I Believe That I Have Forgiven My Spouse’s Affair. But I Don’t Think That I Can Ever Forget It

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from people who are worried that they haven’t fully healed from their spouse’s affair.  And the reason that they will often give you for this is that they believe that they have forgiven, but they are worried that they haven’t yet been able to forget.  So they are concerned that both of these things are required for true healing.

Common comments are things like: “I have worked very hard to be able to forgive my husband for his affair.  I have been in counseling for months.  And I have made the very conscious decision to go ahead and forgive him because I don’t want to carry around the burden of remaining angry.  But I have to admit that I haven’t been able to forget what he did.  Some days are good days.  But other days, I will have memories of the pain of the affair and then the anger will come back.  I had hoped that once I made the choice to forgive, I could say goodbye to the anger for good.  Am I never going to be able to move past this until or unless I can truly forget it?”  I will tell you my opinion on this in the following article.

Why I Don’t Personally Believe That Forgetting Is Required: I agree that forgiving your spouse is very beneficial.  Like this wife, I felt that a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders once I was able to forgive my own spouse.   This act improved my life, my state of mind, and my marriage and I have never regretted it.    But I have no problem letting you know that I haven’t forgotten either.  And I’m not sure how forgetting is even truly possible.   In order to really forget your spouse’s affair, you would have to never again think of it.  And I’m just not sure how one controls thoughts.

Despite your best efforts, thoughts are going to pop into your head from time to time.   Of course, the more time that has passed and the more that you have healed, the less the thoughts are going to be present.  In my own case, thinking about the affair is not something that happens to me on a constant basis.  Usually, I will see an article or a television show about infidelity that might bring some memories back.   This is just something that is unavoidable.  And the memories and feelings that this evokes are, at least in my own opinion, not something that I can control.

This doesn’t mean that I fall apart or feel intense pain or anger when the memories come back.  For the most part, I am able to move on pretty quickly.  The thought pops into my head, I remind myself of where my marriage and my life are now and I move on.  In a way, the affair is like other challenges we have had in our marriage like financial challenges when we first started out and illnesses that have affected other family members.   Certain things will bring up memories and the pain from these several challenges.  I can’t control my thoughts or my memories.  But it’s the same process with all of them.  Because we overcame them, these memories allow for me to see how far we have come.

But make no mistake.  I haven’t forgotten any of these challenges.  How could I?  They were a part of my life just like the happy memories that I also have.  You take the good with the bad.

Why I Think That Not Forgetting Can Sometimes Be A Benefit:  I’d like to make one final point.  I don’t think that the inability to forget is a completely bad thing.  Knowing that you still recall what you have been through allows you the confidence to know that you could overcome and detect this again if you had to.  Frankly, you probably don’t want to go into any given situation with naivety or complete innocence.  In other words, you can’t pretend that you don’t know what you already know.  And I’m not sure that you would want to.    Some of the self knowledge and the skills that I have learned that relate to my marriage all came about because of the affair and have actually been quite beneficial to me.  I wouldn’t want to trade or deny them.

So to address the concern posed, I consider myself, my marriage, and my family to be healed and I haven’t completely forgotten the affair.  Admittedly, I no longer think about it all of the time or even very regularly.  But occasionally, something will bring up the memories.  I don’t pretend that the memories don’t exist.  I acknowledge them.   I take inventory.  And then I allow them to let me see how far we’ve come.

I don’t think that you need to beat yourself up for not forgetting.  Unless you can bring about amnesia, I just don’t think that it’s completely possible.  But I believe that you can heal anyway.  If it helps, you can read about my healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Comments are closed.

  • RSS Infidelity Articles By Katie Lersch

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Posts