TimT
They unfaithful partner usually wants it, but they cannot demand forgiveness. It is your gift to give or withhold. But whether or not they deserve it, I believe you should eventually forgive, for a number of reasons:
  1. Your own healing. Whether or not your marriage survives, you need to be able to eventually move on unencumbered by bitterness or vengefulness. If you never stop ruminating over your spouse's betrayal, the "you must pay for this" attitude will become a destructive force in your life.
  2. Your partner's healing. Your forgiveness will be a necessary part of your spouse's recovery from the affair, if your marriage is going to survive and flourish. This will be especially true for a spouse who is experiencing significant shame (your lack of forgiveness traps them in their guilt) or who is struggling with emotionally disconnecting from the other woman/man (your lack of forgiveness keeps them at a distance).
  3. Working toward trust. You'll never be able to move toward trust until you forgive. You can forgive without trusting; but you cannot trust without forgiving.
Some people misunderstand forgiveness. They think that forgiveness means forgetting, or never being upset about the affair again, or never talking about it again. Not so. Forgiveness does not erase the past; it just puts it in a new perspective.
 
Forgiveness simply means you come to the place of no longer holding your spouse "in debt" for their affair. You stop accusing. You stop using it as a weapon. You choose look forward instead of back, and refuse to be trapped by hurt & anger. You probably will not find your way to forgiveness easily or quickly (I am suspicious of that kind of forgiveness, because it usually is not honest), but it should be a goal you're working toward.
 
It may take a while for you to experience the consistent feeling of forgiveness. Here's what one of my clients wrote nearly a year after finding out about her husband's affairs:

"I have been thinking so much lately about forgiveness. There are days that I have to consciously make the choice to walk in forgiveness. At times it can be so easy to want to "fall back to what he did in the past" when [my husband] irritates me or we have a disagreement over something totally unrelated to the affair behavior.

"But I think more and more that I am actually beginning to 'feel' it. I don't have to work as hard to make the conscious choice every day. And I am starting to see that in those moments when I want to act out in a very un-forgiving manner towards him, it really is the rush of emotion [pushing that response]. When I can step back, calm down, and really take time to process, I know I no longer WANT to punish him, or torture him, or hold anything over his head, or make him pay somehow for the hurt or anger I feel."
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Courage
Forgiveness is very difficult. Choosing to want to forgive and actually forgiving are two different things. I think a big factor here is time. Each morning I say to myself, 'I am willing to forgive' and some days I can conduct myself in forgiving ways and others, well, not so good. I struggle with the 'how to forgive'. I recently read Heal Your Life by Louise Hay and she discusses forgiveness. She says that by saying to yourself, 'I am willing to forgive' you are inviting it. Its enough to want to forgive, the universe will take care of the how's. That has been very helpful for me.
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Searching4
I struggle with this also. I decided to forgive my H three years ago. I told him that I had and he was very grateful. Now, because I have not been able to stop asking questions about his affair and am still invaded by thoughts of it, I wonder if I have indeed truly forgiven.

Forgiveness is defined as a "wiping of a slate", clearing a debt, never bringing up a past injustice. I haven't really done that. We still talk about the affair because I need to and thankfully my H is willing to.

As a Christian, we are not urged to forgive, we are required to forgive.

I wonder if I forgave with the sincerity that is necessary. I wonder if I forgave too soon. Do I need to forgive again?

I told my husband that although I have forgiven him for his betrayal, I was finding it difficult to forgive him for some of his actions since.

Am I using this interpretation as my trump card?
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EAM
As the unfaithful partner, I see my job is to create a place where forgiveness is possible- to be open to continued questioning, accept my partners mistrust for a long time. I realize that I created this scenario, so it's up to me to create a new way of interacting that encourages trust and healing. Maybe forgiveness is an ongoing activity, not a single time event or decision, like the magic wand and POOF, you're forgiven.
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TimT
EAM wrote:
As the unfaithful partner, I see my job is to create a place where forgiveness is possible- to be open to continued questioning, accept my partners mistrust for a long time...


That's a great perspective, EAM. Betrayed partners would be able to move toward forgiveness/trust more quickly if they were met with that attitude. And you're right, it takes time.
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EAM
You'll never guess where I first heard that insight... from the weekly kit I signed up for a few months ago!
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TimT
EAM wrote:
You'll never guess where I first heard that insight... from the weekly kit I signed up for a few months ago!


That's AWESOME! [A smile on my face.]
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Godspeach
Forgiveness is such a long word because it takes so much time to truly be released from bitterness, as well as, decide to release the other person from having to pay you back. Now, forgiveness is not denial, forgetting, or playing stupid. I truly believe that only the Lord can make this divine exchange possible.
Think About It: I have loved someone, and sought their good, but instead of giving good in return, they lead me down a dark alley to be beaten to a pulp by strangers..all the while laughing and joining in the "fun," telling me how much I deserve this beating, and leaving me beaten, broken, and left for dead. On top of that EMS finds me, takes me to the Hospital, and revives me.

Wait! It gets better: while I'm still in RECOVERY from the unexpected assault at the hands of my Beloved and their "Friends," I'm asked to give blood. Guess who needs it? You guessed it! My so called Beloved AND their selfish "friends." If I am to ever get off this gurney, I must BE WILLING to give THE ONES WHO HURT ME an infusion THEY DON'T DESERVE!!!

All that I can do is TRUST GOD to repair or pay me back. There ARE NOT ENOUGH I'M sorrys to make me WHOLE. I had NO CHOICE in the BETRAYAL, now I DO HAVE A CHOICE whether to "give them the undeserved" infusion, OR STAY ON THIS GURNEY, FOREVER!!!
Not fair, but only God can even the score. I just have to be willing to give Him ALL MY FEELINGS and TRUST HIM to give me something BEAUTIFUL from these Burnt Ashes.
I'm suffering with PTSD because of what my Beloved and his ex girlfriends did to Me. They knew, and DIDN'T CARE. But, THEY WILL HAVE TO ANSWER for that.. I refuse to let their selfish actions destroy me. It's still a hard process, but at least I don't have the shame they carry. I'm innocent.
They will answer for their crimes.
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EAM
Thanks in large part to the work of this forum, I'm making my 'affair recovery' work, and i'm treating it as an ongoing activity. The affair was outed in January, and we're still working to reconcile. I'm still giving my partner the choices to decide how we move forward today, and I ask really specific questions, so that she knows I'm not taking things for granted.For example, i ask "do you want me to come back to your home after work today?"  I've got a second place (i can't call it 'home') where I'm keeping my own personal items, but home is our the family home. One day at a time, i'm working to re-build trust, work on myself to be a better person overall, like an Honest Person and in the event of some kind of screw-up, an unkind word or a trigger for her, we are getting in the practice of talking about it immediately, and I'm learning to stay present for the hard conversations, not to run away or feel defensive when the emotional 'going gets tough'.

Forgiveness seems possible. I'm working at it, to become a person worthy of forgiving, to be a person worthy of love.
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Stashh
EAM: of course we BSs hurt like hell, every day, sometimes constantly (DDay of a 2 year affair for me was 9th December 2014 and DDay of a long previous one night stand was 21st January 2015 - a couple of dates etched on my memory forever!) and, being brutal, however hard a WS tries he/she will never know, experience, feel etc the pain that all BSs do BUT, for a truly repentant AP, I now realise it is tough too although obviously not in the same way. Seeing the all but indescribable emotional (and sometimes physical) pain a WS has caused personified in his/her loved one's face, actions, words, mood etc and feeling true remorse and guilt etc must be tough. I cannot imagine having to live with that in person or on my conscience. So, I applaud you for all that you are doing. Stick at it. I know from how I feel and from seeing how hard my wife has been trying to work at 'affair recovery' (both towards me and addressing issues within herself) that there is a long road and it is and will continue to be a tough one for BOTH parties and I realised a while back that at some point it needed to be that each person worked together to understand and acknowledge the other's position. It cannot be one way traffic towards the BS. Once the BS is, dare I say it, able to recognise that their WS also needs an element of support, sympathy, understanding, help, encouragement and thanks for their effort(s) that, in turn, will help BOTH parties hugely. However, I can also see that 'affair recovery' is, in some form, quite likely, to some extent, however minor and maybe infrequent, to be ongoing for the remainder of the duration of the relationship. Even if/when trust were to be fully restored, I cannot see how, as a BS, I will ever forget what happened and nor would I expect my WS (assuming no divorce) to do so. I am not saying 'affair recovery' would need to be major an effort as it as today but it is forevermore part of the relationship such (as I said to my wife at the outset) to some extent, however minor there will always be a "but" in our relationship. I wish you well.
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Stashh
Apologies for "AP" in previous post read "WS"
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Stashh
Having applauded EAM in earlier post
To return to the original question........Forgiveness........should it be expected by the betrayer?.........should it be given by the betrayed?
On DDay and in the immediacy thereof and for sometime thereafter, I cannot see how, realistically any BS could begin to contemplate showing forgiveness for anything at anytime...ever! A truly repentant WS is probably desperate for it as soon as possible but the hurt of a BS and the self defence/preservation instinct means forgiveness is something that inevitably takes time, I suspect even for those who feel, for example, religion or another reason would require it. From my experience, the most likely outcome when a betrayer/WS/partner seeks to earn forgiveness by genuinely understanding and sympathetic actions, words, remorse etc is that over time a BS will start to feel more willing to analyse the relationship, examine their own role in the situation and can then become better placed to understand why what happened did happen and start the road towards forgiveness and therefore ultimately being able to forgive. My wife has and continues to warrant my whole hearted co-operation and forgiveness. Does that mean we will survive as a couple? Not necessarily but, I honestly know she deserves to be forgiven and I have told her that I do. I cannot imagine, however, if the WS were to show nil or limited/qualified understanding, sympathy, remorse etc. From my point of view (I accept whatever others may think of me for it) I could see that I would be content not forgiving, and living comfortably with that decision, if there was genuinely no, or insufficient, move towards "earning" forgiveness in the first place. I do not equate closure / moving on in life with the need for forgiveness. To my mind, some people and their actions simply are not worthy of the possibility of forgiveness (some serious crime as an example) and, I think that is so even with repentance, and some people and their actions might not, from my perspective, need to be forgiven for me to move on comfortably with my life (an I sufficiently repentant betraying spouse/partner or an AP, for example). I do not think anyone should "expect" forgiveness. If a betrayer's subsequent actions, words etc post affair truly warrant it then they can seek/ask/be forgiven but expectation of forgiveness, especially without a genuine attempt to earn forgiveness?..... in the words of my children.......go fish. Should it be given? I would say it depends......has there been a real attempt to earn it? But maybe I am a cynical, cold hearted BS !!!

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EAM
"Earning forgiveness" is the watchword.

I don't expect forgiveness- I know that I have to earn it. I can't even ask for it; it something that needs to be granted when the time is right- it's a process, not a proclamation. That before I am in the process of being forgiven, I have to work up to a new level of compassion and kindness. Even before we can starts to talk about 'our' problems, I have to focus on her hurt and my problems, re-build trust... I've read that we should expect the fallout in our relationship to last at least as long as the affair itself. My long term goal is 18 months to return to "normalcy"- not the same old normalcy, but a "new" marriage, where I can present a better self to my partner, re-forged through the crucibles of my negative actions and subsequent personal growth. (My partner and I speak of beginning our '3rd marriage' together.)

Even then, I expect intermittent reminders of my past behaviour, events, places, tings that will be triggers for her. I gave a loaf of homemade bread to my affair partner, so I won't be making bread anymore at home- something as simple as a loaf of homemade bread would be a negative reminder to my partner. 
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Hope4Healing
EAM wrote:
"Earning forgiveness" is the watchword.

I don't expect forgiveness- I know that I have to earn it.  


Forgiveness is not earned, it is freely given  A release from the debt you owe for the wrong you have done.  The trust you have broken is what you will have to earn.  If you are truly sorry, and you seem to be, and your wife loves you, she will forgive you.  It has been my experience in walking out this nightmare, that absent forgiveness you are pretty much spinning your wheels in any efforts you make toward restoration. 
Hope4Healing
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EAM
That's a good distinction, and I agree. I'm not working to earn forgiveness, I am working to re-build trust, and with that... I think that rebuilding trust and receiving forgiveness is an ongoing process, there are steps (both forward and backwards).

I think at the outset, I wished there was a magical moment and a "poof- you're forgiven" but it doesn't work that way. It's a journey.
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