Have you been unable to forgive your spouse for being unfaithful? Even after he or she has proven absolute re-commitment to you, you know within your heart you have been unable to forgive. Something is preventing you from forgiving. It can be one or a combination of barriers that need to be identified immediately in an effort to heal and forgive.
According to our society forgiving the person who hurt us should be simple, but experience has taught me that it’s not. The road to forgiveness is often blocked by several barriers, preventing and stifling us from fully reaching our destination.
Unless we first recognize, confront, and climb those barriers, we will continue to be overrun with painful memories and never truly forgive. Without forgiveness, our marriage cannot move forward and, not only will we fail to rediscover the joy we once had, but we will be unable to design an even better than before marriage!
So what stops us from forgiving? Let’s look at six tough barriers to forgiveness and what we can do to overcome them.
We don’t forgive because of our pride. When our spouse rejected us for someone else, rightfully, we felt wronged. Our pride told us to keep our chin up so that our friends, families, and neighbors would think that everything’s okay even though it’s not.
Eventually, our pride hardens into a protective armor against future hurts, so we hold it up like a shield against our spouse. As a result there is little communication and lots of misunderstanding.
The path to forgiveness will mean removing this armor that is preventing you from healing. Instead of protecting your heart, it is suffocating it, making it impossible for you to breathe real life back into your marriage. So, will you let go of your pride and let the healing begin?
Our greatest desire is to punish our spouse for hurting us so deeply. Unfortunately, it is impossible to forgive while we are plotting our revenge. The thinking and emotions involved are totally incompatible with each other:
Forgiveness springs from love, while revenge requires hate. You will have to choose if you are going to love your spouse or keep hating them. The choice is yours, and only yours! Choose wisely. Remember as first mentioned, pride can get in the way as a protective mechanism. Will choose love or hate?
Affairs cause us to second guess ourselves. Suddenly all the absolutes of our marriage are gone, but they only appear to be. We thought that our love was solid and unshakable. We thought that our happiness would go on forever. Now, we aren’t sure of anything. Can we ever really trust our spouse again?
This uncertainty also makes it hard to make decisions about other things as well. We tend to procrastinate and just hope for the best instead of dealing head on with problems. Remember you cannot conquer what you are not willing to confront. Deep down, remember to trust your intuition – what does it say?
Prior to this, did you have any reason not to trust your spouse fully? Prior to my husband’s affair, I knew I could trust him with my life! Guess what? Even though I was in this painful space, my intuition told me that I still could…and I do! Now this was my truth, and every situation has different dynamics. However, what is your TRUTH regarding this “uncertainity”?
It seems that the only way that our intense anger will drain away is if we can make our spouse see what they destroyed. We want to express that anger and grief over and over again until it gets through. Unfortunately, this pushes our spouse farther away and makes it less likely that he or she will face up to the consequences of the affair.
Repeat after me…woosah!
Okay, so this is intended to provide some light kick humor, but the subject is a serious one. During these times turn inward to love. I know how cliché this sounds, but it was a go to strategy that worked for me and works for a majority of my clients.
Anger and Love cannot occupy the same space. So reflect and remember the happy times that were and more than likely still rooted in love. Do you really want to push your spouse further away?
The fifth barrier to forgiveness is fear. We are afraid that if we forgive our spouse this time, there might be a next Will we have to go through this same pain all over again? So, instead of taking that risk, we remain fearful and hold back our forgiveness, using the excuse that “once a cheater always a cheater” or ‘people never change.’
But we know that people can change. We are prime examples. Over the years, we are not the same person that we used to be. We have become more mature and more sensitive. Our spouses are also capable of change if we create the right environment—one of love and acceptance—and forgiveness. You can do this together! Do you believe your spouse is deserving of a second chance and, most of all will, do right by you?
Our ego is a powerful barrier to forgiveness. We want to prove that we are right, that we are in control. This makes us try to manipulate the other person to get what we want and feel we deserve.
Our egos are like the antlers of two male antelopes, both trying to defend their territories. They clash and collide against each other, trying to gain more territory while protecting their own. When spouses allow themselves to be motivated by their egos, they are no different from antelopes locking horns in battle.
Egos leave no room for forgiveness. When spouses go at each other from their egos, they are not thinking about forgiving each other. They are thinking only about themselves and coming out on top of the argument. Will you lock antlers in order to heal or hurt?
As you slowly rebuild your relationship with your spouse, make sure that none of the “barriers to forgiveness” are preventing you from truly forgiving. Getting over the hurt is hard enough without being tormented by these barriers.
- Pride is a defense mechanism that lets you hide your true feelings. Push it out of the way and be honest with your spouse.
- Revenge is a choice, not a right. Choose to love and not hate.
- Uncertainty comes from being damaged emotionally by someone else. Pray and ask God to heal and restore you so that you can be confident again.
- Anger will control you if you don’t control it. Be stubborn and don’t let yourself be controlled by an emotion.
- Your fear of being hurt paralyzes you so that you are tossed around by circumstances instead of living life fully. Forgiving the person who hurt you is the only way to start living again.
- Your marriage can either be a loving relationship or a constant clash of egos. One brings happiness and the other, misery. Is fighting to gain ground worth losing your happiness?
Both husband and wife need to be aware of these six barriers to forgiveness. Understand how they are impacting you and your marriage every day. Don’t let these unhealthy emotions prevent you from experiencing forgiveness and restoration in your marriage.
Instead, be determined to climb over these barriers and make forgiveness not just a possibility, but a reality. I’m speaking from experience in all of the above, and if we can do it you can do it too!