The compere at a couples’ meeting my husband and I went to, narrated the story of a telenovela, where one halve of two married neighbours had gotten involved with each other sexually, which led to a pregnancy.
At this point, let me state that my husband was shaking his head and mouthing, “It is over. The marriage has ended.” And I must state that most of the other men too were shaking their heads, patting their knees in that manner that says, “What else are we talking about again.”
As for the female folks, we were enjoying the story and flowing along with our oohs and aahs. The question at the end of the day was what you would do if you find yourself in that position? Would you be able to forgive your wife for her infidelity? What about the baby growing inside her? At that meeting, there should be close to 15 men present, and a small percentage of them said they might be able to forgive an unfaithful wife but the baby was another matter entirely, especially as they know who the father of the child is.
“It will be too much. It will be just like a constant reminder of her unfaithfulness, I can’t live with that child.”
“She can stay, if she wants but that child will not stay under my own roof.”
“I will have nothing to do with her again! As for the child, I don’t care! Wetin concern agbero with overload. It is none of my business; in fact, she is none of my business.”
These were Christian men, who had married in church, promised for better, for worse. Interestingly, as the husbands spoke, the wives concurred. We knew our husband’s temperament was not going to forgive infidelity, much more one that resulted in a pregnancy; you might as well pack your load and keep it moving.
When the question was flipped, what if your husband had a child out of wedlock, would you forgive him? Would you accept to raise the child? I guess, you already know the answer…almost all the women said they would forgive their husband, if he ever cheated on them, even if he did it to the extent he got someone pregnant and had a child out of wedlock.
Come and see mushy mushy talk of “I love him.” “I will forgive him and even raise the child with our own children.” Only a few ladies were willing to say goodbye to their marriage on the basis of their husband’s infidelity. It was a discovery that birthed so much laughter at that meeting, as it became obvious women were more forgiving of even infidelity than men were.
And you know what? That gathering and their reactions to the issue of forgiveness is simply a reflection of the larger society. Even amidst all the laughter that story and resulting reactions brought, it did not diminish the issue of forgiveness and its role in a relationship.
One of the men made a remarkable statement about how anger works, with a quote from Nelson Mandela, who said anger was drinking poison and expecting your enemies to die. Anger, if left over time leads to resentment, which ultimately kills a marriage or any relationship for that matter.
Forgiveness is not easy. It is, in its most basic sense, letting go of the desire, the need, and the “right” to require punishment or restitution for a perceived offense.
When you forgive someone for hurting you, you’re telling yourself you’re ready to let go of that situation. You no longer want to think about it or hold on to it. You want to move on.
The alternative is unforgiveness. This could take the form of a spouse withdrawing emotionally, withholding who they are, their expressions of love, in an attempt to reduce vulnerability for a future wounding, an attempt to “flee” from potential hurt. An individual may protect themselves by becoming “armed”, by having an arsenal of criticism ready should they need to “fight” when anticipated pain is triggered in the future.
No one wins when pain is left unresolved. Pain is a signal that something is wrong. Within a relationship, when pain comes through insensitivity, lack of support, misunderstandings, or unmet expectations, forgiveness offers a remedy that has a twofold benefit.
Forgiveness allows us to move beyond our pain, to heal, and to grow. So every time you think about your ex, or how your man has hurt you, instead of going on an internal rant about how much of a loser they are, just simply think: “I forgive you.” And slowly, but surely you will.
Your anger might feel justified, and it probably is, but you don’t want to live your life in a state of hate.
So how do you forgive? First think about the benefits (no obsessing over how upset you are, no more feeling anxious), then about things you might have done wrong (no one is perfect); revisit what happened, seeing if you can understand your reaction and why the other person might have behaved in the way they did. As Frank Fincham, one of the world’s experts on forgiveness puts it, “It’s a free choice to forgive or not, but you can usually make a cost benefit analysis for it.”
It’s time to count your cost and indeed you move on from your hurt.
Stay in love!
Kristine is a member of The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.