Sadie - I agree. While I have never done something so egregious as cheat - I've done plenty of things I needed forgiveness for. I have not always been the best version of myself. But luckily I have learned from those mistakes. I have sought to be, and do, better. I have been fortunate that those around me have been willing to see those changes and allow their opinion of me to evolve - as I did.
I choose to give compassion and forgiveness - as much as I possibly can (it's hard but I work at it). Why? For two main reasons: First, because they are values I treasure and admire in others. It is the type of person I want to be. It is not about the other person. It has nothing to do with whether they deserve it. TRUST is different - it is given on the basis of deserving - which is why my husband is having to earn it back very,very, very slowly. But compassion? An attempt to see things from their point of view? To understand their insecurities? Their pain? To look at their failures and shame - and still see them as deserving of kindness? That I do because I WANT to, because I think the world needs more of it. If they choose not to learn from those mistakes and become better for them, i may well cut them out of my life. But not with malice and I will do my best to find as much forgiveness as I can muster. Because for ME (and I do not expect that others see it this way), it is a part of my having integrity. I cannot ask for what I would not give to another. Which brings me to the second reason - because I have needed for others to forgive me - to love me in spite of my failings, to respect my attempts to grow (some more successful than others). Dirazz - I also agree with your point that this is not a contest for me. If we'd been keeping score in our marriage, I'd have spent the first ten years being the one found wanting. I didn't cheat, but I was such a workaholic that both my husband and my daughter often felt abandoned by me and jealous of my job. Was it a betrayal? In some ways, yes. I didn't see it that way. I was driven and needed to prove myself - but I put my needs first even when I knew it hurt them, when they begged me to come home and spend time with them. Far more socially acceptable than cheating - but selfish as hell. It was all about me meeting MY needs with little regard of how it affected others. Do i feel this justified my husbands actions? NO. Not in any way. But it does keep me from jumping on my high horse too often (still do occasionally, I'm no saint). And Dirazz, I love your point about having no desire to see yourself as a victim. ME TOO. I was victimized - but I am not a victim. That may seem like semantics to many, and that's okay - we each have to find our way through the maze in the way that makes sense to us. But I refused, and will always refuse, to give anyone the power to fundamentally change me. To make me something I am not. I am the only person who gets to say what I am. And victim in no way describes me. And to answer the question put forth by HangingOn: Yes, this process has caused me to grow exponentially - and in ways I never anticipated. I found a level of strength, resilience and COURAGE - I had no idea I had. Based on my husband's lack of emotional intelligence and a history of near phobia at anything that resembled self-examination, I honestly thought there was a VERY good chance I was going to outgrow him during this process. To the point of it killing our marriage. I was resigned to that being a likely outcome. But I wanted to give him (and me) a chance. Partially because I loved him and partially because I couldn't just forget about all the good years (and there were a lot). All the times he'd loved me, supported me and had my back - even when i was the one being selfish. The way I saw it, we'd either grow together and build something beautiful out of the ashes - or I'd walk away knowing I'd REALLY, really tried. I made myself a promise to give it my best for a year... and then reassess if I still wanted to be with him. I am so happy I did. He surprised the heck out of me - and I think even himself. He did the one thing he'd spent his life avoiding - he began to examine his feelings, his motivations, his childhood, his needs and wants - and inability to express them. It's been three years and he's till growing, changing, learning. He's a work in progress and so am I. I know that many WS's will NOT experience this awakening. They will double down on all the unhealthy patterns of the past or grow a small amount and then stagnate - but there are many who won't. I am glad my husband was one of those. But I wouldn't haven't hesitated in leaving him if he hadn't done the hard work that made him into someone I could respect again. Not cheating anymore was not even close to enough to make me stay. And I don't think it should be for anyone else either.. I know my outlook differs from many others in our community - many of whom I think very highly of. I don't think there is a "right answer" - only the way that makes sense to you.
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child DD May 2016 “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl