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#2182513 12/27/08 08:11 AM
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I have read here on MB lately a number of betrayed spouses.. men and women who find it difficult to fully forgive their XWS for the hurt and pain.... even where the XWS does seem to be trying to do what they can or at the least willing to do all they can to try and mitigate the hurt and pain they caused.

I for one cannot condemn such thoughts having caused the same sort of pain to my husband.

It is also very tough for a betrayed spouse or partner to not harden their hearts at this time of the year. Its a defence mechanism that a person who has been so hurt puts up. Its not unusual for this to occur and its also not very healthy for that person either. But perfectly understandable.

Many people feel that forgiveness is a gift.
It is a gift! BUT not only to the one you are forgiving.... but to yourself.
By forgiving the people who have hurt you in the past you set yourself free from the chains of resentment and other harmful emotions running rampant through your mind.... body and spirit. By forgiving you are empowering yourself by taking away the control the other person has over you. You will heal deep-rooted pain that perhaps you thought was gone a long time ago but has survived.... living under all of the resentment that you have held onto for so long. By forgiving you are one step closer to your journey of self-growth and healing.
But it's not easy is it.

Have you ever asked yourself & had these thoughts ........

"Why am I still so bitter?"

I see him/her making the effort but it seems so fake!

We have seen two/four/ten different counsellors.. with no avail.
They each told us that if we do not take responsibility for the problems and try to fix it that there is nothing that they can do.

QUESTION - Did I take the advice to heart and have I been working hard on our marriage and issues/ Have I?
Why should I when he/she cheated.

He/she only decided to make effort when I told him/her I was done and get OUT! This was not an idle threat.

He/she seems to be doing the right things toward change. How can I let him/her back in to my heart???

Can it get to the point where it really is a little too late for him/her to do the right thing now?

Do I love him/her and we have XXX children. He/she used to be my best friend. I miss him/her and we still live together.

God I want you to hurt like you hurt me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When we've been hurt like this ...the chain of thoughts that come into our minds is usually along the following lines - I've been hurt (that's true).... it shouldn't have happened (also true).... it was most unfair (true).... they don't even care about what they've done (can be true or not).... they deserve to be punished (true).... but I'm helpless to do anything about it (which often is the case).... therefore (and here comes the untruth) - we decide that to punish them ....
we won't forgive them.
It's this last one that does the long term damage.... it's a decision that is the beginning of a cancerous sore that grows and grows within our hearts. The only cure is forgiveness but this is so hard to do unless help is at hand. The help is knowledge & often counselling.

It's essential that as a BS you understand the difference between the following two quotes. The first one says ' I won't forgive' and the second one says 'I can't forgive'.... and there is a world of difference between the two.

The second one.... the one that says 'I can't forgive' is the beginning of a process within your hearts to remove the pain that is otherwise there 24 hours each day. You may not always be conscious of it but whenever you call to mind the betrayal... then the same pain always comes to the surface.... so you turn from it because .... it HURTS ... it is here that time and sometimes prayer can help allow the 'can't' to become 'can' over time along with positive actions by a remorseful spouse. And yes I agree it should not be easy for a XWS to be allowed back into the marriage as if nothing has happened... it should be a bit hard. If it was easy would I place as much value upon my marriage now? I'm not sure I would. But remember .. hard does not mean impossible or unreasonable. Its only sensible that a BS will take time and caution before allowing the XWS the opportunity to hurt them again. Because taking him or her back into your heart is doing just that.

The first one however comes from a decision that... as I've mentioned earlier.... binds us with a painful sore in our hearts that will not go away. I WON"T FORGIVE. This is a clear choice not to allow a XWS to seek forgiveness nor grant it if they do... its YOUR choice and frankly is not healthy for you. I'm NOT saying you need to accept the XWS back in the marriage or even be friends... but if the boil of pain is not lanced you will get sick.. soul sick. If you need to end the marriage then do so.. but forgive the WS even if they don't seek it.. its for your own sake.
The hardened heart ends up empty inside ... and its pretty lonely there by yourself. You deserve better than that. FORGIVE... because you won't forget... BUT will be able to place the betrayal where it no longer controls you or your emotions.


The things I notice
Are pretty strange
Like how you'll never
Look at me

Even though you
Scream my name
Still.... you never
Look at me

Do you love me?
"I love you"
Do you love me?
Why don't you look at me?

The thoughts I'm having
Are saddening
Like how I wanted you to
Hold me then

But no.... instead
You fell asleep
And now you won't
Hold me again

Do you love me?
"I think I might"
Do you love me?
"No.... it's just a 'like'"

The things I'm feeling
Are killing me
Like how when if
will you forgive me

The things that I'm done
Have destroyed me
Like how my soul
Isn't healing right

Do you love me?
"Not really.... no"
Do you love me?
"Who loves a hoe?"

The feelings I bleed
Are killing me
Like how the screams
Won't leave my throat

The things you're denying
Are hurting me
Like how you're saying
You don't know

Do you love me?
"I never have"
Do you love me?
"I never will"

The drugs I'm taking
Are helping me
So I don't try to
Kill myself again

The man I loved
Won't look at me
But I know I'll
Love him forever

Do you love me?


Life may feel as if you are constantly getting kicked on a daily basis, living is about picking yourself up each day and going on and on and on regardless.

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Two things I have learned from my experience.

One is that forgiveness is not simply a one time event, it is rather a continual process. Every now and then, those same thoughts pop back into your head with some trigger. When they do, you need to choose to forgive rather than give in to those thoughts.

The second is that forgiveness is different than forgetting. The WS doesn't deserve your trust initially. This is something they need to be prepared to spend years earning back. You wouldn't give a thief the keys to your house, why would you trust enough initially to let the WS back into your heart? The heart needs to be guarded, I believe, and this means years of earning trust to me.

Of course, as a BS you should not spread venom to the relationship, but you are not required to just forget and open your heart to allow the person to destroy you again. This takes time and trust to open yourself back up to that person and willingly allow yourself to be in a place to be destroyed again.

My $0.02


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Forgiveness can be offered to the WS, but if she rejects it in the same fashion she rejects her BH, then what good does it do?

We can only be WILLING to forgive. But for forgiveness to really work, to really have any meaning, the one to whom forgiveness is offered has to value that forgiveness, agree that what she did was wrong and accept that what they did was hurtful towards the person offering forgiveness.

It's been my experience, both personally and by reading other accounts here, that most WW (or WH, but I know more about WW than WH's) think that what they did was perfectly OK, so they don't value that forgiveness.

Why else would so many WW simply end their marriages, rather than end their affairs and work on the marriage?

Forgiveness IS a process, I do agree with that. However, it's not a one person process. The one whom we seek to forgive must accept and value that forgiveness, otherwise it's simply wasted effort.

It's little different from meeting another person's emotional needs. If it's not the right thing, if it's not valued by the recipient, then it's just wasted effort.

The same is true when dealing with a wayward. If there is no remorse on the part of the wayward, forgiveness is meaningless to them.

The recipient has to think they've done something wrong for forgiveness to have any meaning. It appears most wayward spouses don't believe what they've done is wrong.

I do believe if they ask for forgiveness, it should be given, as holding a grudge does nothing.

But on the other hand, if they never ask, I think one should be willing to forgive, but not just wipe the slate clean.

For those who would offer God forgives, that is true. But there is NO instance where there is not a price paid. Repentance must take place, even with God.

Why would it be any different for us?

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I disagree with the statement that a person must accept and value our forgiveness.

In fact, I do not think the other person even needs to know. I think you give forgiveness because it allows you to stay in-line with the Lord's will and not be consumed with bitterness, anger, etc. I also believe you give forgiveness because if the Lord forgives you, then you should forgive your brother/sister as well. Therefore, what I get out of it is/maybe more important than what the other person gets.

At the end of the day, only the Lord's forgiveness really matters and we should strive to do as he commands (Forgive 7 * 70 times, from my memory)


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Enlightened Ex is exactly right. In order for forgiveness to have any meaning, there must be a forgiver and a willing forgivee because the goal is to reconcile differences. God does not force his forgiveness on any of us and he does not pass out forgiveness like cheap candy to people who neither want or need our forgiveness. To forgive someone without their knowledge is an empty feel good measure.

If I go to my neighbor and say "I forgive you, my child." He is going to say FOR WHAT? I have done nothing wrong. That achieves no purpose, except to tick off my neighbor, and perhaps make me imagine I am holy and moly and ever so exalted. It is an empty feel good measure.

God's standard is to forgive those who want forgiveness and who repent. I don't imagine that I have a higher standard than him. And believe me, i love feeling all holy and moly, but that doesn't do it for me.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

Exposure 101


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The thing here is that forgiveness is NOT just for the XWS or yes even a current WS ... its for YOU.

The WS can accept or not.. keep cheating or not .... some will run from themselves... but the hardened heart of a BS hurts the BS.

It doesn't end there of course .... its also about the hardened heart of a BS where the XWS WANTS to work on the M and the BS WON"T forgive. If that continues the pain simply eats away at the BS.

Forgiving certainly doesn't mean forgetting or allowing the WS to get out of the consequences or even saving the Marriage ... it's an act of will... but also an act of Grace by the BS for his or her own good.

And its very hard when you hurt so much. It humbles me when I see it happen.


Life may feel as if you are constantly getting kicked on a daily basis, living is about picking yourself up each day and going on and on and on regardless.

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What Forgiveness Is Not…

* Forgiveness is not forgetting or pretending it didn’t happen. It did happen, and we need to retain the lesson learned without holding onto the pain.
* Forgiveness is not excusing. We excuse a person who is not to blame. We forgive because a wrong was committed.
* Forgiveness is not giving permission to continue hurtful behaviors; nor is it condoning the behavior in the past or in the future.
* Forgiveness is not reconciliation. We have to make a separate decision about whether to reconcile with the person we are forgiving or whether to maintain our distance.

http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/what-is-forgiveness/


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Here is the thing. One does not have to pass out unwanted or unneeded forgiveness in order to avoid a hardened heart. One has to a) be willing to forgive and b) avoid grudges. One doesn't have to "forgive" to resolve bitterness and avoid grudges. I would also add that it does not help the forgivee in any way, shape or form to give him unwarranted forgiveness. God has a standard for forgiveness and I think his standard is pretty good.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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I forgive you, ba109.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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I forgive you too Mel...whether you want it or not.


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Yes ba109

I accept that forgiveness is NOT forgetting or just reconciliation or restitution ... and the rest .. it can be part of that however

I think in the context of a hardened heart which I am talking about ... it's the method by which a BS can start their own healing.


Life may feel as if you are constantly getting kicked on a daily basis, living is about picking yourself up each day and going on and on and on regardless.

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So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. Luke 17:3

I think Dr. Harley's method of forgiveness is exactly in line with the Biblical standard of forgiveness, which is based on repentence, ie: turning away from our sin:

From Can't We Just Forgive and Forget?
 Quote:
Forgiveness is something I believe in with all my heart. I forgive others and have been forgiven many times. God wants us all to be forgiving just as he has forgiven us.

And, as you have noticed, when you don't forgive someone, it can "eat you up." It's not healthy to keep resentment bottled up inside of you.

The vast majority of couples I counsel who have been through the horror of an affair, have better marriages after the affair than before. It's because the affair jolts them into recognizing the need for building an affair-proof marriage, and the safety precautions they use help them create compatibility and love. But has the offended spouse forgiven the offender in these marriages? Yes and no.

First let's try to understand what forgiveness is. One illustration is telling a person who owes you $10,000 that he won't have to pay you back. You "forgive" the debt. In other words, forgiveness is eliminating a obligation of some sort.

But we generally don't think of money when we think of the need of forgiveness. Instead, we are concerned about inconsiderate behavior that has caused us great pain and suffering -- the pain that an affair causes, for example. Forgiveness in these situations means thinking about the person as if the offense never took place. That is extremely difficult to do. The offended spouse usually thinks, what can he or she do to make it up to me. How can I be compensated for the pain I've suffered.

To make matters worse, whenever a wayward spouse sees me for counseling there is rarely regret and rarely a willingness to compensate the offended spouse. They usually ask to be forgiven, but that doesn't mean he or she is deeply remorseful. It usually means that he or she doesn't want us to bring up the subject anymore, or require a change in behavior. In other words, the wayward spouse wants the pain suffered by the offended spouse to be ignored or forgotten. Like a $10,000 debt, they want it forgiven, and then they want to borrow another $10,000.

I'm in favor of forgiveness in many situations, but this isn't one of them. In the case of infidelity, compensation not only helps the offended spouse overcome the resentment he or she harbors, but the right kind of compensation helps restore the relationship and prevents the painful act from being repeated.

In most cases, an offended spouse would be stupid to forgive the wayward spouse without just compensation. It's like forgiving a friend of the $10,000 he owes you, when it's actually in the friend's best interest to pay you in full because it would teach him how to be more responsible with money.

entire article here


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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 Originally Posted By: aussieswife
I have read here on MB lately a number of betrayed spouses.. men and women who find it difficult to fully forgive their XWS for the hurt and pain.... even where the XWS does seem to be trying to do what they can or at the least willing to do all they can to try and mitigate the hurt and pain they caused.


aussieswife, what exactly do you mean by not being able to forgive for the hurt and pain? You do know that feeling hurt and pain is a natural part of grieving, right? A normal person will feel anger, resentment, bitterness for up to 2 years. That is not a sign of an inability to forgive, but a sign of RECOVERY. A normal will feel anger and bitterness in reaction to cruelty.

Can you clarify what you are seeing that concerns you?


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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can't argue any of that in the context of saving a marriage after adultery Mel

however it doesn't address the hardened heart of a BS who WON"T forgive no matter what. Ever. That simply isn't healthy to hold that bile and resentment. I am certainly not saying any of it is FAIR.. it isn't ,,, but hurting yourself and closing yourself off from other opportunities to love one day is self destructive. Because a hardened heart sadly crosses over into other portions of your life.

MB article to me is more of the situation of the BS who can't forgive until positive actions of the XWS .. in other words restitution of some kind through actions and behaviour... have provided the BS with the tools to grant forgiveness to save the M if possible. They are not unwilling to grant forgiveness


Life may feel as if you are constantly getting kicked on a daily basis, living is about picking yourself up each day and going on and on and on regardless.

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 Originally Posted By: aussieswife
can't argue any of that in the context of saving a marriage after adultery Mel

however it doesn't address the hardened heart of a BS who WON"T forgive no matter what. Ever. That simply isn't healthy to hold that bile and resentment. I am certainly not saying any of it is FAIR.. it isn't ,,, but hurting yourself and closing yourself off from other opportunities to love one day is self destructive. Because a hardened heart sadly crosses over into other portions of your life.



aussieswife, I agree with you in principle, but context is everything. For example, a BS who still has resentment 10 months after d-day is not unforgiving, they are simply experiencing a normal recoery. On the other hand, a BS who is bitter 5 years out is an entirely different story.

For some, particularly those who have been victims of multiple affairs or long term affairs, the resentment may be too great for them.

 Quote:
From Dr Harley's article Coping with Infidelity: Part 4 Overcoming Resentment:

In fact, when a couple goes through a recovery after an affair, and then experience another affair, the resentment is often more intense and more persistent after the second recovery. With multiple affairs and recoveries, resentment is almost impossible to overcome. But then, in those cases I usually feel that the emotional reaction of resentment is not irrational at all. Emotions are telling the person that it's not a good idea to continue the relationship, and I would agree.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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Emotions are telling the person that it's not a good idea to continue the relationship, and I would agree.

Exactly. Forgiveness is not a given, even with just compensation. Sometimes it's best to move on. Even after just one affair.

Last edited by ba109; 12/27/08 11:28 AM.

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I don't think 2 years is that long Mel... I feel its a pretty lucky XWS who has been forgiven in that time....

I guess I perceived some situations where the BA is holding the hurt they had dumped on them like a security blanket ... even say that their XWS is doing and willing to do what it takes but they are unable to respond and this has been going for some time.

I don't think there are quick fixes... I don't think they can be expected to suddenly forget or that it will be made right on some set time ether ..... I'm simply saying that there comes a time where holding onto the unjust wound they have received hurts THEM. it hardens their hearts.

I can't make the judgement and wouldn't if I could when that time comes for a BS ... I am just pointing out the danger and to consider if they can't (the willingness to) or WON"T forgive.

Right now I have to go pick up three drunk soldiers (Aussie... my son and son in law) at 1.30am in the morning thats right now ... I'll PROBABLY forgive them ... eventually

see ya in an hour .. or so

my daughter and DIL to be don't look too forgiving however

they said rude words too


Life may feel as if you are constantly getting kicked on a daily basis, living is about picking yourself up each day and going on and on and on regardless.

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 Originally Posted By: aussieswife
I don't think 2 years is that long Mel... I feel its a pretty lucky XWS who has been forgiven in that time....

I guess I perceived some situations where the BA is holding the hurt they had dumped on them like a security blanket ... even say that their XWS is doing and willing to do what it takes but they are unable to respond and this has been going for some time.



Have fun picking up those drunks!

I agree very much with what you said. I found myself doing this very thing a couple of years into recovery. Every other Friday I had an out of town meeting and afterwards would lunch with one of my coworkers*. I would go on and on about my H. One day he looked at me and said, "Mel, you are just digging for grievances now." I was so shocked at his statement, but he was so right! I was hanging onto his crime like a security blanket and picking at the scab every day. This kept me enraged at my H.

Not only was it not fair to my H, but it was poisoning my mind with resentments and ruining any efforts at recovery. It was at this point where I was willing to let this go that my marriage started to improve.

So, I appreciate your clarification and very much agree with what you said.

*I have since learned it is not healthy to have lunch alone with males and talk about my personal life with them. I stopped this stupid practice several years ago.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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YES Mel that's exactly it!

I mean lets also keep in perspective too ... If a XWS didn't cheat then our BS wouldn't even be in that place would they??

But that said don't let it destroy you the BS either.

A car load of merry men later ..... I dropped off 2 others to their respective wives up the road as well ... I'm sure there was one with a rolling pin

You know ..... my daughter has a penetrating voice

and I think my future DIL is taking lessons

I wonder where they got that from ?


Life may feel as if you are constantly getting kicked on a daily basis, living is about picking yourself up each day and going on and on and on regardless.

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way to go, aussieswife! kickin ass and takin names!


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

Exposure 101


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