Let's talk about forgiveness

A few months ago, I posted about my husbands revelation to me that he was addicted to pornography. That was a VERY hard time and I’m so thankful that there were so many kind words for me, and so many assurances of prayers.

Your prayers have been wonderful, and things are going very well now. He is in recovery and is fully aware of the pain he caused.

As horrific as it was, I’m actually grateful now for the whole experience, because I realize now that I had idolized my husband to the point that any FLAW in his nature or behavior - and my whole world would fall apart. That was wrong. Really wrong of me.

I’m baby stepping toward forgiveness and we are baby stepping toward trust again.

I’d just like to hear from you all, on how you view forgiveness. I aim for this thread to be constructive and full of lots of good stuff. Hopeful advice on reconciliation and self-awareness and humility.

If you have forgiven someone for something destructive that they did for a very long time, or a short time, or even one time, that they are now sorry for (and are taking appropriate actions to never do again) please, PLEASE share.

Thank you in advance. :slight_smile:

“…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…”

There are many things I have forgiven over the years. From my own experience it is something that I find is freeing, while holding grudges or becoming bitter only makes things worse and even allows perpetrators of wrong to continue and have a sort of control over your life.

As a child I had a classmate that was physically abusive to me throughout Elementary and Jr. High School. She hit me, punched me, slapped me, pulled my hair and stepped on me almost everyday she saw me. By the grace of God I never felt ill will toward her.
It actually occurred to me that she must be very sad and hurt to do this. So anytime she mistreated me I instantly forgave her in my heart.

Well, about the time I was 25 she had to come to the bank I worked at and I landed up being the one that served her. She remembered me immediately. She never said anything in reference to our past, but simply asked if I remembered her. I said yes, and with a smile. She smiled back and we had a friendly mature discussion. I know she knew I had forgiven her long ago.

Forgiveness is freeing.

I’ve learned, with great difficulty, that forgiveness is not a feeling it’s a choice.
You choose to forgive, then do it.
I’ve also learned that forgiveness does not depend on the forgiven being sorry for what they’ve done - or I feel they’ve done - to me. I need to forgive regardless.
I’m still a work in progress, especially on that last part.
God bless you and your husband, and heal your marriage.

I try to forgive as God forgives. To get our sins forgiven we must confess to God we did them with sincerity and then do penance. If someone sins against me, they must confess to me what they did, and apologize for it (which is penance). They must be sincere. If I can tell by their tone that they aren’t serious, I will tell them to wait until they are truly sorry. I must be ready to forgive whenever they decide to confess and apologize with sincerity, but I have no obligation to forgive until then. As far as feelings, yeah, it can take time before the anger or sadness goes away, but I will say they are forgiven even if I don’t feel like it yet.

:thumbsup: There really is no simpler nor better way to put it.

Forgiveness of others is a must, as it is part and parcel of the command to love one’s neighbour.

To consciously withhold forgiveness is to judge, and we all know where that leads.

Matthew 18: 21-22 “Then Peter came up and said to him, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, " I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven." So forgiving one time isn’t always enough… I find each time I forgive someone (or myself) for the same act, i let a little more go each time :slight_smile: best of luck, it’s a hard row to hoe for each of you.

Why does Jesus suggest that forgiving is sometimes required more than seven times seventy? Because we can all fall back to sin. Sexual habitual sins are some of the toughest to break as they change the wiring of our brain in a real way. Your husband’s reactions to arousal are not the same as before he became addicted to pornography.
Note this has nothing whatsoever to do with his love or attraction to you.
Thus, if he regresses and fails again, do not be heartbroken as if he has broken a vow to you.He is failing himself in failing you and as a loving husband he knows this.
He is like a drunk trying to keep the top of the whiskey bottle on, every day of his life, every time he turns on the computer. (He should destroy his computer or have it only in the lounge room.)
You have had him up on a pedestal for so long it will be hard to wash his feet of clay for some time.
But do not go hysterical if he falls again, and again. It is like going hard turkey off a drug.
Support and draw his sexuality back to your marriage. That is not to say his addiction was caused by any failure on your part. One of the great damages of porn is that it makes a loving normal woman redundant in the mindless fantasy.
Forgiveness is forever and is not contingent on perfection.

VERY well said! Check out Detox by Jason Everett from Lighthouse Catholic Media. Best $3.50 you’ll spend :smiley:

Petaro,

While I agree with you on the tenants of forgiveness, and I thank you for sharing them, I really wonder why you would find it necessary to try and educate me on porn addiction.
My friend, please understand that I have read almost everything thing there is to read about pornography addiction because I want so much to help my spouse. Now, you and I both know that no two recoveries are the same. My husband may not have to stay away from a computer (who can do that, really?), or liken it to whiskey. You may have to do those things.
Giving me tips like “draw his sexuality back to your marriage” is really kind of stepping over a boundary. Kind of off topic, too. Is that what you want your wife to do? Then you really need to tell her that, and not post it here. :rolleyes:
Seriously. lol.
Since you brought it up though, I will share (now that I have vast knowledge in porn addiction, unfortunately) that to “draw his sexuality back to the marriage” may be a very WRONG thing to do given the nature of the addiction, and the state of the marriage in general.
I really don’t want to pick on you here, friend, but I really had to state the previous for the sake of the thousands or more people who may view this post over time. Given that this is an epidemic and all.

The really sad thing about this, is that when a wife like me posts about pornography addiction, I run the risk of being warned against “being hysterical” and other terminology that borders on sexism. “Hysterical”? Really? Didn’t people stop referring to an upset woman as “hysterical” about 30 years ago?

And yes, I have every right to be upset. Heartbroken, even.

As someone who has lived through this hell and is dealing with it in a healthy, positive manner, I really wish that a more appropriate dialogue, without creepy undertones and sexist jargon could be conducted here on CA, for the healing of all involved.

This is a huge problem. Huge. And I think there is so much more to be discussed in an educated, mature manner. I see a lot of pain on these forums regarding porn and all the pain it causes, but not many stories of people who are surviving it and coming out stronger. Yes, M. Fradd’s book was good, and an excellent start to tacking this problem, but in my opinion, there was not enough focus on how wives can heal. Not even close.

Your story of forgiveness is amazing and so inspiring! What do you think made your reaction this this bully so compassionate? Did someone in your life set this example? So many people (and yes, lots of Christians, even) would have grown up embittered and vengeful. You are an extraordinary person.

That is amazing! In contrast, I am not naturally a forgiving person. Some classmates used to belittle me regularly, and one spat on my desk frequently. (No idea why.) I felt a great deal of resentment. However, I took a year off school to do independent studies, and prayed for those classmates regularly; by the end of the year, I found God had granted me forgiveness and compassion toward them. It was a great gift.

When I returned to school, they, meanwhile, had grown into people ranging from tolerable to quite nice; I wound up becoming friendly with the girl who used to spit on my desk. (I never did ask her why she did that.) If God hadn’t allowed me to forgive them, I would have been hard and bitter toward them.

So, my take: Forgiveness can be something to work at. If you fail, go to God and ask him to grant it to you anew. He is ever ready to hear our prayers. It is not hypocrisy to say “forgive us our debts/trespasses as we forgive our debtors/those who trespass against us,” but rather a prayer for us to receive God’s grace in this way and so be able to be gracious to others.

Sometimes I wonder if bitterness is an addiction, just as destructive as other addictions. It certainly does rob us of relationships, joy, etc.

This is a lovely story.

This. A thousand times this.

Bitterness is a way to hold onto pain. It’s natural, and it feels good in a certain way; it is an indulgence. But as you say, it robs us of joy. It is like a lightning rod for our emotions, that draws everything to itself and prevents us from feeling other emotions.

We lose bitterness, as you’re implying, by forgiving. But forgiveness cannot be just a matter of me and the person I’m forgiving. It is through God the Father that we forgive, out of our gratitude for his action of forgiving us.

So I guess I would recommend you find some serious chunks of time (maybe 20-30 minutes every day) to just listen to God tell you about Himself, about yourself, about your husband. Pour out your heart to the Father, and ask Him to transform you. Ask Him to take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. This is absolutely not something you have the strength to do – none of us have the strength to do it. But it is something the Lord can do in you.

God bless you, dear sister!

The term forgiveness assumes different meanings depending on either the context or the stage of our salvation journey. Thus, forgive could mean:
I: quickly recover from a hurt nursing no grudge
II: not detest the doer of a detestable deed
III: not deny love to an enemy in dire need
IV: save dying enemy at the cost of own life.

Amen!

Thank you. God bless you, brother.

“Heart of stone”. Well, mine’s a bit of a shape shifter at the moment: stone, flesh, stone, flesh, flesh, flesh, stone. Although my actions are always charitable, even if I do not FEEL like it.

I think I can speak on behalf of my dear Catholic sisters who’s husband’s are sex addicts, that a heart of stone cannot be hurt.

In order to truly turn a stone heart back to flesh, there has to be a certain degree of trust, that that flesh will not be pierced again. It would be foolish of us to just go tip-toeing through the tulips while the addiction breeds and continues.

Also, there is a fine line between accepting it and tolerating it.

That’s the crux of the matter. That’s why sexual sin in a marriage is just …well…different.

I know someone will be able to explain it better than I have.

Yeah, I know that sort of back and forth. I experience it in a different way, since I’m on the sex addict side of things, not on the aggrieved victim side of things. My experience is that I need to really experience certain feelings of pain and shame that I’m afraid of feeling, and that’s what it means for me to have a heart of flesh. When I cave to my fear, I have a heart of stone, and it’s very difficult for me to remember what it means to base my actions on Christian love. My own actions are not always charitable, in fact it’s hard for me to imagine escaping my feelings and remaining loving.

In order to truly turn a stone heart back to flesh, there has to be a certain degree of trust, that that flesh will not be pierced again. It would be foolish of us to just go tip-toeing through the tulips while the addiction breeds and continues.

Well, I actually meant the “heart of stone” passage to refer to our relationship with God, not our relationships with other people. When I refuse to forgive my wife, I am not committing an offense against my wife, since my wife has not earned my forgiveness – and she can’t earn it. But when I refuse to forgive my wife, I am committing an offense against God, since God has forgiven me SO MUCH, that I cannot withhold my forgiveness from others.

(Of course, that makes it sound easy, and it’s not at all easy. Deep wounds are hard to forgive, and I’m sure that the Lord understands how hard this is for us!)

But I don’t think forgiving your husband means leaving yourself utterly unprotected against him. Mutual vulnerability is a beautiful goal in a marriage, but forgiving a person (in and of itself) does not mean being naive. Your husband is likely to fall again. He does not love you with a perfect love, and he has lied to you. You should not put your trust in him, but in God.

And speaking from a husband’s angle, I assure you that your husband is deeply hurt because of the pain he has caused you. He might not know how to express that hurt, and it might come off as defensiveness. But there is a deep wound there, for him, too.

When you say that he will likely fall, do you mean that you might likely fall?

I think we need to come to an understanding here (since I’m on one side of the fence and you’re on the other) that we really can’t project ourselves onto each other or each other’s marriages.

It’s like me saying, “It’s likely that your wife may always feel sick to her stomach when she thinks of you”.

That’s not fair, is it? I would never presume to say that to you in reality. :slight_smile:

There are men who never go back. There are women who forgive fully.

That’s the problem I have with the continued dialogue on CA - the presumption that at any moment the addict will be powerless, fall, and his wife will have to mop up the mess. That’s hopeless talk.
I believe you all are better than that. I believe my husband is better than that.

I really hoped to speak about forgiveness in a larger context. Not so much in MY particular marriage. I only offer my story as a point of context.

And really, I was hoping for some good stories about forgiveness, like some that have been shared here. Success stories.

The reason for this is that I have found, that reading a lot of the threads (particularly on pornography addiction) here has left me kind of depressed. There is a lot of pain here.

Now, I know that we all vent when we are in pain, but I just hoped to start a thread of some good news.

I really appreciate the good stories of forgiveness. :slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.