Alan
I gave forgiveness because my CS had done everything I asked of her, answered all of my questions about the affair, even the most painful ones about sex, and is also attending sessions with a counselor.  We both agreed to try and make our marriage work for us and for our young children.  I then felt the ball was in my hand.  After some time building up the nerve and confidence to give forgiveness, I told her I was giving her forgiveness.   It felt like a huge burden had been removed from my shoulders and I actually felt good for the first time after the discovery.  

It's been awhile and that feeling has passed, I feel horrible again.  I have thoughts about her with him, I have bad dreams, I revisit in my head our question and answer session and the pain that came with the answers, I could go on and on. 

Is this normal?  Before giving forgiveness I would talk to her about how I felt using specifics.  Now I don't feel I can since forgiveness says I can't hold this debt over her head.  She recently noticed I was being rather grumpy and I told her I wasn't feeling well.  She wanted to know why, really?  I just said it was something she had done earlier this year hoping to get the point across, and it did.  I am a man of my word but it took all I had to not throw the affair directly in her face. 

Did I really forgive or was it just lip service?  Because I really feel like sh!t.



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surviving
Alan - my husband says that I can forgive him (which I haven't yet), but I can still ask questions.  There will still be triggers after you forgive.  Forgiveness is not trust.  Forgiveness is good for you.  That doesn't mean you will forget what she did, or who she did it with.  The pain does get easier, but I don't think it will ever be gone.  There will always be a scar that never goes away.  I think you are feeling exactly right. 

In our case, if I tried to play the piano, there was a huge trigger (reminded me of one of his whores).  I couldn't play the piano for a long time.  Since we have prayed over the piano (for several weeks), I can now play it without thinking of her. 

One of my daughter-in-laws said that she has to forgive my husband on a daily basis.  Things trigger the pain again, and she has to forgive him all over again. 

Something so hurtful done to you is not an easy thing to get over.  You can forgive, but you can't forget.  There is a good book out by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called "Choosing Forgiveness:  Your Journey to Freedom."  That might help you a bit in understanding your feelings.

It will get better.
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TimT
Alan wrote:
...Is this normal?  Before giving forgiveness I would talk to her about how I felt using specifics.  Now I don't feel I can since forgiveness says I can't hold this debt over her head...

Forgiveness means letting go of justice (repayment of the debt), not letting go of pain. There is a way for you to honestly express your pain without condemning her. You need to be honest with her so that she can offer relief/comfort to you. There is a way to invite her to do that without accusing, attacking, or shaming her.

Of course, your wife may still respond as though you are trying to hurt her because shame is a powerful force. Perhaps you will both need help with this process, but in a perfect scenario she would listen to your honest expression of pain, feel empathy instead of defensiveness, and move into that vulnerable place to comfort you.

That's the perfect scenario. Fact is, your wife may still feel shame. If your pain triggers her sense of shame she may become defensive. But that is a self-protective move, not a reaction against unforgiveness. If she is of the opinion that forgiveness means you never mention your "triggers" again, she has a wrong understanding of forgiveness. 

Healthy encounters in an intimate relationship are always characterized by "moving toward with love and truth." You are withholding the truth, so your reluctance to be honest about the pain is actually an enemy of intimacy. You can only do your part. You NEED to be honest; just make sure your honesty is (1) driven by a desire to move toward (connecting) rather than moving against (attacking) and (2) always preceded by a declaration of love/care. #2 simply means you establish your love for her in some way (words, touch, etc.) before you get to talking honestly about the hurt.

Hope that helps.
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Alan
Thanks 'surviving' (love the username by the way). 
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I think you are feeling exactly right. 

Just seeing that helps.  As does this.
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It will get better.


And thanks also to TimT

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You are withholding the truth

Now that I read this it makes complete sense.

I do want to be honest with her I just fear falling back on forgiveness.  I will take your advice and share with her my feelings.  I will just have to really think about my words and how I use them. 


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TimT
I've attached an exercise that doesn't exactly fit this situation, but some of its steps & principles may be helpful to consider.

pdf Communicate-Disagreement.pdf     
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