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Tim's reply was very good.  I think I've pressured myself to forgive my betraying spouse for the second way of feeling that I've received so much grace in my life that I should empathize and be able to play a willing role in affording him grace.  I do desire forgiveness in the first way, if it is possible.  I find, though, that I focus a lot on feeling that I want to see his shame and remorse.  He didn't really spend time in those feelings after.  He defended himself and then after did everything that I asked.  He read books, took parenting classes, anger management, therapy while we had the resources.  He decided to become A Christian.  Now he doesn't feel shame or remorse because he feels he's a different person.  I carry a lot of anger towards him which is very tiresome and disruptive.  He doesn't feel true to feel ashamed or repentant, but myself, my son (his step son), my friends and parents all carry this uncomfortable wound, distrust, and anger that we cannot just shrug off our release ourselves easily from.  We carry the effects of the betrayal around, and we don't like it.  I can't just get myself to forgive or release the pain and anger.  I fantasize that he would imagine how badly we've been hurt and have some sense of what that suffering is like.  Without his felt empathy I feel alone and isolated in our relationship.  Because he is basically doing the "right" things, it is as though I am somehow the problem behind this.  If I cannot forgive or connect through empathy, then it feels like I don't know how to be able to feel and express any love that I have.  I become a very degraded person in how I feel if I cannot feel openly and sincerely love and express it to him.  It makes me wonder whether I actually don't love him and should be ending the relationship.  Is it that I don't love him or that my love is bound up in the bad feelings? And then, I keep wondering, what kind of relationship can I expect and hope to have? Is it worthwhile to stay committed to a relationship like this, and what if I never get to the point of being able to share and feel love with him that feels pure and true? Can I reconcile that as good or worthwhile? I really don't know.  How can I figure it out? I just keep passing time trying to not distract myself with busyness.  I remain with the experience that I keep feeling agitated in my spouse's presence. Is it a lie to continue trying when it feels like I cannot say "I love you" without wondering inside whether it is true? Any resources here on how to figure that out? 
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I don’t believe a WS won’t feel shame or guilt over what they’ve done because they ‘see themselves as a different person’. That’s a load of crap. They are EXACTLY the same person, and it would really disturb, upset and and make me angry if my WS had said that to me.

My feeling is that you are unsure because you don’t feel that you’ve been able to express or properly process your pain from what he did. The fact that he seems to have ‘moved on’ makes this worse, and makes you further feel like you can’t express yourself. 

Stop suppressing yourself. Stop forcing yourself to be ok with what has happened. I have no idea if this is the ‘right’ thing to do, but I feel strongly that unless you LET yourself feel everything that comes with being cheated on, you are cheating yourself of  what you need to be able to process what has been done to you. In a way, I feel like if you compartmentalise it and force yourself to move forward (because your WS is doing so), then you are not doing justice to the pain and sorrow you are feeling and letting him rug sweep. IMO, that will prevent you from healing and moving forward in a healthy relationship. 

It doesn’t sound to ME like you’ve really forgiven him, no matter what you may have told him. 

I told my WS I didn’t think I could ever forgive him. I eventually did, 18 months out. But it doesn’t mean what he did was ok. It doesn’t mean that I trust him. It just means that I accept it has happened, and I do not raise it to attack him or shame him. Rather, if I bring it up, it is in context of how I’m feeling and how it is affecting me now...
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I’m over 4 years out from d-day, and if my wife today walked up to me and said she no longer felt any shame or remorse, I would be at the lawyers office first thing Monday morning. That is never going to be ok for me. 
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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Three years out, I try to make the choice almost daily to leave the affair in the past.  I will think of it at some point during the day, and if I can use all my "tools" such as forgiveness, gratitude for what is still good in my life, and thinking about the future, I can usually avoid going down the rabbit hole.  (But not always). To me, the daily turning away from the affair instead of chewing on it is how I am defining forgiveness.  It really is for my own health, and to have some semblance of peace in the house..
D day June, 2016
ws affair: 18 months sexual affair plus 2 years emotional affair after. Ow 20 yrs old; WS 60
live in Texas
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TimT wrote:

The CHOICE part of forgiveness means being intentional about putting the affair in the past and leaving it there. When forgiveness is given, the forgiver stops accusing the other person or even bringing up the offense in a way that is meant to attack or evoke shame. 

But that doesn't mean you can never acknowledge the affair. That would be ridiculous, since it's a real part of your story. But when you have forgiven, the affair is usually referenced by how it is effecting the present & future, not going back to rehash what was done in the past.

For example, when something triggers a betrayed partner and they experience a negative emotion (hurt, fear, etc) related to the affair, the unforgiving partner will likely express it with renewed accusations or angry attacks that continue to point back to the offense. But when forgiveness is finally embraced (it takes time!), that same negative emotion can be expressed in terms of what is PRESENTLY being experienced (for example: "Something triggered me while I was driving today and I can't help feeling really hurt again") and then the offending person has the opportunity to step in and provide comfort/relief, something very hard to do if they're feeling attacked.

Or the fear being felt can be honestly talked about in terms of your uncertainty about the FUTURE, which invites the offending person to step in and offer reassurance/hope.

Both of these examples assume a couple is still working on rebuilding their relationship. If not, then forgiveness is a more individual/personal choice to let go of a need for fairness/justice... a willingness to give up on the expectation that the past somehow be something other than it was and move toward a different kind of future - one that lets grace flow into the cracks left by unfulfilled justice.

I hope that makes some sense. It is not easy work.

The difference between the decision to forgive and the feelings of forgiveness (both are beneficial) are explained in these two articles: Decisional Forgiveness and Full Forgiveness. (Note: I need to give "full forgiveness" a new title because I think it can be misinterpreted. I don't mean to say that decisional forgiveness is incomplete, but that it often lacks some of the emotional relief experienced when the offending partner fully participates in the process.)

Hi Tim,
I really like this post, but I have to say that story about the man whose wife was raped at their lake house is pretty troubling.  How do you think the wife would feel to have the husband "forgive" them so easily?  Easy for him to say.. he wasn't the one who was raped.  I would have liked to see him take her side at least for a while, and let them know they were scum who didn't deserve forgiveness.   I would want my husband to stand with me and hate their fr***ing guts for a while, maybe eventually together forgive them. 
D day June, 2016
ws affair: 18 months sexual affair plus 2 years emotional affair after. Ow 20 yrs old; WS 60
live in Texas
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Forgiveness is a transaction involving two parties - the forgiver and the offender. It happens when, and only when, the offender asks for forgiveness and the forgiver offers it. In the context of infidelity, I believe forgiveness is the BS's refusal to take advantage of any and every opportunity that presents itself to present to the offender what they did that needed to be forgiven. It doesn't mean that the BS hides their pain or pretends that all is just like it was before the affair. It doesn't mean the BS won't confront the WS when they try to mitigate their guilt or trivialize the BS's pain. It doesn't mean that trust is now fully restored and the BS should pretend that they think this will never happen again. It does mean that the forgiving BS doesn't point out every encounter with the AP's  name, every instance, or rather ANY instance of, "Hey, remember when you did that to me?"

Does forgiveness make you feel better? I don't think so...but I don't think that is the point of forgiveness except to those who hold to the modern notion of forgiveness as a solitary act centered on ME and my healing. Forgiveness should be an act of love for another, the offender, who is present and asking for forgiveness and it should be intended for their healing, not yours. Your healing comes with time, reassessing your life and your marriage, detachment, a repentant WS...these things.
BH, 5+ Mo EA, DDay 3/8/18
"...regarding all as God after God."
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I have thought more about forgiveness in the 2 years post d-day than I had in my 41 years pre d-day.  Turns out I really didn't know what forgiveness was until this, and maybe I am still learning what it is too.  I've had a few thoughts and quotes to help me with forgiving my wife. 

I think where I am is at now is that forgiveness means that I am going to spend more time and energy looking forward, past the offense than I spend looking back.

"Forgiveness is above all a personal choice, a decision of the heart to go against the natural instinct to pay back evil with evil" - Pope John Paul II

“I learned the hard way that you can’t spend your whole life facing the wrong way. You’ll never see what’s ahead of you if all you ever see are ghosts of your past.” - Karen White

Male BS
D-Day 3.15.2017

Taking care of myself, as we all deserve to do.
Encouraging all to bolster their: Emotional Health, Physical Health and Spiritual Health
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