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Reconciliation :
how can you telll if youve forgiven?

Topic is Sleeping.
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 gainingclosure (original poster member #79667) posted at 4:26 AM on Saturday, December 31st, 2022

They say forgiveness is a choice. To me its a very nebulous word and concept. Saying you forgive someone is easy. Telling yourself you forgive someone is easy. Thinking youve forgiven someone is easy. But how do you know if youve really forgiven someone? What evidence can be pointed to that forgiveness has been given? Can someone want with all their heart to forgive someone, tell others and themselves that they forgive the person, truly feel at times they have forgiven the debt of betrayal, and yet still not forgive? If I say Ive forgiven someone to myself and to them, and I do not rub their nose it in anymore, but do on occassion say Im feeling hurt by it and I still constantly think of what they did every single day for years, what does that mean?

Reconciling BH. Full story is in my bio."The soul is dyed with the color of its thoughts" - Marcus Aurelius

posts: 103   ·   registered: Dec. 9th, 2021
id 8771563
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Oldwounds ( member #54486) posted at 6:27 AM on Saturday, December 31st, 2022

I forgave my wife — but I also don’t think forgiveness is required for R. It was more of a choice for me.

That said, it doesn’t make pain vanish.

The pain, the sadness has to be processed. And my wife was also working on herself and earning trust.

I kind of hate the word "processed" at this point as well. In my first two years of recovery, the process felt more like suffering. But it is the day to day work of trying to rebuild oneself and if R is going well, to help rebuild the M from the ground up.

Healing takes a lot of those 2-5 years (or more for others) members talk about.

Entering year 7 for us, I think the hurt is gone, and I don’t think of the horror show on a daily basis anymore.

I guess I am suggesting it will likely feel more like forgiveness over time if you are both working toward a better M and healing along the way.

Married 36+ years, together 41+ years
Two awesome adult sons.
Dday 6/16 4-year LTA Survived.
M Restored
"It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it." — Seneca

posts: 4718   ·   registered: Aug. 4th, 2016   ·   location: Home.
id 8771576
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Stevesn ( member #58312) posted at 6:27 AM on Saturday, December 31st, 2022

For me, forgiveness is an involuntary reflex. Your body and mind decides when it’s ready to forgive and you can’t force it or rush it.

Just saying the words "I forgive you" doesn’t make it true. You can’t make yourself truly feel it or believe it.

It’s a combination of the work the person who betrayed you has done to fix themselves and help you heal along with you’re mind accepting that it happened and appreciating the work the other person has done and perhaps being proud of them for doing it.

I haven’t read the book "The Body Keeps Score" but if you haven’t I recommend checking g it out. From what I can tell from others comments here it makes sense.

And by the way, forgiveness is not the same as forgetting. I think both are difficult but forgetting takes much longer.

fBBF. Just before proposing, broke it off after her 2nd confirmed PA in 2 yrs. 9 mo later I met the wonderful woman I have spent the next 30 years with.

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jb3199 ( member #27673) posted at 1:59 PM on Saturday, December 31st, 2022

For me, forgiveness is an involuntary reflex. Your body and mind decides when it’s ready to forgive and you can’t force it or rush it.

Agreed. Being it is said that forgiveness is for yourself, it is only you who decides what is and is not truly forgiven.

I'll use religion as an example. I thought that I was Christian, but over time, I discovered that I really was not. It didn't matter how much I wanted to be, or how hard I tried....I simply am not. Lying to myself isn't helping anyone. But that doesn't mean that I can't be 'Christian' in my actions.

Same goes for forgiveness. I have not forgiven my wife. I don't harbor resentments; I don't put up emotional walls; I don't treat her differently due to her past transgressions. But the bottom line is something inside me has not fully let go. It is a 'me' issue. How would basically lying to myself, and telling my wife that I forgive her, make things better? Don't we want to be honest with others, let alone ourselves?

And one last thing about forgiveness, as it pertains to the perpetrator(for any wrongdoing, not just infidelity)--in my opinion, they don't have the right to ask for forgiveness. What they do have the right for, is to try to atone for their wrongdoings. If they are forgiven, so be it, but why do they get to put the burden of asking forgiveness on the one that they wronged? It's selfish, and again, in my opinion, a wayward type of thinking. Forgiveness is for the one who was wronged, and no one else.

BH-50s
WW-50s
2 boys
Married over 30yrs.

All work and no play has just cost me my wife--Gary PuckettD-Day(s): EnoughAccepting that I can/may end this marriage 7/2/14

posts: 4351   ·   registered: Feb. 21st, 2010   ·   location: northeast
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 2:55 PM on Saturday, December 31st, 2022

I believe I forgave in 2 ways.

The 1st was very close to d-day. I used the term 'forgive' to mean - to me, not to others - that I would not let myself wallow in thoughts of 'what she did to me'. I certainly had those thoughts going forward, but I stopped them cold as soon as I realized they were governing my behavior.

The 2nd type of forgiveness was giving up all desire to punish my W or see her punished. That forgiveness grew organically as W changed and as I healed. One day - I don't even remember exactly when, it was somewhere between 3.5 and 4 years from d-day - I realized I no longer wanted to see her punished or to get revenge or anything like that.

It was such a non-event for me that I never mentioned it to my W. Instead, about 7 years out, she read a post of mine on SI and asked about it. Being forgiven was a big deal for her, even though she never asked for it, but it's still a little thing for me.

*****

My reco is to let forgiveness come or not come. Further, I believe

1) it's not necessary for R;

2) if it's a goal, you probably won't reach it; rather, it is best to let it grow organically if you forgive at all.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 2:58 PM, Saturday, December 31st]

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

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emergent8 ( Guide #58189) posted at 3:37 PM on Saturday, December 31st, 2022

I agree with the views of others in that forgiveness isn’t necessary for R. For me, it wasn’t even a goal I had in mind when I committed to R. Even years in, when R was going well and I knew we’d be able to move past it, I couldn’t conceive of being able to (or wanting to) forgive something so horrendous and hurtful. I would read about others talking about forgiveness and what it meant to them and I felt all the same things but I could not bring myself to call it that. It didn’t seem to be affecting my R so I didn’t worry about it.

One of the goals I did have in R was not to punish him forever though. Not for him (at first) but for me. Early on, I told myself I deserved a good marriage and would not stay in a bad one. I would not stay with a partner who I felt deserved to be treated disdainfully. I had witnessed my mom’s (in many ways well-earned) resentment of my father growing up and even though I could understand her perspective, the dynamic was so toxic at times that I felt it created a negative feedback loop. At first it was hard because those feelings absolutely existed. I allowed myself to feel the feelings but I tried my best not to let those feelings control my behaviour (easier said than done). It involved a lot of honest check-ins with myself and my husband. So often we talk about the WS’s work in R, but overcoming resentment was absolutely my work.

Somewhere over time I realized that I had R’d. I still wasn’t motivated to say I had forgiven him. Looking at it now though, I think I have.

Me: BS. Him: WS.
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
Happily reconciled.

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Buster123 ( member #65551) posted at 5:12 PM on Saturday, December 31st, 2022

But how do you know if youve really forgiven someone?

Perhaps when you no longer feel the need to pose yourself that question, which could take years if it ever happens, that's why for many infidelity is "simply" a dealbreaker, sometimes they recognize it immediately others take much longer even years to "pull the plug".

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Oldwounds ( member #54486) posted at 5:46 PM on Saturday, December 31st, 2022

… why for many infidelity is "simply" a dealbreaker…

I think it is always a dealbreaker, but that forgiveness can happen, if a new deal, or a better relationship is built out of the destruction.

Once I figured out what I wanted and needed to give R a try, that’s when the forgiveness actually started to feel a little bit more like forgiveness, which was two years after discovery.

Married 36+ years, together 41+ years
Two awesome adult sons.
Dday 6/16 4-year LTA Survived.
M Restored
"It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it." — Seneca

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HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 9:13 PM on Saturday, December 31st, 2022

BS put too much pressure on themselves to forgive. Or they think they have to forgive.

Forgiveness isn't a requirement for reconciliation. It isn't something you have to do. If it happens,it happens. If it doesn't, that's ok to. Acceptance is necessary. Forgiveness is not.

I will be everywhere you look,but nowhere to be found. And that will be my revenge.

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BluerThanBlue ( member #74855) posted at 9:48 PM on Saturday, December 31st, 2022

How do you define forgiveness?

BW, 40s

Divorced WH in 2015; now happily remarried

I edit my comments a lot for spelling, grammar, typos, etc.

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jailedmind ( member #74958) posted at 11:43 PM on Sunday, January 1st, 2023

Forgiveness. Just not a fan of it. I don’t hurt anymore. I don’t punish my wife. But I don’t feel the same about her anymore. It just is what it is. You just learn to live with it. I mean it just is apart of you. I forgive my children but my wife for infidelity. Nah not in me. I learned acceptance. It was easier to swallow.

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shouldofleft ( member #82234) posted at 12:36 AM on Monday, January 2nd, 2023

Yup, ^^^^ What Jailed said.

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waitedwaytoolong ( member #51519) posted at 1:56 AM on Monday, January 2nd, 2023

I forgave my wife — but I also don’t think forgiveness is required for R. It was more of a choice for me.

Oldwounds, I very rarely disagree with you as I think aside from being a true success story, you are one of the most objective posters here. Truly without an agenda.

I do have to disagree with the statement. I think you can stay married, maybe be even in an ok marriage, but to truly have a successful partnership of equals forgiveness is a must. Without it it’s a one sided deal with the BS always having the edge over the WS if the infidelity is still hanging as a sword above the WS head. I say this as throughout my so called R, this was what my WS had to live with.

As to getting to forgiveness where the debt is forgiven, it can’t be forced and the BS can’t talk themselves into it. For me I never really forgave and that manifested in me always having an arms length relationship with my EXWW. It was a huge conflict for me and I hated that I treated her cordially, but not lovingly. I hated the way it made me feel. Like a drunk with a hangover I would make deals with myself that today I was going to forgive her, like the drunk who vowed not to drink again.

But like the drunk who makes the vow, but doesn’t do the work, the vow was just an empty promise I made to myself that I broke time and time again.

I think true forgiveness takes a tremendous amount of work. It also takes putting one’s ego to the side which for me was really hard.

Oldwounds you don’t give yourself enough credit. You just didn’t make a choice. You committed to an outcome and did the work to get there.

I am the cliched husband whose wife had an affair with the electrician

Divorced

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annb ( member #22386) posted at 2:24 AM on Monday, January 2nd, 2023

Almost 18 years out, never forgave my husband. He did the unforgiveable.

It took me a long, long time to get to acceptance.

I agree that forgiveness is not necessary for R.

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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 3:23 AM on Monday, January 2nd, 2023

Forgiveness is transactional and must be earned. Acceptance is separate from forgiveness and it's the internally motivated bit many talk about. You'll know you've forgiven when WS earns it and shows important traits and actions like transference of vigilance.

I highly recommend "How Can I Forgive You" by Janis Spring.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 5:44 AM on Monday, January 2nd, 2023

I too have confusion on this subject.

I believe sometimes to forgive others we also have to forgive ourselves. For not seeing, for marrying someone capable of cheating, for feeling like we were made a fool of, for staying, for leaving, whatever it is. In the months and often years after dday, we have tough decisions to make and question all the decisions that come before it. That is where I am with it, even if I don’t have an exact answer for your question.

I have a hard time discerning between acceptance and forgiveness. It’s probably because I was the ws first. Accepting my husbands affair meant I needed to understand what happened, why it happened. To stay and continue to work on the marriage I had to feel like he was remorseful and has done some work on himself that gives me some
Assurance as we move forward.

Once those things had happened, I feel I accepted it and put it away for the most part. I understand escapism, bad coping, and to act as if I don’t would be hypocritical.

(It would not have been hypocritical to leave him had he not done some very deep reflecting and made some of the changes he has.)

It doesn’t mean I don’t think about it, I do. I don’t know how you wouldn’t. I think about it less and less all the time and when it comes up I choose not to dwell on it. It’s not helpful to me to dwell on it. It doesn’t really hurt me like it did, signaling to me I have worked through the feelings. My lizard brain just likes to remind me that it all happened. That points to healing, does it point to forgiveness?

I think where there is a sticking point between acceptance and forgiveness for me is that I am unclear if I have forgiven myself for my affair, and therefore how can I grant him something I haven’t granted myself?

The answer that comes back to me is I no longer wish to punish him, or myself. I don’t hold anything from him and he has my whole heart. It no longer holds either of us apart from the other. I feel both of us made some truly terrible decisions, that doesn’t mean we are condemned for the rest of our lives.

So, good enough for me. I don’t know if that is forgiveness, and I am not sure if I need that to be clear in order for us to move forward together in new and fulfilling ways. I don’t think just because I think about it that I haven’t forgiven or anything is wrong. These were big events, and we tend to revisit big events. Even if we leave we would do that. It just eventually part of the fabric of our lives with all the other things.

Those are my thoughts but I don’t know that I can give you a definitive answer.

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

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Tanner ( Guide #72235) posted at 3:08 PM on Monday, January 2nd, 2023

For me the closest thing to forgiveness was just after 1 year. My W was walking on eggshells and would panic if she made a shopping error or messed up dinner. Our M was not equal it was a dictatorship.

I decided to make this M v2.0 work she had to be an equal partner in R, we had to have honest communication. If something was bothering her I wanted it on the table. That is when I stopped referring to her as a WW or a cheater, we equaled up the M worked as a team.

The other word I still can’t use is trust, I believe her, I believe she is going where she says, I believe is protecting our M, I’m just not ready to say trust.

Dday Sept 7 2019 doing well in R BH M 32 years

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Oldwounds ( member #54486) posted at 3:48 PM on Monday, January 2nd, 2023

For our op - gainingclosure - I think this thread has shown how complex the concept of forgiveness can be, and how it can mean different things to different people.

As always, I think Waitedwaytoolong added some unvarnished truth about how he couldn’t get there, but I’m still not sure how much work it was for me to truly forgive my wife.

I think true forgiveness takes a tremendous amount of work. It also takes putting one’s ego to the side which for me was really hard.

If one considers clemency a solid synonym for forgiveness, I agree — letting go of the resentments was hard work, not wanting to punish isn’t easy.

However, I don’t consider I had to put my ego aside. I did have to learn my crushed ego was on me. My wife’s actions had zero actual reflection of me, my ego, my manhood, etc. My wife’s shitty spiral into infidelity was all on her weak ego and nothing to do with me or mine.

Once I truly understood that I am NOT my wife’s shitty choices — I didn’t have to set aside my ego — she had to strengthen hers.

And my crushed ego healed up fast, after that realization.

Hikingout, added some fascinating thoughts as well, since my wife has yet to forgive herself. So it remains a question, for our M to stay on this healing path, does the relationship NEED my wife to forgive herself? Maybe. As long as she doesn’t feel any sense of obligation to stay in the relationship, because of her past poor choices. I think choosing to be in any relationship is the biggest key and that obligations lead back to resentments at some point.

I also think I may have to agree with Waited and withdraw the sentiment that R can happen sans forgiveness.

Reconciliation, the real deal, means zero resentments. The only way to not resent someone for their sins against you is to forgive them.

I got my M to a level of trust and vulnerability worthy of my participation in it. That rebuild really started when I really forgave my wife.

The distinction for me is I can still focus on and always hate what happened, without hating my wife. Sort of like hate the sin and love the sinner (and that line has been twisted around some in recent years, but still has some value to me).

Married 36+ years, together 41+ years
Two awesome adult sons.
Dday 6/16 4-year LTA Survived.
M Restored
"It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it." — Seneca

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TwoDozen ( member #74796) posted at 5:12 PM on Monday, January 2nd, 2023

For me I think that forgiveness would require one of 2 things or both

Firstly I think I’d need to be able to understand why someone made the decisions they did. Somehow be able to justify it to myself to some degree.

And secondly. I’d need to see that they had left no stone unturned, no action undone to make up for whatever it was they needed forgiveness for.

I do not think time is a component that works without the above. I’m well aware that forgiveness is for me but I appear to have a complete aversion to saying or feeling forgiveness.

In the case of my WGF A I got no details beyond which I was able to prove myself so nothing which could reasonably provide me with a reason and no actions from her to dig deep and and find these. So not forgiven.

At the same time as a coparent things could not be any more amicable. As much as I know she doesn’t want to live the rest of her life without me, this is still far more desirable to her than to dig into her why’s.

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Stevesn ( member #58312) posted at 5:34 PM on Monday, January 2nd, 2023

I do believe in forgiving the person without forgiving "the act". With all the caveats I put above about forgiveness being an involuntary response, once your body and mind does forgive I think you can do it without actually forgiving the actions they took while cheating.

You are forgiving the person they’ve become, not the person they were.

fBBF. Just before proposing, broke it off after her 2nd confirmed PA in 2 yrs. 9 mo later I met the wonderful woman I have spent the next 30 years with.

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Topic is Sleeping.
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