Forgiving and Trusting

By Anne Bercht

Tele-seminar – Listen Now! – A View into the Mind of the Unfaithful

Tele-seminar – The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity
What defines an affair? Why do people cheat? How do you rebuild? How do you build a strong marriage in the first place? With expert Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity” – This is a great tele-seminar!!

 

Forgiving and trusting after an affair

Forgiving and trusting after an affair

Question: I found out today that my husband is still in contact with a woman he had an affair with. He says that he didn’t just tell me the truth, because he was afraid of how I would react. I don’t understand this, considering I had the evidence that said otherwise to his story of “no contact.”

We are supposed to be working things out, and I want to be forgiving and trusting? How can I be forgiving and trusting if my husband won’t be honest with me, and insists on lying? I’m thinking with the way things are going, we should be getting some outside help. The truth is I don’t trust him. He’s continually giving me reasons not to.

Any suggestions / advice?

Answer: Sadly your husband’s behavior is very typical and it doesn’t necessarily mean he is a bad person or that there isn’t any hope for your marriage. There is an unwritten rule among cheaters: “If caught deny it at all costs.”

My husband, Brian, also did this in some instances, where he did not tell me the whole truth to “lessen the blow.” At the time he felt it was to save me pain, in reality, later, he had to admit the real person he was trying to save was himself. The problem is later, when it comes out, it hurts far more than if he’d just told the truth the first time.

When coaching couples who are healing their marriage after an affair, Brian is very careful and thorough in how he explains to the unfaithful spouse the importance of coming totally clean and not attempting to “lessen” the blow by withholding the truth. This only makes matters worse and more painful for everybody in the end. Trust is restored to a marriage through proven behavior and truthfulness over a period of time. Your husband needs to understand this.

 

Forgiving and Trusting starts with breaking all ties to the affair

The #1 step to saving a marriage after an affair is: breaking all ties with the 3rd party as our book clearly outlines, and in some cases it may be necessary to deliver an ultimatum. (A word of caution here: It is wise to seek counsel before delivering an ultimatum. Timing and “how” it is delivered are important.)

I find people tend to read my book very quickly the first time and miss so many lessons. It’s not a bad idea (and many people do) to read it a second time slowly (now that you know what happens next) and highlight and underline things that you relate to, lessons you see, or things you’d like to discuss with your spouse.

In many cases it’s necessary to deliver an ultimatum such as the one I delivered to Brian on pages 190 – 193 of “My Husband’s Affair …” At this point Brian had already recommitted himself to the marriage, but informed me he was going to be “just friends” with the other woman. There is no such thing. For several reasons, it’s usually difficult for the unfaithful person to make this clean break:

1. In many cases is the unfaithful spouse has developed genuine feelings for the other person.

2. In most cases the unfaithful person is gaining something from the affair that is pleasant or meeting a need, and they often feel reluctant to give up this “good feeling” even though deep down they know their marriage is what they really want. As my own husband Brian describes it:

“I was looking for a way out of this affair. Deep inside I knew I loved Anne and I did not want to leave her. I had hoped that Dave would listen to how I was feeling and the things that I was hurting about. I wanted him to understand the fear I had about hurting Helen. I didn’t really want to spend my life with her, but wanted in my marriage some of that fun we had been sharing.” – Page 44-45, “My Husband’s Affair …

(Since Brian did make that decision to work on our marriage, we have been able to really listen to each other, and generate more fun and excitement in our marriage than Brian ever had in the affair … and that fun comes without hurting people and all the other painful costs of an affair.)

3. The unfaithful spouse doesn’t want to be perceived as a bad guy in their affair partners’ eyes, which unfortunately is pretty much unavoidable. They have without realizing it created a situation where it’s inevitable that people they care about get hurt.

 

How can I be a forgiving and trusting woman, if my husband won’t be honest with me, and insists on lying?

Being a forgiving and trusting person does not mean you become a doormat and allow people to mistreat you. Forgiving and trusting is not condoning wrongful behavior by continuing to live with it. We can forgive a spouse, but still make a decision to leave a marriage, because the other party is unwilling to change their behavior. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two completely different things. Don’t confuse them. It is unwise to trust an untrustworthy person. Trustworthiness must be proven over time.

Read my previous two web articles on forgiving and trusting:
Twelve_Steps_to_Forgiveness
How-To-Forgive

Also I recommend reading the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Cloud & Dr. Townsend.

The reason I gave my book the title I did is not because we healed our marriage, but rather because I became a stronger, happier person on the other side. My husband’s affair was the most devastating experience of my life, but it BECAME the best thing that ever happened to me. I hate that the affair happened, and yet, I would not want to go back to being the woman I was before, even though who she was was pretty awesome. Who I am today is so much better. This is what I recommend for others as well. You cannot change your past, but you can change your future. We do not have a choice over what happens to us, but no one can ever take away your right to CHOOSE how you will respond to the wrongs done to you by others. 

You can choose to become bitter or better

I chose to work on growing and becoming a stronger, more emotionally healthy person. A person does this by learning.

Knowledge is empowerment, and you will do everyone around you a favor, as you learn how to be a better person. I’m not saying you are doing (or have done) anything wrong, that you now find yourself in this painful place of facing your spouse’s affair. Affairs happen to good people in good marriages too.

When we focus on the changes others should make we are always disappointed, and we make ourselves powerless, because we don’t have the power to change other people – only the power to change ourselves. We should focus on the part we can control, the part we can change, and that part is ourselves. As we change for the better, those around us are faced with new choices. They either change for the better as well, or find themselves left behind as we move on to a brighter future without them. The best hope for your marriage is YOU becoming a better person. The Take Your Life Back seminar will help you to do exactly that.

“The difference between the person you are today, and the person you will be five years from now, depends strictly on the books you read and the people you choose to associate with.”

Forgiving and Trusting – with an emphasis on Trust:

The same principles apply to trusting. Trusting means you trust where it is appropriate to do so, it doesn’t mean you keep believing someone’s repeated lies when they aren’t making any changes. Trusting doesn’t equal being stupid. Trusting doesn’t mean you become naive or blinded to reality. Some people can’t be trusted. People who trust, do not trust untrustworthy people. They learn to discern the difference. When a person has had an affair, they have broken our trust and that is a serious offense.

 

How can trust be restored?

1. Breaking all ties with the third party.

2. Total openness and honesty. Therefore more lies will be a major setback. The unfaithful spouse needs to understand that if they are to stand a chance of staying with you they cannot afford anymore lying. The unfaithful spouse also needs to understand that telling the truth is not merely giving truthful answers when asked, it also means disclosing relevant information, even if they aren’t asked. For example, if there is contact with the other woman/man, that’s relevant and it must be disclosed regardless of whether the betrayed spouse happens to ask that question that day or not. If they are not forthcoming with this information when it happens (not later), they are lying.

3. Proven behavior. Always believe the behavior and not the words. Words are somewhat meaningless after an affair. Prove it by your behavior.

4. Consistency. Doing the right things for an ongoing period of time will rebuild trust.

If you do not see your spouse doing the right things, you should not trust them. That would be foolishness. There is a big difference between being a trusting person and being foolish. Should I give a known thief my pin number? Does it mean I’m not a trusting person if I don’t? No, it just means I’m also smart. An untrusting person is one who is suspicious when there is no cause to be so.

It is a good idea to seek outside help when healing your marriage from an affair. The best and most effective pathway to healing is through a Healing from Affairs Seminar.