If I Forgive the infidelity am I a Doormat?
Forgiving a cheating husband or a cheating wife has its ramifications and is an important step for the wounded spouse. A common question addressed is: “Am I a doormat if I forgive?” Underlying this question is the need to protect oneself from manipulation and the difficulty in trusting.
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Am I a Doormat if I Forgive?
If you are like most of us, forgiveness is a an abstract concept. What in the world does it mean? Even with my theological background, the concept of forgiveness sounds nice, but in reality, what does it look like? I say I forgive, but do I truly mean it? Can I live it?
One of my coachees also was struggling with forgiveness and expressed her struggle eloquently. Here is what she said:
Over the past couple of months I tossed around the idea of forgiveness in my head. I talked myself out of it numerous times until finally I could not resist it any longer. I read a great article about forgiveness and what it means. I was tired of building a wall every time I encountered (my husband) and becoming a person who was so different from the me I know myself to be. I had also decided that by not forgiving I was hanging onto resentment and not allowing myself to move forward.
Here’s a little quote from the article:
Forgiveness is an act of the imagination. It dares you to imagine a better future, one that is based on the blessed possibility that your hurt will not be the final word on the matter. It challenges you to give up your destructive thoughts about the situation and to believe in the possibility of a better future. It builds confidence that you can survive the pain and grow from it.
So, I sat down with (my husband) and forgave him. I’d already forgiven him in my mind but I felt I needed to say the words. I also told him that I had no idea how this idea looked in reality. I also let him know that it in no way indicates that I condone anything that he’s done. I’m just tired of building that wall and want to move on and perhaps establish a relationship that we can both live with. He was speechless.
This ‘Operation Forgiveness’ has resulted in (my husband) spending more time here. He’s eaten dinner with us a couple of times, we took the boys swimming together, he’s fixing things around the house and making plans for more repairs next month. We’re talking more and laughing about the kids and sharing stories about them.
On the other side, I’m questioning the fine line between forgiveness and doormat.
I’m very worried about allowing myself to be manipulated again and in a position where (my husband) clearly sees he has this safety net here for him to abuse as he pleases.
I think the only way I can move forward is to charge neutral with some really good observations about his behavior. It will help me to feel like I have power in this situation again and not like I’m sitting around waiting to be disappointed again. That’s where I need your help.
The wall I was always building was there for protection but it was exhausting. I do feel totally different now and I’m glad to not feel I need to do that anymore but I do need to find a way to make this situation work for me and be sure that I can clearly see that line between forgiveness and doormat! Is that possible???