Rebuilding Tips & Advice
Lies and Lying
Save Your Marriage
Break Up and a Broken Heart
About Susie and Otto
Forgiveness: It's Not
For Anyone BUT You
By Susie and Otto Collins
Allison has been told by her friends, family and her
therapist that she needs to forgive her husband for having
an affair over a year ago...especially because she's said
that she wants to save her
Allison is choosing to stay in this relationship with Jack,
her husband, despite the fact that he cheated.
She is certain that Jack has ended the affair and she is
relatively certain that he isn't going to make that mistake
But she is having a really difficult time letting go of what
As much as she knows that she needs to forgive Jack so that
they can move on and rebuild trust together, she keeps
running up against the same wall of resentment, anger and
She doesn't like to admit it, but forgiving Jack seems to
her like letting him off too easy for all of the damage he
Whether you have chosen to stay in your relationship after
infidelity or to leave it, the subject of forgiveness has
probably come up for you when you talk, think or listen to
You might even agree that forgiveness is an essential step
to releasing the past and moving on to the life you
want...but actually doing it seems impossible.
There could still be too much pain and hurt leftover from
the betrayal of your trust.
This resistance that you might feel about forgiving makes
After all, it's not ok to break an agreement such as
monogamy or fidelity. The last thing you may want to do is
to pretend as if this didn't happen.
Often, when a person finds him or herself resisting
forgiving, it's primarily due to the understanding that
person has of what it means to forgive.
If you can open up and possibly shift your conception of
forgiveness, it may help you to actually do it.
What can forgiveness mean to you?
The first definition of "forgive" in the dictionary is: "to
grant pardon for, absolve." This taps into a commonly-held
understanding of forgiveness.
When a friend advises Allison to forgive Jack, it feels to
her like that friend is asking her to give him a "free pass"
or "wipe the
In other words, it seems like forgiving is something that
Allison would do FOR Jack and that it would make his
A secondary definition, however, creates a different feel.
That same dictionary also defines "forgive" as "to cease to
feel resentment against."
According to this understanding, your forgiving does not
involve judging the action acceptable or unacceptable;
instead, it means that you are no longer carrying around the
resentment, anger and upset that you may have initially
This alternative meaning of forgiveness is something that
you do for nobody else but for you.
After all, YOU are the one who suffers the most by holding
onto the blame and hurt.
When you forgive, it is YOU who can benefit the most.
And what does this mean for your relationship?
While this alternative understanding of forgiveness is
appealing to Allison, she feels a little selfish when she
After all, she does want to be in this marriage with Jack--
shouldn't she be more focused in on him and their marriage?
When you forgive the affair (or other betrayal of trust)
because you are choosing to stop carrying around the heavy
weight of anger and resentment, you are literally freeing
You are freeing yourself to live more fully in the present
This means that you can more fully engage with what's going
on right now with your partner.
You are freeing yourself to be clearer about what you want.
This means that you can make requests and create agreements
that will address those disconnecting habits that have
driven a wedge between the two of you.
You are also freeing yourself to be more open.
This means that you can acknowledge the positive changes
that your partner and you have made-- individually and as a
You can find more reasons to appreciate what's going right
in your relationship and move closer to your mate in the
process of forgiving.
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