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

Practical Suggestions for Forgiveness

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Practical suggestions for forgiveness

Recently, Stephanie was perusing the Recovery Library and said to me, "Betrayed spouses need some practical suggestions on forgiveness." My first thought was that forgiveness isn't practical, it's rather extravagant, but she was willing to offer some do's and don'ts for those who have been betrayed. I've rounded out the discussion by offering suggestions for those who were unfaithful.

For the sake of our discussion, allow me to clarify who this is intended for and to define the terms.

Beyond Discovery

To begin, let me stress that these suggestions are for couples who have moved beyond discovery and are trying to determine how to live with what has happened. It is not for those still trying to find the truth. Once you have the whole story, you know what you're choosing to forgive.

Keep in mind this pinnacle truth:
forgiveness does not mandate reconciliation.

At Affair Recovery we believe there are two components to forgiving infidelity.


First is the internal aspect of forgiveness, which has little or nothing to do with the other person. It is a personal choice to release the other person from retribution or harm as a result of their offense; it's coming to the point where you can wish them well. It's not based on their apologies, repentance or merit, since it's an internal matter. It is a gift you give yourself that sets you free and allows you to live at peace with your memories. The internal aspect of forgiveness where infidelity is concerned is important; failing to achieve this type of forgiveness leaves you forever the victim.


The second aspect of forgiving infidelity is about reconciliation. This component of forgiveness is primarily based on safety and will not be possible in every scenario. Does the unfaithful spouse see what they've done? Do they take responsibility for their actions? Are they grieved over what their actions have cost others? Anything short of that response potentially makes them unsafe for reconciliation. This aspect of forgiveness determines whether the relationship will continue. If they are willing to make amends for their failure, then reconciliation might be a good choice.

Practical Suggestions from Stephanie for Forgiving Infidelity
(for the Betrayed Spouse):

  1. Separate forgiveness from the process of reconciliation. Make reconciliation optional and forgiveness not optional. People often do this backwards, choosing to reconcile rather than forgive. This leaves them trapped in the pain of the betrayal, never able to move forward to a new life. If your mate isn't safe, don't reconcile. In the first year of recovery don't pressure yourself to decide about reconciliation. It may take over a year before you know whether it's safe to reconcile. Reconciliation depends on your mate's ongoing recovery and your ability to heal from the trauma of the betrayal.
  2. Make a conscious choice to forgive. For freedom's sake, don't hang on to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness is always in your best interest and in the interest of those you love. Only time will tell whether reconciliation has a place in your relationship. Forgiveness is never based upon feeling, rather it is based upon truth and the necessity of being freed from the pain of another's choices.
  3. Choose to focus on what's helpful. Once you know what's happened, there may be diminishing benefit in continuing to focus on the past. Have the sense to ask yourself if how you're spending your time (conversation, thought life, etc.) is helping to move you forward in your recovery. If it's something that's keeping you stuck, let it go. You want to choose life, not death.
  4. Maintain an attitude of compassion. If you can look at your mate through a lens of compassion and concern you may find it easier to let go of the offense. Forgiving infidelity is not a sign of weakness and it doesn't minimize the magnitude of the betrayal, rather it allows you to move forward, free from the hurtful actions of another. Forgiveness in marriage, even without infidelity, requires compassion.
  5. Don't hang on to entitlements. As Charles Dickens says, "In every life, no matter how full or empty one's purse, there is tragedy. It is the one promise life always fulfils. Thus, happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it but to delight in it when it comes and to add to other people's store of it." Your mate may have destroyed your happiness, but life is hard and often unjust. Try to keep realistic expectations.
  6. Take care of yourself. A lack of sleep, isolation, or severe depression only makes forgiving infidelity more difficult. It's not fair since you aren't the one who cheated, but you're the only one who can take the necessary steps to heal from the wounds created by others. Be willing to get help.
  7. Be aware of your own humanity. As C.S. Lewis says, "The true Christian's nostril is to be continually attentive to the inner cesspool." Be willing to consider what you've been forgiven. Maintaining an awareness of what others have had to forgo for your sake will help you find patience for others. A self-righteous attitude will cut you off from the very thing you seek.

Practical Suggestions from Rick for Forgiving Infidelity
(for the Unfaithful Spouse):

  1. Don't be defensive. Defensiveness makes it about you. Take responsibility for what you've done and listen to how your spouse feels.
  2. Develop empathy. Seek to understand how your actions impacted your mate and clearly communicate your understanding of their reality. Let them know that you are attempting to move beyond yourself and see things from their perspective.
  3. Let your mate know you appreciate the fact that they've chosen to stay with you and explore the possibility of reconciliation. It's not what you deserve. Looking back at my betrayal I can clearly see I deserved for Stephanie to leave me. I certainly left her during my addiction and my affair. I genuinely appreciate that she chose each day to try to work through my hurtful actions. It was far more than I deserved.
  4. Stop hurtful behaviors. Forgoing activities which cause your mate anxiety communicates your willingness to partner with them in recovery. Stressing your rights regardless of their pain reveals your self-centeredness and callousness to their pain.
  5. Take responsibility for your recovery. If your mate feels they are your motivation for recovery it will be difficult for them to believe that you're committed to making sure this never happens again. Your mate was not enough to prevent the behavior the first time, so they have no reason to believe they will be motivation enough for you to maintain recovery in the future. You must take responsibility for yourself.
  6. Allow your mate the opportunity to forgive by letting them know what you've done. Most likely your mate will find it easier to forgive your actions than they will your deceit. It is the deceit that makes reconciliation difficult.
  7. Don't minimize your behavior. To do so will make a mockery of your mate's efforts to forgive.
  8. Forgive your mate for their failures. As Jesus says, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone". Forgiveness in marriage is something you can do too.
  9. Be patient. It will take 18 to 24 months for the two of you to move beyond the crisis created by your choices. The least you can do is be patient as they try to work through what you've done.

Practical Suggestions for Forgiving Infidelity as a Couple:

  1. Once you are able to move past the initial shock and are past the discovery phase, begin to build positive experiences for the marriage. Learn how to enjoy your time together.
  2. Take breaks from recovery. I love the approach taken by one of our mentor couples. She told her husband that she needed him to take her out for a good time. She was sick and tired of always working on their recovery. "Don't make the mistake of thinking everything is okay in the morning," she told him. But at least they were able to take a vacation from recovery and find a good time together.
  3. Spend time remembering what was good about your relationship. Both parties need to be reminded of what was good about the two of them. Pain has a strange way of burying the good. It's hard to make a wise decision about the future if you only consider the negative and never look at the good.

I hope these suggestions equip you both for what you're facing right now. I told Stephanie I was worried about trying to write a newsletter of this sort. I realize that everyone's situation is different and what works for one may be an abomination for another. Making suggestions is far too simplistic, but she insisted they are sometimes helpful. Please take the best and leave the rest.

If you're the unfaithful spouse and you'd like to discover how your actions have impacted your mate then please consider taking Hope for Healing or, if your mate is willing, take EMS Online. Both courses will provide insight into how your choices have affected them. If you've been betrayed I hope you'll consider taking Harboring Hope. There is no better resource for helping you wrap your mind around what has happened and move forward.

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Harboring Hope is our online course for betrayed spouses to heal after infidelity. It often sells out within a few short hours. Don't miss it!

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I've got it backwards

Years ago I chose to reconcile in order to hopefully find forgiveness. My wife is repentant, remorseful and as giving as ever...even more so. She has made more than enough recompense for her betrayal.
But I have not been able to find forgiveness. Despite reading everything I could find, crying, pleading and begging for that gift...I have not been able to find it. Not within and not for her. It saddens me every day and I wish I can find that blessing...for me, for her, for our family.

Cannot find forgiveness

As one who was betrayed, May I suggest that there may be emotions that are still obstacles to your forgiveness? There is much to grieve with betrayal: the marriage you thought you had, would, - the idealic marriage is no longer viable - that is a loss to grieve. I needed to let go of that tarnished image of my marriage, my husband AND the tarnished image I had of me (all the ugliness his affair brought out of me - I hated for the first time in my life. I hated him. I hated her. I hated myself for being the fool to believe him when there were all the signs of infidelity...in many ways I needed to forgive myself - more than him.

I also had a period of hating what I thought God was expecting of me... In actuality I hated what man/church and my churched upbringing were telling me to do - pretty much to get over it by forgiving and forgetting. In reality I will not forget. In reality I have to erase the debt - it takes the pain much longer to go away.

It is hard for forgiveness to be viable if you need more to happen to re-establish trust. But that has more to do with a reconciliation process.

After my H's first affair - it took me about 3 years to get beyond the pain even though I had chosen to forgive (it's easy to fall into temptation when one is young and immature). (I made the mistake of not addressing it in counseling - which led to another incident a decade later...but for the sake of our focus on forgiveness - it had taken my emotions and my thoughts to catch up with my decision to forgive. At the time there was no doubt in my mind that he was repentant).
The affair that came later was another issue/crisis in his life. And a completely different process.
In broken relationships, there is much to forgive - not just the affair, there is also, lying, pain, bruised ego, shame, resentment, the affair partner, the society we live in...the expectation that forgiveness is easy even when you want to ...

To move through reconciliation:
As painful as it is discovery needs to be complete - there must be a transparency in all emotions and empathy for them all...your own emotions.
It is good for you to admit the difficulty of forgiving...you are human. Forgiveness is difficult because it forces one to look at the truth and the pain and perhaps even the judgement in ourselves.
Praying for your healing...

thank you

If I could, I would curl up in your lap and just listen to your advice. Thank you for your viewpoint and advice. Your words gave me more cause to look within and see that the difficulties are mostly my own lack of ability to forgive.

forgiveness with out reconciliation

Thank you for your suggestions on forgiveness Rick. I have been doing most of what you advised & now, after reading about the safety issue, I realize I am still longing for my husband to be empathetic and see how much his behavior cost both of us. I understand why he is not safe, yet. Thank you, it relieves my feelings of intense confusion.

Thank you

Thank you for this article. As much as I enjoy all the other articles and their focus on the philosophy of recovery (leaving more practical aspects up to us to interpret and enact in our own lives), these types of tips are extremely helpful. I'm not an academic by nature, and it is good to see how these "real" suggestions could be used in my life. Please don't overlook the value of these types of articles.

Thank you for this article.

Thank you for this article. My husband and I are well into recovery, however I am still struggling with forgiving him. I want to, I need to, I am just not sure how to. This article contains very helpful information and gives me hope that I can soon take steps towards forgiving him.

Great article

I very much enjoyed this article I think your wife is spot on. She gave great advice for the betrayed spouse I think you should let her help with more articles she was great.


Great article. Loved that it came from the wounded spouses perspective. I definitely have started seeing my spouse in a different way than ever before. Not at full forgiveness yet, but I am starting to feel a kind of sorrow for him and the decisions that he made. He has lost so much more than I have. Family, Integrity, Unconditional Love, Creditability, Trust, Friends, etc. Not forgiveness yet, but I do feel very sorry for him and his demonstrated shallowness of character. I see him differently......no longer a knight in shining armor or super hero.....just a very sad narcissistic little boy who had to push the limits to see what he could get away with . I also understand that I am not his "mother", but an equal partner. He is not from me, but partnered with me.......a mother is always a mother......but a wife doesn't always have to be a wife. I am forgiving but also recognizing that a choice to stay with him and his demented choices also speaks to my integrity and issues for allowing him to treat me that way. I will not loose myself in his twisted understanding of marriage and love if he decides to continue the unacceptable behavior. I just see him differently now and can find forgiveness in that he was not the person I thought I had married and after multiple abuses can now just let go. I know that letting go will not be possible without forgiveness. After 2 years I desperately just need to move on and let go.

How long

21 months in from DDAY numero dos and the wife still has a tremendous amount of difficulty with defensiveness. I am almost to the point of concluding that she is not capable of showing empathy. She has taken a few, minute baby steps in this area but you would think after 21 months since dday 2 and 4.5 years since dday 1 she would have made some pretty serious strides in this department. The only time she really shows any appreciation that I have chosen to give her what she needs the most when she deserves it the least at a great personal cost, is when I let her know that it may be a good idea to do so. It took me over a year to get to feeling good about the forgiveness element, but I fully believe that I am there now although I do believe that it is a continual journey just as one's spiritual life is. I mean, when does one decide to throw in the towel and move on?? I see the results on the study all the time of people he hang in there for five years typically weather the storm and things are better than they ever were. Just seems like an awfully long time with the way things have progressed so far. I am very thankful for the insight though, Rick and Stephanie.


I am at about 4 and a half years post discovery of my husbands affair(s) and your comments about your wife describe almost exactly my husband.
How long does one wait for their spouse to show or develop "empathy", 'remorse', or "humility" or somehow in SOMEWAY demonstrate that they "get it" -what I am going through when there are times that I simply have to stop and grieve something else that was lost. He treats my reality like 'the elephant in the room' that should be at all costs ignored, and insists that forgiveness be some type of magical automatic 'reset button'. I often feel like I am the only one working on the dysfunction that lead to HIS infidelity. I for one don't want to magically go back to what we had before. That scares that hell out of me and didn't end up very well for me the first time around! I found helpful Rick's comment that 'forgiveness was giving up the hope of ever having a better past". I have learned, on this long road, that forgiveness is freeing me from harboring much bitterness, unrealistic expectations; and I am doing my best to 'wait well' and 'let go and let God' and work on myself. And, although my life is BETTER than the angry place I was in for the first few years, my husband still prefers his denial and clueless world instead of mine, which leaves me regrettably still very lonely. I don't want to "throw in the towel and move on", but if it comes to something similar, I will be in much better shape to make better choices in my future. Good Luck - How long. Please post if you ever find a way to make your spouse 'wake up' and show you the caring that you need. Otherwise, good luck on making yourself into the best human being you can possibly be.


This has to be one of the best articles you guys have ever done. Certainly the most helpful and concise for me. Your articles are great, Rick, but please may Stephanie do more too.

Much Study

My hobby is the study of all religions ....

ALL of them, everyone..say we All must for forgive,regardless of the offence...We must forgive,...

But no where can I find where I must reconcile or even try...

My WW cheated and I forgave her...but I will not reconcile..nor do I feel I must try..

I am not going to enter in to an agreement that I know beyond a shadow I will NEVER be able to live with..

As famous quote stated" One must never confuse Forgiveness with Reconciliation ,for they are Not the same."

Great Article...and a great topic


Thank you for the article. I have been working hard on forgiveness. Its hard with more lies, more porn and more defensiveness. I have been googling forgiveness and there seems to be so many different approaches. Some not separating forgiveness from trust and reconciliation, some basing it on forgiveness means total restoration. Finally, some with the same approach as what you have written.

I believe forgiveness, trust and reconciliation are separate things. My husband, the one who has the addiction, believes forgiveness is all inclusive. He also believes that because God had forgiven him, that he is free of any earthly consequences because only God gives consequences. It is difficult to deal with forgiveness in this type of situation. It is a constant battle for me to keep forgiveness separate even though he does not believe this.

I would love to print this article and share it with him, however the multitude of printed pages he has already gotten has not changed things yet.

Thank you for the helpful suggestions Stephanie.

angry I have to forgive

It has been 4 1/2 months. March 7th was the day. 18 years of marriage. We were going after God, serving, leading, praying. Feels like our life was a lie. Tonight I just got out of bed so angry. I thought I was doing better, but the amount of anger tells me different. One thing that I feel anger about is so much hangs on me and rather I can achive forgiveness. I have to also forgive a woman I don't even know. And if I can't my life will be hell. O don't want to be a bitter old woman. I want to feel at peace. I hate this feeling, I hate the physical pain from it all. I feel like the burden is all on me.
I just wanted to be loved!
I will say this article does help calm me some. If only the world could stand still while I walk this out. But it doesn't. This world just keeps adding people I need to forgive.

Thank you for this direction on forgiveness

Rick, I am struggling on this path to healing and today, your email regarding forgiveness is exactly what I needed to hear and if my spouse chooses to read it, what I need him to read, understand and implement. Thank you for the healing work you and Stephanie do. I can’t imagine this journey through betrayal towards healing without AR.

Inability to forgive?

Have you ever come across a situation where the manipulation and level of deceit performed by the adulterers was so devastating that
forgiveness seemed impossible? That is my experience, and it has been awhile, and my ex-husband has married the woman who was
a master-manipulator. I know that I have reached a point where bitterness has set in, and I'm tired of getting upset every time I hear their
names or think about them, but I have no idea how to let it go ...... I have lost so much throughout this ordeal .

inability to forgive.

I am so sorry for what you are going through. I have no answers, only an offer of understanding. I don't know how to "let it go" either. I'm only 10 months into this thing and want to get better and not bitter as I think you may feel as well. I wish someone could tell me what to do to let it go - Is there a "Forgiveness for Dummies" book? Just what does the process look like? So far I cannot make myself not hurt and be triggered by almost everything. I hope that you can get some peace and be relatively happy in this world. The only thing I know to do is pray. And I probably mess that up as well. El, you are on my prayer list if that is ok with you.

Inability to forgive

Hello, I have been in my relationship for 26 years. Married for close to 14 years. I too have a mate who had done and said some god aweful things. I’ve been through this several times. I have forgiven him and move on with him several times. Now, I’m finished.
I feel as though I cane keep allowing this cycle to continue. Funny thing is I know I still love him very much, and we have two children together, and need to be able to coparent. I have yet again forgiven what he has done. However, we are not staying together. I just can’t anymore, and I really want my children to see what a healthy relationship looks like. He has made me feel awful for not wanting to continue our marriage, he has told me that the divorce is all on me, that this is all my decision. He has told me that I am not thinking of what’s best for my children, and so on , and so on. I am trying to not let that spoil my moving forward. As hard as this decision has been I honestly feel he will never respect me or our marriage. Because I have forgiven him I am able to feel better each day. Not say that it is easy in any way shape or form. But, it was a decision I made so that my girls could see that we could be friends, and try to still be a family. Each day is different, and the feelings change day by day but I don’t know what else to do.
Trying my best...

Tools to Forgiveness Newsletter for 1/31/2018

Thank you, Stephanie for following what God placed on your heart. This was the perfect time and place for me as well as many others. I have the tools that I need to move through the next phases. The narratives were clearly enough that it made applying it easier for each respondent! The newsletter blended together perfectly working in God's harmony. Having a timeframe ballpark figure was just the right added touch!!

Non-reconciled experience

My husband chose not to return to the relationship. His infidelities were emotional (several) inching toward physical. I believe he gave up on me as a partner to work with years ago (when the emotional infidelities started). He believes now we were a poor match from the start.

I am over the shock of his finally saying "I do not intend to return to our marriage," but I struggle with my emotions as there is no one to work through them with. He has not asked for forgiveness from me, and I believe he has forgiven himself and has moved on. I have moved on in some ways, but I believe the 18-24 months of healing applies to me as well. Any advice on navigating forgiveness for someone who has left you would be useful.

My wife is not very

My wife is not very compassionate or empathetic in general, it just isn’t in her makeup. During counseling, we gave each other apology letters, and I feel hers was sincere. I just haven’t seen much remorse and definitely no empathy. She just would like to ignore that her emotional affair happened or how much it devastated me. We were in counseling for a while , but it was wholly focused on our “communication issues” and dealt very little with the actual affair. She doesn’t initiate emotional connection because she doesn’t feel safe with my emotions. I’m not allowed to be hurt or upset, and if I try to broach a subject about anything relational, much less anything about the affair, she shuts down and won’t talk about it. Besides ending the affair, she has done next to nothing and hopes my hurt feelings eventually just go away.

Forgiveness & reconciliation

Spot on Rick & Stephanie. Is it co-incidence or is the timing of your posts planned? You have managed to keep perfect pace with my trauma and discovery/recovery process every step of the way. Sometimes your words have saved me from despair, offered hope, helped me see reason. I am at the 18 month bench mark. I would like to tell everyone how relevant this latest post is. This one really hit home as much as many have. Every single word. Thank you.

Feeling sad

In turmoil had a flooding. Husband doesn't understand. He left me for another lady for 4.5 years and I took him back only to find out he had been seeing someone else for ten years during our marriage. Then he lied again for 18 months over so many things .. am I a sad person for feeling for him? I've always tried to forgive and get on with life for my kids but tonight after the way I've been treated I want to say bye to him because he really doesn't deserve my love xx


I’m having a difficult time with honesty from my husband who was the betrayer. He doesn’t think it is necessary to tell me that he saw and talked to his affair partner while skiing. He will tell me who is with while skiing which I appreciate, but he chooses to not tell me when he has had contact with his affair partner, and that she emailed him. My difficulty is that someone else will tell me first that he saw them together. I want him to be the one to tell me and let me digest it first instead of hearing it from someone else. I believe because he isn’t telling me, is that he has something more to hide. I know in the past, he has also not given me the full truth. I want to hear the truth from him. I’m not sure that I can trust anything he says anymore. He has been doing everything possible for me domestically, I just want the whole truth from him. Why is this so difficult?

Trust your gut

The truth?
I didn’t have the truth. I had the “tip of the iceberg” truth. I had the “Paul Harvey” story. Now, maybe I have “the rest of the story.”
I married my UH without having the full disclosure of his addiction before I made the choice to marry him. I chose to ignore red flags.
Two years later after EMS Intensive Weekend, AR recovery work through HH, continuing to connect weekly with my HH group, Hope Rising conferences, participating in an intensive 5 day conference dealing with sexual trauma, in the process of working through MFL with two other couples, requiring a polygraph for the person whom I couldn’t believe in anymore, H4H, mentoring H4H, weekly SA phone meetings, IC for both of us?
This is not a sprint. This is the high altitude ultra marathon with a record cold blizzard thrown in for more of a challenge going through this journey towards healing.
Knowing what I do now two years later, I am still struggling with forgiveness.
I recognize that I, the betrayed, need more therapy if I am to heal myself.
I’m saddened that another person can be so selfish. I’m learning more about the devastation of addiction and also, what it is in me that draws me to this personality.
This is not the education that I chose to learn about in retirement. Over two years later and I am still here. I have learned much more than I ever imagined that I would have learned about myself.
I’m a survivor and looking forward to better days going forward through this craziness of SA and my own FOO story.
Journey forward.

49 years

I have found that developing a schedule for 15 minute talks every day or every other day works well. The second thing I recommend is picking two AR videos to watch together early in the evening. Again, we started watching these videos every day and then 3 or 4 a week. Following viewing the video, we would discuss the instruction for a few minutes.
Bring the betrayed spouse, I would pick out the videos to watch. Sometimes during watching the video, my wife would stop when a point was made to discuss.
Just some things that have helped us. 15 months since d-day!

12 Months Since Affair started


Its been 12 month just over since I suspected my partner was having an affair I didn't challenge him for a few more months because I wanted to be certain and also it wasn't the first time I had suspected but couldn't prove it one way or the other at that point so this time I wanted to be able to have absolute proof of the affair.
I chose to forgive him and try and move past what has happened but now I find myself at the 12 month stage and I'm back to not sleeping, my head is all over the place I want to raise the issue but I also don't want to talk about it I know for him he just wants to move and for me to get over it. We have been in a good place for a while but this hit me harder than I thought it would I knew it would possible bring some of it back up but it was way worse than that it was like it had just happened all over again the images, the messages I saw, the harassment I got from the other women, as if I was the one in the wrong that went on for months after the affair was supposed to be over I just didn't expect this level of intrusion at this point am I doing something wrong I have tried to follow the advise that I see on here I started a diary to be able to get my feelings out and for a while I won't say I forgot he had an affair but it wasn't in my every waking thoughts like it is again now.

Kind regards

This was helpful

I want to say that I found this article helpful as a betrayed (Twice) spouse. I’m glad you wrote it.

Extremely Well-Written Article

As one of the "betrayed spouses", I have been looking for guidance on that topic. For whatever reason, I had a hard time dialing into the first of the series of these articles. But this one hit the bullseye - in SO many ways. I appreciated both the insight and perspective of what the "betrayed" needs to do - and admit that one of the key things you wrote - about getting forgiveness and reconciliation inverted was right on the nose in our case. But as usual, getting my spouse to even read the other part of this article, let alone actually doing something about it, will remain elusive. But the need for me to apply forgiveness, I can now see is indeed essential.

Forgiving after Infidelity

Thank you, Rick & Stephanie. Each of your columns is very helpful. I was surprised that you approached the subject cautiously, Rick, for this issue of forgiving after infidelity is crucial. My own journey with it as a betrayed spouse has been difficult & painful, but my spouse & I have made a lot of progress.

I recommend for everyone Janis Abrahms Spring's book 'How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To.' This is the most searching exploration of the dynamics of forgiveness that I've ever come across in psychological & theological literature. As a followup to her other excellent book, 'After the Affair,' it addresses post-infidelity forgiveness but also various other situations such as parent-child, sibling and friendship conflicts. The book is not religious, but Janis does reference Jewish & Christian touchpoints on forgiveness, her own background being Jewish. Speaking as a Christian, I note that the concept & reality of forgiveness is central in Christian faith, but we Christians seldom engage the nitty-gritty of what forgiveness actually is. This book is, in my view, a landmark in the field & can be helpful for people of no faith & any faith.

Forgiveness where there is no remorse

Thank you so much for this Wayne, there are really no words to express my gratitude. I feel like you've given me the key to get out of the jail I've been in. Where there has been so much pain in the aftermath of my wife's recent back-to-back affairs, I now understand clearly why I need to forgive as a gift to ME. I believe I am already far down that path, as I have established for myself (in my decision to stay) that I'm not immune to making bad choices, and have been forgiven much myself. However - after I make that decision to forgive, I believe where I am going to struggle (because it is a main source of struggle today) with frustration and likely some anger, is my wife's lack of expression of remorse & empathy. I know she was not exposed to much empathy growing up, and that this is going to be very difficult for her, but I'm not sure I can ever feel safe if she continues to be defensive. I know I am talking about reconciliation here, but I just wonder what I'm to do with any accusations that come after I forgive, about frustration that I show due to her lack of remorse as evidence that I have not forgiven her? I hope I have explained this clearly.

Realistic expectations

My expectations were fit my husband to be faithful as he vowed to at our wedding. I hate that now I have to be realistic in that he’s a cheater. That’s realistic.

Just don’t get it - Forgive before reconciliation?

I have this article on forgiveness, as well as every other article. This “forgiving as a gift to yourself” seems entirely designed to give “cheap forgiveness.” How can someone forgive before knowing their spouse has done what they need to do to help heal the betrayed spouse, give entire transparency, take full responsibility for their own choices (and how does one measure that? Remember Mark Stanford “taking responsibility “?) and show real empathy and contrition without defensiveness? It seems like forgiveness before accountability is a gift to cheaters.

Separate Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Wow thank you so very much for that eye opener! I had not thought of these 2 very important aspects of recovery in that way. I am still in the process of forgiveness but still uncertain with reconciliation. No disclosure yet. Then I see Rick's advice for the unfaithful of---Allow your mate the opportunity to forgive by letting them know what you've done. Most likely your mate will find it easier to forgive your actions than they will your deceit. It is the deceit that makes reconciliation difficult. All I can say is thank you! I will send this to my husband. Hoping and praying that he understands that I need disclosure so we can move forward. And of course Rick's suggestion of the unfaithful to "do no minimize your behavior" so very true especially with Emotional affairs. I am praying that these little nuggets of information will help him understand why we both need disclosure.

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