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

What Is A Forgiveness Letter?

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A Survivor's Forgiveness Letter to Her Spouse


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 20 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 20 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 (forgiveness) 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. 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 attending one of our EMS Weekend Intensives.



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Incredibly beautiful...at about one year out and so struggling to make sense of the hurts, the world, my unstable view of the world and everything in it this letter was like a fresh breeze. I so want to ha e those feelings described in the letter...so freeing and peaceful.God please help us all...such pain...

Reply to sparkplug

I am in agreement. Beautiful but I am not there yet. Maybe someday and maybe not. Not sure I will ever be able to trust my partner again. The breach of trust and the lies are permanently carved into my heart.

Beautiful thoughts from a very wounded partner.

Really Beautiful

I’m not religious, but this is really beautiful. The hurt is bone crushing; releasing yourself from that anchor is so difficult.


I am grateful for this beautiful letter and what it stands for. It has brought tears of joy to me eyes. I haven’t attended any sessions but I had been glued to this site since I first found out about my partner’s infidelities. By then, we had been together for 8 years and I found out that he had been unfaithful every single month of that time with several women, including a true sense of “love” for them. I didn’t think I’d be strong enough to move on either with or without him. It took about 3 years of intense counseling and deliberation as to how to move forward as every single memory of our life together had been tainted to the point where I didn’t think new good memories would ever replace the bad ones... so many bad years and memories that my mind couldn’t help but work tirelessly to rewrite each one to become dark and cold. As much as I searched online, I couldn’t find any examples of a long term relationship being dishonest from the beginning and turning into a success story. I felt hopeless. We are now 14 years into our relationship and 6 years past our D-time. We are open books with so much love and respect for each other that we fall asleep holding hands and are sad to be without each other for more than a few hours. Sure I still have triggers, but we have made so many new and wonderfully dedicated memories, the triggered ones are lost in a sea of faith and love. He tells me and everyone how grateful he is that I gave him a second (and third, and fourth, and.....) chance. We are both stronger together than we ever thought possible. He often tells me that he is a completely changed person for the better and has become a man he never thought possible. Even as the hurt spouse, I can agree that through this all, I have become a woman I never thought possible. The dedication, love, and connection we have for each other is something I never dreamed could happen... let alone after what we went through. But it is and I can truly thank this site for helping that come to fruition. Your letter has touched my heart as I hope it does to everyone who reads it. Blessings.

And your piece touches mine.

And your piece touches mine. So encouraging, despite the heartbreak.
Thank you.


My husband of 44 years has been unfaithful to me in every way possible for our entire marriage. I was let in on the secret 1.5 years ago. All my memories are jaded now as well. I thank you for sharing your life as it is a source of hope to me. Sometimes I feel God’s strength holding me but others the waves crash over me. I pray I just don’t drown.

Waves crashing

How do you keep the waves from crashing over you repeatedly? I’m wondering how to let go of the rope. I still find myself wanting to run and keep running. The rope is a weight, though. It’s keeping me tethered. It’s keeping me tethered to pain. Why does it seem so hard to let go?

Heart Warming

What a lovely picture of the two of you. I feel I have forgiven my husband, even though I don't feel we have a future together. The affair has just shown that our marriage had no foundation, and he could only express love through sex, whereas I needed intimacy and a life built together. It is hard to read all of these letters, and be guided that to forgive means staying with someone who will never treat you the way you deserve nor ever share their true thoughts or dreams with you. Letting go of the rope is a fearful idea, but beautiful that you have this picture. I wonder if God really wants every marriage to stay united after too much pain and betrayal?


I feel the same about my long marriage with my husband. Sex is the only thing we come together on and that’s not enough for me. He has been unfaithful in many different ways through the years and I have known now for almost 3 years, and I still don’t see any real future between us. I just can’t seem to find the compassion or love anymore that I once possessed. Of course, that’s when he tried to make me believe that it was only us against the world, and I fool heartedly believed him. Now... his words run off me like water and have no meaning. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back what I thought was innocence and bliss.


What a beautiful letter. Such courage.....well done. Well done.

Here is a piece I wrote after a long journey towards forgiveness, one I'm still traveling. I hope it's helpful.

From the pain? The confusion? The bewilderment? The deep sorrow? The trauma that assaults every living breathing moment of every day and forever changes the perspective on everything that ever was or ever will be? The suffering? The sheer shock?
No. It cannot be done.
It seems impossible. It IS impossible. It makes no sense, in human terms.
Forgiveness, in order to come even close to approaching the subject, one has to fully grasp the brokenness and frailty of the one who has caused the pain. And grasping that brokenness is not for the faint of heart. One has to be willing, open-just enough to exercising even the tiniest level of compassion, compassion and empathy you are not even aware you have. Even though every fiber of your being screams otherwise.
NO. I can't do this.I can't. It's too much. It's too big. I shouldn't HAVE to do this, why do I have to do this? I don't want to do this. For you. My betrayer.
But. I love you. I have loved you for half of my life. How can I not? Do you not deserve, at the very least, my weakest attempt? Am I not called to this path because I am forgiven? I know this, deeply...it drives me forward when I don't want to be driven. I have such empathy for you, for your pain. Your visceral pain, your grief over the hurt you have caused. Your own hurts. Your deep childhood wounds, never acknowledged before, hidden, secret, never processed. Until now. Out in the light, out from the dark.
And so it begins. The reading, the studying, pondering, diving deeply into the subject, the prayers, the songs and hymns that speak so eloquently, that move me daily as I strive. Do I even understand forgiveness? Properly? I don't know...but I'm going to try, so that my conscience before God will be clear and that I will know I have given my best, for Him. Trying because I know your inherent value. You matter, to me, to so many others but most of all, to God. I see your remorse, your repentance. That's the biggest of all, I think, your repentance. Taking this opportunity to soul search, even though it is excruciating and more than you can bear, your horror and shamed and your turning away from the evil one and towards the only One.
Your gratitude, as peace starts to settle, His peace of course, not mine, your realization and grasp of just how close you brought us to total destruction, the danger, the damage, how little you understood about yourself. How, by compartmentalizing, you had been able to survive and exist and how you now can see the protection God had around you, around us.
Forgiveness. It is a gift. A gift for you and it is a gift for me. It releases me from the struggle of wondering if I should, or not. It is directed by God and that is enough. It is a daily practice, and there are days when it doesn't flow easily, when the reminders are everywhere and the pain is right at the surface. My tender heart, forever changed, a relationship redefined, two lives, redefined.

Praying some day I can say "I Forgive You"

It's been a long and arduous 3-plus year since my wife's affair was exposed and I am still trying to unravel everything with a heart and soul filled with anger, bitterness, and resentment. I know my Lord says in the Bible that if I must forgive because He forgave me -- and I struggle daily dealing with the pain and continued disconnect from my wife (who is very unremorseful to me about the affair and pain it continues to cause me) -- but I don't know how to put down this hurt. I don't know how to just drop it from my heart, soul and mind and just give it over to the Lord.

At this point, I am not even sure if I am strong enough to continue on in this marriage. I am so frustrated and angry with my wife all the time and her lack of care, compassion, contempt, and disrespect. I always thought if I honored my marriage covenant, God would bless that commitment. At this point, I see no benefits of being faithful.


"the hurt is bone crushing." yes. this letter of forgiveness though. i have no words. just on the verge of tears as i continue to struggle forgiving the woman who chased after my husband for years & then he gave in. it's been 4 years of a miracle. God taking me on this journey of forgiveness of my husband, that wasn't so difficult for i have placed most of the blame on her.
this letter though. i KNOW i need to forgive her & move on. i KNOW that.
it's shameful the things i think & how i want to hurt her. I want her to die. she stole from me. from my kids. my family. friends. life. blah. blah. blah.
God is still working His miracle in me. i know that.
this letter though.
and yes, the sin began long ago,
in a beautiful place,
where those things weren't supposed to happen.
i will continue to pursue God and His plans for me.

I also struggle with

I also struggle with forgiveness for that other woman. It's been 2 yrs and 5 months since my world unraveled. Hard , very hard , work and we are moving to a future together. I'm lucky, once he decided to close that door and walk away, he has done everything right. I'm lucky. I can forgive him, and do over and over - but I havent been able to let go of the rope to Her. Even tho I know I should, for myself, for my future. I pick up that rope again and again. .....

Forgiveness or not?

I so agree. I am not sure I can forgive even though I understand that in order to be mentally healthy---- I have to forgive.
I really think ending the marriage is the healthier choice. There is a giddy sense of freedom when I think of a future without all this stress and pain. Why should I stay when my partner has chosen to hurt us so badly.?


Almost exactly sixteen months ago my world fell apart when I discovered my husband's infidelity through having contracted a STD. The initial shock was blinding and it wasn't until a month later when the full story emerged that the ravaging pain and trauma set in. We had been married 36 years, he was all I'd known and loved and trusted with all my being. Slowly he revealed his secret life which involved an affair with a woman over nine years. She claimed that three of her children were his and implied that if he didn't help her financially she would reveal their affair to me and in the local press. Instead of telling me about his so called "mistake" he bought her a home almost next door to our home in the country of his birth, which is the home we lived in with our children when we visited his family. He told me that he had felt trapped by her and finally broke away after she told him about her third pregnancy. However, he then continued to live a secret life with affairs with two other women that did not last long, he called these affairs "flings". After work with two wonderful counsellors he agreed to insist on a DNA test which revealed that the first of the three children was not his. She convinced him that it was and then started her campaign of subtle blackmail, which led to two subsequent pregnancies. I have had great difficulty accepting his story of feeling trapped because I don't understand why he continued to meet her on his visits home and to engage in the affair knowing that she could fall pregnant and was using her pregnancies to blackmail him. Why did he not arrange to give her financial help and end the affair. He was angry with her for trapping him but didn't end the affair. I also have difficulty understanding why he continued to have affairs with two other women once he'd managed to break free of the first one. I am struggling with the notion of forgiveness. I'm not religious but loved this letter and wish that I could find a similar release. I know that I won't be free of the ravaging sadness and breath taking pain until I'm able to forgive him for treating me with such cavalier lack of care and love. He claims he loves me and has always loved me, but again I find this difficult to accept given his behaviour over one quarter of the time we'd been married. I heard someone say that you can't forgive until you've been able to mourn something that's died. I look back at myself and wonder if the something that's died is the illusion of the love I had believed in all through our marriage. I now recognise that the man to whom I was married was not who I thought he was and I am learning to know him as he is, weak, cowardly and confused. I feel compassion, love and a deep friendship for him, but is this enough to reach that place of forgiveness? Thank you for all your comments. I find that reading them and knowing I'm not alone helps me survive each day.