I’m Too Scared to Forgive Him

The problems are in the past, so why does it feel like they’re here in the present?

When massive events rattle your marriage – whether it’s an affair, a huge fight, some secret coming to light, or anything else that throws a wrench into the stability of your relationship – one of the hardest parts is the aftermath.

Once the marriage has been rattled like that, the whole dynamic changes, at least temporarily.

Especially when the bulk of “fault” rests with one person, and it falls to the other spouse to offer forgiveness, it creates an uncomfortable imbalance in the relationship.

One spouse is, more or less, at the mercy of the other. The person who made the major mistake or misstep simply has to explain themselves as best they can, and hope the other person is willing to forgive them.

Without such forgiveness, the marriage will never be able to move forward.

Because forgiveness is so important to reconciliation and moving forward with the marriage, the person in the position to forgive actually holds quite a bit of power. It’s power to control the future of the marriage – for good or otherwise – by choosing whether to offer forgiveness, or to hold on to hurt and keep problems alive.

It’s ultimately on the “offended party” to determine how the rest of the relationship will unfold.

Are you too afraid to forgive your spouse?
Are you too afraid to forgive your spouse?

Forgiveness, however, is not necessarily an easy process.

We generally break down the process into 7 steps for the person seeking to be forgiven:

1. Determine what actually happened
2. Figure out why it happened
3. Sincerely express regret
4. Accept responsibility
5. Make every effort not to do it again
6. Make amends
7. Request forgiveness

So, even if your spouse effectively completes those 7 steps, the last component is merely a request. It’s up to you to decide if they’ve met your expectations, and if you want to “grant their request” for forgiveness.

Meeting that request, however, can be a little scary.

It can feel like you’re risking being hurt again, it can feel like you’re somehow telling your spouse that their past actions are acceptable, and even if you’re not directly aware of it, it feels like you’re relinquishing some of the power you currently hold over the marriage.

First of all, there are always risks.

No one can 100% guarantee that they’ll never hurt you again. Getting over that hurdle is about evaluating how genuine their apology and regret is, and allowing yourself to decide that a strong relationship with the person you already married is worth a shot, even if things have been rough in the past.

Secondly, forgiveness is not forgetting.

By forgiving your spouse for their transgressions, you’re not telling them that what they did was ok, but rather that the future of the relationship is more important to you than the problems of the past.

Now, about giving up the power…

In a strong, healthy marriage, neither of you should hold power over the other.

It’s ok to take your time making up your mind, but you can’t hold your spouse hostage.

If they are waiting for you to decide about forgiving, you’re holding power – and no matter how scared you might be to make a decision, it’s no good for you marriage to lord that power over your spouse for too long.

Getting over past hurt is always going to be difficult and scary, but you can, with communication and an agreement to avoid the scenarios that lead to the problems, forgive your spouse confidently.

Let go of the power you hold when deciding whether or not to forgive, and exchange for the joint power you both possess when you’re committed to making your marriage the best it can be.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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16 comments

Carol 7 years ago

I have been married 26 years as of this past June. I have a lot of resentment toward my husband due to broken promises and such. He convinced me to have a tubal ligation instead of a hysterectomy although I was fiercely against tubal. He said that he would have a vasectomy if I would have the tubal although he was against having a vasectomy. I resentfully had the tubal but he never had the vasectomy. This was in 2000.

Carol 7 years ago

I have been married 26 years as of this past June. I have a lot of resentment toward my husband due to broken promises and such. He convinced me to have a tubal ligation instead of a hysterectomy although I was fiercely against tubal. He said that he would have a vasectomy if I would have the tubal although he was against having a vasectomy. I resentfully had the tubal but he never had the vasectomy. This was in 2000.

sohurt 7 years ago

A few days ago we get a call from out credit card company saying that someone had used our card that they had cancelled it. So I logged on to the account to check out what charges were made. As I am looking I see a charge for a restaurant on the same night he was working a double and them a little further down I notice a charge for Match.com membership. Totally shocked he would charge to a card that I pay. So when he was sleeping the next morning I took his phone and low and behold I got on his match.com he was chatting with tons of people but one girl he had been chatting morning, noon and night. Feelings had developed between the 2. He even sent pics of our kids. They had not met yet but were planning on it when he had returned from vacation. I also found the girl he had gone to dinner with. As I researched further I found out he was also on Tinder. Now that this has happened he is begging for forgiveness. I am so hurt by all this. I really feel we should separate. I know this will bother me and always have a negative effect on our marriage.

sohurt 7 years ago

A few days ago we get a call from out credit card company saying that someone had used our card that they had cancelled it. So I logged on to the account to check out what charges were made. As I am looking I see a charge for a restaurant on the same night he was working a double and them a little further down I notice a charge for Match.com membership. Totally shocked he would charge to a card that I pay. So when he was sleeping the next morning I took his phone and low and behold I got on his match.com he was chatting with tons of people but one girl he had been chatting morning, noon and night. Feelings had developed between the 2. He even sent pics of our kids. They had not met yet but were planning on it when he had returned from vacation. I also found the girl he had gone to dinner with. As I researched further I found out he was also on Tinder. Now that this has happened he is begging for forgiveness. I am so hurt by all this. I really feel we should separate. I know this will bother me and always have a negative effect on our marriage.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 7 years ago

Hi Carol, you need to open up to your husband about how much this has hurt you. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/how-to-stop-the-fighting-and-the-pain/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 7 years ago

Hi Carol, you need to open up to your husband about how much this has hurt you. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/how-to-stop-the-fighting-and-the-pain/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 7 years ago

Hi Hurt, I can only imagine how devastating this must be, but we do believe if you both decide to work together, your marriage can be stronger than ever. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/7-steps-to-survive-an-affair/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 7 years ago

Hi Hurt, I can only imagine how devastating this must be, but we do believe if you both decide to work together, your marriage can be stronger than ever. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/7-steps-to-survive-an-affair/

Laila 7 years ago

To that marriage with the man who is looking to date: do not try to repair. He is a cheater, a liar, and a sneak. Too much to overcome. You can find happiness with someone else.

Laila 7 years ago

To that marriage with the man who is looking to date: do not try to repair. He is a cheater, a liar, and a sneak. Too much to overcome. You can find happiness with someone else.

Steve 7 years ago

Hi, i have been married for 15 years and have two small children, i have kept and lied to my wife several times about spending money. the most of it happened when i was putting her thru school and i was working a full time job and trying to run a business that fail apart. i didn't want to let her know how much money i was out. so i shuffled things around because i didst want her to stress more then she had to. i was trying to protect her and it came out and she was so upset at me about it. even a couple years later i was still paying off the debt and she found out again so she keeps thinking i am hiding things from her. we have exasperated for the last 2 months and i have been going to counseling 2 times a week and i also have bought books to help. i just bought this program to also try and help me winner her back

Steve 7 years ago

Hi, i have been married for 15 years and have two small children, i have kept and lied to my wife several times about spending money. the most of it happened when i was putting her thru school and i was working a full time job and trying to run a business that fail apart. i didn't want to let her know how much money i was out. so i shuffled things around because i didst want her to stress more then she had to. i was trying to protect her and it came out and she was so upset at me about it. even a couple years later i was still paying off the debt and she found out again so she keeps thinking i am hiding things from her. we have exasperated for the last 2 months and i have been going to counseling 2 times a week and i also have bought books to help. i just bought this program to also try and help me winner her back

Carrie 6 years ago

I have been with my husband for 10 years, married for 3. He has lied to me several times, all which I have let go. But recently he led a hugh lie for about 4 weeks. He lost his job and instead of telling me, he "continued" to "go to work". Once he couldn't lie about why he wasn't getting a paycheck,he finally confessed, after numerous times of me asking him about his job. I moved out. We are trying to reconcile, but I don't know how or if I can forgive him and stop thinking about it! I feel like it is blasted in my face everyday! i do love him! We have lots of fun together! Intimacy, is not a problem! I feel like everything he says is a lie! I don't know how to trust him again with my heart!

Carrie 6 years ago

I have been with my husband for 10 years, married for 3. He has lied to me several times, all which I have let go. But recently he led a hugh lie for about 4 weeks. He lost his job and instead of telling me, he "continued" to "go to work". Once he couldn't lie about why he wasn't getting a paycheck,he finally confessed, after numerous times of me asking him about his job. I moved out. We are trying to reconcile, but I don't know how or if I can forgive him and stop thinking about it! I feel like it is blasted in my face everyday! i do love him! We have lots of fun together! Intimacy, is not a problem! I feel like everything he says is a lie! I don't know how to trust him again with my heart!

Mike_Olsen_SMN 6 years ago

Carrie, I'm so sorry that you are dealing with these problems. You might find some insight here: https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/what-to-do-when-trust-is-broken/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 6 years ago

Carrie, I'm so sorry that you are dealing with these problems. You might find some insight here: https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/what-to-do-when-trust-is-broken/