Ask Dr. David: What Does True Forgiveness Entail?
- Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I suggest you give your wife time to consider what has happened, as well as her role in your separation. When you think the time is right, approach her lovingly and gently to see if she has an interest in restoring your marriage. Let her know you appreciate the immensity of your actions, are taking responsibility for them and are accountable for maintaining change. Reassure her that she has as much time as she needs to make a decision about slowly putting the pieces of your marriage back together, under the watchful eye of a trained professional or pastor.
Dear Dr. David,
My husband cheated on me several years ago. He was also involved with pornography and prostitutes. While he has apologized, I find that I cannot trust him now when he goes away on business trips. He hates having to answer to me about his trips and thinks I should put the past behind us. He is not involved in any kind of accountability group for men, and won’t talk about what he is doing on the computer. Am I supposed to simply trust him and put the past behind us? ~ Insecure
The answer to your question is ‘no.’ No, you are not supposed to simply put the past behind. While it is one thing to apologize for the pain you have caused someone, it is another thing to change the circumstances that led up to the failings. You are right to insist that you and your husband create accountability in your lives; that there be no more secrets; that there be no appearance of evil. (I Thessalonians 5: 22) More important even that avoiding any appearance of wrongdoing is cleansing your marriage from any behaviors that could lead back into these types of problems.
I sense a rebellious spirit in your husband that concerns me. He doesn’t want to have to ‘answer’ to you, and yet this is a critical aspect of marriage. We are to answer to the Lord and to our spouse—that is a vital aspect of marriage and one of the ways we help our mates grow.
Consider talking again to your husband, sharing your fears with him and encouraging him to consider accountability as a form of helping you recover from the devastating unfaithfulness of the past. Share that this is something you need to grow, and hope he will agree to create transparency in your marriage for both his and your protection. Remind him that it takes time, and extra energy, to rebuild trust.
Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family? Dr. David will address two questions from Crosswalk readers in each weekly column. Submit your question to him at TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com
David Hawkins, Pd.D., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. He is the author of over 18 books, including Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage, Saying It So He'll Listen, and When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest books are titled The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Healing a Hurting Relationship and The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Living Beyond Guilt. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.
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