Monday, February 13, 2012


Forgiveness is such a profound yet simple, topic. I amaze myself that I have the chutzpah to write a heading entitled Forgiveness and then attempt to address is in a few paragraphs. It is, however, a key ingredient to surviving the every day, nitty gritty of marital conflict and the horrific betrayal of infidelity.
What is forgiveness? I would define it as a conscious, intentional decision to let go of an angry response that you would be entitled to in order to balance the scales of justice. From my perspective, forgiveness is an act of the will, not an emotion. Don't expect to wake up one morning feeling "forgiving." In all likelihood, it is a decision that you will make. Forgiveness, despite what most people think, is not dependent on the other person saying sorry, a big sorry or a little sorry. Or making amends, as they say in the 12 Step Programs. From my vantage point it is an act of the will.
In the context of infidelity, forgiveness is not a cheap and easy Get Out of Jail free card for the spouse who has been unfaithful. The spouse who has been betrayed needs to feel the pain, anger, hurt, indignity of the infidelity as long as it takes. If the couple is in a safe place, such as a marital therapy context. The betrayed spouse needs to be able to express their feelings as long as necessary to the spouse who has been unfaithful. Is there a time table for this? Think months not days.
If the spouse who has been unfaithful wants to salvage the marriage, making amends by just listening - and listening - and listening, as long as it takes is the best way to repair and bring healing to the marriage. Being defensive, justifying and blaming will only bring the process back to GO. It's all about the unfaithful spouse taking responsibility for their behavior and hearing the other person's pain.
It goes without saying that unequivocally, contact with the third party involved in an affair needs to an in order for the marriage to move forward. Unequivocally.

P.S. Although I am a save-the-marriage under almost any circumstances kind of person, from my perspective infidelity is a divorce-able offense.

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