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blakesteele posted 8/19/2013 16:40 PM

This is an excerpt from a very detailed book on forgiveness “How Can I Forgive You. The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To.” By Janis Abrahms Spring Ph.D. It is an intense book that makes you ponder deeply….I thought I would take one page and post it here….save some members some reading and maybe encourage others struggling with what true forgiveness looks and feels like to buy this book. Forgiveness is a hurdle for us all to overcome if true R is to take full hold within our marriage. I am working diligently on this task. Forgiveness was never really modeled for me by my true, meaningful forgiveness within a marriage is a foreign concept to me. Its not that I am a mean, jaded, spiteful person...I just have much to learn about forgiveness. That is why it is taking me so long to complete this book...lots of note taking and thought pondering to fully grasp this action.

Before I start the quote from this book I want to mention that this resonates with me because I only know 2 BS’s personally…me and my wifes AP wife whom I talked to for only 15 minutes one time. She and I both operated in the same manner at first…very self-inflicting, totally unjustified but we did many of these things anyway (she had a huge list of why what she did that drove her husband to sleep with my wife..yuck!), totally demeaning ourselves (holding and consoling our WS…double yuck! But I did it) in a futile attempt at saving a marriage that our spouses, at least during the affair and subsequent fogs, gave up on and did not bother to tell us. And this is what this speaks to.

“Why should I forgive myself? I did nothing wrong. It was my WS who violated me.” But the issue here is not how you wronged him. It’s how you may have allowed him to hurt you.

How did you do this? What do you need to forgive yourself for? Here is a number of injuries that pertain to infidelity;

--trusting blindly, and ignoring your suspicions.
--having such a stunted view of yourself that you feel unentitled to loyalty or love.
--making unfair comparisons by idealizing the lover and degrading yourself.

You may also want to forgive yourself for such self-effacing, self-destructive behaviors as:

--dismissing your suffering and failing to appreciate how deeply you have been wounded.
--believing you got what you deserved; viewing your mistreatment as punishment, and allowing it to shatter and shame you.
--tolerating the offender’s abusive behavior.
--refusing to forgive yourself, even when you’re innocent.
--making peace at any cost, no matter how superficial or spurious it may be, or how unsafe or miserable the offender makes you feel.
--losing time and energy engaging in imaginary, vindictive dialogues with your spouse.

For all these self-inflicted wounds you may need to forgive yourself.

End of quote.

God be with us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 4:44 PM, August 19th (Monday)]

FeelingSoMuch posted 8/19/2013 17:05 PM

I have been beating myself up over this:

--losing time and energy engaging in imaginary, vindictive dialogues with your spouse.

Thanks for the post. Absolutely helpful.

homewrecked2011 posted 8/19/2013 17:21 PM

dismissing your suffering and failing to appreciate how deeply you have been wounded.

So true. Taking care of my children's feelings took precedent over mine.


SadFlower posted 8/19/2013 18:14 PM

Blakesteele, thanks for posting that.

The ones that hit me in the gut:

--trusting blindly, and ignoring your suspicions.

Ignoring my suspicions, being successfully gaslighted (because I wanted to believe WH), led to this:

tolerating the offender’s abusive behavior.

While I did not *consciously* tolerate the behavior, that's what actually happened when I ignored my suspicions, or allowed myself to accept WH's explanations (especially during the first of our three confrontations).

LA44 posted 8/19/2013 19:36 PM

Thank you Blakesteele.

I ignored one major sign. And it was a big one. Why? I ask myself this all the time.

Because I blindly trusted? Well...who wouldn't when its your spouse. But was a big one.

Because I was so damn tired with our boys who were so young at the time? I couldn't bear to know the truth?

Because I thought at the time, do I even love you anymore?

These thoughts go through my head.

I know at some point I will address them and if I can't forgive me, I can at least accept that place my head was in at the time.

[This message edited by LA44 at 7:38 PM, August 19th (Monday)]

blakesteele posted 8/19/2013 20:35 PM

Sadflower and LA44....the blind trust thing and tolerating was a big one of mine.

For me it was a combination of things. My fear of abandonment combined with my initial lack of just how deeply this was hurting me allowed me to let my wife continue to hurt me after DD.

I lacked wisdom and courage early on. I have both NOW.

This book is REALLY good...but is slow reading for me.

I hope to impart a bit of knowledge to my daughters so that they are better prepared to handle life then I was. Really, much of this could be practiced during any break up with another person....high school would be a good practice for real life...without the added pressures of jobs, bills, and children. Even if my wife and I don't successfully R, Much wisdom can still be had and passed down to my girls. A real bonus if my wife and I can successfully R our broken relationship.

I can also take what I am learning through this trial and apply it to my other and friends as well.

In my family, when my parents divorced, there was hardly any just happened. I believe this is how my wifes parents divorced too. There was fighting in that home, but no real discussion on divorce or exploring the damage it was doing. In both homes I think it was just kind of assumed what was happening...but no real discussion or periodic checking in to see how everyone was doing. To be sure, our parents did the best they could. I think in the 80s it was almost expected to just through in the towel and walk away, with little discussions after the fact.

Just recently my Mom confided in me that she never really did any true forgiveness...either of my Dad or herself...she is working on that task with a renewed interest as she watches me go through this.

I have a whole new appreciation for both of my parents as I witness first hand the struggles my wife and I are having.

NOTE: The book spent a lot of time on Quick Forgiveness in this book. People who are afraid of conflict offer this type almost instantly....should read about the detrimental affects THAT has on intimacy. So don't be hasty, but don't get into revenge either. This is tough.....

God be with us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 8:40 PM, August 19th (Monday)]

still-living posted 8/19/2013 20:54 PM

I drove my first born to college last Saturday. This will be his first year going to college. During the 2 hour longggggg drive home I reflected back on my 18 years being a father, -boy the mistakes I made, -how unfair his life was at times, -how I directly caused it or if not, how I could have prevented it. My motives were always sincere, but I realize now that I was very wrong at times. I will need to work on this.

rachelc posted 8/19/2013 21:03 PM

Blakesteele, not only are you forgiving, you are very introspective. I hope your wife appreciates ALL the gifts you are offering,
To the people who are down on yourselves for trusting blindlly, a person who does this thinks the best of ppl, what a very honorable quality to have....

forgivingnow posted 8/19/2013 22:35 PM

Thank you Blakesteele.
"It's how you may have allowed him to hurt you."

So true. In my self affirmations & journal writing, I tell myself...I deserve to be loved and treated with respect. I deserve honesty, transparency, love, lust & passion.
I will not tolerate anything less. I am no longer a passive wife. I ask for what I need.

And, yes, I did need to forgive myself for being so stupid & blindly trusting & believing his lies. You need to forgive yourself for believing the lies from the one you love the most in your life- of course only if you see true remorse & a changed person.

I believe we are all dynamic & capable of change . We have the choice to choose our direction. But it takes two, if you are to be married.

[This message edited by forgivingnow at 10:40 PM, August 19th (Monday)]

StillStanding1 posted 8/20/2013 00:49 AM

Blakesteele, I always appreciate your thought-provoking threads. This one has my mind racing too.

And then you had to throw in the final kicker on Quick Forgiveness.... So now I think I need to add ANOTHER book to my "to read" list...

I've given a lot of thought to forgiveness. The very first book I read was "Forgiveness is a Choice" recommended by a church youth counselor who used to work at the International Forgiveness Institute (who knew there was such a thing?).

I felt like I was making good progress on forgiving my WH. Then my MC asked if I could consider forgiving the AP... Hmmmm. I haven't given much thought to forgiving myself (other than for what a half-focused mother I've been for 6 months). I can see I've still got a lot of work to do.

Thanks, Blakesteele, for giving me some good food for thought....

[This message edited by StillStanding1 at 12:50 AM, August 20th (Tuesday)]

TxsT posted 8/20/2013 01:08 AM


For you I recommend Janis Abrahms other book "after the affair, how to stop the hurt and rebuild trust after one partner has been unfaithful". For all the things you are dealing with I think this is also an excellent read for you. Not as heavy as the one you are reading now.

For those of you who do not choose MC, or can't afford it, my therapy has taken the shape of Both of Janises books. I really recommend both of them.


cantaccept posted 8/20/2013 04:18 AM


This book is amazing, it gave me so much understanding of me and my life patterns. It also made me understand forgiveness in a whole new light. It helped me to see the possibility of it. Earning forgiveness really makes sense to me. It makes it seem possible and makes it feel as if the burden of it is not entirely on my shoulders.

As to forgiving myself, it seems that I am not there yet. I am seeing for the first time all the ways that I have failed to protect myself. I have failed myself in so many ways.

My MC keeps telling me that I did the best with what I had learned, that I never learned that there was any other way.

I keep trying to have compassion for myself but it seems that I keep having those harsh thoughts about my behavior over the years.

I always gave cheap forgiveness. From the time I was a child I learned to do this to survive. I know it was necessary then, but now I am an adult. I keep having this thought that I should have recognized my pattern. It is so hard to see clearly the errors of the past and so hard to change the automatic responses of today.

I see how I forgave cheaply, my father, never acknowledged that what he did to me was wrong, until now. I made excuses for his behavior, told myself that it was the alcohol, he didn't know it was me so it didn't count.

I followed that same course with my h. All the years of emotional abuse, I made excuses for him, accepted his cheap apologies and let it go, allowing the same treatment over and over.

I am not doing that now. I do wonder if I am too far to the other extreme now. Then I wonder if I am not demanding enough now. Nothing is clear to me yet.

I need to forgive myself for allowing the years of abuse. I have to accept that I did the best I could.

I need to forgive myself for failing to appreciate myself, for allowing fear to dictate my choices.

This is growth, it is painful.

I am grateful for coming to this realization. I could have lived my entire life never knowing love. Now I have the chance, now I know what it should feel like.

Sorry for the long reply, it's early and my head spins in the morning.

blakesteele posted 8/20/2013 05:48 AM


Don't apologize for long replies...most of my posts are longish too!

You mention Cheap Forgivness...this is apparent in my marriage too...offered at times by both of us. One THINKS this is the right way to operate....a light acceptance of the Christian view of biblical forgiveness is much closer to Cheap Forgiveness then it is Geniune Forgiveness....because it is not our role to judge, but is our role to forgive like Jesus did.

A deeper meaning of the Christian view on forgiveness is what Janis calls Acceptance. This occurs when the offending partner does not recognize the hurt they have done nor do they make amends for that hurt. We ACCEPT this and require no further compensation be offered.

Geniune Forgiveness, according to Janis, occurs between both people...the offender and the offended. It is a process by which you resolve the issue that caused the damage together.

In the bible there is a story where Jesus finds people using the temple to sell and buy goods, including live animals. He uses righteous anger to rid the temple of this degrading action. He does not damn them all...but he does make them leave forcefully. Many BS used righteous anger to rid our marriage of the degrading actions of adultery.

I have wondered what His relationship was like with these people AFTER they all left the temple. I know He still loves them, but since no repentance was offered and no admission of wrong doing was made....did Jesus just Accept them for what they are or did he do Genuine Forgiveness WITH them. If someone never repents from their sinful ways, it appears to me that you are not necessarily going to speaks of choosing Jesus and repenting for your sins as a precursor to coming home to God...that this must be done through a relationship with Jesus.

According to Janis...

Acceptance is a healing journey you make by yourself, for yourself. This ties in with the Christian view that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.

Genuine Forgiveness is a healing journey you make with the offender, as you honor his reparative efforts to make amends.

Hope this doesn't cross the line of religious soap-boxing. I couldn't figure out a way to express how this book challenges the way I quickly and simplistically understood forgiveness before reading this without mentioning the bible. I am NOT putting Janis word above the bibles either...its just her deeper explanation of forgiveness has me searching for further clarification in the bible....thus, the thought provoking nature of this book.

Like most of life, I doubt I am fully grasping all that I need to....but am comforted by the energy I have for this task.

God be with us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 5:55 AM, August 20th (Tuesday)]

cantaccept posted 8/20/2013 07:27 AM

The way I am understanding forgiveness vs. acceptance in relation to the infidelity and all the wrongs is -

I can accept and not wish for retribution. I can forgive myself for my own failings. I can do this on my own for myself. I can change my focus from my pain and appreciate what I have learned from this pain. I can appreciate the new awareness of myself and life. I can accept that h has his own struggles and weaknesses. I can come to believe (not there yet) that I was not responsible or to blame for his bad choices.

I can do this on my own for me.

In order to reconcile, to achieve genuine forgiveness, I have to believe that he is working towards earning it. I need to see him working as hard as I am to change. I need to see him working harder than me to earn my trust, to show and express his remorse. I need to hear from him his thoughts and emotions regarding his choices and the repercussions to us both. What does it mean to him.

In order to forgive and reconcile, to move forward in our marriage, I feel he needs to earn my forgiveness.

Just a bright spot for me. This morning, after our talk again about expressions of remorse last night, he gave me meaningful words.

We were talking about the effects of this trauma on me, how hard it is to cope. He expressed sorrow, he expressed it in a way that he took ownership of the wrong.

It does help. If he did not hold himself accountable and recognize the wrongness of all of this, how could I ever let it go? If he is remorseful then eventually I will be able to forgive.

I am so interested in your thoughts regarding the bible.

I have never held any strong religious beliefs or knowledge. I find myself longing for that faith now, for something more to believe in.

I was raised Catholic and left that as soon as I had the chance.

I am searching within myself now, looking for a spark of that belief.

You have inspired me to start reading the Bible. Just what I need, more reading material!

I do know the story of the temple and the merchants. That was a very intriguing question, did Jesus forgive or just accept.

Janice Springs book, was by far the most helpful to me thus far. Even more so that any on infidelity.

Her views on forgiveness vs. acceptance made it seem attainable. Before I read this, it seemed an insurmountable goal. It helped so much to have a plan, a step by step guide to help through this process. To see there are alternatives, healthy alternatives to "turning the other cheek".
That to me felt like sacrificing myself, again.

Also, first meditation last night before bed, I was up at 4:30, so it is definitely not a quick fix!

bionicgal posted 8/20/2013 08:04 AM

We are also reading this book. . .I have been waiting for the last level of forgiveness chapter, but now am feeling some resistance in reading it. I am not sure why. . . I actually love the book, and find it very thought provoking.

blakesteele posted 8/20/2013 08:09 AM

Thanks cantaccept for your thoughts.

I, too, am new to having a real relationship with Jesus. I always believed...just was very passive about my personal relationship with Jesus. (kinda got passive about my relationship to my wife too pre-A...kind of a mutual way we both operated. ) I, too, was raised Catholic...even Catholic schools through the 8th grade. But I am just about 2 years into how to have a real relationship with Jesus.

Tried to have a conversation about this book with my wife last night...did not go well. I feel I need to really learn about what geniune forgiveness looks like. I KNOW it does not look like what I thought it did. The main reason Jesus was sent to Earth was because God noticed man doing sinful things and showing no signs of repentence....he desired us to do better, so he sent Jesus to us. Jesus modeled behavior we are to strive for. He also experienced lifes trials and temptations so that God could have a relational connection to us...through Jesus's experience he was able to relate to what temptation felt when the devil tempted Jesus to prove he was the son of God by challenging Jesus to turn stones into bread after Jesus had fasted for many days and was, I am sure, really hungry. He must have been tempted to prove himself to the devil AND to feed his earthly desires to eat...and yet he did not give into temptation...but he must have felt it.

Jesus preferred to eat with sinners over believers. Does this mean He condoned their sinful behavior or was He attempting to show them compassion in an effort to awaken a repentent spirit in bring lost sheep back to the flock? If a lost sheep has no desire to come back to the can the flock reconnect with that sheep? I know it is good to keep a door open, but the sinful has to come through that can't push the door through them...right?

So in our marriages...our WS choose to separate from the flock that is a marriage. If the WS does not repent and walk back through that door to our can geniune forgiveness and subsequent R take place? These are real questions that I don't have the answer to.

In the end Jesus told God to have mercy on us...for we know not what we do.

Here is what I think....God does accept us regardless of our repentance or lack of it. God can use us to more fully fullfill the plans he has for us if we ARE repentant and willing to make ammends for our sinful ways. The bible repeatedly tells us we are to be obediant.

Within our marriages...we can accept the damage our WS have inflicted on it...and that is making peace with it. But to really R into a healthy marriage our WS must show a willingness to repair the damage they caused...just like BS must be willing to repair the damage we cause the marriage.

Look how your interaction with your husband recently improved. I don't see how this could have happened with him sticking to the attitude "Yeah, what I did sucked." and stopped there. Or what if he had said "Yeah, what I did sucked. But I am not sure I was ever happy in my marriage to you."

This is where I think about my relationship with God. It would be like me saying "Yeah God, I sinned...but I am not really sure I care about my relationship with you anyway.".

Peace be with us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 8:22 AM, August 20th (Tuesday)]

ionlytalkedtoher posted 8/20/2013 08:21 AM

Maybe I am blind to myself but I still do not see how in my case that I did anything wrong and anything needing forgiving of myself. I guess I seem prideful when I say that...but I really feel in my case that it was 100% my husband and not me.

I did not ignore things--I always questioned him when things seemed amiss but he had an answer for everything and downplayed everything. So I feel like I didn't just let it happen. I did try to stop it.

Plus, in my mind you are supposed to trust your spouse. Marriages are built on trust and so I see no shame in me blindly trusting.

In general-this topic keeps resurfacing for me. I just can't see where I need to forgive myself for what "I did".

blakesteele posted 8/20/2013 08:24 AM

Hi bionicgal...enjoy your posts! Soooo cool you and your spouse are reading this book together. We have not seen fit to do that yet...I have not suggested this since my request to read How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair....I really wanted that to be a "together" wife was not comfortable with that. So I am happy for you that you are both engaged and trying to learn new things together, side by side. It can do nothing but serve your marraige well.

With regards to this book...I, too, have had some times where I had to put this book really challenged me on just how forgiving I have been. I would read something and quickly think "I dont do that"....then I start to think on it and think "WOW, I have done that. It played out just like she said it does! Holy crap!!!"

As mentioned forgiveness SEEMED like the healthy thing to do I see it as very unhealthy for long term intimacy.

I am at the last chapter...Geniune Forgiveness.

I am nervous....was one of the reasons I engaged my wife on this book last night. Both of us quickly got wife professing to KNOW what the bible says about real really questioning my own knowledge of the biblical forgiveness definition....just was a stupid defensive type of engagement. Was looking for more of an exploratory type of engagement. We struggle hard on this type of conversation....a shame since we both really want the same thing...a geniune, authentic, real, deeply intimate relationship with each other.

God be with us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 8:31 AM, August 20th (Tuesday)]

blakesteele posted 8/20/2013 08:43 AM

Hi ionlytalkedtoher.

Sorry if I implied all BS have to forgive themselves...I dont believe that.

Unlike you, I DID do things that I had to forgive myself for.

I do wish I was one of those BS who saw fit to stand up immediately upon DD for myself and my needs. I didn't. And my actions caused me harm. This is the forgiveness I gave myself.

NOTE: I see reasons why I didn't do as you have done, and have worked hard on repairing this broken part of me. One of my goals from here forward is to reduce things in my future that I will need to forgive myself for. This is why I am really processing what geniune forgivness is, what acceptance is...and what exactly I, we are capable of doing within this marriage. I very much want to avoid mistakes of our past.

I totally agree with you that WS actions are all on them. Didn't mean to imply a BS needs to forgive any of their actions that led their WS to committ adultery...because nothing BS's do or did "made" their WS committ adultery.

cantaccept posted 8/20/2013 09:01 AM

I so agree with you.

My husbands shift in attitude makes all the difference to me. The yes buts, that I was getting before showed me that he was not taking responsibility for his choices and was making excuses. It was impossible to consider forgiving without his being accountable. It will take a lot more time and consistency for me though. The hope is alive in me.

I see your correlation to this and your relationship to God.

I have questions for you. Did you have that core belief of God always? Did you doubt? What was your starting point to your new found faith?

I have not considered deeply my beliefs until recently.

I always just tried to be the best person I could be. I truly believed in do unto others. Be kind, use caution with your words, do not cause any pain intentionally. Help others when you see the need. Have patience and understanding for others weaknesses.

Now I am doubting these things. Looking back at how I cared for everyone else and disregarded myself. I have to find a balance. The balance between being that person who is "good" and taking care of myself. Being giving without being self-sacrificing.

I believed in this way of being because I just thought it was the right way to be. Not because of religion or God or any kind of reward.

Now that I am questioning, longing for that higher power, I almost feel like a hypocrite. I didn't need you before but now that I am suffering I want to believe. It feels selfish and self serving.

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