Trust is high. Satisfaction is deep.
For some, however, unspeakable tests are given.
For some couples, the hideous fingers of Betrayal spread their bony fingers around your necks in an undisguised effort to destroy all that you have built – are building.
The impossible happened. One of you betrayed the other.
A sexual affair. An emotional affair. Missing money.
Once conquered addictions reappear. Serious lies uncovered. The list is long.
The ripples of discovery mutate into angry, overwhelming waves of devastation.
Your initial reaction? Shock. How could this happen?
You descend into anger. Demand atonement. The piper must be paid. You designate yourself the piper.
You rage, pray, call a friend, withdraw, cry, escape into sleep, on and on.
There are as many ways to express anger as there are possibilities for expression.
You both want to stay in the game.
You spend painful hours with a counselor … or your minister … alone … together … until almost imperceptibly hope returns.
You’re going to survive. You commit again.
But your work isn’t finished.
The final step — sometimes the hardest step – must be taken.
It’s time to forgive – -unconditionally. Otherwise, it’s never over.
The whole experience must be buried in the deepest sea “as far as the east is from the west,” NEVER to be visited again. It’s not easy.
But the permanence of your reconciliation depends on it … literally.
Surviving and thriving after betrayal requires – demands – committing to forgive.
Betrayal is one of the most brutal experiences life can throw at us.
Betrayal is an emotional and spiritual sucker-punch. It hurts — badly.
Can you heal? Absolutely. You’re not the first couple to have survived it, and you won’t be the last.
Plus, there is a pay-off.
Forgiveness enables you to move on wiser, more forgiving, more loving, and closer to each other than you ever imagined.
Academic and religious literature alike teach the same essential healing steps for regaining emotional balance, spiritual equilibrium and, most importantly, the ability to move on.
• Be angry. It’s healthy.
• Grieve. It’s normal.
• Reflect. It’s healing.
• Get out of your shoes and slip into the shoes of the Betrayer. Try to understand the “whys.” Theologian Thomas a Kempis wisely challenges us: Be assured that if you knew all, you would pardon all.
• Remember your humanity. Draw courage from the times you were offered the grace of forgiveness.
• Then move on. Hold your head high. You and your spouse were incredibly brave. Not every couple is this strong. You survived a near-death experience
There is a pay-off. The day will come when you unexpectedly catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. Your reflection will shock you because in your reflection is someone at peace.
The bitter cup of betrayal transformed you in the best of ways. All of that relentless pain morphed you and your relationship into something more fulfilling and beautiful than you ever could have imagined.
Good marriages are sometimes messy with confusing and conflicting layers.
But when regularly given the antibiotic of forgiveness, they heal and grow into marriages that are stronger at the broken places.
And life is good again. I promise.
“The weak can never forgive, Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi
Dr. Gloria Wall spent her career as an educator. Currently, she and her husband, the man who inspired this entire idea, live in Edwardsville, Illinois.
She writes a blog focusing on seniors who are committed to aging intentionally, gracefully, and with dignity, no matter their outer circumstances. Her writing is generalizable to all ages. Dr. Wall is currently working on a book entitled Aging with Intention. You may visit her website at www.suddenlyseptember.com
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.