Can I Forgive My Husband For Having An Affair
Hi I’m Dr. Paul Jenkins. Welcome to hero TV! It’s tough isn’t it? There are some really hard things that happen and if you’ll stay with me here today for a few minutes, I want to share some experience and resources for you about how you can forgive your husband for having an affair Okay. So this is kind of a tough video. Probably the biggest violation of trust that we could ever experience is infidelity. You found this video because this is showing up somewhere for you. You’ve got a concern either in your own life or someone that you loved maybe going through this. It’s so common. Folks, it’s just, it’s the kind of thing that touches almost every family at some level. So knowing that it’s common doesn’t help it to be less painful. The question comes up, can I forgive? can I forgive my spouse? my husband? my wife? For cheating, for infidelity. For a lot of people, this is a deal-breaker and they feel like if this happens the marriage is over. I have the honor and privilege of attending a workshop by Dr. Scott Hoffman. Recently, he wrote this book “the secrets of surviving infidelity” which incidentally is just an amazing resource for those who might be going through this particular challenge in their life/ So Dr. Scott Houseman, I really appreciate his approach because he feels like it’s not a deal breaker. It is something that has to be dealt with in an appropriate way but it doesn’t necessarily have to end their relationship. And I have found this professionally as well as I’ve counseled with couples over the course of 22 years. Now for about 12 of those years, I did child custody evaluations for the court. This is those bitter, angry, divorcing couples who can’t figure out how to share their children and so the courthas to settle that for them and they appointed me to go in and do an evaluation and try to figure out what should happen there. I share that with you because I want you to know some of the context that I’m coming from. Since I stopped doing child custody evaluations I’ve continued to work with families who are dealing with this very difficult issue. And I found that there are some principles that allow you to productively move forward and to save the marriage. Now, not all of them are saved. I’m going to acknowledge that right up front too and there’s no judgment there. Everyone’s situation is very different. I want to illuminate some of the principles however that would make it possible to find forgiveness and be able to move forward in this relationship. Now when I see forgiveness, forgiveness in my mind does not mean saying that what happened was okay. After all, marriage itself is a promise to not do that. It’s giving yourself wholly and completely to one other person and promising to be loyal and to have complete fidelity. That’s implied in the marriage promise. And so I’m not saying that it was okay that someone cheated. Forgiveness is not saying that it doesn’t hurt me. That’s not what it means either. Okay so, and we can go on and on about what forgiveness doesn’t mean. Here’s what I think it does mean and I’m drawing some of this content from Dr. Fred Luskin who headed up the Stanford forgiveness project. He wrote a book called “forgive for good” and I’m basing some of my material today on what Fred Luskin taught in that book. So let’s start with the first step. Activate your brain. I borrowed that phrase from another friend. Scott Halford who wrote a book called, “activate your brain” Activate your brain, your brain is always active okay? What I’m talking about is the prefrontal area of your, of the higher cortical areas of your brain that are in charge of logic and problem solving and compassion and empathy and forgiveness interestingly enough, we have to activate that part of the brain. As long as our brain iscentered more in the limbic system, in the basement, in the fight-or-flight response, we don’t even have the resources available to us from a brain standpoint to take the steps that are necessary to move forward in a productive way if we’ve been hurt so deeply by the infidelity of our spouse. So activate your brain. now there’s a couple of ways to do this. We get out of the fight-or-flight mode by practicing positivity and go back in Hero TV and find the episodes that we’ve done on positivity and training your brain. Those will help you to get some ideas about how to do this. It’s also been shown that making sure you get enough sleep that you have regular exercise going on daily would be preferred. where you get out and move your body and you get those endorphins flowing. Having a proper diet where you’re putting the right kind of fuel. Notice that I’m talking about just taking care of yourself. Regular periods of prayer and meditation. Okay these things help to activate your brain and they take care of you in a way that you can actually do the other steps that are necessary. So, after we activate the brain we now are in position to do the next thing and that’s where we get to reframe this experience and rethink it in a way that allows us to take it less personally. Every offense has a personal and an impersonal component. Every offense. Now, let’s get clear about what’s personal about this and you’d think, infidelity what could be more personal than that? Well, yeah because it’s you and because it’s your marriage, that’s the personal part. We can’t ignore that it is you. It’s your life, it’s happening to you. Okay that’s the personal part now that’s where it ends because beyond that, it’s not about you. Okay? Now in saying that, I acknowledge that both spouses contribute to a marital dynamic and you have to know what your own part is. But what I’m saying about the infidelity is, at some point it stops being about you and it starts being about someone else’s choice. You see that? So without blaming yourself or anyone else for what happened, realize that there’s an impersonal part of this that has to do with the choices of other people who are not you. And that part doesn’t have anything to do with you. It could have been anyone in your position. Do you see where I’m going with that? It’s kind of like here’s an example I give sometimes, If I were to leave my office and take a walk down State Street now that’s a busy street half a block here from my office and I’m just minding my own business and suddenly two thugs pull over, jump out of their car, beat me up, steal my wallet, and my phone and then take off. okay how’s that about me? Well it is me. My purses, my phone, it happened to me. That’s the personal part. That’s where it ends. Beyond that, how is this not about me? well in this example is very clear, it’s not about me because it’s about the poor choices of those two thugs in the car. Right? You get this? So someone made a poor choice. that’s not about you. The second step that we’re emphasizing right now is that you rethink this experience in a way that allows you to take it less personally. And that puts a little bit of distance there and starts a healing process. It also allows you to continue to move forward with the next steps. After you change your focus, now we’re going to go to responsibility.
Okay now, this part is a little challenging but just stay with me. You take full responsibility for how you feel. This is hard because everything inside of you wants to blame him or her or the person who hurt you. Right? Because it’s so obvious, why am i hurting? Okay. In other videos that we’ve shared in this series, I’ve shown you how your mind and the way you process your experiences creates how you feel. You’re never wrong about how you feel. How you feel is 100% consistent with the way your mind is doing the two processes we talked about in that first video about positivity that I illuminate in this book, portable positivity. Okay I’m referring back to that because we’ve already covered that you have something to do with how you feel. Own that. This is so important. I was, I was going down to visit a client in southern Utah and for those of you who know the geography down there, it’s easy to do this. But you know how when you’re driving, you get lost in your thoughts and you go right past your exit? I knew I had done this when I looked up and I saw this big colorful sign, “Arizona welcomes you” I’m like crap Arizona? really? This isn’t even the right state. This is not what I had in mind, not what I had planned. How often does that show up in life? where it’s like, wow this isn’t what I had in mind. My spouse cheated on me. I’m going through a divorce. I’m going through bankruptcy. Whatever it is. Okay? Well then I look down folks and guess whose hands I see on my steering wheel? See that bites a little bit to take responsibility for how you feel. I get it stings! but the bad news is also the good news because if your hands are on the wheel, what can you do next? that’s right, you get to steer it. Take it somewhere. Here’s where we’re going to take it. So we’re going to step for, just quick review. Okay so step one, is to activate your brain. You take care of yourself, your brain, and your body so that you have the resources on board. Step two is you rethink this experience in a way that allows you to take it less personally. There’s a personal part and an impersonal part. Which one are you going to focus on? Step three is that you take full responsibility for how you feel. See your own hands on that steering wheel because now for step four, we are going to create and share a hero story okay? As opposed to a victim story. Can you picture this? Same characters, same basic plot structure, who are you going to play in this story? Now you can show up as a pitiful victim and point to all those nasty villains who put you in this place. I had one of my clients who, she, I think it was about six months. She had been coming to see me almost weekly she’s paying for the sessions out of her own pocket. and every single session guess who were talking about? we’re talking about Scott, her ex. And finally I just called that to her I said, “whoa, whoa, whoa, she was launching into another victim story” You know what I’m talking about right? and so I stopped her and I said, “wait a minute what if we were to drive up to the theater and your life through the story of your life is being premiered in this theater. And up on the marquee it says, Susan’s life starring Scott” Oh she just about hit me over that. She doesn’t want this to be about him but who had we been talking about? and who is paying the bills for this? do you see where we’re going? So we’re going to relegate him to a supporting role why is a villain present in any production? it’s to illuminate the hero. This is hero TV we can talk about this. It’s to eliminate the hero the hard stuff you’re going through the villains that show up in your life are there to show how amazing and marvelous and heroic you are. So you create a hero story where you say, look here’s the context. Here’s what happened to me, around me, and in my, in my world and here’s what I’m doing with it. So you can choose to write that story. This is the four-part process that you can use to get into a position of forgiveness when you experience something as difficult as your spouse cheating or infidelity that creeps into your marriage. it’s not what you wanted but you can absolutely get to that place. Thanks so much for making this helpful video Paul. Really appreciate that. And I bet you can think of somebody who could really benefit from watching this video as well. Be sure to subscribe so you can learn more about how to live on purpose, make a difference, and be the hero!