“I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me.” These words are often cited as facilitating the process of forgiveness. While helpful, they are woefully inadequate when attempting a reconciliation in the face of serious wounding and betrayal, such as infidelity and/or abuse.
When an individual has been betrayed, their world turns upside down, their trust in their betrayer is shattered, and they are plagued with grief, pain, confusion, self-doubts, longings, and lots and lots of questions about how something so terrible could have happened to them. Forgiveness is a mere starting point on the long journey toward healing.
A huge gulf exists between forgiveness and reconciliation, bridged only by rebuilding trust. Trust must be re-established prior to reconciliation, which can only be done when the betrayer is able to detail the many ways in which their actions impacted their partner and expresses a brokenness at those consequences now borne by their partner. The betrayer must acknowledge out loud to their partner how they understand their actions affected their partner’s life (body, mind, emotions, spirit, their understanding of trust, relationships, intimacy, and even their own self-worth), and they must express a genuine sense of devastation at having put their partner through that pain. Only then can reconciliation begin.
The process of reconciliation is long and difficult and can begin only after the betrayer expresses a brokenness over the many consequences of their betrayal on their partner. If you have experienced the trauma of infidelity or abuse, you do not have to struggle alone. Please seek support, guidance, and healing from a counselor. At Summit, many of our counselors specialize in working with trauma survivors, helping them heal and rebuild their lives. Dr. Hoag works extensively with adults recovering from the effects of trauma, including physical and emotional infidelity and abuse.