The Gift of Forgiveness

affair recovery-survivors blog-elizabeth-the biggest stumbling block to my own forgiveness has been pride

To forgive somebody is to say one way or another "You have done something unspeakable, and by all rights I should call it quits between us. Both my pride and my principles demand no less. However, although I make no guarantees that I will be able to forget what you have done, and though we will both carry the scars for life, I refuse to let it stand between us. One day, I still hope we can be friends".

-Frederick Buechner

This is one of my favorite definitions of forgiveness.

I don't know about you, but I don't think there is anything easy about forgiveness.

Neither the betrayed or unfaithful spouse can get very far into the recovery process without having to confront this issue. For the betrayed, they must choose to ultimately offer forgiveness for what seems unforgiveable. But what does a betrayed spouse do when they keep getting hurt? How do you forgive when someone seems to care less about you?

For the unfaithful (and that would be me), forgiveness gets pretty complicated because it requires me to look in the mirror. I have to choose to face all of the seemingly "unforgiveable" things I have done and said and ultimately choose to forgive myself.

I personally found the biggest stumbling block to my own forgiveness has been pride.

It took a long time (almost two years) for my husband to forgive what I have done to our marriage. He admits to me he has always wrestled with his pride. Pride told him that he did not deserve what was done to him. Pride also told him he shouldn't forgive me, because there was to be no guarantee I wouldn't do this again. Pride told him that he had a right to hold onto his anger and make me pay for what I had done. It was only God who quietly kept asking him to exchange his pride for forgiveness.

It has taken equally as long for me to accept and believe his gift of forgiveness. I first have had to forgive myself. Which looking at what I had done, seemed impossible. Because I have to admit, when I first started to accept the reality of the awfulness of my choices, all I wanted to do was run and hide. Shame was my ammunition to fight pride. It took a lot of months for the fog to lift and once I became curious about my own actions instead of judgmental towards them. Once I started to let go of some of the self-hatred, I was able to see and release myself all of those things I had actually been running from for so many years. Pride was the ugly little voice that kept whispering lies that I was somehow better than what I had done. Pride was behind the mask of my pretending.

Both the unfaithful and betrayed will wrestle deeply with pride. I think to be human is to be prideful. And I once heard, if you have no idea what your faults are, it is likely pride.

Like a cancer, pride can be a secret, destructive force that slowly eats away at our relationships…whether we stay married, we are separated or end up divorced. Pride is the ugly, silent, contemptuous whisper that says "I am really better than you because..."

You can have forgiveness or pride but you can't have both.

One of the reasons I can't wait to meet Jesus face to face someday is that I am fascinated by the idea that we will get to encounter someone that has absolutely zero pride and ego.

And another reason I can't wait to meet Him is that He is able to offer complete forgiveness. Scripture tells us that God is able to look at us and not remember our sins at all. He doesn't see them. While I thank God for that, it is unfathomable to me because as mere mortals, we each have this thing called a memory. We have all heard that you can forgive, but you can't forget.

Which is why one of the most helpful concepts I have learned of late has been the idea of "redemptive forgiveness". And this is the idea that we can (and must) simultaneously acknowledge what happened AND forgive. The memory of our affairs, the turmoil, the aftermath and the pain will always be with us. For all of us reading articles like these, infidelity is likely one of the most devastating things we will ever face in our lifetimes.

Only when I am able to forgive myself, I can say "never again to I want to be in such pain and agony nor cause such pain and agony". Therefore, I choose to offer forgiveness of self AND receive my husband's gift of forgiveness. Today I am really grateful for that gift.


Add New Comment:


Thank you

Thank you for sharing this. Forgiveness is such a hard thing to walk out, especially in the face of such great pain, but it is such an important part of healing.

Yes. Well said. Thanks for

Yes. Well said. Thanks for writing.

Thank you

I was at an ultimate low this morning and needed to read this. I’m having an incredibly hard time forgiving my wife.

Keep reading

Stubbz36, Elizabeth has a ton of great posts for us betrayed husbands. I have read most and some many times over. My wife is also an Elizabeth so it really hits home for me. It’s difficult to find as much info regarding UW, so it’s a blessing to have her share her story.
Thank you again Elizabeth, please keep them coming!

Thank you for your

Thank you for your encouragement. I am so thankful that our pain isn't wasted, if we don't let it.

Forgiveness is so difficult.

Forgiveness is so difficult. Wouldn't it be nice if it weren't such a difficult, long, up and down process? Hope you keep your head up.

Thank you for these beautiful

Thank you for these beautiful life affirming words. Truth.

You are welcome. I am glad

You are welcome. I am glad you are able to find some beauty here.

Thanks - from Betrayed Husband

Thanks so much for these words of encouragement... I only hope that my wife and I can turn this around and help others heal. We have a journey ahead but there has to be a greater story, a greater victory to this pain than just survival. God Bless

You are welcome. Keep

You are welcome. Keep seeking wisdom. You are in a good place here at AR. Praying for you guys.

Thank you Elizabeth

Thank you for all your posts Elizabeth. It gives me so much hope that an unfaithful is capable of such insight and empathy. Something I cannot always see in my husband but through your words I am encouraged.

You are welcome el Bee.

You are welcome el Bee. (Those are my initials too!) I know I am far from perfect and I probably don't even live out loud my efforts, intentions and feelings that I write, but I hope you can continue to seek and find ways your husband is getting it. I don't say it enough, but thank you for the gift of time and for even being here on this site. I am continually amazed by God's grace.

Thank you for you

I can't wait for your blog posts because I so need to hear from the other side sometimes.

Forgiveness is a choice I have to get up every morning and bestow on my wife. I hope one day she can be as open as you. I pray that she understands the hurt and damage caused, but some times I just don't know. So all I can do is offer Grace and Forgiveness and model the recovery I am slowly attaining.

The best quote that I heard today from one of Samuel's videos:
"...Nobody is a fool for staying and being a part of the redemptive work in someone else's life."

Thank you Elizabeth and thank you Affair recovery. One day the sun will shine.

Thank you for your comments.

Thank you for your comments. I am thankful for your gracious and patient attitude. I hope your wife will consider (if she hasn't already) taking Hope For Healing. It is a really good place for us to find and share the company of other unfaithful women, and the shame can be addressed in that course unlike any other way. Shame is a bear. But one that I have found, can diminish in time. I wish you both the best.

Thank you!

I like you am the unfaithful spouse. It has been 3 years now that my past infidelities have been out to my husband. (Infidelities from over 20 + years ago)We are stuck due to his inability or maybe unwillingness to forgive me for all I have done. I do understand that pride is the underlying issue. ....makes perfect sense. I am at a point now where I am about to give up. I don't know what else to do. None the less your post was helpful.
Thank you!!

What type of affair was it?

Our free Affair Analyzer provides you with insights about your unique situation and gives you a personalized plan of action.
Take the Affair Analyzer

Free Surviving Infidelity Bootcamp

Our experts designed this step-by-step guide to help you survive infidelity. Be intentional with your healing with this free 7-day bootcamp.
I would highly recommend giving this a try.
-D, Texas