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

What Is A Forgiveness Letter?

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Below is a forgiveness letter written by Elizabeth, one of our weekend intensive attendees. As you'll read, she wrote this very personal letter to her husband during their early recovery work. We'd like you to know that she comes from a strong faith background which we know and respect that not all of you subscribe to. For those of you who do not come from faith, we do hope you can relish in the beauty of forgiveness and restoration which shines through her story and her very personal faith. For those who do subscribe to faith, we hope you are encouraged and find this story and vision to be a fresh stream of water in what may feel like your own personal desert.

April 2018

I am a year and a half past the first of several D-days. My husband and I went to your EMS Weekend intensive, and it changed the course of our marriage and our recovery. I continued through the Harboring Hope program with an amazing Group Leader who helped so many of us through very tough times. We also did Married for Life by group conference calls with our small group of couples we met at EMS Weekend. We have continued with marriage counseling, and my husband just in the last few months has really committed to 12-Step work as a sex addict with the L.I.F.E. Recovery Group at church. He was unfaithful every year of our dating life and marriage which has spanned twenty years. The level of lies and deceit nearly broke me. However, thanks be to God, amazing counselors, and programs like yours I can say it has not broken me.

We know we have a lot of work to do, but we aren't giving up. I just wanted to share with you that I was able to forgive my husband even after sitting through a full disclosure as well as the results of a polygraph test which revealed volumes of infidelity.

What follows is my forgiveness letter
to my husband of twenty years:

I picture forgiveness like a thick, white gym rope. As I am holding it in my small hands, I know it's long but I can't see where it ends. I can tell it leads to something that holds the blame for all the wrongs I have suffered and all the hurt I have experienced.

Holding on to this rope represents a semblance of control, a need to find a logical conclusion that there is someone or something to blame for my pain. Letting go of the rope is like letting go of the need to find the source at fault for something so deeply wounding. It feels like I would be surrendering the need to find logical justification for my sadness and confusion. Without something to blame, the world simply doesn't make sense. So, letting go of the rope (forgiving) makes the world erratic and scary.

In my quiet time of continual prayer, I have learned to do EMDR on myself as I fall in and out of rest. Because I come from faith, I asked the Lord to let me receive what He might want me to discern and wait faithfully as my heart and mind try to sift through conflicting thoughts. Today, He led me to an image of myself as a confused 5-year-old girl wanting to do everything I could to avoid my mother's anger, to feel loved and feel a closeness to my father that I never had. I pictured myself at that age holding this heavy white rope wishing I knew why I felt it was so important to hold even though I could not see where it ended. I saw myself in a gorgeous field filled with warm sunlight. I could see all my pain and sorrow but desperately desired to be in the field. I pictured God walking in the field, inviting me to join Him. But in order to join Him, I would have to let go of the rope that anchored me to some unknown destination. As my eyes were focused on the field, I saw you and all the confusion, despair, anger and sadness I have felt. When I looked again, God revealed both of us as children holding hands in the sunlit field before the broken world tainted any part of who God meant for us to be. We were smiling - happy and innocent. I felt peace and contentment as the warmth of God's love covered us. At that point, I knew I could let go of the rope. I understood that there really isn't anyone or thing to blame. The brokenness started at the beginning of time and has shaped generations before us. The only way to move forward is in faith, in forgiveness, and by holding His hand while surrendering our future to Him.

"I forgive you."

Thank you for everything that you do at Affair Recovery. You are transforming lives and families for generations.

Regardless of where you are today, we hope you find hope through the journey of another infidelity survivor. Whether your marriage is over, uncertain or in the process of restoration, we here at Affair Recovery truly believe YOU can be healed in spite of the devastation you've been through. We hope you will consider investing in your healing through one of our expertly-developed programs.

Cover more ground faster with the life-changing experience of EMS Weekend for couples.

This isn't another light-and-fluffy program that only scratches the surface of your pain. The EMS Weekend Experience is a safe space for you and your partner to start putting the pieces of your life back together, transform your trauma and begin healing from infidelity. Skeptical about the effectiveness of this experience? Don't be! Backed by a slew of previous participant testimonials, EMS Weekend delivers results month after month for countless couples.

During EMS Weekend, we won't shame the unfaithful spouse nor blame the betrayed spouse. What we will do is pair you with a small community of other couples and an expert therapist - all of whom have experienced infidelity firsthand - as well as provide comprehensive resources to help you kick-start your healing journey.

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I want to move forward. It's

I want to move forward. It's been 5 years. Sadly spouse wants to move forward, but without doing the deep recovery work..so, I am standing at a crossroad again
..praying for deep direction. This seems to be such a grey space that I don't hear counselors or pastors talk about.. how long does one hold on to hope, even after letting go of what's happened, if the offender doesn't want to rebuild.. convoluted doesn't begin to describe it

I'm In That Exact Same Place

For me, it has been over 8 years. It is tough because I feel like the spouse's heart is at an "Guess I got away with it" attitude. As you said - no desire to do the deep recovery work or to attempt ... anything that might actually mean something to me.

At some point, I find myself moving on, but it is essentially alone. The marriage license has not been torn up, there continues to be two lives in the same house. And I realize now I may just have to leave it behind and just see what life is like having nothing more than a roommate who lives their own life and sleeps in a separate bedroom.

Convoluted? That's a good word. Really sad - just as good.

Why is it my job?

I am finally going to unsubscribe. I have been reading since ihis affair came out. I have given it every good go that I can to move on. I meet with lies and silence. He says he wants us more than anything and will never do it again. But he doesn’t talk. The weight of it all is carried by me. Everything I’ve learned has come from detective work.. so I’m meant to forgive and forget, I’m meant to be the better person, the rhetoric is always similar from this site. Nope. I have always been WILLING to forgive and try to let the memory fade but I’m not met even half way. Please try to give a more balanced view of the work that the person who cheated needs to do instead of what the cheated SHOULD do.

Hi Clare, I can see you are

Hi Clare, I can see you are very hurt. And I am truly sorry for what happened to you. I am also the betrayed spouse. I know that the pain of it almost killed me. I am 3 years into my healing and still my heart is broken. But I am also a different and much stronger person. I am healing very slowly but I am healing. 3 years in I would be lying if I said i have forgiven my husband completely... We did tons of good work, we are both better and more mature people now. AR was instrumental in our healing but not the only thing we did. Tons of individual and couple's therapy went into it and we still are in therapy every week. I am not affiliated with Affair Recovery in any shape and form. I want to assure you, that AR has very balanced view on different roles both partners have in recovery. And it is not ok if your partner doesn't speak to you honestly, lies and manipulates. It is NOT OK and you should NOT try to reconcile. He is not safe at this point from what you write. It is ok to be confused, angry, hurt, sad... Forgiveness for me is coming little by little, because he is honest, doesn't hide, keeps showing up for therapy and is emotionally available.. I am still angry at him and his AP. But not 24/7. I've learnt how to manage my anger and accept slowly that affair is a part of my life.. I am learning to accept that there was a terrible injustice done to me and my family. And he will never be able to repay the debt he created. But I do get a say in how I walk this path. If I stay or not is my choice and he plays a crucial role in it. Take care and be gentle with yourself.

I agree with you. Today marks

I agree with you. Today marks 6 months since I found out about my husband's affair. Some days are good, some days are really bad but I like how you said you get a say in how to walk this path. I don't want the AP having any control over my thoughts or feelings anymore. Forgiveness is hard, but something that I have to do in order to move forward.

help the betrayed that the betrayer abandoned

How do I forgive when he walked away? It has been almost 4 years since disclosure. He was into drugs and everything else, literally. Hookers, girlfriends, porn, you name it.
He walked away. Never wanted to talk it over or seek therapy. We have not spoken in over 2 years. We only communicate by email. He will not speak to me nor text me. I have not seen him in close to 3 years.
We are married 37 years and in our early 60s.
He moved out of state and now lives with his much younger girlfriend. They are into paganism and witch stuff too. His younger daughter will not speak to him for 4 years. He did no recover at all with me or either of my 2 daughters (24 and 31). He continues to lie and involve himself with ungodly behavior and has racked up tens of thousands in debt. He does have a drug problem but holds down a well paying job.
We are in the middle of a divorce which he wanted, not me, and he continues to avoid and mess up the paper work.
How do I forgive this man? He ruined our family and walked away and never looked back. We only fight if we have to contact each other.
I only wanted a true repentance and wanted him to want to repair the family. He wanted free, and walked away and left it all a mess.
How do I forgive that, I want to, but find myself questioning if my forgiveness is real. He hurt me tremendously and never apologized. Said he did nothing wrong and I should just move on. We have been together 40 years. And why can't I find stories of failed marriages on your site? It is always those that are in recovery and those of us that the marriage ended get left out.


I was just asking for some notes of forgiveness this morning. I love this poem. I can really relate. It makes me want to get a white rope to have at my house as the process of forgiveness happens for me.


Can a marriage last if the betrayed spouse will not forgive the wayward spouse?

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