No gift of love has been more misunderstood than forgiveness. It may seem unfair to ask you to forgive the person who hurt you, lied to you and disappointed you so badly. I am fully aware of that. However, keep this in mind. Forgiveness isn’t logical… it’s about love. And like love itself, it cannot be earned, bought, bargained or forced — it can only be inspired. So what on earth can inspire you to do something as difficult as forgiving a cheater? Only one thing… True Love. Therefore, the real miracle is not forgiving, but loving someone enough to forgive.
Depending on the type of love you have, forgiving your partner will be the easiest (or the hardest) thing you’ll ever have to do because love without forgiveness is like a bird without wings — it has very limited range. Forgiveness is the “what” that gives ordinary love the wings that lift it up beyond limits, beyond ego, beyond pride, and even beyond the understanding of most people. So when friends and family say they can’t comprehend how you could even think about forgiving them… smile because True Love does surpass all understanding.
It may surprise you to know this… but dirty socks left on the floor has the same potential to ruin a marriage as an extramarital affair. Why? Because unforgiveness is at the root of most relationship problems. The challenge is that, most of us don’t recognize this simple truth. Forgiveness is not the question… it’s the answer. It’s not the problem… it’s the solution to the problem. Until we are able to separate the truth from the myths about forgiveness, we spend our time avoiding the very thing we are trying to find.
Ask not to learn how to forgive. You already know how to do that. Instead, simply ask that the obstacles to forgiving be removed from your mind, thereby restoring to your awareness the many moments of love, appreciation and gratitude you have felt in the past towards your partner. It’s those memories that can help to open your heart — allowing forgiveness to return more naturally.
Sadly, there’s a lot of counterfeit emotions often mistaken for forgiveness. For example, every time you bury the hatchet, you find a way, reason, an excuse or a trigger that causes you to dig it back up. If this has happened to you, don’t despair. Every attempt to forgive — even those that fall short — takes us closer to actually forgiving. In other words, there’s no wasted effort, but there’s also no substitute for truly forgiving either. So, how many times and how many attempts to forgive should you make? Answer: as many as it takes.
Suppressing, denying or justifying is not the same as forgiving. Suppressing is like swallowing a ticking time bomb; forgiving is like deactivating the bomb. And keep this in mind. When you truly forgive your partner, you’ll experience a sense of freedom, release and relief. No other emotion can replace that feeling. So don’t settle for anything less than your total and complete freedom from pain… because nothing else will make you happy again.
There are many things that time heals, but unforgiveness isn’t one of them. In my work, I’ve come across partners who — even after five, ten, even twenty years after an affair — have still not forgiven their partners. I have even met a woman whose husband was dead… and she still was bitter about what he did. The point here is that unforgiveness (bitterness, hostility, contempt, hate) has no expiration date. In other words, you could carry a grudge all the way to the grave… and no one can stop you. But it might be wise to stop and ask yourself… if time will not heal unforgiveness, then what are you waiting for?
Forgiveness waits on your decision… not on time. Keep in mind that while you’re waiting on time to decide, you’re also losing your own time and energy to bitterness and anger. So why put off your own healing? Time is not the deciding factor — YOU are. Remember, time will never give you permission to do anything… only you can do that. And since you’re the only decision maker, I would suggest you make the decision to forgive sooner rather than later.
If infidelity were a fire, then forgiving would be the fire extinguisher. One of the important things that a fire extinguisher does is to remove the oxygen from the air. Without oxygen, the fire naturally goes out. The process of forgiving a cheating spouse works much the same way. It’s really more about removing the obstacles to forgiving, so the unforgiving feelings naturally go away.
Forgiveness is not about doing… it’s about undoing. It’s not about learning… it’s about unlearning. It’s not about adding anything… it’s about clearing away the obstacles. Do this and you’ll be surprised how quickly forgiveness happens. For some, it happens instantly. For others, it comes more slowly but surely.
One of the biggest misconceptions about forgiving infidelity is the idea that it’s a favor you do for them. This isn’t accurate. When you consider that no thought ever leaves the mind of the thinker, you begin to realize that every unforgiving thought you allow to linger… remains trapped in your own mind. And all those contemptuous thoughts punish you, the angry thoughts sour you, and the hateful thoughts drain away your happiness. And this is why it’s so often said… “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” So, is there any good news in the midst of all this? Surprisingly, there is because the opposite is also true. Since no thought leaves the mind of the thinker, this means that loving, compassionate and forgiving thoughts heal you right away. They rejuvenate you and restore your peace of mind.
At first, it may be hard to believe, and yet it’s true. When you forgive them… you win! Why? Because it’s what allows you to find (and stay in) that peaceful place at the eye of the storm. Think of it this way. Forgiving them doesn’t prevent the storms from raining on your dreams. But what it can do is place you at the “center” of those storms, so you can stand there in peace… even in the midst of all the chaos and confusion swirling around you.
Do you know the definition of a miracle? It’s been described as having a shift in perception. It’s also been called an “insight” or receiving an intuitive flash. Oprah calls them “Aha! moments”. I believe that anything that restores your awareness to the fact that you have the power to choose (or to go against) forgiveness qualifies as a miracle because the way I see it, the real issue here isn’t whether or not you can forgive them — of course you can, you’ve done it many times before. And it’s not even about knowing how to forgive because we’re all born with forgiving hearts. The real issue is that most of us are unaware that forgiveness (and unforgiveness) is a choice. Both of these choices are simply two different ways of coping with the unfair things that happen in our lives. So the real question you must ask yourself is this. “Which is the better choice for me?” And while you think about that, I want you to also consider this. The choice to forgive moves you forward, and the choice not to forgive keeps you circling backwards. So when you really break it down… this is really a question of direction, isn’t it? Forwards or backwards? These are your choices, and the choice is always yours to make.
You’re at that place in the road where you must decide which way to go from here. If you choose to stay on the unforgiving road, then expect things to get worse before they get better. That’s because the unforgiving road is harsh and merciless to those who embark on it. However, if you choose to take the forgiving road instead, then I take my hat off to you, because when it comes to dealing with infidelity… forgiving is certainly most often the road less traveled, and yet it’s also the only road that leads you out of all the pain and suffering.
My Betrayed Recovery Homestudy is an online video course design to guide you through my seven-step process for healing the hurt you didn’t deserve after betrayal, using only positive strategies for healing and recovery.
I believe that infidelity is a call for help (not hate). I believe that mistakes are a call for correction (not punishment). And above all, I believe that once a painful thing has happened, you basically have two choices:
You can keep circling the hurt, or you can keep moving forward.
These are two totally different coping strategies. One is effective and the other is dysfunctional. One strategy leads you to post traumatic growth and the other to post traumatic stress. Therefore, I see my function as your marriage coach to remind you of this. While it’s true that you may not have had a choice about what happened before — you do have a choice about what happens next. So my job now is to do everything in my power to help you choose wisely.
Until we speak again…
Remember… LOVE WINS!