Relationship Rescue for Wives and Girlfriends of Internet Pornography Addicts
Forgiving Too Soon
“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” -- Thomas S. Szasz
We live in a crazy, mixed-up, complex world. Despite the presence of love around us, sometimes we end up hurting each other. It's horrible when you are the one on the receiving end. It seems so unfair and aches so deeply that the pain lodges inside our souls like an indigestible lump.
One of the biggest mistakes a wife or girlfriend will make is trying to forgive too soon. Or worse forgiving because they are expected to. Forgiveness is very often a misunderstood process. In fact, it is probably one of the toughest tricks in the whole bag of human
Forgiveness is never a quick fix. It is the end conclusion of a process of healing.
If you feel you are being pressured to forgive your husband or boyfriend for his online activity, consider that this could be another extension of his selfish behavior. The cat is out of the bag and he may want to move on with his life and not be reminded of the past. If this is his stance, he really isn't 'getting it'. He is not considering how his months or years of online infidelity may be impacting you. You need time to process the significant changes in your relationship dynamics. You need time to mourn the loss of the man you thought he was. You need time to work through your pain, anger and resentment. You need time to figure out how best to move into the next chapter in your lives together. Forgiveness doesn't come in the beginning; it comes at the end.
Some wives and girlfriends find themselves stuck. Deep down they do not want to forgive him. At least not yet. PAH has found that for many women who find the process of forgiveness difficult, it may be best to try to forgive in small moments. A bit at a time. And knowing that forgiveness in the end is a gift to themselves.
There is a saying that forgiveness is freeing. And it is, if done for the right reasons and at the right time. If you have sought counseling from a spiritual leader, you may have been told that you need to let go of your anger and forgive your husband. It is expected of you and you will feel a sense of relief in doing so. You can go through the motions, but you can only truly forgive after you have worked through your anger and your pain. Consider this. While God commands us to forgive others, he never told us to keep trusting those who violated our trust or even to like being around those who hurt us.
If you rush to forgive, you may never take the time to identify in what ways and how deeply you have been wounded. You may never get the opportunity to discuss with him how his actions have changed how you view the world. You may never get him to understand how his selfish behavior has hurt you on so many levels. In order to completely heal, you need to be heard. Really heard. You need to know that he 'gets it'. Part of this process is critical for him in keeping himself clean. He needs time to reflect on his past poor decisions and how they impact his relationship with you and others around him. Many sex addicts feel they can insulate their harmless fantasy world from their real lives. These men need to see that this really isn't possible. Either through their actions - or their inactions - the truth of their addiction will eventually come out.
So why is forgiveness a scary concept for so many women? One reason many girlfriends and wives refuse to forgive is that they really don't understand what forgiveness is or how it works. You may think you do, but perhaps you don't. One common misunderstanding about forgiveness is if we offer an olive branch, they are in the clear and we accept a position of silent suffering. Another assumption is that the relationship dynamics will revert back to the old pre-forgiveness ways. Both of these are false.
Forgiveness is not about letting him off easy. You can and should hold him
accountable for his actions or lack of actions. Forgiveness is not letting him
revert back to his old habits and justifications. You do not have to tolerate
lack of character. Forgiveness isn't about him - it is about YOU.
How to Fully Forgive