By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who aren’t sure that their family will ever be able to heal after their husband chose the other woman over his wife and over his family. The wife often doubts that she will ever be able to forgive this betrayal in order to move on.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband cheated with someone who he met online. At first, I thought that it was only a fleeting indiscretion but it soon became clear that he was serious about her. He told me that he wasn’t sure if he could give her up and I told him that he was going to have to chose because he couldn’t have us both. Well, he very reluctantly chose me but then he continued to see her behind my back. I became furious and told him that it was her or me. And, much to my horror, he chose her. He moved out of our house and left our children and went to live with her. This didn’t last for very long. After a few weeks, he came home crying that he had made a mistake and begging for my forgiveness. But I don’t think that I can ever offer that forgiveness because he chose that hag over our family. Over our children. I would never put anyone or anything above our family. And now I am in a situation where I have to decide if I’m going to have my kids live without their dad because I can’t forgive or if I’m going to try to find a way to make it work. But, forgiveness is a big thing for me. And I just can’t see ever being able to forgive this.”
I believe that any one could understand the wife’s reasoning. She felt guilty about her reluctance to forgive, but I didn’t think she had anything to feel guilty about. She was dealing with the situation as best as she could. And I felt she was doing a great job. While I couldn’t decide for her if she should forgive, I could give her some insights, which I will share now.
You Don’t Have To Follow Anyone’s Timeline But Your Own. You Don’t Need To Be In Any Hurry To Come To A Decision About Forgiveness: Needless to say, this husband wanted for his wife to offer swift forgiveness and to take him back in. But frankly, the wife was in control of her own time line. They were both concerned about their children, but nothing said that the husband could not have access to his children or that they could not have family time without the wife having come to a decision about forgiveness. Frankly, it was probably just too soon to even think about forgiveness. The wife was going to need to see his remorse level and his future behaviors before she could even think about that.
So she might want to make this clear to her husband by saying something like: “I hear what you are saying, but you need to understand that I am going to need a lot more time before I can even consider forgiveness. I need time to see what is going to happen and to evaluate how I feel. For now, just know that the kids are as important to me as they are to you. But your actions have left us with a lot of healing to do. I have a lot of anger for the way that you basically abandoned us and choose her over us. So you are going to have to show us that you are now putting us above everything and everyone else and you are going to have to do this for longer than just a short period of time. I am going to take it one day at a time. And I hope that you will too. I am going to ask you to respect me enough to not pressure me or try to make me feel guilty. I am hoping for the best but I need time to process this fully. Please respect this.”
When You Are Ready, Know That Forgiveness Is For Your Benefit Instead Of His: I don’t want for you to feel pressured about this in any way. Any decision that you make should be yours alone and should come in your own time. But I can also tell you that forgiveness (when it’s given freely and when enough time has passed) can be extremely freeing. It can feel as if a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders and it can help you begin to leave all of this behind. It’s also important to know that you can forgive him and not remain in a relationship with him. So, this wife might decide that although her marriage just can’t be saved, she could still offer forgiveness in order to free herself.
With that said, there are many women who both forgive and save the marriage. But neither scenario is right for everyone. The real question is which is right for you. The bottom line is that you get to say who you forgive and who you do not. You also get to say when it all happens. You are in control. This is your decision to make and you should not let any one rush or pressure you. But, I know first hand that forgiveness is very powerful and it can help to fully release the strong hold that this situation has over you.
I will admit that I took my sweet time about offering forgiveness to my husband. I felt that it was my right and I also needed every moment of that time to heal. Ultimately, we did save our marriage. But I like to think that I would have offered forgiveness regardless. Because it helped me much more than it helped him. It if helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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