40 answers

How to Forgive What Seems Unforgivable?

Question is, HOW do you forgive what seems unforgivable? How do you move on?

What can I do next?

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I'm sorry, but I just don't understand why you would want to stay in a relationship that is "lame" - you say that you suspect you will catch him again, at which point you will leave....but what about the interim? Will you spend every day on edge, just waiting for him to revert to his old ways, silently (or not so silently) resenting him? And then end up leaving him anyway?? Forgiveness is a noble goal, but so is self-preservation - personally I would never undermine myself or my value as a person to stay in such a toxic situation. Sorry that wasn't much help, just my 2 cents. Good luck to you.

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Some people can't forgive. Trust is a big deal, how can you forgive when you still think it mighht happen again. Forgiveness is for when it is over and the guilty party asks for forgiveness. Is he asking? And if you have no intention of leaving and just want to remain in this "lame" relationship I would really seek counseling to discover why you feel you don't deserve better.

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forgiveness is very easy to give. it's forgetting that is an issue for most people, and that causes a breakdown in trust, etc. if he was willing to go to a sex therapist than even if it is just for you, maybe you should go? i think the first step to forgiveness is to find out what the reasons are a person does what they do. does he have a sexual addiction? is there something there that you don't know about that has caused him to do these things that you don't approve of. if so, find out what they are and then decide from there if it's something you can work with. unfortunately there are just sometimes things go too far, and sometimes a person can't forgive. my husband is the LEAST forgiving person i know, even when it doesn't happen to him. some people see black and white no gray. if you love him and want to work it out than find the gray.

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This is going to sound really harsh, and I have a tendency to beat people over the head with the truth, but please understand that I am saying all of this out of genuine concern for your self esteem as a woman.

Since you seem to be committed to staying in a toxic relationship with a person that you KNOW will cheat on you again in the future, let me give you a different angle.

You don't WANT to forgive him. You keep saying that you do, but the anger in your lines and your arguments for everything reeks of knowing that you're at the end. Your self esteem appears to be non-existent at this stage, and it's far easier to ignore that and stay where you are by making excuses and placing blame. So here's the bottom line, based on everything you've typed here. This is your fault that you are still in this situation. And you know that.

To answer your question above directly, how do you forgive what's unforgivable? In your case, by recognizing that you're choosing to live that way. You're choosing to be with someone that's going to step out on you. Since that's your choice, you no longer get to be mad at him for that. Period. So, bottom line, either get over it and accept that this is what your "relationship" is, or leave. There is no "secret option C".

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you said a key word in your post LOVED NOT LOVE honestly i think it would be time to take a break from you to for yourself and just try and see if you are better apart than together.

6 moms found this helpful

I think true forgiveness can happen only with true remorse. You have not said anything that would lead us to believe your guy is really remorsefull. True remorse leads one to change, even make amends. With the exception of addiction, in which case, he may very well be remorseful but in a place were he is unable to change. Then your forgiveness may not be enough for reconciliation and a bright future together. Try and figure out what you are really dealing with here. The problem may not be your inablilty to forgive, but his inability to change and make you feel he is someone to be respected and trusted. I for one could not marry a man I did not respect.

You have kids together? Then I applaud your efforts to make this work. But if he's not actively doing his part (counseling and trying to change), I hope you realize the problem is not your inability to forgive.

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I'm sorry, but I just don't understand why you would want to stay in a relationship that is "lame" - you say that you suspect you will catch him again, at which point you will leave....but what about the interim? Will you spend every day on edge, just waiting for him to revert to his old ways, silently (or not so silently) resenting him? And then end up leaving him anyway?? Forgiveness is a noble goal, but so is self-preservation - personally I would never undermine myself or my value as a person to stay in such a toxic situation. Sorry that wasn't much help, just my 2 cents. Good luck to you.

4 moms found this helpful

Make a list of the things you love about him and the things you hate about him. If your hate list is longer...time to find someone who loves and appreciates you! From your post, it really doesn't sound like there is much left.

4 moms found this helpful

Forgiveness needs to come from within. For most people that means you need to acknowledge the hurt/betrayal/lack of trust, etc. AND you need the offender to acknowledge what he did and how it makes you feel and how it has changed your relationship. Then it takes time. For some people it only takes days and for others it takes years and for others it never happens. Personally, I don't think forgiveness can be given if you are fairly certain (which you seem to be) that the offense will happen again in the future. Forgiving your partner for his actions isn't going to just magically make everything better (the sex for instance, he isn't going to go from a 2 second man to a 30 minute man just because you forgive him. If he is willing to go to a sex therapist then he should go regardless of what you think might crop up from counseling. Just because he is going to a therapist to appease you doesn't mean he won't get anything from it). Try googling 'how to forgive a cheating partner.' Good luck.

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I'm sorry J., but you deserve better. Even YOU seem to realize you deserve better. Even YOU seem to realize it takes two, and a lot of ego checking on both sides to move forward. It wil not get better no matter how hard YOU try, if YOU are not satisfied with his trying.

I keep capitalizing YOU because YOU deserve better, did I already say that?

Best to YOU.

:)

3 moms found this helpful

Of course you are mad and disgusted, BUT .....If you are staying fight your fears and go to therapy. If he is going only to please you....... well, that shows he cares and wants to make things work. A sex therapist sounds perfect. Go! What could get worse? If you go maybe it will get better.

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Somethings just can't be forgiven or fixed... How long are you planning on trying to forgive?

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Time and probably a chance circumstance to make you remember why you fell in love. Its been my observation that the way couples normally survive something like this is for something bigger than them to occur that makes them work as a team again.

"We've had counselling, and a sex therapist was recommended, but he would only go to please me, so whats the point." The point here is that he wants to please you.

3 moms found this helpful

Lots and lots of couples therapy.
If the relationship works for the most part and it was a temporary affair, you both need to work on the issue (what ever it was) so that neither of you feel you must involve another person for what ever was lacking. Every couple needs to be able to communicate and solve problems. There is give and take and both are willing to meet the other half way. That he wants to please you is a good thing. Name calling is a bad thing. It's not fighting fair and only hurts feelings.
If the relationship is not working, therapy can help you determine what you can and can't live with (or live without) and sometimes once that's clear you can make a clean break and not wonder what went wrong. You both need to know what differences are irreconcilable.
If you are going to condemn him no matter what he does to prove himself - well - who wants to live like that? On either side? I can't see how anyone could achieve happiness under those circumstance.

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If counseling isn't helping and he isn't making the effort for therapy then how can you forgive him? I wouldn't be able to because the issues are there and not getting any better...Also, you are putting yourself at risk for STD's and God knows what else because of his behavior....Don't tell me he's not fooling around because I am sure he is. Is this your husband or just a live in boyfriend....If so, then why aren't you leaving??????Put your kids/yourself first...This is a very unhealthy relationship.

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OK- I will bite my tongue and put MY opinion to the side and try to help with your question.......
To remove the "hate" feeling you can replace it with empathy. IF you believe he has a sort of "problem" or "sickness" you could lean towards feeling sorry for him. Do you know much about his background? What would've made him have these tendacies? Do you know his mom? His up-bringing? Have you seen or does he have pictures of himself when he was younger? Can you imagine him as a little boy full of goodness and then what went wrong? You definetly are the "bigger" person for sticking this out with him. Don't let him bring you down to his level, you elevate him up to yours. Can he be "fixed"? - No one knows.

3 moms found this helpful

Some people can't forgive. Trust is a big deal, how can you forgive when you still think it mighht happen again. Forgiveness is for when it is over and the guilty party asks for forgiveness. Is he asking? And if you have no intention of leaving and just want to remain in this "lame" relationship I would really seek counseling to discover why you feel you don't deserve better.

3 moms found this helpful

The only way to forgive an unfaithful partner is with time. With time you learn to regain trust & happiness, but if he's not willing to change then you'll continue to get hurt & it will be a long time waiting. You can't make your heart do what your mind tells it to & I know from experience that you can only move on when your heart's ready to. Also, therapy doesn't help everyone & judging by your letter your partner won't benefit much from it. My partner & I went to see a therapist, but separately because I knew that he was only going to run a game & I'm glad I didn't go with him because the therapist told me in private that my partner had the mind of a big child & looked at life as a game & getting me back was like winning.
Far as getting your man to commit to you and only you, you can't convince him with words. You have to show him what you want. Stop vesting so much time into the relationship & start having fun on your own with family & friends or find a hobby. Once you start ignoring him & acting like you don't need him, he'll come around if he truely does want to be with you & only you. If this doesn't work, then it shows that your only there for convenience & he could care less.

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And what about him do u love? And how does he show u love?

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First i must say you are a much more forgiving person than i am. I have the utmost respect for you and your willingness to find the good in someone. There is something good in everyone.

I implore you, however, to use protection util you can be certain he is not messing around again. Continuing therapy would also be very beneficial, he needs to have a breakthrough before he can be a man anyone would want.

Good luck, i know the road ahead will be difficult, but you may get results.

2 moms found this helpful

I think you need to continue to go to therapy. If he won't go, then go by yourself.

Also, if you have a spiritual advisor (pastor, etc.), it's probably time to seek some help there, if the person is discreet, tactful and understanding.

Go to sex therapy---preferably to a guy therapist if you can, because I suspect that your partner won't respect a woman therapist's viewpoint. Make him go, (at least try), if you want that aspect of your lives to improve. And, it's better to know if you have cancer and the make the choice to cut it out or do chemo, than to not know and die.... because if you don't go and he does have issues (and he sounds like he may), it will just fester and fester and fester until there is nothing left for you to try to salvage and your relationship will be dead....

Forgiveness, especially for the big bad things, can take years, or even decades, to work through.....

I guess, what really strikes me about your post is how you suspect that this will all happen again (the cheating, etc.), and how he does not seem to be making any effort toward trying to get things to improve.... That to me, says a lot about whether it's worth it to try to salvage this.... If he's not going to try, why are you trying? Because it sounds like you're carrying all the burden here, and that he has no plans to ever shoulder much of the burden with you. Speaking for myself, that is not a "partnership" that I want with someone I love or used to love.

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You have to view this as an addition and give a little tough love. You almost have to have an intervention and say "if you don't get help, and take it seriously, I will do x, y and z. What will he lose if you doesn't get help? What will he gain if he does get help? If you are not willing to leave or change the situation, what is his motiviation to get help? You want to figure out how to meet his needs, why isn't he doing the same and figuring out how to meet yours? This just sounds like a one sided relationship, and until you demand change, it won't change. You want to stay, that's your choice, but you need to go to conseling and work on you to make you better, and then worry about him. If you have a daughter, what would you do or say to your daughter if her spouse was treating her this way? And if you do get married, is he the role model you want to show your kids as to how a man treats a woman? Boys follow in their dad's footsteps and girls find guys like their dads.

2 moms found this helpful

forgiveness is very easy to give. it's forgetting that is an issue for most people, and that causes a breakdown in trust, etc. if he was willing to go to a sex therapist than even if it is just for you, maybe you should go? i think the first step to forgiveness is to find out what the reasons are a person does what they do. does he have a sexual addiction? is there something there that you don't know about that has caused him to do these things that you don't approve of. if so, find out what they are and then decide from there if it's something you can work with. unfortunately there are just sometimes things go too far, and sometimes a person can't forgive. my husband is the LEAST forgiving person i know, even when it doesn't happen to him. some people see black and white no gray. if you love him and want to work it out than find the gray.

2 moms found this helpful

What about laying off the sex for awhile? It almost seems like his inability to function well in that area makes you mad or hate him but it's probably not the most urgent thing to fix. IMO. It may be putting more pressure on the both of you. Maybe if you take it off the table for awhile and try to just get back to a good friendship, that will help. ID exactly why are you so mad at him - his inability to perform or the history of cheating? Both? The first isn't something to be mad at so likely is just tied into your general feelings of being po'd. So maybe work on the real reason and deal with the rest later. I'm not an expert though! I do think a professional may help but I congratulate you for working on this.

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I guess you will have to see what your limits are... forgiveness if a very hard thing, especially for something like this. You may never trust him again and that is something you have to open your eyes too and see if you can live with that.

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Hi J.,

I am not going to tell you to leave him, so please don't take it that way. Here's what I'm hearing though: you are really down on yourself for feeling these negative emotions, do not feel as is you can trust him AND (this is the worst, in my opinion) your needs are NOT being met sexually! (Sorry if that's too blunt everyone, but in my book that's really important). In fact, you are trying to figure out how to meet HIS needs.

Meeting each other's needs is important, and that means meeting J.'s needs, at least half the time...If he isn't doing it for you in the boudoir, he needs to figure out how, pronto. Don't YOU worry about what will or will not happen at the sex therapist's. That's his issue to work out. You can be a loving and supportive partner, which will be a whole lot easier once you feel you are an equal in the relationship.

Sorry if this is long but I am divorced from a man with whom I did not have a great connection (putting it mildly)...Not suggesting you leave your guy, again, but please consider postponing the wedding until those issues are resolved. It takes a lot of courage to be really open and present for your partner--intimately--but I think it is worth the effort. Good luck--and please don't be so hard on yourself J.!

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"How to get the relationship to work, if it can" It can't

How do you forgive what seems unforgivable? You forgive to free yourself
not to enable that person.

How do you move on? IMO, only when both people are equally focused on getting back to a place of trust that has once been experienced i.e. a long term relationship that suffers a betrayal

Im not going to say much about what you should do, because ultimately I am not you. I will say the questions I would be asking are Why do I think this is the best I can do? Why do I think I deserve to be with someone who treats me this way?

I hope you find peace

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Sorry if I am misunderstanding, but you said that this was all before you moved in. Was it going on when you were "officially serious"? Has it actually happened since then or are you just speculating? You say that he has had no opportunity, that you call him names, and snooped. It seems to me, and this will be an unpopular answer for you, but you asked for honestly, that you are both at fault in the lack of trust/forgiveness.

He went to counseling with you, so what if it was to please you? You were worried he might find some issue? That is what counseling is about! To find and talk through issues.

You say that you want to forgive him, but it really doesn't seem like it. You need to work it out yourself just as much as you feel he needs to be the one working. You need to communicate with him, show him what you want, need, etc, not just criticizing and name calling. That helps no one.

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I dont think you can........

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I wish I had some affrimations like "resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die - when I realized that, 'poof'! all better" or "survivor! victim no more!" but in my experience it isn't that easy.

Time and maturity have helped with a few of the situations. What I have gotten (and continue to get) a lot of solace from is the idea that when someone does something really messed up, it's normal to have feelings about it. I also remind myself that forgiveness and condoning someone's actions are not the same thing. Just because I "move on" doesn't mean that I approve of what the other person has done.

I don't know the situation to which you are referring so YMMV. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

How can you forgive someone that is not getting the help he needs? Turning your head & pretending it never happened will be easier than forgiving.

Since you are convinced to staying with him, you should get help for your lack of self esteem. Best wishes

1 mom found this helpful

There are some things I don't forgive. My first husband was violent and adulterous. The night I finally left him, he threw a tv at me.

If I see him in public, I will not acknowledge his existence. If he speaks to me, I will ignore him.
If he steps out in front of my car, I will not run him over. His death would be no great loss to humanity, but I really like my car, and don't want to damage her. Yes, my car means more to me than his life.
Is that forgiveness? I don't know and don't care. It's as much as I'm willing to offer, and more than he deserves.

1 mom found this helpful

First off things can only get worse before they get better so continuing to go to counseling is my advice. If he really does have a huge sex issues, HE HAS TO GET OVER THEM!!!! You can't just keep sweeping them under the rug till the pile has built up that your furniture no longer sits evenly!! Keep going to counseling and get his issues resolved, otherwise your are just going to get a few seconds of miserable sex and you yourself need to go to counseling to help deal with his issues! It's a two way road to recovery, especially since you don't trust him.

1 mom found this helpful

I have forgiven my soon to be ex, we even still live together for the time being. The way I forgave him is to understand why he did what he did, what caused him to cheat for years and lie, to undestand what he went through as a child, his upbringing....all not excuses or justifications, but reasons why he made the choices he made, so I am not mad at him for what he did, or uprooting my life, I understnd why it happened, even if it wasn't right and I will be friends with him even if not in the same way. Thats worked for M. in every sittuation I have no grudges in life, its my natural instict to argue devils advocate or try and figure out why they did it, probably from years of being let down by an alcoholic parent..but it works! Goodluck

1 mom found this helpful

GOD, your personal relationship/conversations/prayer with him is the only way to find some peace and comfort in a situation like this and heal from it, is my personal belief.When you focus all of your energy on being happy and having positive thoughts and actions through meditation or prayer, and getting rid of bad thoughts, little reminders "floods of bad memories", you will feel a difference in all of your relationships. I agree with the 'time' comment too. It sounds like some of it is still pretty fresh. Best Wishes

1 mom found this helpful

First of all, check into "Every Man's Battle". He needs help and EMB is help for men with sexual integrity problems.
Secondly, you can't do this alone. I imagine I would feel the same as you! You must get some help! Lots of healing needs to take place. It will be no easy task and you both need/must have help to overcome this....

1 mom found this helpful

I'm not sure you can forgive someone you hate, who disgusts you, who is lame, and who you say you are sure will cheat again. It could take decades if it even happens. Since you are staying, you need to find a way to "live with it."

1 mom found this helpful

I would suggest a marriage counselor.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Someone posted and eerily similar situation a few months ago from the 'other side' of the relationship. The link is :http://www.mamapedia.com/questions/13388678515948388353.

It may offer some insight into his thinking, maybe not, but you may find comfort in knowing you are not the only woman to deal with this type of situation.

As for forgiveness, it has to start from within. You know that, though, and that's why you're here. My advice won't be any different from the other great advice you've recieved if you really don't want to leave.

Find a GREAT counselor, a good one won't be good enough, for both you singularly and together. It really might work since this situation is a mere annoyance and not a deal breaker for you. Other than 'hating' him, you really don't seem that mad about it. A counselor will be able to provide you with tools to manage how you're feeling much better than I can!

Good luck, you are stronger than I am.

1 mom found this helpful

You need counseling. Lots of it. Together and possibly alone. If he goes and just goes through the motions, at least he's GOING. You never know when he might have that AHA! moment.
You aren't going to be able to work through this on your own. Sure, you might learn to bury the problems, but you're not going to be happy. Neither of you will be happy. If you're not happy, your family is going to know it. It's not that easy to bury something like that.
Honestly, if he won't go to counseling and give it a fair shot, he doesn't care about you. If you're too concerned or embarrassed about his very real sexual issues, then you don't love him.
The absolute only way to make this work is to work TOGETHER. He's going to need some therapy on his own, and you most likely will too.
The issues that you're dealing with are simply too huge for you to tackle alone. If you go to church, you might also want to speak to your pastor.

Good luck! I will say that you are stronger than I am. I probably would have hit the bricks as soon as I found out what was going on.

http://www.cbn.com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/vod/RH44v1_WS
This story about my friend is a perfect example.

The only way to know is with time. In time, IF he does a lot of things to prove to you that he will do anything to keep you and he has truly changed, and nothing else bad happens, you may forgive him. Or you may not. You definitely won't if he doesn't do anything drastic for you (which most men don't) so time will tell you if this will ever be fixed. You won't know until you do the time and feel what you feel. Two-three years seems to be plenty I've found with friends in this situation-terrible trust issues and betrayal to get over. Either they can feel they are on the mend and feeling way better, or they can tell that things are the same or getting worse. Whether they leave at that point or not varies, but they're usually right, and if they stay 10 more years, their assessment from that 2 year point-better or permanently screwed-is accurate.
I respect your desire to stay, so as you proceed with spending the time to heal and see if he can win back your love and respect, try to remember, you only have one life to live.

I have never been in your situation, but reading what you wrote, I think you are doing the right thing by not committing to marriage yet. You should wait until you are both solid. A marriage is a commitment and forsaking all others is a big part of it! As far as forgiving him, since you said he would go to counselling but only to please you, go. He may get something out of it since he will be in the room with you, right? If you are religious you could always go to the head of your church or temple. Maybe they could teach you ways to forgive. Just remember, you are worth a lot and should not be treated poorly.

Good luck!

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