Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I have been married for 21 years. My husband had two affairs early in our marriage that resulted in 2 love children by different women. I decided to stay for our 3 children. My husband has to pay support for these children and I had a lot of anger about having to struggle.
I had to be the one who always worked multiple jobs so that my 3 kids did not have to go without. But the truth be told, it was not because we did not have the money.
Out of sight out of mind is how I have dealt with this for years. Now our relationship has changed. It seems we are roommates instead of husband and wife. I cant seem to get past any of this. I think that I have stayed this long because of my children, not because of what is in my heart. My husband committed adultery twice…has my marriage run its course? Please help!
Dear Tired Wife,
It hurts my heart to learn about your marital distress, mainly because you have become a victim of blind forgiveness. Sometimes people can be very forgiving to the point where it works against them. We all make mistakes and deserve opportunities to make things right. Sometimes we make several mistakes and deserve numerous opportunities to make things right. I believe in the power of forgiveness, but not blind forgiveness.
Forgiveness is best defined as one’s ability to give up resentment or to stop feeling anger towards someone. We are taught to forgive those who hurt, belittle and betray us. This means that we simply remove anger from our hearts.
However, it does not mean that we should endure further abuse. I often provide therapy to people who practice blind forgiveness and end up in worse situations.
Here is my definition of blind forgiveness.
Blind forgiveness is best defined as one’s ability to give up resentment while also practicing forgetfulness. The problem with blind forgiveness is that you cannot rebuild something if you do not address it. Whenever you attempt to forget about something, you increase the risk of it happening again. For example, your husband cheated twice and you feel violated because you probably did not address the first situation properly.
Sorry to say, but I do believe that your marriage has run its course. Let me explain. When I speak of making things right I am referring to reconciliation. Forgiving someone is not that same as reconciliation.
You can forgive your husband, but this does not mean that you let him off the hook.
When pain is present, two individuals have to work together to reconcile which means coming together. If your husband was truly sorry for the pain that he caused you he would work hard to reconcile. He would repent (ask for your forgiveness) and do whatever it takes to make the situation right.
Your husband violated your trust twice and based on your report it does not sound like much work was done to reconcile or restore your trust. If your marriage is to survive and thrive, your husband must repent and repair the damage that he has done. You can forgive your husband, but this does not mean that you let him off the hook. Please seek professional counseling.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.