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Forgiving without trusting

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WeHadItAll posted 9/30/2013 05:53 AM

Can you forgive someone but still not trust them?

Forgiveness started a few months ago, and it was a revelation for me. It freed me from the exhausting rollercoaster of R, allowed me to feel joy and real hope. It's a process, but it was a turning point for us. For the first time since DDay last November, I was able to go an entire month without a meltdown. That was progress.

But now I"m slipping, and I realize that even if I have forgiven him, I can't quite say that I trust him. I don't think he'll cheat anytime soon, but I am looking further down the road. Knowing his flaws and fears, and knowing that they take time to overcome, I can't help but worry that he will not rise to the challenge and that he will hurt me again. Does that mean I haven't truly forgiven him?

rachelc posted 9/30/2013 06:28 AM

I think this is entirely possible and probably quite normal....

there are so many definitions of forgiveness out there. So many have said to me or I've read: forgiveness is for yourself, it releases you from bitterness and anger. Oh really? 99% of the time I'm not bitter or angry, but I haven't forgiven him. So, what is that....
not to threadjack but... define forgiveness for yourself and I think you'll be ok!

Smokehouse posted 9/30/2013 06:44 AM

I think when you chose to R, you forgave. You forgave the person, not the act. The act you will never forget. The person who committed the act, you trusted. The trust is what has to be earned by the betrayer.

I forgave my WW, but I will never forget what she did to me, to us. I hope both our spouses don't forget either, if they do, like history, it will repeat itself.

vivere posted 9/30/2013 07:01 AM

Can you forgive someone but still not trust them?

I believe trust is earned or regained after repeated and consistent behaviour by the 'wayward' seeking trust. Once you begin to feel 'safe' again a degree of trust will return.

Forgiveness however, is less dependent on the 'waywards' behaviour. I feel it is a choice you can make whereby you stop feeling resentment and anger directed towards the 'wayward'.

So I believe you can make the choice to forgive whilst still questioning how trustworthy your spouse is.

I realise in answering this that I only mostly forgive my husband. I still have moments of anger, though far less intense and far less frequently. Makes me wonder can you forgive by degrees? I don't trust him, however, because he has not explored his 'weaknesses' (for the want of a better word) and is relying on his integrity should the same impulses arise. It doesn't make me feel 'safe' at all.

WeHadItAll posted 9/30/2013 08:25 AM

Thank you guys - these points of view really really help to sort this out for me.

I think forgiveness did release me from so much bitterness. I'd come to the end of my rope, exhausted from the rage and sadness, worn down by the ups and downs of the rollercoaster. Oblivious, you're right - it WAS a choice. It was a choice I made mainly for myself in order to stop feeling so terrible all the time.

I still hold onto some of that anger, but Smokehouse is right: I see now that it is very much anger towards the A, not at him. So I can hold forgiveness and anger in the same hand, and it's ok.

I feel like forgiving by degrees is dangerous because it's unclear, and the WS shouldn't feel like they can be re-persecuted at any time. But separating the forgiveness of the person from the anger towards the act makes it clearer and easier to work with.

rachelc posted 9/30/2013 09:27 AM

But separating the forgiveness of the person from the anger towards the act makes it clearer and easier to work with.

I'm glad you can do this. I can not. He was the person who committed the act. I'll never forget HE is the one who did that...

Missymomma posted 9/30/2013 09:39 AM

There is a lot of talk about forgiveness on this site. One of the best books recommended to me by another member was "How Can I Forgive You?". It really goes into the process of forgiveness and warns against quick, cheap forgiveness. In my book Acceptance comes before forgiveness.

lostworld posted 9/30/2013 14:35 PM

I have forgiven without restoring complete trust. I don't know how long complete trust takes to restore, or if it's even a realistic or desired goal. I believe the man he was during the A is gone, but the fine man he was prior to the A is also the man who entered into the A, know what I mean? He has done the work and self-exploration, so I think he is stronger and more self-aware than even during the 23 years of non-A tainted marriage, but I question if I should ever trust someone completely, without "spot-checking" to make sure they still deserve it (this is for anyone in my life, not just my H). And finally, while I have forgiven my H, there are rare days when I have to remind myself that I have done so and act and think accordingly.

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