Theme 1: Understanding ForgivenessTheme 2: Psychoeducation
Subtheme 1: Understanding the process of forgivenessSubtheme 2: Addressing misunderstandings about forgiveness
Theme 3: Clarity
Subtheme 1: Clarifying couples’ wants and needsSubtheme 2: Clarifying language of forgiveness
Theme 4: Time
Subtheme 1: Forgiveness takes timeSubtheme 2: Therapist timing of forgiveness
It is unconditional: on offer to the other, regardless of his or her response.It is self-regarding as well as altruistic. As well as being offered for the well-being of the other and of the relationship as a whole, it is nevertheless firmly predicated upon the well-being of both parties involved. It does not require psychic self-injury, though it always involves a cost to the self.It occurs as part of a developmental process, and not as a short cut to avoiding painful negative emotion towards the other person.It usually involves a process that occurs over time; it is not an event that takes place instantaneously.It is asymmetrical, although it may and often does have symmetrical consequences. In other words, part of its unconditional nature means that one party usually instigates the process and may be the container of the relationship’s momentum towards and capacity for forgiveness for some considerable time. Whether or not the offer of forgiveness is accepted or received, its offer always makes a difference which in turn creates a difference.
Definition—Forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate and willful decision on the part of the offended spouse to grant pardon to the offending spouse for his/her act or acts of infidelity.In granting forgiveness, the offended spouse agrees to cease feeling angry and resentful feelings toward the offending spouse.In granting forgiveness the offended spouse agrees to relinquish the right to retaliate against the offending spouse.In granting forgiveness, the offended spouse agrees not to use the offending spouse’s unfaithfulness as a calculated maneuver, strategy or weapon to defeat his/her mate when disagreements arise between them.
Acknowledge that he/she has willfully violated the marriage contract/agreement by becoming involved in an extramarital sexual relationship.Accept full responsibility for the infidelity and not blame his/her spouse or others for his/her unfaithfulness.Request forgiveness.Promise to discontinue the extramarital relationship (if it is still ongoing) and promise not to become involved again, in the future, in any other extramarital sexual relationship.Outline the specific behaviors that he/she agrees to perform in order to demonstrate his/her sincerity and to demonstrate that any and all extramarital relationships have been brought to an end” (2008, page 12).