What If The Other Person Won’t Forgive You?

Photo credit: nicdalic / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: nicdalic / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

What do you do if you’re the one who has done the wrong? You have acknowledged your error, but the other person won’t forgive you. Or they say they forgive you, but act like they’re still trying to even the score? Do you have to keep asking for forgiveness? Do you need to beg?

These are tough questions. Most marriages deal with this problem at some point. It’s relatively easy to restore a relationship when both partners are willing —one willing to seek forgiveness and the other willing to forgive. But when the wronged partner is unforgiving, what can the guilty partner do?

First remember the closed hand. The unforgiving partner has probably closed his or her spirit to you, and you need to find ways of reopening it. You can’t do that by yelling, warning, shaming, or threatening. “You call yourself a Christian? You have to forgive me or I’ll tell everyone at church what you’re really like!”

Will that help to open anyone’s spirit? Of course not. The fist will just tighten further.

You do not want to go on the offensive in this situation. Remember your position. You have done wrong. You have caused pain. You are now asking a favor. Even if you are both Christians, forgiveness cannot be demanded. Your partner does not owe it to you. You are asking your partner to take a chance on you, a chance to be hurt again. Your partner has every right to have a closed spirit. Now, is there any way to coax it open?

The first attempt is the apology, which you have already offered. Was it sincere? Did you recognize the full extent of your misdeeds? Was it unconditional?

Let’s go to the example of Wilma. Let’s say her apology went something like this: “I’m sorry I threw away your stuff, but you really needed to get rid of it anyway.”

That’s what we call a conditional apology. These usually contain a yeah-but clause in them. If there was any excuse or but in your apology, then go back and apologize more sincerely.

Or you may have used blame shifting in your apology. Kids are especially good at this technique: “I know you told me not to go in the water, but Joey pushed me.” (That’s one I used as a kid.) Even adults use this technique at times: “I know I said I’d be home by 6:00, but my boss wanted me to..”

While Joey or the boss may have affected your behavior, you still need to take full responsibility for the wrong you committed. “My boss asked me to stay and finish payroll, but I know you told me that you had a doctor’s appointment at 6:00, so I should have called or gotten someone else to fill in for me. I was wrong to come home late today. I know that it really messed up your day, and you have good reason for being angry with me. I hope that you will be able to forgive me.” Conditions, excuses, and blame shifting are manipulative. They erode trust rather than restore it.

But what if this has all happened before? You are late for the umpteenth time. If it’s not your boss, it’s the train or the traffic or the terrorist incident that happened on your way home. You have become adept at apologizing with so much practice.

Do you wonder why you’re not being forgiven? Apologies can lose their effect, after about the tenth or twentieth time. Your partner may be withholding forgiveness because he or she does not trust what you’re saying. That’s why our apologies need to be followed by an attitude or behavioral change. In religious terms, you might call this repentance. You stop the offensive behavior, confess it, and then turn the other way.

This step —repentance —may require some time to demonstrate that you really have changed, such as when Art had to prove to Sylvia that he really could be trusted again. Will your partner’s spirit reopen to you? Maybe. Your only remaining tools are prayer, patience and persistence.

•  Prayer Pray that God will open your partner’s spirit, and that He will give you the strength and wisdom to know how to respond.

•  Patience —When you’re trying to mend fences and your partner is stonewalling, the natural, human reaction is to get mad and resentful. You need patience to continue being nice when you’re getting little or no reinforcement.

•  PersistenceDon’t continue to apologize, as long as you have done so sincerely. But you do need to persist in your attempts to demonstrate love, concern, and the desire to improve the relationship. This can be done by reassuring hugs, persistent nonsexual touch, and affirming words of encouragement—even if your partner is not as receptive as you’d like.

What if Sylvia didn’t accept Art’s apology after he had been unfaithful to her but felt sorrowful afterwards? What if she was cold and closed to him for several months? What could Art do to help her forgive him?

First, he could pray that God would open her spirit. If Sylvia was willing, they could even pray together.

Then Art would need to show patience, treating her gently and lovingly. He would need to make behavioral changes in order to rebuild trust. But he would also need to make spirit-opening gestures as well. He wouldn’t want to do this in a manipulative way: “Oh, I’ll buy her some flowers and gifts and she’ll get over it eventually.”

Instead he might discuss how he knows that he’s hurt her deeply but that he’s committed to rebuilding the relationship. He might even ask her to give him hand signals from day to day, showing how open or closed her spirit is toward him-a closed fist, a partially open fist, and then a hand which is steadily opening.

In a solution-based model, we would ask, “How did Art win Sylvia’s trust during the very beginning of their relationship?” While they were dating, Art paid close attention to her needs, listened to her ideas and concerns, and sent her little cards and notes. They went on special dates, held hands, and exchanged reassuring hugs and kisses. Now Art needs to do all those things that he did to win her over in the beginning.

This article is edited from the book, The Marriage Mender, by Dr Thomas A. Whiteman and Dr Thomas G. Bartlett, published by Navpress. This book gives solution-based tools to begin rebuilding your marriage. With illustrations and exercises, it teaches how to look to the future of your relationship instead of focusing on the past with its problems. 

Dr Thomas A. Whiteman is a licensed psychologist who practices with Life Counseling Services in Paoli, Pennsylvania. Dr Thomas G. Bartlett is also a licensed psychologist who practices with Behavioral Healthcare Consultants in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They both work with troubled couples and have conducted seminars on marriage and divorce recovery through Fresh Start Seminars.


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104 responses to “What If The Other Person Won’t Forgive You?

  1. I have an anger problem and my husband likes to hang out! He said he is only hanging with the guys, which I do believe but I get upset when he stays out too late. I argue with him when he gets back! Now I’ve done one too many times that he doesn’t love me anymore. He wants a separation because he said being around me is unbearable! I want to save my marriage but he doesn’t want to forgive me! What should I do?

  2. My husband and I have been married for almost 9 years. He told me a month ago that he cheated on me with a very good friend of mine 7 years ago, only a year and a half in to our marriage…our daughter was only 5 months old. He has apologized and I believe he is sincere. But the problem is that I feel like I have been broken inside, even if it was 7 years ago.

    He has asked me to forgive him and he says he knows that it will take time and that he will do everything he can to gain my trust and love back…and I cannot respond…I can barely look at him without feeling that hurt. I don’t feel the same way about him; I do not love him the same. He is not the man I once knew, he was not the man I thought he was when I married him. I cannot forgive him and I don’t know what to do.

    1. Dear Jessica, Please know that forgiveness is a lot different than most people realize. It is something that will eventually set YOU free. Please read the “Quotes” and other articles in the “Bitterness and Forgiveness” topic, as well as the “Surviving Infidelity” topic. You are on a long, painful journey –a road that you didn’t choose to travel, but because of sinful choices on your husband’s part, you are thrown onto it. The important thing right now is to try to process all of this in the healthiest way you can. It will be one step forward and another back… but eventually, you will make progress. As you prayerfully read through the quotes, articles and testimonies… and possibly even visit some of the web sites we recommend, I believe you will lean towards healing.

      I’m so, so sorry that you are going through this Jessica. It should never have been. But sadly, it has. But I know from all I have seen, that if you lean upon the Lord instead of your own understanding, you will eventually find yourself in a MUCH better place. Please don’t trust your feelings right now… I can assure you that they will change, one way or another. Just read what you can… learn what you can, cry, grieve, work the junk out of your heart and feelings in the healthiest ways you can and you will do better than you could ever imagine at this point. I’ve seen it over, and over, and over again. I pray that for you.

  3. I said to someone that I didn’t like another person then she started telling the person I didn’t like when I actually didn’t mean what I said. I asked for forgiveness but all she said was nothing. What do I do?

  4. My wife moved out four months ago, saying she was “done living in a loveless marriage”, which was due to mostly a communication breakdown and I didn’t respond to her as I should have. I wrote and gave her a reconciliation letter, approved by a marriage counselor no less, about 2 1/2 months ago where I admitted all the mistakes I’d made, listed some of things I loved about her, and asked for her forgiveness. I followed up with an email about a week later, yet there has been no response from her. Obviously, it’s a case where her heart and spirit is closed off to me, and possible Him.

    I’ve pretty much started to “Let go and let God” and quit contacting her about anything, particularly the past month, and pray that He works in her hardened heart as I try, waiting as patiently as I can. I’m standing and holding to His Word that He wants couples he joined to stay joined, per the law of marriage and covenant He put in place.

  5. I’ve apologised way too many times. I’m suffering depression from the separation so it’s difficult to show any happiness. I’ve come across as too desperate and insecure. I’m losing her more and more each day and don’t think I will ever be given her forgiveness, earn her trust, and reconcile to be together again. But I’m afraid of what my life will become if I can’t get my love back; help me please!

    1. I came across this site in desperation for advice on what do I do as well. I have betrayed my husband and am so hurt, depressed and miserable by my actions. Its been a year. I’ve been praying like I have never prayed before, apologized relentlessly, have cried almost every day in the last year, and its just been so hard and painful. We have two small children and he has said he stays because of them. He refuses to sleep next to me, wear his wedding ring, or even attempt to kiss me.

      So many times I have just wanted to end my life, the pain is so unbearable. My children and my dad don’t deserve that hurt and I’m sure you must have others that love you. It’s so hard to believe that you can hurt so badly while it seems the unforgiven isnt hurting too much. Like you, I’ve tried desperately to make amends but all I do is hurt and cry as he just doesn’t seem affected by it at all.

      I started some antidepressants, which have helped as the everyday crying and hurt was deeply affecting my life.

      I hope things are getting better for you. This has to be the most painful experience in life. Try to pray, ask God for strength to keep strong, try to be around people who love you and will make you feel good. After over a year of heartbreak and desperation, I’m not sure I can take much more.

      Maybe some people just can’t forgive and maybe we’ve to move on to stop the hurting. I have made plans to do a lot of activities without him from now on because it hurts too much to be constantly pushed away by someone you love so desperately. I’ve read a lot of self help books and going to church has helped me a great deal. Hope you are healing.

      1. Liz, I feel your pain and do hope that by now you’re no longer in pain and have been forgiven. I recently had friends visit from abroad. During the few weeks they spent with us, I thought we had a great time. But when they left a storm came into my marriage over their visit. My husband of 2-3 years with whom I’ve had the best of relationships, started to act strange. When I asked him what’s wrong he told me that he was hurt by how I had joked around with my best friend’s husband in the last 2 weeks and that he couldn’t understand how my friend was ok with it.

        He then brought in an issue of the past all about trust when a co worker had picked me up literally and another coworker took a picture of it. Then he started telling me about how I should not even be talking texting or having any communication with male friends from the past where there may have been an intimacy.

        I’ve explained that the coworker incident was not my fault but I’m still sorry it happened and that it hurt him. Then I’ve apologized about the friends visit and how it made him feel. I’ve reassured him that I will be mindful of my responses to guys in the future. Now bear in mind I’m close to 50 and not even slightly interested in making life more complicated. He’s stuck in a rut and says he forgives, but then he’s behaving strange still. I feel your pain although in my opinion my issue is not half as serious as yours probably. I think I’m dealing with my husband’s real issue here -trust issues, which I kind of knew but it never really caused any discomfort till now.

  6. My wife has a closed heart and has lost interest in God. I have asked for forgiveness when I have wronged her, but no forgiveness or little response or communication. Please pray for my wife that her heart may open to the Lord and me. I am loving, being patient and praying for her daily. Any recommendations on opening up a closed heart would be appreciated. God Bless you!

  7. My husband and I had a fight and it has been three days that he didn’t talk to me. It is so painful. I served him supper but he neglects it. He never tells me any single word. It is killing me inside. The fight started with me comfronting him that I feel bad about what I discovered. We were already together, long distance relationship. I did not know that he was living in the same roof with his x wife until we we were together for a year. Because it is long distance, I didn’t know what he was doing. I asked and he tells me he is doing this with his kids and his parents. When we lived together, I discovered that he was with his x-wife.

    I feel so bad about this even if it was 2 years ago. I feel cheated and I don’t know what to do. God knows I love him so much but He also knows how hard it is to know that somebody you love lied to you. I asked my husband, “how come I didn’t know?” and he just said, “I do not know” while flipping in his phone. You know, I am trying to open up and solve a problem that has been bothering me, but then, he shuts me off.

    Now, I feel so distant from him. I beg him to talk to me, and he just says,”shut up.” I am so scared that our marriage will fall apart because of this. I feel left alone and abandoned. It was just a tiny thing but he is so angry at me and he is making me feel like I am invisible. By the way we are married for just 6 months. I keep saying sorry if I got mad about the lying part but he still will not talk to me. I want to hear his part too but he just shuts me off and never talks. I don’t know what this means. I cannot figure it out. I love him so much and I do not want to lose him but it seems that this issue is making a gap between us already. It is so painful.

    1. My husband treats me like this too. He has so few communication skills that he thinks every discussion is an argument. It usually ends up that he tells me he regrets marrying me. We didn’t date long enough before getting married, and he would get a divorce “if he could” (what I think he means is “if his daughter didn’t love me so much”). I started saying “if you’re so miserable, why don’t you file the papers?” That curbed it so far.

      I totally understand the silent treatment. My husband holds grudges for days. He’s currently holding one from 3 days ago when I told him something completely inappropriate of sexual content that he said about me in front of 4 other people (his 12 year old daughter, her mom, his coworker, and his coworker’s girlfriend) hurt my feelings and humiliated me. He denies the problem or that I should have feelings. I’m too sensitive. It’s not easy to live with someone who enjoys and jokes with all of his friends and then becomes sullen and pouty when he’s home alone with you. He said it’s harder to forgive me each time.

      I’ve found some solice in knowing that the Lord is in control. The Lord wants good for us, even through bad times… the time that we grow in Him. What I’m really leaning on is that our Good Lord said that anything we ask in His name (provided it is in His will), He will not deny us. That’s my prayer for you!

  8. What if none of this has worked and ex-spouse refuses to forgive and moved on to someone else? I have given up. I think if God wanted to restore he would have by now. It’s been almost 2 years.

  9. Why should they forgive you? You can’t ever be *entitled* to forgiveness. It’s a kind of test. If you can’t live with not being forgiven then you’re not really that genuinely sorry.
    Imagine you killed someone. You didn’t mean to but you got drunk and stupid and drove into someone. You live with that forever. They do not even live to forgive you. Their family doesn’t have to forgive you. They almost certainly won’t. In a small community (or family) you’ll still live close with them. But they don’t forgive you. Why should they? Why would they?

    Instead they need to accept what happened really happened for their own sake. But that does nothing for you. You’re owed nothing. Live with it or show your not really that sorry and are only staying for the forgiveness.

    1. That’s not fair, if God forgives, who is man not to? After all, repentance is seeking the forgiveness of God, showing you’re sorry and promising never to return to that act again. Although, yes a drunken driver killing an innocent victim is different to forgiveness in marriage.

      We all make mistakes and are human. Why should such a strong covenant be destroyed because of pride and ego, after all, that’s what unforgivemness is, isn’t it?

        1. I agree Fatima, I have deeply hurt the person I love and after over two years he has not forgiven me. I have become a victim of his un-forgiveness and he has become a victim of the pain I caused him. You can do everything you can possibly do but if someone is set on not forgiving you it is painful for both parties and you will be miserable, I know from experience.

          No, you are not entitled to forgiveness but it is necessary to move forward in the relationship. I have come to believe that with out forgiveness it is better to part ways. I am speaking of the person I was going to marry before I did what I did.. It is a painful process but there is always light at the end of it.

          1. Hello…Let me share my experience with you. Thanks. I hurt my girlfriend. She got angry at me and hateful of me. I asked for her forgiveness, sincerely. She refused to forgive me. She admitted, she will never, ever to forgive me. The pain and disappointment was unbearable for her to forgive me.

            What I did wrong to her: I kicked her out of my house because I could no longer take her disloyalty and lack of integrity towards our relationship, which caused me to not trust her anymore. Prior to this, we talked about this situation that she must stay away from flirting/leading on a man at her work. They in turned built an emotional attachment/ affair.

            I reminded her that we’re dating and we planned to get married one day soon, have a family, kids, and happy home. She told me her family wanted to see me. I agreed as planned. But her disloyalty and lack of integrity has not changed. I even told her to tell the guy that she already has a bf to drive the guy away. She did not do it because she said she’s leading on the guy so she gets what she wants from him such as favors, snacks, etc… I told her it’s not a good idea using people that way.

            She spent a lot of time texting with the guy even off work days. There was no cheating involved. As a decent man of faith, I never cheated in the past, and I don’t want our journey to marriage to be marred with unfaithfulness by her (red flags on the wall). I decided to kick her out of the house. She feels I was being unfair for kicking her out. I told her of my reasons that disloyalty and lack of integrity is not included in my journey to marriage, and our journey must be paved with honesty.

            I went to church and prayed to God with all my heart, tears in my eyes, and asked the Father Almighty to forgive me for hurting my gf as I could no longer afford to have her with me.
            After praying on my knees, I got up and felt the burden off my shoulders, lightness in my chest, ease to breathe… and my sight became brighter. The Holy Spirit must have touched me and forgiven me. I felt lightness as I walked out of the church. I thank God for his love and forgiveness.

            I’m aware that God can forgive me even if the person who I wronged could not forgive me. My gf has to deal with her anger, hatred, and unforgiving heart to God the Almighty. I feel peace and free now.

      1. Dear Fatima, I have been a victim of cheating, but I parted immediately because I could not base my marriage on lies and cheating. Although, I haven’t been married I feel a major problem lies with the reason to justify cheating. Of course, there is reason for someone looking outside of marriage but that should never be left as an option. I know there are people like me who are completely against cheating. I hope to find someone like that. Or maybe I am expecting too much?

    2. You’re not married, are you? A marriage doesn’t stay together long without forgiveness and if it does, it isn’t good. During Christmas time, my husband was holding a grudge for something he perceived I was wrong about. Without knowing, my sister gave us a cute sign that read “a good marriage is a union of two good forgivers” – Mark Twain. Forgiveness is essential to marriage.

      1. Suzanne, Amen, forgiveness is essential!! I have seen amazing stories of people forgiving their spouses even after they divorced them and caused them great pain, now this couple is married once more.

  10. I had a relapse in substances a year ago. My wife took the kids and left. I got clean and begged her to come back, I was on dating sites when she left, just to make her mad, but I never saw anyone in person or met anyone. But It was inappropriate even if I never knew who I talked to. Now she is back but accuses me daily of doing it again even though I gave her all my passwords and all. I have been 100% careful to do nothing wrong but she is madder every day and believes her own lies. Don’t know what to do.

    1. TJ… All you can do is pray for strength and favor and keep staying clean. God can help –by giving you insights as you pay attention, and the test of time will hopefully be your friend. Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to get into a pity party state, which says, “well, since she doesn’t trust me anyway, why should I keep trying?” I’m forewarning you of this ahead of time. It will be a temptation you will battle with the current situation the way it is. Please, just do what you know is honorable, no matter what your wife does. And pray for wisdom and insight as to ways to show your wife beyond the ordinary, that you love and honor her –that you “get it” as far as how wrong you were before.

      Eventually, I believe you will gain her trust. But it’s often not a short-term thing that happens. You broke her heart and her innocent trust in you. Now you need to man up and do what it takes to show her (and your kids, because either now or later, they will see what their dad did with this and it will teach them things, either for the good or bad) that you are willing to do what it takes to make this right. You were wrong, but now you know how to do it right. So do it… and don’t give up. I hope you do and pray for you and your wife and kids that you can persevere in being the good husband and father that you know you should be.

      P.S. I also want to congratulate you on getting clean. I know that is no small task… staying clean is even harder, ESPECIALLY when you’re facing trials. But hang tough T.J. I know you can do it and your kids are counting on you doing it. You are a living example to them of how to act in the face of tough stuff. I pray strength for you.

  11. I am not married yet & I’m in a relationship. I have done something wrong, which caused misunderstandings between us. Now he is not replying my texts nor answering my calls. After one and a half days of ignoring me, he texted me asking me not to disturb him first. I have already sent many texts apologizing and promising not to repeat the same mistake again. After he asked me not to disturb him, I have stopped texting & calling him. What should I do now?

    1. Jasmine, You need to honor what he asked you to do, as difficult as that may be. If you go ahead and text him when he has asked you not to, he will feel violated and will feel like you won’t honor the boundaries he has asked you to. You will heap another problem on top of the problem you already have going for you. That will undermine any type of relationship you could have in the future. I know this is difficult because you want to make everything right again, but you will do more damage by contacting him than by not contacting him. You want him to miss you, not regret knowing you. I know that one and a half days seems like forever when you are feeling anxious, but it’s a drop in the bucket in reality.

      As the scriptures tell us… you need to do: “do not be anxious for anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Pray for the situation and for him, and for you, honor him, and see where it leads. You have already apologized, so let it lay there. He knows you are sorry. Let that set with him for a while. At this point, you need to see if he will forgive you on his own, in his own timing –not yours. If he won’t, then there would be even more problems in the future.

      1. Dear Cindy,
        Thank you for your reply. You don’t know how much your reply means to me. I was doing a Google search on whether men take a longer time to forgive than women when I came across your website. I was feeling so down that I just tried submitting my comment. I was so touched when I saw your reply.

        Actually I know what I should do, that is to give him time and space to get over the hurt. I just find it so tough. You were right. I am anxious to make everything right again. I want us to be as loving as we’ve always been. I know he needs more time. While I forgive & forget more easily, he takes quite a while to cool down. I am more soft-hearted.

        Well, I told myself if he really loves me, he will forgive me and forget about all the unhappiness that has happened. However, if he finds it difficult to get over the hurt & chooses to leave me, then perhaps he doesn’t love me enough and we are just not meant to be.

        Thanks Cindy for your encouragement. I will leave everything at the feet of Jesus and learn to be still while waiting for him to contact me again.

        1. Dear jasmine, I have read your post and I think it’s God’s will that I actually chanced upon your post as I’m having the same problem as you. I didn’t cheat or have an affair. I replied to my ex texts a few times and my boyfriend found out. I had lied that I didn’t message my ex. He is now furious and refuses to forgive me. He says he wishes he didn’t love me. I’ve tried asking if he wants space; he says to leave him alone but he keeps replying my texts and his texts are on the scolding side. So I’m not sure if I should totally stop texting him and leave him to himself. I have apologized a million times and am willing to stop texting. The texts weren’t anything bad but just random topics for 10mins that sort of thing.

          I’m like you I tend to forgive more quickly while my bf takes a longer time. How long did it take for you? And should I really just leave him to be?

  12. I married my husband a year and a half a go and listened to some lies that were said about him and began to not trust him. Now there has been a lot of damage done and he will not forgive me. He tells me terrible things and calls me names and it feels like he is trying to punish me for the rest of my life.

    He said he would love me again when I start to love him and respect him. I have changed a lot of bad behavior thanks to God. But he continues to bring up the past and treat me as if I am still making the same mistakes and the way he speaks to me and abut me hurts a lot.

    This makes it so difficult to look forward and focus on being better. I don’t think I am cut out for this. I have admitted all my wrongs and stopped justifying why I felt insecure. I’m losing patience and I don’t know what elder to do. I just think he’s already given up on us. Please pray for us.

  13. I was unfaithful to my wife. I know that there is no good reason to cheat, but she is a mean, unappreciative, disrespectful wife(has been since we got married). She loves to shift blame and she doesn’t respect things like being on time, etc. I got sick of it and I lost my head. I am very remorseful and really trying to win her back, but she is acting like she always has. It’s really embarrassing and she’s not really a joy to be around. I do want my marriage. IDK, maybe I’m rambling but this sucks! What can I do?

  14. Dear Liz. I read your post. I’m so sorry that you have to go through this heartache. I will pray for you. Never lose hope and continue in your faith no matter how hurtful it is. God loves you and remember, you’re not alone. Give your burden to Christ and let Him do the restoring work in your marriage. His will be done. May God be your comfort and give you peace, hold you close in the riches of his love and forgiveness. Love, Debbie

  15. There are other apologies that don’t get the job done, beyond a conditional apology.

    The best way to apologize is, after an apology for something significant, is to ask how your action made the other person feel. You can open the door by saying, “That must have really hurt. How did you feel when I did that?”

    On the flip side, explaining away something that you did that caused your spouse great pain will only dig you into a deeper hole. This is what many people do, and it is a relationship killer. Take responsibility, especially when you’ve hurt someone.

  16. Too much pain, 27 years of pornography, prostitutes, fornication and more. In the past I fasted, prayed, forgave, believed, and surrendered to the will of God. I read his prayer journal, a very rare occurrence, which he stated I was too fat.

    That’s when I discovered more porn, fornication with a young 27 year woman I had fed, clothed, looked after in my own home for 6 years. Both tried to commit suicide, both are humble, repentant, and want to forget the past and move on. My husband said it’s a spiritual battle, demonic. God taught him how powerful the enemy is.

    I need to forgive, reconcile, have closure, be a godly woman, submit, obey, be gentle with a meek spirit, and let him lead. I need to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh. I’m stuck and can’t move forward. This set of pain and suffering is added to a list of other serious events, as well. God Bless.

  17. This was a life changing experience for me. God gave me the strength to read this and understand it. Thank you.

  18. I have a similar problem. I lied to my boyfriend very early on in our relationship but he found out about it many months later when we were much further along and talking about spending our lives together so the blow to him was devastating. This was 5 months ago and has been trying to get past it ever since. During this time I have done everything possible to regain his trust, being completely transparent, loving, caring and thoughtful. He says even though he has “forgiven” me he still does not trust me all these months later.

    Now he wants to just give up trying. He says he doesn’t think he will ever get past it. I just don’t believe that. We had an amazing love, talked all the time about how lucky we were to have that kind of connection and how happy we were. It’s just hard to believe there is nothing we can do. E has mentioned that past experiences are contributing to him not being able to get past it. How do I convince him that there is hope and we should not stop trying? What can I suggest as new ways to approach it or new ways to work on it? Help. We prayed together, attended church together. We were so crazy in love and truly had an amazing relationship before this happened. Please help me.

  19. What should one do if the fist never opens? I heard like a bird, set them free unconditionally with love.

    1. Miguel, I believe that if you have done all that you can, maybe it is time for you to free them. By no stretch of the imagination am I advocating divorce (if you’re married); however, if this is a friend of yours, giving that person some time can be heaven-sent. You may still love that individual, but free them. When you free them, you can free yourself, too. Don’t allow guilt to eat away at your heart.

      May God bless you. Pray and ask for the Holy Spirit to give you guidance.

  20. I’m in really terrible situation. My wife of 9 years has totally detached. I’ve been verbally abusive over the years and she has had it. I’m on medication and am trying to move heaven and earth for her, have clearly acknowledged my faults, begged for forgiveness and am doing all I can in addition to praying.

    She’s totally done with me and many of her actions mimick someone who might as well have had an affair. I can’t tell if that’s the case but I cal so can’t live in limbo wondering how long she will stay with me or start to make baby steps to opening back up. She just doesn’t want to hear a thing, no marriage counseling, no talks, no plan, or anything. Let’s give it six months, she says, and we will see.

    This is torture, literally purgatory on earth. I still love her, hence the pain. I can only take so much abandonment. Her friends mean more to her she’s said, and we as clearly stated she doesn’t care how I feel. Now what? We have a 5 year old on top of it.

  21. I was in a relationship where marriage was talked about. An incident took place where he felt that I had embarrassed him in front of his colleagues. He introduced me to someone that he used to be involved with. It seemed awkward even though I had agreed to it. I also felt that this individual was rude. It seemed as if she had a problem with me seeing this person. I didn’t display my attitude about it; however, I felt so uneasy about things that I decided to leave the restaurant. He followed me outside where I expressed my displeasure. Granted, I was rude in walking away, and he was very angry about it. He has a temper out of this world, and hasn’t forgiven me.

    The incident took place about 5 months ago. Nevertheless, he hasn’t forgiven me. We broke up; and I’ve asked him for forgiveness and have apologized several times. He still contacts me but things aren’t the same. He brings it up quite often. I understand that forgiveness takes time; but I would prefer to let him deal with it in his own way. I’ve acknowledged what I did; however, I will not be held in bondage. I’ve asked God for forgiveness and I feel redeemed.

    He has so much unforgiveness in his heart towards others as well. I’ve done my part and I’m not angry with him. I’m willing to give him the time that he needs to deal with our situation. I love him, but I’ve taken it to the Lord in prayer. When you’re dealing with someone, you’re also afforded the opportunity to truly find out some things that you don’t have in you. It also affords you the opportunity to see the heart of the individual, as well.

    Dealing with hurt is different for everyone; and I simply pray that he goes to God and talks with Him about the situation. Some people who won’t or don’t forgive have issues with their heart. However, when a person admits to doing wrong and asks for forgiveness, it is then up to the offended person to eventually accept it or not. Do the right thing before God first and try to make things right with the offended individual. I have done that and believes that if a person apologizes too much, it loses its strength. Pray for them and allow God to move on your behalf.

    1. Dear Cindy, I am not married to my significant other either but we’ve been together for 7 yrs and I love him with everything that I am. But I did something that he said was betrayal to him. He said something about a co-worker of mine, someone I considered a good friend of mine but he felt she had a problem with him and her friendship wasn’t true. So I went to her and told her how he felt minus the friendship part. So I went back and told him what she said and he became so angry with me and said I threw him under the bus, that I had betrayed him!

      Now he says he can’t trust me to not do it again and he can’t forgive me and won’t ever forgive me! I kinda believe him because he doesn’t have a Christian heart so he’s good at holding grudges for a long time! My heart is so broken because I gave up everything to be with him and love him unconditionally no matter what he says or does, the way Jesus taught me to love!

      I’ve done all I can do, I’ve begged and cried to, no avail. I prayed and asked God to soften his heart and his spirit, to take away the anger and replace it with His love. I gave the problem to Him and asked Him to put our love back the way it’s supposed to be! So I’ll just wait and be silent and let God handle it! 😢

  22. We’ve been married for ten years. Not long after we were married, we had a huge argument and my husband said maybe we weren’t meant to be together. I was very upset and did something that resulted in me hurting myself badly. I have scars in my heart from that episode and scars on my body. I’m in physical discomfort daily and am continually reminded of my temper and anger. I asked my husband to forgive me at the time of the accident and several times since. But, at least once a month, he will “remind” me that I was the crazy one who hurt myself. I know that forgiving is not forgetting. I cannot forget, and if my husband cannot forgive me, how can I forgive myself?

  23. Me and my wife have been married for 10 years now and this story is happening up to today but when this all started we where in our teens. I’m in such distress. In the beginning I had a child with another woman. I hardly got to see my son because of his mother. When me and my wife were first dating I took it upon myself to go and see my son without telling at the time my girlfriend (wife) for I didn’t feel it was anyone’s business if I went and saw my son for a few hours. Now she will not forgive me for that. I told her I understood.

    Later on in our life I let a friend use the internet to look up people who my girlfriend didn’t like but were my friends. She said I betrayed her. She hasn’t forgiven me. Later we got married and I was so happy thinking we had put the past behind us. We engaged in a three way with a girl that I did not start but yes I took part of also. She said I should have said no. I thought it’s something she wanted to try. She says it’s the image of me and another girl being together that she is most angered by and she won’t forgive me.

    With me working long hours during the day and her wanting to work nights I told her how not seeing her but for a few hours as in only to get a shower and go to sleep I was lonely without her. I tried to ask if she could take the day shift. She said she likes the money on night shifts. I ended up texting her cousin inappropriately looking for attention and because I was bored being alone. I admitted my failure to be honorable to her as I should never have done this, but she hasn’t forgiven me and I understand.

    I was asked to go to a strip club with friends while she was pregnant. She brushed my hair for me me, picked out something nice for me to wear and told me to have fun. She never forgave me.

    4 years later we had trouble communicating so we thought we should talk things out so we knew how each other felt. We did and it made things worse, so much worse. Now she says since the beginning she has never forgiven me for any of this. So I ask is all of this my fault? For 4 years now I have assured her of my honesty and I only ask that if this was true why not tell me how she felt? I would never had done those things if she would have said it made her feel bad and didn’t approve. I know I have done wrong but to now make me suffer for all this?

    She says she does not know how to forgive me for all I have done. So I ask what can I do? I feel horrible when she now pushes me away but then we had the most intimate moments just last night and she was so loading on me telling me how she missed the connection we were feeling. And then today she’s cold again. Should I feel so horrible and confused? I have asked for her to forgive me but yet she hasn’t. …Thank you for reading my story.

    1. Richard, you know the answer to this. No one really has to tell you. But I’ll put them into words and add a few things and hopefully, this will help a bit. Of course you know it’s not all your fault, or her fault. You’re both sending unspoken (and hurtfully spoken) messages to each other. She needs to be more real with what she wants –telling you so and not assuming you should “just know,” which is something too many women are guilty of (I’ve been there and done that with my husband in the past too… so I know how messed up that kind of behavior is).

      And you need to quit walking the line of doing things you shouldn’t, whether you’re “bored of being along” or what. You know better… you just want her approval, and then when it comes back to bite you, you cry fowl. Man up and quit looking to your wife for permission to do that, which you shouldn’t do. You made a vow to your wife to be faithful and to love her… so quit whining about being “bored” and find ways to connect with your wife. It may be more of a challenge at this point in your marriage, but that’s all part of the marriage package. (We have a lot of things on this web site that can help you if you make the effort to look and apply that, which will work for your marriage.) No strip joints, no threesomes, no “inappropriate texting” ANYONE –bored or not, no secrets that she should know about… even if she is unforgiving. You promised to honor her in your vows… now live it. Man up!

      If she were to ask me, I’d tell her to quit saying one thing when you have different feelings in the matter about it. Be truthful… live a life of Truth; quit the game-playing. Marriage is for grown ups, not for kids. Leave that to the 5 year olds. And this not forgiving thing… how’s that working for her? Is it helping matters or is it making things worse? And if SHE messes up does she want you to withhold forgiveness? We ALL need forgiveness and grace, and we should all give it. Go to a counselor (a marriage friendly one –because not all counselors are marriage-friendly… some can kill marriages –others can help them). She needs to get her life straightened out where she brings out the bitterness –with a good counselor to guide her (working on one point at a time)… working through the whole matter and then releasing it (one point at a time). Dragging around old baggage of the past only tires everyone out and eventually overburdens the relationship where it’s in danger of being killed by it. No one… including her, and especially her, needs to keep entertaining this stuff of the past. Bring it out, deal with it, and then let it go. Let the past live in the past and then work to NOT get into these types of situations again, which will breed bitterness.

      You’re both playing with fire in your marriage. You’re walking the edge (and sometimes, you’ve dived over the edge) of what you should be doing, which will hurt your marriage relationships. Threesomes NEVER work out… tempting as they may be to some people… they bring contamination into the relationship with mental pictures that will haunt, etc… I’m not just saying this because I’m a Christian; I’m saying this because I’ve seen the damage this kind of behavior does. You BOTH need to get your act together and start doing things that will make positive deposits into your relationship, rather than negative ones.

      And if you won’t BOTH do it, then at least one of you should do what you should do… perhaps it will inspire the other to start participating in building the marriage up, rather than tearing it down. That’s what my husband and I started doing (when we came dangerously close to divorcing), and it’s amazing where our relationship is now… amazingly good! But of course, a big part of that is because we both eventually committed our lives to Christ and HE has been showing us how to better show love to each other. What a wild (and good) ride it has been since… tough at times, but a healing type of tough, and GREAT other times. I pray that for you both.

  24. I have been away from my wife and two children, for almost two and half years. It was a court order that I was restricted from being around them. She claimed that I’ve abused them, but in my case, I thought I was the one being abused. I work two jobs to support the family. My wife thinks that I don’t have the love for the family and I’m only minding my own business. I got into an argument with my older daughter, and the next thing, I was told to move out and stay away. The court order had expired or was lifted in May of this year and I continued to be away fearing that I’ll end up in the say situation, and until today I have not gone to them.

    I have met with one of the church pastors. This Pastor is a Youth Pastor for both of my kinds. We all used to go to this church until I had to move out of the house we all used to live in. I’m still paying the mortgage and the children support and their health insurance. I was a little uneasy without my wife’s support to work, particularly when the economy is sluggish and the kids demands are growing by the day.

    I and my wife met with the Pastor for the first time under his supervision. My wife is still mad and closed about me. She told the Pastor that she doesn’t trust me. I tried to say that I’ve been taking the training from a Christian family therapist and had learned all the technique from him. I said to her and the Pastor, that I know now what was wrong with me, but she is not buying it about my training. I didn’t argue, but I let her vent and gave her all the opportunities to do the talking.

    Even today, I’m praying, and being patient and waiting. I have a court hearing this Tuesday and I’ve asked the court to see my kids. I’ve also asked the Pastor if I can see them under his supervision. So far, nothing had worked. I have only the Lord that can change my situation. What help can you give besides asking the Lord to interfere in my family’s life? I want to go back and I’m afraid because of the repercussion.

    1. Solomon, unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do right now to get your wife and kids back. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible –just that it will take God’s miracle working effort (thus, prayer helps), and your effort to turn your life around. You need to learn to handle conflict in healthy ways (everyone does), whether or not your wife ever trusts you again. Going to your pastor, arranging visits with him or another pastor on staff could eventually help. And possibly having the Christian family therapist, you referred to, talk on your behalf (if he believes you have learned the things that will best help you to work through your issues with your wife and family in healthy ways… I’m not sure if he will want to do more work with you, or not). But it sounds like you are making good steps. I hope you won’t give up… it’s worth the persevering effort. I pray strength, wisdom, discernment, and God’s favor for you as you genuinely lean upon Him for guidance in this matter. Keep praying, believing, and making positive steps… you’re on the right track.

  25. Hi I have not been the best husband over the last 3.5 years I have not been by her side at all. I always chose my family over her. We had to move back to her mums when we couldn’t afford the rent increase. Our twins won’t stop crying they’re constantly in our bed. Everything was going fine to my knowledge until she woke up one day and said she can’t do this anymore. I moved back to my parents to try and give her some space but this hasn’t seemed to work. She tells me that one minuite she misses me and the next she hates me and that she doesn’t know if she can forgive me as so much has happened between her and my family. She tells me she is so angry and bitter towards me. All I want to do is prove I can be the loving husband and best friends that we once were but she is so stubborn. I can’t see a path to get through this; she is my best friend.

  26. I’ve been married for 17 years. Seven years ago I lost my job. It was my fault. I asked her to forgive me; she says that she has not. I know what kind of financial burden this has put on her and I am sorry. We have two kids and I don’t believe in divorce. Since I’ve lost my job I’ve had many other jobs; none of them has paid as much as my old job. I’m trying and I love her, I love my family. But my heart is hurt as is hers.

  27. Very good article about when someone can’t seem to forgive you . It still troubles me because he had done many things to me before I gave in and sinned against him and I know I should not have given in to sin but now my life is so different I turned completely away from sin and literally started a new life. He moved 500 miles away to be with me but will not forgive me for my past and continues to bring up some parts of my past. I literally have showed so much love for him and feel like no matter what I do it is not enough.

  28. I made a big mistake of going online on dating sites and personals and my wife found out. I have apologized and acknowledged what I did but she says she won’t forgive unless I give her all the specifics and details …who …what how …what was said etc. I did go online …what should I do? A lot of that I cannot produce. Advice please? I don’t know what to do. I love this woman and want our relationship to be mended.

    1. Rob, this will be very, very difficult because her trust in you and her innocence is now broken. She will never be as trusting again. I’m reminded of something one marriage expert (Diane Sollee) said, “What we really need is a time machine so that people entering into an affair could flash forward and see themselves, their kids, and their lives at the other end of their lust.” Sadly, you’re starting to see the harm afterwards. But as bad as this is, there are a lot of things you can do, which could help to build trust back into your relationship. I hope and pray you will.

      First, whether or not you ever took these actions to a physical place… this is still infidelity to your wife. You might think, “well, I SHOULD have because I’m being punished as if I were.” But thank God if you didn’t. Trust me… you don’t need those in your memory bank and your wife doesn’t need it either. As difficult as this is (I know you can’t imagine that, and neither could she), it would be even worse. This will be a tough, long journey to help repair that, which was shattered. But it is SO worth it. So whether you did or didn’t take this to physical places, don’t minimize the impact this is having on your wife’s heart. It’s as if you stabbed her –the one person she trusted with her all. You don’t recover from this without it being a very painful journey. But it CAN happen. We’ve seen this over and over and over again that couples CAN grow a great marriage again. Please know that.

      With that said, here is an article, which has other articles linked to it to read: http://marriagemissions.com/rebuilding-your-marriage-after-you-had-the-affair/. And then go into the “Surviving Infidelity” as well as the “Emotional and Physical Affair” topic and read and view all you can. You need to glean through it… try to understand it from your wife’s perspective and then do what it takes to help bring healing. Even if your marriage doesn’t survive this, please do what you can to help her to heal. Don’t run away, but instead, please take the time to do this. Make it your mission to work on this issue for your wife’s sake, for the sake of your future integrity, and as a testimony to help others who are tempted to fall into this type of temptation. You can be better than what you did. This doesn’t have to take you and your marriage down. Please invest your energies into your marriage instead of places you shouldn’t. You and your wife are in our prayers.