how even if he wanted to. Every day I see him start to dull those sharp edges more and more, but there are bad days too. I feel like the closer he lets himself get to the feeling of wanting to pass all the drama and leave it behind, then he spends a day or two in anger or depressed thoughts. He says remembering the past is painful because he associates it with me not caring about our life enough to prevent my affair from happening. He sees me as ungrateful and that reminders of our history trigger those dark thoughts in him scares me. I know I have to take responsibility for my actions for forever, but at some moments I believe he is so sure he wants to leave and what right do I have to keep reminding him that he has a greater than positive opportunity in life with me and the kids. The backwards part of this is that I know my husband, deep deep down wants to forgive me but doesn't know where to start and it's almost like he is constantly fighting himself. He drastically changed his life when he met me. He was the type of person who didn't care about anyone and when he met me he said he made the decision to change his life, because he realized he had genuine feelings for me. Now, after all is revealed about the affair, he is constantly struggling and fighting between the person he used to be and the person he chose to become when he met me. I am the betrayer, I don't believe I have the right to ask him to stay when he seems like he wants to leave, but I know his heart wants to stay. Is this wrong? Am I wrong for trying to hold on? I have expressed the deepest remorse, and then some, over and over and over, and I have made all the changes and put in all the effort to salvage our relationship. I know he wants his life with me, as he tells me this constantly, but the other side of him still has strong thoughts to leave and restart his life again because the pain is too much. We are each other's best friend, so I betrayed him in more ways then one when I lied for almost a year about the affair. He has taken conscious effort to not show his anger towards me, to not constantly use the affair as a tool to batter me with, and to make more effort in wanting to be with me both sexually, and just in general. Is he just forcing it because he believes it's what's right? Or is he doing it because he actually feels that way? He is confused most days, and I try talking to him throughout the day to get a feel for where he is at mentally so I have observed his mood changes and other thoughts and fluctuations about leaving or staying. I see more and more that he wants to stay, but the fight with his old self brings him back to that "No, how could you stay with someone who took you for granted? Get your stuff and get out." Do you or anyone else for that matter go through these thoughts or somewhat similar situation? I appreciate an insight.

Signed, the betrayer who realizes the wrong she has done to her husband and family and loves her husband and family more than anything in the world and is herself breaking trying to make up for the wrong she has done.

I am not forgiving someone who hasnt sincerely apologized

I tried. I read everything about forgiveness but guess what? It is not happening. I am moving on and when I am ready I will then forgive, for my own health, not for him. He is too self consumed and self righteous to even know how to ask for forgiveness. I am not wasting anoher minute of my life waiting for hos empty apology. It will never happen nor be enough. The End

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