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Interesting article on forgiveness and surviving infidelity

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peoplepleaser posted 4/25/2014 15:32 PM

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5207684

Just thought I would share this because so many have been posting on forgiveness lately. I wondered what others' thoughts were about this.

SisterMilkshake posted 4/25/2014 16:04 PM

Yes, interesting.

They encourage couples who are recovering from infidelity to become educated on and focus on forgiveness in couples therapy or while working through their problems.
I don't agree with this advice at all.

blakesteele posted 4/25/2014 16:08 PM

Cool article...thanks for finding and posting about it.

"Post Traumatic Growth....PTG" was a new to me term....but NOT a new to me concept.

PTG is defined by the researchers as "a result of intrapersonal struggle to find benefit and meaning in life after a traumatic experience."

I have lived this definition!


Couple of things about this article....

First....86% of those in the research were BS women. Plays into what I believe is a false stereotype that adultery is predominantly a male-originating sin. But that is a small irriation for me...I can role with that.

Second.....most of what I have read is that adultery is painful for all involved, all it touches. Children, WS, BS, family, friends, work partnerships, etc.. BUT, it reaches traumatic level primarily in the BS's.

So, IF this is true, I wonder just how much PTG a fWS can achieve? I wonder this because I do believe my wife has experienced serious pain from her affair, has experienced serious pain from my pre-A marital sins and hurts....but don't think she experienced any trauma-level pain.


This MIGHT explain why many fWS lack the same level of internal drive to dig deep and uncover as much as their BS's do....the motivation is vastly different.

All of this is based on potentially loose-sand.

I don't "see" my wife digging hard into herself. But that could very well be a false assumption. It is an assumption based on her lack of affair talk, her lack of communicating to me her "ah-ha" moments, her sharing the small steps of her journey.......but all of that COULD be happening behind-the-scenes.


I think I might be on to something though...look at the activity of BS's on SI compared to fWS's. I think it safe to say the average BS is far more aggressive in self-introspection and digging deep then the average fWS.

Could the difference in painful vs traumatic be the underlying culprit of this admittadly percieved occurrence?

Peace.

Dagny07 posted 4/25/2014 16:09 PM

Without remorse their can be no forgiveness.

blakesteele posted 4/25/2014 16:09 PM

Sistermilkshake....always like and respect your opinion. Would you be willing to explain the push back on forgiveness? Seems like it has been key for me.

Don't owe me anything....just curious.

Peace.

Sal1995 posted 4/25/2014 16:26 PM

No-brainer to me. If one spouse commits a serious offense against the other, it's kind of hard to see how the marriage could be expected to survive and thrive long term without forgiveness.

Forgiveness is often seen as weakness. That's a huge misconception, in my opinion. It's empowering and freeing. It also reaffirms who the mentally strong one is in the marriage. Not in a "one-up" way...just a fact. Like, I can take your best shot, forgive you, and thrive. I hope you can deal with your issues, but I'll be ok either way.

Just my take.

SisterMilkshake posted 4/25/2014 16:31 PM

Actually, I am one for forgiveness. Some have fully reconciled but say they will never forgive. I respect them and their feelings but, for me, I don't feel I would ever be fully reconciled if I didn't forgive. Thats me and how I feel.

However, I feel that many get derailed in their healing when they focus on forgiveness. They beat themselves up, they analyze the shit out of forgiveness, they want to rush to forgiveness, they read book after book on forgiveness........ but they are just so hurt and devastated they just can't forgive........at that time. They feel crappy and guilty because they are usually able to forgive people and, oftentimes, their religious beliefs tell them they must forgive. Or, the other scenario I worry about with "quick" or "cheap" forgiveness is rugsweeping.

I feel that a WS needs to know that forgiveness is on the table if they are reconciling. But, they need to understand that forgiveness is a process. It can't be put on a timetable. It can't be something expected or demanded. For me, forgiveness comes when healing comes.

People twist themselves in knots here over not being able to forgive. I say chill out. Forgiveness doesn't need to be and shouldn't be the focus. Healing for the BS, healing for the FWS, healing of the marriage should be the focus. Once those are all in place, one day you just might wake up look over at the person sleeping next to you and realize, I have forgiven you. No trumpets blaring, no big TA-DA, no grand tapping on the shoulder with your wand of forgiveness and saying "I dub thee forgiven". For me, forgiveness happens when I have healed and it creeps up on me with little cat feet.

YMMV

eta: to finish thoughts that weren't complete

[This message edited by SisterMilkshake at 4:45 PM, April 25th (Friday)]

blakesteele posted 4/25/2014 16:51 PM

Solid post Sal1995...thanks brother!

Forgiveness is beneficial to those giving it....wonder if that is stop gap for some WS's?

Maybe the realization that they destroyed so much for so little is almost more than they can forgive themselves for? Maybe it is made that much harder when a BS forives the WS? Harder because it displays a love unlike anything the WS has ever experienced before?

Not sure.....would be a wonderful conversation over iced tea and coffee though.


Peace.

blakesteele posted 4/25/2014 16:55 PM

However, I feel that many get derailed in their healing when they focus on forgiveness. They beat themselves up, they analyze the shit out of forgiveness, they want to rush to forgiveness, they read book after book on forgiveness........ but they are just so hurt and devastated they just can't forgive........at that time. They feel crappy and guilty because they are usually able to forgive people and, oftentimes, their religious beliefs tell them they must forgive. Or, the other scenario I worry about with "quick" or "cheap" forgiveness is rugsweeping.


Ah, yes....VERY familiar with this. I traveled this path, with the blessing of both my pastor and our first MC.....the results were more dreadful than you elude to! For the record, my pastor apologized for his well-meaning but poor advice. His advice was solid, but the timing and execution of his advice was dreadful....me working hard on forgiveness while my wife took her A underground and from EA to PA. I, by my own choice, delayed tending to my hurt and pain in a codependent cycle to "save my marriage". Dreadful.

Thanks for filling in your thoughts.


I didn't know about the various types of forgiveness.....the process that is involved in forgiveness at the onset of this. I knew it was a choice, but didn't know how to complete it. KWIM?

"How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To" by Janis Spring
was the single most helpful book to define various forgivness's and process's by which is chosen and lived out.

Peace.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 4:57 PM, April 25th (Friday)]

SisterMilkshake posted 4/25/2014 16:58 PM

I have heard from most that even if they don't like Spring's other books the

"How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To" by Janis Spring
book is liked by most everyone.

peoplepleaser posted 4/25/2014 16:58 PM

Interesting replies. I agree with Sal1995 that it is a no brainier. I like what sistermilkshake said, if I understand it correctly that the focus should probably be on healing with forgiveness as a natural step that comes eventually.

Blakesteel said something that resonated, too. First of all, the sample is definitely skewed. I didn't read the actual research report, but with a high representation of women we might not be getting good conclusive data. Also, without remorse one isn't really in a position to forgive in the relationship. However, with regard to trauma, I think I do see a traumatic response in my WS at times. I can't imagine how traumatic it would be for me to realize the depth of what I was capable of, especially for those uncovering FOO issues to address it. With all this in mind, I'm wondering if they isolated enough factors to get at the real interactions that led to successful reconciliation.

SisterMilkshake posted 4/25/2014 17:01 PM

if I understand it correctly that the focus should probably be on healing with forgiveness as a natural step that comes eventually.
Yes, you understand exactly what I was trying to express.

sisoon posted 4/25/2014 17:43 PM

Hmmmm...I wonder.

PTG is defined by the researchers as "a result of intrapersonal struggle to find benefit and meaning in life after a traumatic experience.

What does that look like? How does an observer recognize 'PTG'?

And how do they define 'forgiveness'?

More important, does forgiveness lead to PTG, or does remorseful behavior by the WS lead to forgiveness, and the combo of remorse and forgiveness leads to PTG?

Initially, moments after my W's confession, I 'forgave' her, in that I decided to spend as little energy as possible in blaming her. I wanted to spend my energy healing myself, and I thought focusing on what she did to me would hurt my healing effort. I don't think that's what the researchers mean by 'forgive', though.

[This message edited by sisoon at 5:44 PM, April 25th (Friday)]

Sal1995 posted 4/25/2014 18:05 PM

Thanks blake.

Harder because it displays a love unlike anything the WS has ever experienced before?

Interesting point. My wife saw nothing in her FOO but marital destruction - cheating, divorce, missed C.S. payments, absent parents...pain piled on top of pain. Love was always very conditional in her world.

She's now seeing what the unconditional variety looks like.

I've experienced PTG first hand. What I discovered about my wife 14 months ago caused pain beyond anything I could have imagined. Yet somehow I've managed to thrive since then. It's like I woke up from a long funk. It started a couple of months after D Day, once I realized that this is survivable. I became a better father, professional, parishioner, member of the community, and, once my pain started to become manageable, a better husband. I must be giving off a different vibe, because opportunities - social and professional - come my way easily these days. I have less use for meaningless distractions, like TV and social media.

And my WW has flourished as well. It's like D Day and the aftermath detoxed us somehow.

I'd give anything if it could have happened some other way, but sometimes flowers sprout up and bloom in a turd pile. Or to use a common corny analogy, making lemonade from life's lemons.

The real lesson I've learned from all of this is that life never stops surprising, in good and bad ways. And I don't know a damn thing about anything.

UndecidedinMA posted 4/25/2014 18:22 PM

Sal - well said & ITA. I think finding real forgiveness is a roadblock for alot of us, myself included.

My FWSO is working hard on FOO, he also has nothing but divorce, abuse, infidelity & abandoment issues in his family. My background was quite different and I think he has begun to see how it can be. I think this is why I can/have forgiven. This part is harder for him than me. Not the forgiveness part but that it really is possible to have family hate the behavior but still love you.

It is funny but it was almost like a weight shifted from me to him when I finally forgave.

I also agree that unless the W is truly remorseful and willing to put the work in all the forgiveness in the world will do nothing.

tired girl posted 4/25/2014 18:24 PM

This MIGHT explain why many fWS lack the same level of internal drive to dig deep and uncover as much as their BS's do....the motivation is vastly different.

I would have to disagree with this. The FWS's I know have dug deep and done really hard work to fix themselves.

rachelc posted 4/25/2014 18:42 PM

When I took forgiveness off the table I had the most growth in empathy for him. Not sure why. And then I forgave the first affair.,,

The sad thing about being a WS is that sometimes you get the most personal growth in your life from uncovering what lies beneath after the affair, providing you do the work. It's so not fair to the BS. Their WS finally gets their shit together but it took a nuclear bomb to do it. Ugh.
I've had more growth as a WS than a BS, of course still working on that...

Sal1995 posted 4/25/2014 18:47 PM

It's so not fair to the BS. Their WS finally gets their shit together but it took a nuclear bomb to do it.

True, it's not fair to the BS at all. But as a BS I can tell you that it's nice to have a wife who's getting her shit together. Even before her affair, she kept me at an emotional distance throughout our marriage. This is our only marriage and I guess I didn't know any better. I do now.

Having a damaged and defiled marriage that will always bear the infidelity scar really sucks, but a healing, healthier wife is a nice consolation prize.

TheBestMe posted 4/25/2014 19:32 PM

Having a damaged and defiled marriage that will always bear the infidelity scar really sucks,

@Sal- this really touched me.

Similar to the scar on my leg that I received as a child, the scar of infidelity is a constant reminder of the fall of my M. The break was so intense that it requires continued pain medication.

I choose not to forgive the LTA. For me, forgiveness is Christ like. One should be willing to forgive both parties and to behave toward both parties as if the sin had not happened. No way! No how! Being able to accept that and to move on has been freeing for me.

Healing is a process and I am still focused primarily on me.

blakesteele posted 4/26/2014 05:10 AM

I must apologize for my inaccurate statement regarding fWS not experiencing trauma. I was simply wrong.

Peoplepleaser and tired girl....you caught this error. I visited with my wife last night on this. She too corrected my inaccurate thought.

I got confused by focusing on DD......trauma hit me then. Trauma level pain hit my wife after her fog lifted. So the TIMING is different, but plenty of trauma for everyone involved.

Again, sorry for my incorrect and inaccurate statement....thanks for pointing it out in a tactful way.

People pleaser.....thanks for the post. I was diagnosed with PTSD-like symptoms.....but the silver lining of PTG was never mentioned by the therapist directly. She talked about how we can grow through this.....but didn't really explain PTG as such.


It makes a difference to me......probably a result of my analytical nature.

Peace.

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