I just read an article on social shame from Affair Recovery about the betrayed spouse’s shame and their need to restore honor. I am not yet sure what I think about the totality of that article, but something did strike a chord.
I was thinking more about being able to forgive Mindless. I posted a comment to my Forgiveness post yesterday regarding how I forgave my dad when I was a teenager. And, it occurred to me, perhaps this “restoring honor” is a crucial element, both then and now on my path to forgiveness.
With my dad, I think I felt that he had trampled upon my honor and dignity by thinking I would always be forgiving, quickly and easily. I think part of why I stopped talking to him, stopped interacting with him was because my pride was hurt and it was my attempt to regain honor and dignity. Perhaps him coming to “rescue” me, knowing that it likely wouldn’t change anything between us, was him putting aside his pride to show me that I was more important. Perhaps, somehow, this allowed me to regain my dignity and honor.
Staying with Mindless has been a blow to my dignity and honor. Maybe I need to find a way to regain my dignity and honor in order to feel like I can forgive.
Interestingly, the AR article showed these results:
So what can a husband or wife who has been unfaithful do to restore their mate’s honor? Here are the top 7 of 13 answers betrayed spouses chose on this multi-select question:
84% Commit to and participate in long term recovery work
69% Accept responsibility of their infidelity to others
61% Defend me to anyone who would be critical of me
58% Speak highly of me to others in public
56% Openly acknowledge my sacrifices for staying to others
53% Clearly communicate to their affair partner that I am the chosen one
41% Make amends to my family
MC has done most of these, but there are a few that could be stronger.
He has accepted responsibility to me, to our children, to our counselors, to the blogosphere. I shared a very tiny portion of our story with a few family members and friends. I guess there is a part of me that would like him to have a conversation with those people, and others who likely knew, doing the same. Then, I question whether it is even wise to do so? I have told those who know something of what happened that MC has taken and passed polygraphs, has given me a post-nuptial agreement, and had a vasectomy. I now see why I felt the need to do this, I was trying to show that I’m not just sitting idly by. It was a matter of pride, dignity and honor.
He went from never speaking about me at all, or making cutting “jokes” pre d-day, to saying nice things so much that I thought it appeared like over-compensation. I just want real recognition, in a moderate, genuine, consistent, and (one day) instinctual way. I don’t want over-the-top, but I don’t want the opposite either. I know he is trying and working on this.
He definitely let the 3rd AP, his last, know that she meant nothing and that I was the only one he ever truly loved. The first AP was 17 years ago and the second AP is dead. So, I just don’t know what could ever be done to restore my pride, dignity and honor where they are concerned.
But, I do think that restoring honor and dignity maybe crucial to being able to reach forgiveness. Until reading the AR article, I had not realized just how important. Otherwise, I am just going to feel like a schmuck. And/or maybe I need to find a way to not be so prideful. Now how to get there?