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Who am I to withhold forgiveness?

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LA44 posted 4/21/2014 10:44 AM

I am standing in church with my H and kids yesterday. It was a beautiful Easter service - the music, the message...the fact that my youngest son was AMAZING! lol

Anyway, I am saying the Our Father...

as we forgive those who trespass against us...

and I am looking at my H who at various points in the service is on his knees, his head bowed in prayer (he is not Catholic but we agreed to raise our children this way). He has shown remorse, he has changed so many behaviours - still working on a few (so am I)...for all intents and purposes, he gets it.

Who am I to withhold forgiveness? While I didn't commit adultery, I did not always honour the vows I made. I have hurt him, let him down, been unfaithful in my own way over the years.

So who am I to not forgive? I have asked myself this many times since I started healing. This is really a rhetorical question. You need not answer it but if you want to comment, feel free.

JustWow posted 4/21/2014 10:53 AM

Forgiveness and reconciliation do not have to go hand in hand, in my opinion.

A person could forgive a WS, but never have a desire or reason to reconcile, and that may be the kind, loving Christian response.

Now, reconciliation is a whole nuther more complicated endeavor, in my opinion. Forgiveness does need to happen for that, for sure. But to truly reconcile, to any level of true intimacy, requires way more work. Way more, for both parties.

Don't put instant reconciliation under the forgiveness umbrella, reconciliation is a process that takes time. Make strides every day (that you can manage), but I think it is more of a journey....

dameia posted 4/21/2014 10:55 AM

Good for you! I think it's great that you're ready to forgive your WH.

I don't know if I will ever forgive my WH, but I am working on moving on from the betrayals. I don't think forgiveness is necessary for R, at least not for us. He stole a lot of time from me. How do you forgive someone for stealing your life from 18-32?

However, we are firmly in R. We still have a great time together, our relationship is good, he is more respectful and considerate. Maybe one day I will be able to say "I forgive you", but today is not that day.

mbbd posted 4/21/2014 10:56 AM

It seems that you are a far better person than I am. I have agreed to accept what my H has done but I am far from forgiveness. And I don't profess that maybe someday I will get there. It is not a goal for me. My H had a choice and he chose wrong. Did I never make a mistake in my own life? Of course I did but not repeatedly. The anger is hard for me.
Somehow you have gotten to a good place in your healing ... that is wonderful and should be applauded. It is amazing to me that you cite your own weakness to fuel forgiving him. Maybe I can take your cues and try to get to a deeper level of acceptance.

bionicgal posted 4/21/2014 11:13 AM

I don't doubt that I can fully forgive my H, eventually. We are knee-deep in affair season, and today is the anniversary of a particularly hurtful day. So, I am feeling hurt and sad, and not particularly forgivey.

But, I acknowledge how far we've come, and how hard he is working, and how much of a better man he is now than he was last year this time. Last year he was lost, rootless, desperate, and hurting. I can recognize this, and see that his crimes were more against himself, and her than they were me, even though it does not feel that way. So, this is another sense in which it is appropriate to ask: "who am I to forgive?" He made me a promise when he married me, but who he violated fundamentally was himself (and maybe her.)

[This message edited by bionicgal at 11:15 AM, April 21st (Monday)]

JustWow posted 4/21/2014 11:14 AM

Something that helped me along this long path of forgiveness and reconciliation was the idea that I could separate the offense from the offender, in terms of forgiveness.

So by saying I forgive WS, I am in no way saying that the betrayal was ok, or the lies, or the hurt. No way. They were not and never will be. What I was working on was forgiving the person who did those things, not saying those things were ok.....

Maybe not a sticking point for you, but it was for me at one time..........

karmahappens posted 4/21/2014 11:14 AM

I don't think you wake up one day and forgive.

IMO you need to have your heart and head open to it. Time, healing and growth provide the opportunity for forgiveness to happen.

You aren't withholding LA. It will come when you least expect it. Working towards it is your job. .......but forgiveness moves in all on it's own, you will feel it.

(((Hugs)))

rachelc posted 4/21/2014 11:22 AM

this comes up for me from time to time. If I forgive myself, don't I need to forgive him?

MissMovingOn posted 4/21/2014 11:32 AM

I've gotten a lot of flack IRL for expressing those exact thoughts. I'm still working on forgiving him for leaving me for the latest OW but I did find forgiveness for all the rest.

SisterMilkshake posted 4/21/2014 11:46 AM

Whilst I was a "believer" this really was my mantra. If we can be forgiven, for even the worst of our sins if we are truly remorseful and repent, by our Higher Power, are we so much mightier than the Higher Power that we get to withhold forgiveness?

I understand some having strong feelings about not forgiving their FWS. I feel sorry for their truly remorseful FWS, but that is something the FWS need to work out and process themselves. If they can live with it, I am not one to say they shouldn't. I would never tell a BS that they must forgive, either. They need to process and work this all out in a way that they can live with.

rachelc posted 4/21/2014 12:07 PM

If we can be forgiven, for even the worst of our sins if we are truly remorseful and repent, by our Higher Power, are we so much mightier than the Higher Power that we get to withhold forgiveness?

I guess I see it as more this is what we should shoot for. We are lowlier than our Higher Power, and that's why we struggle doing this. At least IMO...

SisterMilkshake posted 4/21/2014 12:09 PM

We are lowlier than our Higher Power, and that's why we struggle doing this.
Yes, rachelc, I see your point, too.

LA44 posted 4/21/2014 12:48 PM

Thanks for your thoughts.

I don't think you wake up one day and forgive.

I agree karmahappens. Certainly, I have been mulling this over for a while now. I have never said the words that I know he hopes so much to hear one day. Words, that I want to say one day.

I think it is this important time of year in my spiritual calendar that has me contemplating this more then say...back in Feb.

I remember being in a 6 hour Forgiveness Seminar two year ago now. I was disappointed with the topic. I look at my bf and said, "You know. I think short of someone harming my children, I could forgive someone for just about anything."

Oh, how absurdly self-confident I was bc I had not been truly tested at that point in my life.

@bionic....

I can recognize this, and see that his crimes were more against himself, and her than they were me, even though it does not feel that way

I feel this way too. And hugs to you during this difficult time.

@JustWow...

Don't put instant reconciliation under the forgiveness umbrella, reconciliation is a process that takes time. Make strides every day (that you can manage), but I think it is more of a journey....

Yup. I am with you on this. R to me will take longer then forgiveness. And this too...

So by saying I forgive WS, I am in no way saying that the betrayal was ok, or the lies, or the hurt. No way. They were not and never will be.

It will never be okay. Forgiveness does not mean this to me either.

We are lowlier than our Higher Power, and that's why we struggle doing this

Yes. Indeed, rachelc. My Higher Power has given so much. Surely, I can reach this place one day in His honour, for myself, for the peace that needs to live within me.

[This message edited by LA44 at 12:49 PM, April 21st (Monday)]

peoplepleaser posted 4/21/2014 15:04 PM

Great thoughts!

I have always seen forgiveness as a method of letting go of the anger and hurt and moving forward in myself. I don't see it as a gift you necessarily give someone else, but a gift to give yourself. As such, I will forgive, though I haven't completely, yet. I think early on, way before DDay 2, I told her I forgave her. It came from understanding some things about her. At the time, those were just the tip of the ice berg, so I haven't forgiven her again yet because I don't want to have to do it again.

I have this barrier to believing that R can happen without forgiveness, so I'm interested in how one perceives that as possible. Is it a difference in how we define or view forgiveness? It is simply a difference in how we envision our relationships?

I think for me, I see forgiveness as understanding what happened, accepting it happened, and recognizing that you are taking steps to avoid it happening again. I see it as letting go of the anger and pain by not dwelling on could have or should have's. I see it as a compassionate understanding that someone was broken and unable to do better than they did at that time. It is NOT saying it was ok that it happened, nor is it setting up the pretense that all will be forgiven again IN the relationship if it happens again. Since I see it that way, it seems logical that it would have to happen in order to move forward in R. Also, harboring any resentment for it happening (as I assume not forgiving would allow resentment to continue) seems to me to create a barrier to full R and the loving, compassionate relationship I feel we all deserve. If I stay in a relationship where I maintain resentment and continue to assess threat because of it, then wouldn't I be settling for less than I want out of life? Out of love? Out of my primary relationship?

My aim here isn't to be challenging, but to explore these ideas and assumptions. I may be looking at this all wrong and shorting myself some serious exploration in my own issues and relationship.

LA44 posted 4/21/2014 19:18 PM

I have this barrier to believing that R can happen without forgiveness,

This is how I feel too peoplepleaser (I think if I am reading this right)....I can hear myself saying the words and then I believe I will get to another level of R. There is a part of me that doesn't understand how you R without it.

But that's just me.

Losttransport posted 4/21/2014 22:40 PM

I am taking the low road here: I don't forgive him. I am not withholding perfect forgiveness for WH from God, that is between WH and God.
I am a Christian, and I too have prayed, "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us", and I know, "judge not, that ye be not judged." But I won't forgive him.
I accept it, and we are in R, but I cannot have compassionate understanding about what he did. WH wasn't broken, he was selfish, and he made cruddy choices that came as close to breaking me as I've ever been since my mom died, and that almost destroyed me.
If he can ask God for forgiveness with repentance in his heart, I know He will forgive him, and that is wonderful, but I am not God, I am a mere human. My hope and prayer is that acceptance and love for my WH (it may not seem like it from my posts, but I still love the man passionately) can get me through this, because if he's waiting for forgiveness from me, it's not there. Like mbbd said, it's not a goal of mine.

morethantrying posted 4/22/2014 03:10 AM

these posts are great and so thoughtful. Just want to thank everyone for their well-chosen words here.

FOr me I just have to be true to who I think I am and have always been...I forgive...now tested in a big way, am I going to "cave" so easily? I write this to reassure myself as well that I need to be true to who I am...am I really this "nice"...well probably not, but I do have this image of myself...I guess I should stick with it....it feels safest there...do to so...is closer to me to forgive than to punish or leave myself and him in pain forever...so unhappy forever that would be...

I think in forgiveness there is peace. I don't think it happens all at once. I sometimes am still "punishing" just by letting him see me suffer...just the "letting" makes him feel pain...so that's is a warped way to punish...I am better at this now...don't do it quite as much as I found it has lost its punch...am I a awful person....just human I guess.

Forgiveness is my goal...I go fast, I go slow. To me true to who I AM..I keep going.

ItsaClimb posted 4/22/2014 08:08 AM

This is a topic I have mulled over and researched a lot. What I have come up with is this: For now I can't forgive as I am traumatised, I am not in a fit state to forgive as yet. I am still processing my pain and dealing with it as well as trying to cope with FOO issues I am only now facing. Will I be able to forgive further down the line? I just don't know. I have no idea how I will be feeling in the future. I hope that eventually (more for my sake than his) I will be able to forgive, but I just don't know.

karmahappens posted 4/22/2014 08:20 AM

is closer to me to forgive than to punish or leave myself and him in pain forever...so unhappy forever that would be...

Not forgiving someone doesn't mean to punish them.

slight t/j here


I sometimes am still "punishing" just by letting him see me suffer...just the "letting" makes him feel pain...so that's is a warped way to punish...I am better at this now...don't do it quite as much as I found it has lost its punch...am I a awful person....just human I guess.

morethantrying, I see you posting about this often.

When you allow him to see your hurt YOU are not inflicting pain on him, he is seeing the consequences of his actions.

You mention a lot that you need to fogive as to not punish him because you are a "good" person.

IMO you should be dealing with the need to protect him and his actions by offering forgiveness, selling your healing short as to not upset or hurt him.

Allowing him to right his wrongs and heal himself has nothing to do with you. You cannot make this easier or better for him, he needs to do the work on his own. If that means seeing your pain, watching the turmoil he created, so be it.

It has nothing to do with being nice or good. You cannot nice things better....

end t/j

DixieD posted 4/22/2014 10:48 AM

My forgiveness philosophy is similar to what JustWow and Karma said. It's a process to be worked through on my own. It involves my history and my FOO. It's more about me than it is my husband. It's definitely not related to punishment and I don't think it affects R or how I interact or react to my husband one way or another.

IMO, forgiveness gets more attention and angst paid to it than it deserves. It can become a big deal, especially tied to R, when it doesn't need to be.

LA, I agree, we aren't perfect ourselves. But gently, I was wondering is this need for forgiveness at this moment tied into the difficult week you had with Mr. LA last week? To not feel bad, guilty or to fix the situation somehow and put the onus back onto yourself?

Is that a pattern that you used to do? I know I did. If something was uncomfortable, I automatically would have to do something to make it better. Even when I wasn't the one who should have been making amends, I still did in some way, some how.

The timing of this post just got me wondering. I know it was an easy trap for me to fall into. If it's like you said, you've been thinking about it for a while and a coincidence -- ignore me.

People's thoughts on forgiveness are very individual and everyone has to do what feels right for themselves.

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