Tracy who has been married to her partner for the last 12 years. Recently, her husband failed to come home one evening and she knew he was with his ex. Though he begged for her forgiveness, Tracy’s pride and anger wouldn’t allow her to forgive him. She would feel like a fool if she forgave him. Despite the fact that she decided to not end the marriage, she is still full of anger.
What do you think? Should Tracy forgive her cheating spouse?
There are several misconceptions about forgiveness that Tracy, and others in her situation, need to know.
Misconception #1: When you forgive, you should forget about the offense.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Just because you forgive your cheating spouse doesn’t mean you should forget about it. True forgiveness is much better than forgetting. Here’s why. If you can remember the particular experience without feeling the emotional pain connected to it, then you have truly forgiven your spouse.
Misconception #2: Forgiveness equals approval.
Contrary to this opinion, you can forgive a cheating spouse without necessarily approving of their actions. Even as you forgive them, the cheating spouse needs to acknowledge that their actions were unjust, unfair and unacceptable. Let them know that they violated their marriage vow but that you are forgiving them and giving them another chance. Forgiveness paves the way for you to move forward.
Misconception #3: To forgive, you must tell your partner that you have forgiven them.
Believe it or not, you can forgive your spouse without telling them – just forgive them. Imagine a situation where your spouse feels like they are the victim. How do you think they will react when you tell them that you have forgiven them? It is enough for you to forgive someone in your heart without actually telling them that you have forgiven them.
For example, Ruth’s husband has a gambling problem. One day he went on a gambling spree which landed the family in financial trouble and caused marriage problems. After a whole year of rehabilitation and being “clean”, Ruth finally told him that she had forgiven him. This affirmed and anchored his new lifestyle and behavior.
Misconception #4: If you forgive them, you should trust them again immediately.
Forgiveness and trust are two separate issues and should be treated as such. Even after you have forgiven your spouse, rebuilding trust will take time. In fact, only a person of questionable mental health would trust his or her partner immediately after their trust has been violated because it sends the message that their partner can continue violating their trust without any consequences. The cheating spouse must earn back their partner’s trust through good and consistent behavior. Trust is earned. Forgiveness is a gift.
Misconception #5: Once you have forgiven your partner, you will automatically have positive feelings towards them.
The opposite of anger and hate isn’t love, it’s indifference. Even though you’ve chosen to deal with your anger through forgiveness, it doesn’t mean that you will immediately feel love for them. At this point, being neutral is good enough. Unfortunately, some couples never solve their marriage problems by practicing forgiveness and are therefore forced to go their separate ways.
Misconception # 6 Forgiveness is Instant
This isn’t entirely true. Complete forgiveness takes time. You may even have to choose to re-forgive your spouse as you heal emotionally and spiritually from the offense. However, if you really want to have a healthy & happy marriage again, you must practice true forgiveness.