Author Archive: doctorbobenright

I found out on the 12 Jan 2015 my wife has had an affair since early 2013 and she has ended it as soon as i found out. She is deeply remorseful. I believe the bible & your advice has helped me to forgive her on 17 Feb 2015. However, thoughts come at me of what she has done and this causes hurt and pain. What advice can you give to help me with my pain?

First, I want to congratulate you on your wisdom in turning to forgiveness as soon as you did. Please keep in mind that a period of confusion and anger is normal and so please do not be dismayed when these feelings come to you. Forgiveness is a process and it can take time.

You say you read the Bible and so I am presuming that you are a Christian. If so, then you can read in Genesis 1 that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. This includes both you and your wife.  I would urge you to reflect on that whenever you are feeling deep pain: Both of us are sinners and we are both made in the image and likeness of God.

Building trust is not the same as forgiving. Your wife now needs to show, within reason, that she truly is over the affair. Try to see small steps in her that are leading to remorse and a willingness to turn her life around and to turn to your marriage. In time, as forgiveness helps you to be open to trust, your trust will start to grow. For now, please remember: You are both made in the image and likeness of God. You are both sinners. Jesus’ redemption is for both of you.

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Excerpt on Self-Forgiveness from The Forgiving Life:

One of the most frequent questions I receive concerns the process of forgiving yourself. The short answer is, yes, you can forgive yourself with certain cautions in mind.

First, when you forgive yourself, you are both the offended one and the offender. And we rarely offend ourselves in isolation. Thus, you should go and make amends with those who also were offended by your actions. This includes asking for forgiveness, changing your behavior and making recompense where this is reasonable.

After that, as you turn your attention to forgiving yourself please keep this in mind—What you have been offering to others in forgiving them (gentleness, kindness, patience, respect, and moral love), you can and should offer to yourself.

The Forgiving Life, (APA Lifetools), Robert D. Enright (2012-07-05), American Psychological Association.

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Two Purposes for You Toward Your Offender

1) You have a goal of helping the one who hurt you to grow in character. By your love, you can now gently ask something of him or her. What will you ask of him or her, after you have forgiven (so that you can approach this person in love)?

2) You have a goal of trying as best you can to reconcile with the person who hurt you. Is he or she remorseful (with an inner sorrow) and repentant (as he or she expresses this)? Even if the answer is “no,” if he or she is not harmful to you, you can remain in his or her presence with the hope that your love will help the person grow in insight so that he or she changes for the better.

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On the Accumulation of Wounds

Has the struggle with the injustice made you tired? Let us say that you have 10 points of energy to get through each day. How many of those points of energy do you use fighting (even subconsciously) the injustice as an internal struggle? Even if you are giving 1 or 2 points of your energy each day to this, it is too much and could be considered another wound for you.

When you consider the person and the situation now under consideration, do you see any changes in your life that were either a direct or indirect consequence of the person’s injustice? In what way did your life change that led to greater struggle for you? On our 0-to-10 scale, how great a change was there in your life as a result of the injustice? Let a 0 stand for no change whatsoever, a 5 stand for moderate change in your life, and a 10 stand for dramatic change in your life. Your answer will help you determine whether this is another wound for you. As you can see, the wounds from the original injustice have a way of accumulating and adding to your suffering.

Excerpt from the book The Forgiving Life (APA Lifetools), Robert D. Enright (2012-07-05).  (Kindle Locations 2750-2753). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.

Enright, Robert D. (2012-07-05). The Forgiving Life (APA Lifetools) (Kindle Locations 2784-2788). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.

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In work phase, “the injured individual may strive to understand the injurer’s childhood or put the injurious event in context by understanding the pressures the injurer was under at the time of the offense.” What if this is not possible, since the offended knows very little about the offender who’s not repenting and not responding? Would it be a helpful thing if the offended can only imagine but never know the real reason he/she was offended?

Besides what we call the “personal perspective” (in which the forgiver understands the emotional wounds inflicted on the offender when in childhood and perhaps at the time of the offense), our forgiveness therapy model includes the “global” and “cosmic” perspectives. So, you need not imagine what transpired for the offender in childhood or any other time if you do not know the answer. If what happened to you was very serious, you could speculate that the offender has been seriously emotionally wounded without imagining specifics. In addition, you can focus on your shared humanity in the “global” perspective (for example, you both, by virtue of being human, are special, unique, and irreplaceable). If you have a faith, you can take the “cosmic” perspective and see that both of you, for example, are made in the image and likeness of God.

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