Dad sighed and asked us, "What's your plan?"

My husband, Ron, leaned forward and said, "Plan? Plan for what?"

"You two are going to have to figure out why your marriage fell apart...how to fix it ...how to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Ron replied, "Well...I don't know if we need to do all that. I don't even want to talk about what she did. It's too painful. Nancy's back home now -- we'll just move on from here."

Dad continued, "I wish it were that simple. But it's not. Your marriage was fractured. If you rebuild a house on a cracked foundation, it might be all right for a while, but when the storms come, that fracture will divide your house. Ron, if you don't repair the foundation of your marriage, it won't survive. You can't just ignore the fact that your wife had an affair. The memory of Nancy's betrayal and the guilt she will carry will be unbearable for both of you. I don't think you'll be able to move on until you, Ron, make one of the most important decisions you'll ever make."

"What decision is that?"

"Has Nancy told you she's sorry for what she's done?"

"Yes, she's apologized several times."

"Did she ask you to forgive her?"

"No."

Dad turned to me and continued, "Nancy, when you tell someone you're sorry, it's very different from asking for their forgiveness. Your 'sorry-ness' is your decision. But when you ask someone to forgive you -- that's their decision. It's difficult because it gives all the power to the other person."

"That's a scary thought," I said, without meaning to say it aloud.

Then he spoke to Ron, who looked confused and apprehensive. "Ron, when you forgive someone, you make a choice to banish the offense from your heart. Jesus said that after He forgives us, our sins are as far away as the East is from the West. In other words, they are pardoned. Not because we're not guilty, but because we are. Our pardon is undeserved -- it's a gift to us from God. If you decide to forgive Nancy, you can never use her sin against her, and God will give you the strength to start a new life together. But if you choose not to forgive, if you want to hold on to the pain, or punish her, and keep her wound open -- if you choose that, I don't think you'll stay married. You have biblical grounds to divorce her, but you don't have to. It is your decision. I want you both to pray about what I've said, and make your decisions. We will continue this conversation in the morning."

After a long and restless night, we met again. My voice trembled as I said, "Daddy, I want to ask Ron to forgive me, but what do I say?"

"Tell him what you want to be forgiven for, and then simply ask him. Ron will decide whether to forgive you...or not. You ask; he answers. It's the simplest thing you two will ever do -- and the hardest."

What if I ask Ron for mercy and he denies me? What if he can't forgive me?

I looked over at my sweet, wounded husband and saw the wide-eyed face of a frightened twelve-year-old boy. I spoke quickly so that I wouldn't lose the safety of the moment. "Ron, I've betrayed you mentally, spiritually, and physically. I've lied to you and deceived you. I have no defense, no excuses. I've sinned against God and you. Can you -- will you please forgive me?"

He leaned forward, never letting go of my eyes. The little boy was gone as my strong and confidant husband took my hands in his and said, "Nancy, we have both done and said terrible things to each other. Our marriage was a mess -- and a lot of it was my fault. But I take a stand today to change all that. You have betrayed me, but I choose to forgive you."