The Paradox of Forgiveness in Dealing with Affairs

It is a given that resolution of an affair involves forgiveness. However, in my work, I have often noticed the following. The persons who had the affair often want forgiveness sooner than the wronged partners are ready to provide it. Sometimes this can create anger and/or frustration on the part of the persons who have had the affair because they may be feeling punished, wonder if the hurt is every going to resolved, and so forth. The latter are normal and natural feelings, but the reluctance to forgive on the part of wronged partner is also normal and natural.

The latter dynamic can create problems that exacerbate the healing process because there can be anger or a sense or impatience with the wronged partner who has not forgiven. Here is the paradox; it is incumbent on the persons who had the affairs to forgive themselves in the absence of their partner’s forgiveness in order to allow their partners to work through their feelings of hurt, anger, and betrayal that is a necessary step prior to being able to forgive.

Part of the paradox also is that the wronged partners may continue to question the trustworthiness of their partners who engaged in the illicit affair, display anger toward them, and even question the long-term viability of the relationship. The latter behaviors make it difficult for the perpetrators to forgive themselves, but they must accept the wronged partners’ responses as a consequence of the affair and accept responsibility. To do so is a concrete sign to the wronged partners of commitment, love, and respect. These are the elements that can lead to a successful resolution of an affair. It ain’t easy, and it’s often messy!

What you can expect from me is validate the feelings of both partners and to “normalize” each partner’s experience. You can also expect me help the two of make sense of the affair and to determine what is necessary to do in order to ensure that such transgressions will not happen in the future. In addition, I will help you as a couple integrate this new experience into your “couples” consciousness in a way that will help the two of you move on. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I will model compassion for two people who both going through intense pain and trying to make very hard life decisions.

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Lawrence, KS 66049
(785) 749-1225

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