I have reconciled with my partner and I think I have forgiven him. Yet, at times, I think about his original unfaithfulness and it makes me angry all over again. Am I only fooling myself in thinking that I truly have forgiven?
The late Lewis Smedes wrote that forgiveness is an imperfect process for imperfect people. Feeling anger again does not necessarily mean that you have not forgiven. People can forgive and still have anger that rises and falls depending on the situation. If you are in control of the anger and are willing to forgive now on a deeper level, then you have forgiven.
Learn more at Forgiveness for Couples.
If a person chooses to forgive, then it not only is realistic but possibly healthy for the forgiver. Forgiveness need not be perfect in that one person forgives, the other repents and changes, and now there is harmony. One goal of forgiving is to hold out the hope of reconciliation, but this does not necessarily occur for forgiveness to be morally good and psychologically worthwhile. One can forgive, for example, to rid oneself of resentment even when reconciliation is not possible.
Learn more at Forgiving is not. . .
I recently discovered that my wife of 17 years had two affairs in the last 3 years. She would like to reconcile. I came to believe that I should extend compassion to all beings, including my wife, and I would like to forgive her. However, I am not sure I want to take the next step and reconcile. I understand that we are human and everybody makes mistakes, but I feel that I deserve to be respected and treated much better. I think I am respected and treated very well by everybody I know (friends, family, my kids, and my colleagues), except my wife. I also suspect that our values, commitment to truth, and view of morality are very different. I feel that I have to extend compassion to myself as well, and this means that I cannot reconcile. Is this way of thinking a sign that I have not yet forgiven?
Because forgiving and reconciling are not the same, it is possible that you have begun to forgive even if you end up not reconciling. At the same time, your discovery of the affairs is “recent.” Thus, you may still be quite angry and not yet forgiving. I recommend that you take some time to assess your current level of anger toward your wife. If you currently are very angry, this could be clouding your decision regarding to reconcile or not. In other words, you may need some time to process that anger, begin the forgiveness process so that the anger diminishes, and only then ask the important question about reconciliation. If you think that your wife does not share your own sense of morals, this is worth a deep discussion with her prior to making a decision about whether to reconcile. I wish you the best as you work through this challenging issue.
I am an adult who has hurt my mother a number of times when I was a teenager. I now very much would like to have her forgive me, but I am not sure that she has thought much about forgiveness. She seems to have accepted who I was as a teen—a very immature young person. Yet, I would like to see her truly forgive me. How can I approach her with the idea of forgiveness?
One approach is to take one of the self-help books, such as my The Forgiving Life book published by the American Psychological Association. I recommend that you read it first. If you think it is appropriate for your mother, then share it with her and point out some of the sections in the book that proved helpful to you. Your mother might get interested and, if so, this would give her a chance to work through the forgiveness process.
My partner has hurt me very deeply. Now he refuses to get help for his drinking and basically is destroying himself. How do you forgive someone under these circumstances?
Actually, the forgiveness process will not differ to a great extent when the person is destroying the self. You might actually forgive for the original offense and then forgive for the situation in which the person now is not working with you to rise above the very challenging situation. In other words, you can forgive twice and the second one may be harder than the first because the person is not working as a team with you.
Learn more at Forgiveness for Couples.