Untangling an Affair, Forgiveness, Trust & Love.

Via Lynn Hasselberger
on May 1, 2013
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Two and a half years ago my husband had an affair.

That wasn’t supposed to happen.

He was the first man I truly trusted.

 Any fool knows men and women think differently at times, but the biggest difference is this. Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget.
~ Robert Jordan

Forgiveness, as it turned out, was the easy part. But two and a half years later, there’s an underlying slow current of distrust. After the affair (which I wrote about here), it was a raging river that thrust me unwillingly across jagged rocks, around dangerous, sharp turns that threatened to dislodge my heart and cast it away never to be found again.

But I hung on for dear life, accepting the ride. Oh, it was far from easy and involved quite a bit of soul searching. Did I want to live in this tumultuous state, always expecting another shoe to drop? Forgiveness had only gone so far. An affair passes, but it is a wound that can only heal—truly heal—with layers of trust. And each layer requires an action that demonstrates love and acceptance; and that action can be as simple as grabbing onto my hand or a certain reassuring glance. Some layers require more actions. It’s complicated.

This doubt, apprehension, dusting of distrust trust or whatever you wanna call it resides inside of me (and always has). It’s not that enormous yet unseen boulder threatening to dislodge itself and hurtle down toward me when I least expected it, causing me to run (read: disconnect from my husband). It’s more like a gnat accompanied by thoughts like:

Is he really getting his hair cut or….

Is the new person he hired cute and will he…

Does he still have her number? Does she send him secret messages?

You get the idea. I don’t invite these thoughts. I’m working on observing them when they arise instead of allowing them to run amok in my head and send my confidence into a tailspin. I used to mention these silly trains of thought to my husband when distrust was more like a swarm of bees. Now that it’s a gnat, I refrain. I’m trying to untangle the whole mess within my head… but in reality, I probably need to let him help me a little.

Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast. ~ Marlene Dietrich

And love.

Love is a funny thing.

It’s there. I love him. (Sometimes he drives me crazy, believe me!) We realized our true love for each other during the affair’s hideous aftermath when the relationship could have easily imploded. We’re fortunate that we were good friends for about a year before we became a couple in love. That solid foundation saved our marriage.

But trust—that rock solid trust with a capital “T”—is not entirely there. And I’m mad at him for it especially since he was the first living, breathing entity from the male species ever ever ever who I could count on to catch me if I fell (besides my dad, I suppose). And now I’m only 97—possibly 98—percent sure. I want to be 150 percent sure. (Or at least 100.)

To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.
~ Confucius

I work on it. I know it’s not entirely his fault that the affair happened in the first place. I played my part.

We’re working together on being the partners we used to be back in the early years of our marriage. Yes, there’s marriage counseling involved (of course there is! I would be writing about single mom-hood right now had it not been for counseling.) and I highly recommend it.

A huuuuuge part of love is trust (doh!).

Please hold while I repeat myself, but I rue—fuckin’ rue—the day my husband knocked the trust out from under me. I’m a stronger person for it, yada yada yada. No, really. I am. But trust. Oh, trust. Why does that have to be so hard (I have many reasons, but seriously, why?!)?

The gnat will eventually become a speck of dust that I can just blow away. Or maybe I’ll just kill the f*ckin’ thing. Yep. That’s what I’m gonna do.

What about trusting myself? That may be the most important part of this process. That and accepting my husband for who he is and what we are together at this moment.

Forgiveness? That’s easy. Let me rephrase that: It’s easier than that capital “T” word that I repeated far too often (will you forgive me my superfluousness?).

Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. ~ W. Paul Young, The Shack

Love like rain, can nourish from above, drenching couples with a soaking joy. But sometimes under the angry heat of life, love dries on the surface and must nourish from below, tending to its roots keeping itself alive.

~ Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat……

Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established…

Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation… Forgiveness does not excuse anything…

You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness……

~ W. Paul Young, The Shack

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First Acceptance—Then Forgiveness.


About Lynn Hasselberger

Lynn Hasselberger is co-founder of GDGD Radio; The Green Divas Managing Editor; and Producer of The Green Divas Radio Show. She's also a mom, writer and award-winning cat-herder who lives in Chicagoland. Sunrises, running, yoga, lead-free chocolate and comedy are just a few of her fave things. In her rare moments of spare time, she blogs at myEARTH360.com and LynnHasselberger.com. A treehugger and social media addict, you'll most likely find Lynn on twitter (@LynnHasselbrgr @GreenDivaLynn & @myEARTH360), instagram and facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.


16 Responses to “Untangling an Affair, Forgiveness, Trust & Love.”

  1. Tara Lemieux says:

    Beautiful…brilliant…and all the other words I wish might come to mind to so perfectly and eloquently describe just how amazing this one is…thank you for the gift of your words.

  2. Alyson says:

    I am always confused when a person says they "played their part" or were partially to blame in their partner's infidelity. Can you provide more perspective on this?

  3. Amazing, Lynn. And inspiring! I believe that forgiveness—regardless of whether the relationship can be salvaged or not—is such a big key to being able to move forward. Thanks for sharing all of this so honestly.

  4. Sydney says:

    Life continues on. When people expect another person to act a certain way – especially if that involves sexual fidelity- there can be disillusionment and suffering. What is your attachment to any relationship? Will your happiness be jerked around by ANY external – including expecting someone to act a certain way to make you feel secure? You CANNOT control another person. You can be happy yourself but after something like an affair, you flow with the lesson or you grab ahold to your emotions and play victim. Your choice. I have been on both sides of infidelity. People are too addicted to drama. Life continues on. Peace.

  5. anon says:

    My wife's cheating was indicative of an inability to come to terms with what needed to be changed in the relationship. So rather than working on it, she went outside of it. This mind-set is part of what made me choose to not continue the relationship. Reading your article helped confirm my understanding that trust issues are at the heart of a stable relationship and that if the reason I didn't trust her had to do with some personality trait of hers (that I had noticed but never had put against me before), then I would never trust her and we'd never have a good relationship. For both our sakes, I'm glad I ended it.

  6. Naila says:

    I went through the same thing 2.5 years ago too. I do agree I'm not perfect. But I do not agree that having an affair is the way to "punish" me just because he felt I had a part to play. If he was not happy, just leave, I wouldn't try to keep him. We split in the end. My world crumbled. Until today, I still can't trust any man. It's very true, once the magical capital T is betrayed, it is so hard to build it again. Yes it's not fair to think that all men will betray my trust, but the phobia… the horrid memories… nobody deserves to be treated that way. If you have a solution to make me trust again, please share! I have forgiven. I have let go. But it still haunts me…

  7. Those are valid points, Sydney. I had written this about six months ago and forgot about it. Decided it was worth publishing anyway. The feelings are there, but (as I said) more like a dusting. You are right that a person or relationship does not define who you are and one must continue on with life and be happy within. I'm not a victim, but simply a woman with feelings who has chosen to express them here. The doubt is faint, but present. Our relationship is better for it, believe me! I think this will need a follow-up piece but I tend to be behind in my writing. LOL. Appreciate your perspective!

  8. Thanks so much, Kate!! xo

  9. I think it would help if you read my original piece on this, Alyson (if you haven't already) which explains this part in more detail. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/05/an-affair-

  10. Thank you, Tara. Appreciate you leaving such wonderful feedback!

  11. Sorry you had to experience an affair, Naila. "Haunt" is a great word. Do I have a solution to make you trust again? My immediate response would be, we have to learn to trust ourselves. And I think this is something I need to write more about so thanks for that inspiration. Hang in there an be on the look out for this, but not necessarily super soon as I tend to get behind in writing (such a long list of subjects to write about!) Thank you for leaving a comment and hang in there!

  12. Sorry to hear, but glad you made a decision that works for you. My immediate reaction was that our relationship was over. But then we were able to work through it and our marriage was better for it. Yes, I still have trust issues… but this has been more of an issue within my self. Here's the full story in case you're interested: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/05/an-affair-

  13. MatBoy says:

    Just like you cannot push a river, you cannot make trust happen: you either experience it or you don't. Furthermore, you can always trust someone to be 'just the way they are'. With upsetting affairs, one person usually expected the other person to be someone they weren't, at least not yet (it is also useful to be able to separate out what people 'say' from what they 'do').

    Choosing to love and trust 'what is' requires us to give up fantasies of what 'should be' or how we want other people to act. Like it or not, we are stuck with a lot of ordinary people, best to find the good in them even though they betray us sometimes.
    I agree with Lynn, it all starts by learning to trust ourselves! Even this can be quite a challenge and I often find myself falling off the path and needing to regroup before hauling myself back up. My partner and I have been together for a long time now and I can always trust her to be exactly who she is, even though I still don't like or appreciate some aspects of her personality. We use humor and ice cream to get past focusing on the aspects in each other that we don't enjoy.

  14. Well said, MatBoy! I think I need to add the "trust ourselves" to my post as that seems to resonate and be important to the process. Thanks for the comment! P.S. Humor + ice cream = happiness 🙂

  15. Julia says:

    Lynn, I think your opening sentence says it all " my husband had an affair". As long as your primary focus is on his behavior, you will be caught in the common, and oh, so subtle mind loop of victimhood. It is a cage with an unlatched door, a painful imprisionment of your own creation. Wishing you well on your search for the peace and freedom you both deserve. Namaste.

  16. carl says:

    I was crushed when my lover of three years left to be with another man. I cried and sobbed every day, until it got so bad that I reached out to the Internet for help. I wasted so much time and effort trying to get him back until I hit on the real thing. And that is you, ultimate spell. You were different from all the rest – you are the diamond in the rough. Thank you from the depths of my soul! I am extremely happy now. I hope God blesses you as much as you have help me to get my Love back, visit him on ([email protected]) he can be a great help to you all.