Monday, December 15, 2008

Forgiving the Affair

You think your marriage is fine and then one day you notice something which you begin to wonder about. You begin to get anxious feelings that perhaps something is going on. At first you may ignore this and then something else triggers those uneasy feelings. You may deny what are actually tell tale signs until one day it hits you in the face. You are overcome with the sick feeling that your partner has been unfaithful. You may go into shock and when that begins to wear off you feel the rage.

Unfortunately many of us have been there. Some of us may want to do the revenge route; others may just want to kick our partner out and never see them again. Yet if we can think more rationally we also realize that we have possibly a history with this person that is worth preserving and that we in some way may have also contributed to the infidelity. This is when being opened to forgiveness can become the necessary healing force to bring people together.

How can we forgive a betrayal that can run so deeply in our hearts? We begin by telling our story to people who will listen and support us. We listen to our anger and ask ourselves, what is our anger really telling us. If we look deeply enough we will realize that our anger is telling us that something as to change, usually within ourselves. We also need to deal with our guilt, that horrible feeling that we sometimes feel within the pit of our stomach. Guilt is all of the negative beliefs we hold about ourselves. We need to remember that holding on to these feelings is a choice too. If we realize that we have done something wrong we acknowledge it and make a commitment to ourselves that now that we have seen something in ourselves that we want to chance we now can begin to make different choices. Then we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and ask ourselves, what has brought that person to the place they are which brought them to act that way. In asking this question we are able to develop a clearer understanding of what may have happened. We will also need to mourn what was lost, the trust we once had and release that pain in whatever way speaks to us. Hopefully at this point we are able to sit down and talk to the other person. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their actions and their emotional responses. By doing your inner work you will be able to set the stage for what is best for you to do and heal the relationship. This kind of clarity will help you make the right choices, not out of anger but out of understanding so you can move forward in a healthy way. This is what forgiveness enables us to do.


Daniel Jordan said...

This is an important topic for clients of our adult male addiction treatment program. Many of these men, particularly those whose drug of choice is cocaine, have used extramarital sex to reach that "higher high," to the inevitable detriment of their marriage. I am going to recommend your website to our Director of Family Services.

Dr. Eileen Borris said...

Thank-you so much Daniel. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do or put on the website that can be of help to you.