This was first published on KSL.COM
I’ve been with my fiancé for 5 years now. In those 5 years, there has been some unfaithfulness and pain she has caused me several times. I will go for long periods of time where I can be happy and just love her but every so often that pain comes up again. Something small can remind me of the hurt she caused and I’m back to square one. I want to truly forgive her so I can be a good husband and won't constantly remind her of what she did to me. But I am still fearful she will hurt me again. Though, I do not want to be. Do you have any steps or any advice for me to get completely healed, so I can love and forgive 100 percent? Please help in any way that you can.
If you can’t let go of the past and forgive, you cannot have a healthy relationship. Healthy, loving relationships are built on a foundation of trust, admiration for each other’s character, respect and appreciation. If you don’t have these things, you won’t be happy and the marriage won’t work.
But, I would advise you to take a minute and make sure trusting this person is a good idea first. These feelings could be your intuition telling you this person can’t be trusted. Because there was infidelity more than once, just make sure your distrust comes from irrational fear, not your intuition warning you there is a problem. I wrote an article on When your intuition says your spouse is cheating you might want to read. It explains how to tell the difference between intuition and fear. If you are sure your distrust is fear (and, therefore, your problem to overcome) follow the advice in this article.
Here are some ideas to make forgiving faster:
1. Understand you are responsible for your pain. No situation or person can cause you pain. You choose it because your thoughts and your attitude are in your control. No one can take away your pain or give you pain. You alone have that power. If you struggle to understand this principle, download the To Be or Not To Be Upset Worksheet on my website. You must understand you are in control if you haven’t let go of this issue, and it is because the fear has driven part of you that wants to hold onto it. What does holding onto anger about this give you? Answer that question to make sure ego isn’t in play and you don’t have some victim issues. You could subconsciously benefit from your victim story and you could need some help to change that.
2. Choose the perspective that life is a classroom. If this is true, life is constantly conspiring to educate you (make you stronger, wiser and more loving) and this experience is a perfect lesson in your classroom for some reason. It might be here to deepen your loving abilities or teach you how to forgive (the most important skill needed to create a good marriage). If you see your past experiences as your lessons, ones you apparently needed, you won’t take her behavior so personally. It wasn’t really about you being good not enough or you her inability to love you, it was a lesson to help you both grow and become strong enough to make a good marriage work now. At least you could choose this perspective as your story if you wanted to and you will feel more peace about it. Everything you experience is filtered through perspective, so you might as well choose a perspective that serves you, rather than a fearful one.
3. The other person is guilty of bad behavior, but you both have the same infinite and absolute value.This is true because your intrinsic value as a human being cannot change (at least that is a perspective I highly recommend). Forgiveness is easier when you see yourself and other people as innocent, struggling, scared, messed up, but still perfectly valuable students in the classroom of life with lots to learn.
This is a very different way to go about forgiveness. The old way is to see someone as guilty and condemn them for their mistakes, and then try to pardon them, because you know you should. This never really works because you are always hung up on the fact that they are guilty. Forgiveness is easier when you let go of judgment altogether and choose to see both of you as infinitely valuable students in the classroom of life, who have nothing to fear because your value isn’t in question. Every mistake is a lesson, but it doesn’t change your value. This idea may take some work to internalize but it will make forgiving much easier. Choose to remind yourself often that all people have the same value.
4. You get what you give. You must give innocence and infinite value to the other person if you want it for yourself. You can’t have it both ways. You can live in judgment of others, condemning and crucifying them for past mistakes if you want to, but if you choose this, you will always experience low self-esteem yourself too. This happens because you are choosing a judgment mindset, and giving power to the idea that people can be NOT good enough and if you choose this, it will always affect how you see yourself too.
Your other option is to forgive everyone and completely let go of every misconceived, stupid, selfish, fear-based mistake you or they make. Choose to see both as innocent and forgiven by perfect love, and let them and yourself start over with a clean slate every day. If you choose this you will feel safe, loved, whole and good about yourself. Every time you choose a judgment or mindset remember that you reap what you sow. Choose forgiveness because you want it too.
5. You create what you believe. If you choose distrust and fear your fiance doesn’t really want you, you may literally push her feelings that direction. This happens because your distrust will make you behave in a suspicious, fear based way (that isn’t loving) and this unloving, suspicious behavior will eventually make her fall out of love with you. If you choose distrust you will be the poison that kills your relationship. If you choose to trust and behave in a loving way every day, you could be the love that makes the relationship work and keeps her there. Choose trust because it creates what you want to happen.
6. Bury the past. I recommend you both write down all the past mistakes that you are still holding against each other. Then get a box and put all those mistakes inside it. Together find a spot to bury the box and bury it deep. Commit to each other to let the past go and promise to never bring up anything in that box again unless you are willing to dig up the box first. This is a great way to commit to forgiveness.
There is also a Forgiveness Formula Worksheet on my website which may also help you forgive faster. You may want to fill that out.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.