May 1, 2013

Untangling an Affair, Forgiveness, Trust & Love.


Two and a half years ago my husband had an affair.

That wasn’t supposed to happen.

He was the first man I truly trusted.

 Any fool knows men and women think differently at times, but the biggest difference is this. Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget.
~ Robert Jordan

Forgiveness, as it turned out, was the easy part. But two and a half years later, there’s an underlying slow current of distrust. After the affair (which I wrote about here), it was a raging river that thrust me unwillingly across jagged rocks, around dangerous, sharp turns that threatened to dislodge my heart and cast it away never to be found again.

But I hung on for dear life, accepting the ride. Oh, it was far from easy and involved quite a bit of soul searching. Did I want to live in this tumultuous state, always expecting another shoe to drop? Forgiveness had only gone so far. An affair passes, but it is a wound that can only heal—truly heal—with layers of trust. And each layer requires an action that demonstrates love and acceptance; and that action can be as simple as grabbing onto my hand or a certain reassuring glance. Some layers require more actions. It’s complicated.

This doubt, apprehension, dusting of distrust trust or whatever you wanna call it resides inside of me (and always has). It’s not that enormous yet unseen boulder threatening to dislodge itself and hurtle down toward me when I least expected it, causing me to run (read: disconnect from my husband). It’s more like a gnat accompanied by thoughts like:

Is he really getting his hair cut or….

Is the new person he hired cute and will he…

Does he still have her number? Does she send him secret messages?

You get the idea. I don’t invite these thoughts. I’m working on observing them when they arise instead of allowing them to run amok in my head and send my confidence into a tailspin. I used to mention these silly trains of thought to my husband when distrust was more like a swarm of bees. Now that it’s a gnat, I refrain. I’m trying to untangle the whole mess within my head… but in reality, I probably need to let him help me a little.

Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast. ~ Marlene Dietrich

And love.

Love is a funny thing.

It’s there. I love him. (Sometimes he drives me crazy, believe me!) We realized our true love for each other during the affair’s hideous aftermath when the relationship could have easily imploded. We’re fortunate that we were good friends for about a year before we became a couple in love. That solid foundation saved our marriage.

But trust—that rock solid trust with a capital “T”—is not entirely there. And I’m mad at him for it especially since he was the first living, breathing entity from the male species ever ever ever who I could count on to catch me if I fell (besides my dad, I suppose). And now I’m only 97—possibly 98—percent sure. I want to be 150 percent sure. (Or at least 100.)

To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.
~ Confucius

I work on it. I know it’s not entirely his fault that the affair happened in the first place. I played my part.

We’re working together on being the partners we used to be back in the early years of our marriage. Yes, there’s marriage counseling involved (of course there is! I would be writing about single mom-hood right now had it not been for counseling.) and I highly recommend it.

A huuuuuge part of love is trust (doh!).

Please hold while I repeat myself, but I rue—fuckin’ rue—the day my husband knocked the trust out from under me. I’m a stronger person for it, yada yada yada. No, really. I am. But trust. Oh, trust. Why does that have to be so hard (I have many reasons, but seriously, why?!)?

The gnat will eventually become a speck of dust that I can just blow away. Or maybe I’ll just kill the f*ckin’ thing. Yep. That’s what I’m gonna do.

What about trusting myself? That may be the most important part of this process. That and accepting my husband for who he is and what we are together at this moment.

Forgiveness? That’s easy. Let me rephrase that: It’s easier than that capital “T” word that I repeated far too often (will you forgive me my superfluousness?).

Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. ~ W. Paul Young, The Shack

Love like rain, can nourish from above, drenching couples with a soaking joy. But sometimes under the angry heat of life, love dries on the surface and must nourish from below, tending to its roots keeping itself alive.

~ Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat……

Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established…

Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation… Forgiveness does not excuse anything…

You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness……

~ W. Paul Young, The Shack

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First Acceptance—Then Forgiveness.

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