Archives For Forgiveness

“What is your take on cheating Greg?” was the rather provocative question I received on Twitter yesterday.

“It’s bad,” was my less than enlightening response.

“Would you forgive?”

Now I was getting the real question and frankly the answer is a lot more complicated.

First off, I’ve been really pondering what it means to forgive. It isn’t as easy to define as you might think (see the discussion topic “What is forgiveness?”).  Similarly, there are definitely degrees of cheating (physical, emotional, drunk-once, long term, passively permitted, etc.).

So would I forgive? Yes. Would I stay together? That depends.

You see, for me, cheating is less about a physical, observable act and more about a loss of trust and transparency in a relationship. If you feel you have to hide anything from your SO, especially because of guilt, shame or fear, you are setting yourself up to fail – period. Maybe I watched too many episodes of The Brady Bunch growing up, but I am of the persuasion that the longer you stay together, the more likely a lie will be uncovered: either explicitly or at least “felt.” Cheating – that kept secret – is a ticking time-bomb waiting to go off and level everything to below the foundation of the relationship.

In addition, the fact that the cheater is keeping that secret means they are not being true to their own feelings. Integrity is about making choices that you can stand behind.

So, by my definition, a cheater is basically behaving like a liar with no integrity. Is that someone I could forgive? Yes. Is that someone I would stay with? Not necessarily.

If I was just dating the person, and they cheated on me, no. Cheating is a sign of a deficiency in the relationship. Selecting a lifelong mate is about making wise choices and there are plenty of fish in the sea. Why settle for second best? (And frankly, why hold them back from their other “love.”) I am worth more than that.

The situation changes for me drastically though within marriage. I would definitely try my hardest to stay together as long as there was a commitment to counseling and rebuilding trust and honesty. I see marriage as a covenant; a contract in today’s words. If there is a way to keep that contract intact, it is my responsibility to try. Given that there are two people involved, there is no guarantee it would work, but I would try. This is not about being a doormat. Rather it is about sticking to my end of a bargain – it’s that integrity thing again. Cheating is still a sign of a deficiency but, in order to stand behind my commitment, it is now my responsibility to try and repair that deficiency.

So would I forgive and stay together if my Mrs. cheated on me? I say “Yes, with counseling.” My Mrs. responded “Yes” and then jokingly reminded me of the established offer to remove parts of my anatomy if it ever happened. LOL. We are together for the long haul. Transparent. Honest.

It is one of the reasons I am such a big fan of romantic gestures. I’ve always said that affairs don’t happen because the other person is richer or more beautiful. Those are just outward expressions of a deeper truth. I believe that affairs happen because of how the “other person” makes them feel. It is my job as a husband to make sure that my Mrs. feels the safest, the most taken care of and most loved in my arms. She needs to feel secure in her decision. But that’s a discussion for another topic.

I realize my views are more than a little counter-cultural. Also, I have to acknowledge that, like with anything human, there are shades of gray here. What is your take on cheating? I’d love to hear your comments.

What is forgiveness?

March 13, 2010 — 1 Comment

The danger in talking with interesting people is that sometimes they make you think. I recently came away from a discussion with a good friend thinking to myself sincerely about the nature of forgiveness. It turns out that forgiveness is one of those words I feel more than know. I have felt forgiven. I have felt the relief of truly forgiving. But to articulate what forgiveness means sincerely escapes me. When I asked myself to define what forgiveness meant, I couldn’t do it.

So when in doubt, ask the Twitterverse. :-) Here are some of the best responses so far.

@snowsflake In order to forgive we must realize that we’re mad at the act and not the person, it doesn’t really matter who did it.

@trnunes Forgiveness=valuing a relationship above one’s own ego.

@weddingchaplain Forgiveness is given and received. I feel grateful for the forgiveness I have received and generously give it.

@jasonwilks Forgiveness is no longer holding offense against another, however, forgiveness does not = trust. It is free, trust is earned.

@o0omunkieo0o I wrote a blog on this. http://munkiebabble.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/forgiven-not-forgotten/ – Forgiven, not forgotten.

@ReaFaceToFace Forgiveness: The ability to forget the ‘even though’ part that might come after ‘I love you’ – even though. Not that I’m a pro, but that sounded good :-)

@PowderRoomTalk Forgiveness is setting anger free

@Kardboard Forgiveness is complete pardon and complete awareness of a transgression, hurt or wrong. (methinks)
depends on the a lot of factors…

@StripeeSocks Accepting other peoples faults/failure as a person/behaviours I guess.

@WritewhereUr Forgiveness is examining someone’s transgression & making a decision to heal the wound & move foward in a healthy way

@raveninnyc Letting go of your resentment.

Is forgiveness ever the wrong approach? When do we cross the line to codependency and enabling? Is forgiveness a concept independent of the perpetrator?

Like I say, I feel this word deep in my bones, but can’t express it. I’d love to hear your comments. What is forgiveness?