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Real forgiveness?
By jdean88
1/1/2011 6:17:40 PM
So, I've got a complicated issue that I just can't seem to figure out that is so personal that I cannot talk to anyone about b/c of the sensitivity of it. I have what I think is a trigger to make mistakes and I'm not sure how to deal with it. First of all, a little background. I was pretty good at keeping close the the Lord and keeping the law of chastity until about 3-4 years after my mission. That's when I looked at P~rn a few times about every 6-9 months. It usually only happened 1-2 days and then I would go to the Bishop and repent...but I would repeat. Sometimes it was a year before I looked at something inappropriate, but it would repeat. I always made sure to meet with the bishop and not let anything develop into a daily or weekly habit. I was careful in dating and wanted to make sure that I saved myself sexually for my future spouse.

Years after my mission, I met a girl and started falling in love with her. We had dated for about three months and I really felt that this girl would be the one that I would marry. It was magical. She had told me that she loved me...and soon she started talking to me about college. Her brother had served a mission and she went to college. At college she never really went to church except a couple times the first few months. She says that she never really had a testimony the church was true. Eventually, she started drinking and broke the law of chastity and lived the 'college life'. I was devastated. The was the first girl I had ever felt that we really had great potential together. It had felt so good to be around her. Someone I was falling in love with and I was more than heart broken. I felt sick to my stomach to know what she had done. Well, by her last year of college she met with the missionaries (who she had been avoiding for a while, sent by her home ward). She said this is when she really gained a testimony of the gospel and she started going to church. Quit drinking and risking pregnancy. She returned home and eventually started dating a member who took advantage of her new return to the church. She made some mistakes again, not as bad as before, but once again I was devastated. Unfortunately, she never went to the Bishop to straighten things up, but started living better. This happened soon before I had met her. She committed herself to living the gospel and wanted to go through the temple. 6 months later we met.

I almost broke things off. I just didn't think I could handle the knowledge of the things that she had done and the sick feeling it brought to my stomach. Another friend warned me that she had done things with the member friend and she wondered if that was the type of girl I wanted to date. I didn't. I was the type of guy that didn't kiss a girl unless I was very interested in her, even though I dated a lot. Another dear friend that told me that his wife had made mistakes. He knows how sick it makes you feel. He says he is just thankful it was a while before they married and after time the sickness in his stomach had somewhat faded. I took comfort that the Lord says that we should forgive and his atonement makes us clean. The Bishop encouraged me in this and I felt the Lord could help make it easier. Finally, I told myself that if I believed that she was really sincere in her repentance, then I should let go of those things and forget and move on. If the atonement really works and I believe it, then the past mistakes are erased. I knew that without her past, I would not have hesitated at asking her to marry me.

I decided to move forward. I loved her and I had faith the Lord would help me in whatever struggles that I needed to get through. Well, some time has passed. We have been married now for a few years. We have experienced a lot of joy and pain, but I started to feel trapped. The pain in my stomach has faded, but sometimes it comes back and it makes me feel sick again. It is so intense. Tonight I was looking at some of my wife's pictures she had recently posted on FB from college. The feelings came back, strong. I just felt sick to my stomach. I get mad at myself, why do I have these feelings? Why can't I let those things go? I feel almost childish asking her to remove pictures from college. I asked her to throw away all the picture where she was inappropriately dressed or pictures of guys she dated. This she did...but I am almost shocked when something like just plain college pics make me feel so sick inside. Is it too much for me to ask to take the college pics down?

Is it b/c I lack faith in the atonement? Sometimes I just feel like the proud brother who would not love his brother that had wasted his inheritance and then returned to his father. Sexual things are so personal...and yet I feel like I can't discuss this problem with anyone b/c it would degrade the way people would see my wife. No one needs to know her past mistakes and no one should know. But why is it so hard for me to just forget about it?

At times, I know I've used it as justification to look at p~rn. I always heard about the grave dangers of sexual sin and yet I look at my wife, and she knows how I struggle with this, she's repented and I should just be able to let it go. It almost makes me think or feel that the dangers aren't that bad and there's my justification. The grave dangers aren't as bad as I thought they were, and my wife is living proof of that. At times, I feel like my chastity before marriage was a waste of effort b/c if I had made the same mistakes as her I would have empathy and understand what she went through. And our marriage would be better for it. This has almost been an excuse to let myself fall. I know it is completely my responsibility for the mistakes I've made. Not a good night. Any thoughts?

Comments:

Just a passing thought...    
"You have shared a lot of deep, personal feelings. Thank you. I don't have time to focus on all of them right now; but I will mention one thought that came to my head.

Satan is using your wife's mistakes to get to you, to get you to foster an unforgiving, unrepentant heart, and to get you to sin again. It occurred to me that what he is doing to you is the same thing he tries to do to all the spouses on this site.... He gets one spouse to sin and make a terrible mistake, and he gets the other one to use that sin to justify their own sins. What a horrible plan of attack. We must stand firm."
posted at 18:57:13 on January 1, 2011 by BeClean
If she is clean now and fully repentant    
"Let it go brother. Don't ask me how I havent got the foggiest clue.
Never been in your situation so don't worry about much of what I write.
The past is the past and us addicts should be the last to be unforgiving.

my 0,0000000000002 cents worth"
posted at 20:25:10 on January 1, 2011 by ruggaexpat
The sickness    
"I don't know that I have anything to contribute here.

But I think The sickness comes to us all. Well, maybe only some of us.

Its funny to read your post though because what causes the sickness is different for all of us. I wouldn't even bat an eye at what your wife has done. The decisions she's made, whether you like it or not, are wrapped up in who she is and I doubt you'd change that. Plus good hell, she didn't even have testimony. No one is going to "CTR" convictionless of "those" certain things being right or mutatis mutandis avoid the wrong. You've on the other hand graduated from the Lords university (mission) and still look at porn. You're not the righteous son anymore then your wife. Ha! Not to be harsh. And most certainly definitely not cause I'm any better or much different.

But like I said its different for everyone. For me sickness comes when I feel like my wifes communication skills are the worst on planet earth and in all honesty...I've never really felt very loved, loving or excepted. Even when we were dating (yeah its a miracle we're married. don't ask me how). It seems to come on stronger when I try to deny it. What we resist persists kind of thing

When Hero posts about intimacy anorexia I feel the fury (it used to be more that sick and dark feeling but now its usually just anger) fill my breast! And my wife would agree. In the communication/intimacy department she is the ultimate evasionist and escape artist. I feel so cheated (life and its sick irony). So tired. Half the damn reason we got married or rather why she fell for me is because I could tell her what she was feeling before she could/would and I was willing, at the time, to suffer the part of Sigmund Freud...even though she hatted it or squeemishly tried to avoid it and still does to this day! Its like trying to wrap Houdini in chains with which the only key is intimacy...honesty talk...naked souls. Maddening! We both agree that I'm the girl in this scenario. We took some tests in the Life Star program too and believe it or not relationship wise (aside from that whole...ya know...sex addiction thing!) I'm the healthy one. Pffha, hence my utter distrust of therapy ;)

On top of being starved she was always critical of me and hyper unexcepting of most my thoughts feelings desire and actions. She's not mean about it. Just forever questioning, unexcepting. Unless of course it was living the leave it to beaver mormon prescription for life...as she saw it. I denied it and denied it and denied it saying I deserved it or she was perfect so I must be the problem etc...this only served to give me that sick feeling more.

It doesn't help that though I'm a naturally gregarious and intimate fellow that I could also stand an inordinate amount of solitude and be peachy as hell with it. So after 7 years of working like a field slave to extrapolate one morsel honest feeling, honest idea's, honest openness here and there and never being challenged to do the same I find myself some times saying...I'd rather be alone...lost

Anyway, I don't really know why I even mention all this. Honestly, I'm not fond of talking about my marriage on here. But this has been on my chest a lot lately.

Just last night I was praying. See, inspite of adultery and inspite of the sick feeling that our marriage is void and forever doomed to be void of real passionate love, this summer the Lord came to my wife. He came to her while we were separated. He told her things about me and about our marriage, good things - great things, that I still can't believe and when she told me He made me feel things that I still can't totally explain. And most amazingly given the overwhelmingly unorthodox circumstances He had no warrant for this!!! The audacity! I'm convinced my God is wild man adventurer...cause no other explanation suffices. Tangent. My point is, inspite of all this good stuff I'm ambiguously telling you (myself) about, last night I still found myself feeling the pit in my stomach and praying saying in essence "what's the fight for???" "do I/we continue?" Sometimes it seems so futile.

Anyway, I know that probably doesn't exactly relate to you very much at all...but eh thanks for letting me post my disjointed thoughts non the less."
posted at 21:07:45 on January 1, 2011 by They Speak
Learning day by day.    
"I appreciate those that have made thoughtful comments about my post. I realize it's a lot of information, maybe even too personal, I don't know. Last night I couldn't sleep much and felt some temptation and I started reading a little. I came upon a conference talk about why can't we love the savior and not live the law of chastity? He gave the simple answer, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." In addition, he talks about the fact that where much is given, much is required. My wife certainly wasn't given much in her life. I on the other hand, had two parents that loved me (although divorced and one is an alcoholic), wonderful siblings and a strong testimony of the gospel. Last night as I pondered these things it helped me to let go of the sick feeling and move on. Unfortunately, I know it will be back. I just have to take the same path and look to the Lord to work through those sick feelings and remember the importance of the atonement. I tried to talk through my feelings with my wife and she just gets so upset that we cannot even discuss it. I had intended on talking to her about my spiritual experience last night, but it just didn't get that far b/c she felt so sick that I was still got sick, numb feelings when I saw her college pics. What to do? I hate feeling like this. Communication can be so hard sometimes. Just gotta keep plugging one day and a time and pray about ways to help her feel my love for her. On a positive note, 7 days sober today!"
posted at 11:48:39 on January 2, 2011 by jdean88
jdean88    
"Please don't take this the wrong way. Could it be that you are jealous that your wife had premarital sex and you didn't? Because if this is the case, it's totally understandable. Why should she get to have fun and then wipe the slate clean and get married? Right? But those aren't the facts. The fact is that, "wickedness never was happiness." There is nothing to be jealous of. Those weren't pleasurable sins for your wife. In fact, they were the cause of much pain in her soul. You are in a very real way the lucky one to have saved yourself the utter grief of the sin of fornication. It is a beautiful thing that your wife has repented and given her "pure" heart to you. Make no mistake, it is pure. She paid a price but our Savior paid the deadly price and that is written on her soul. You don't need to feel jealous. Try to see your wife as our Savior would see a young woman taken into Satans custody for a time. It will get easier with time, my friend."
posted at 19:16:13 on January 2, 2011 by Anonymous
I agree with anon    
""Blessedness is not the reward of virtue but virtue itself" --Baruch Spinoza"
posted at 22:52:02 on January 2, 2011 by They Speak
Anon, what you said struck a cord.    
"I have to say that I think part of it is jealousy. Another part is my pride. Pride I did not see before. I think that at times my pride was hurt b/c I knew she had shared those sexual experiences with someone else and I didn't feel as special as I wanted to feel. I wondered sometimes if she compared me to them.

In reality, I don't believe that she did compare me, I just wanted validation that I was her number one as a man. I know that there's a view that the more you love someone the more you share with them sexually. The one she wanted to give every part of herself. I don't know if that's just wired into me as a man or if it's something I just started believing from the media. I had always thought of the specialness of when a woman shared herself with a man for the first time because of the love she felt for him and I was excited to discover these things with my wife. It was a big part of my motivation for staying chase. So, when I was in love with my wife and found out that I would not be able to share that it was hard. Ultimately, I knew the Savior would help me to get past it b/c He commanded me to forgive and move on.

More on validation as her #1. We have never had great communication, which we are working on as we focus on the gospel and she finally for the first time told me how special our wedding night was. I really didn't know how she felt until that moment. It felt so good to actually hear her say that. I really think that is a big part of it. I yearn to feel validated as the only man that she loves, her #1. In the five love languages, my language is the physical touch. I wanted to know that when she expressed physical affection for me...it was different. It was more special.

She's also talked to me about how in college it was so important for her to keep her body in shape. This was great to hear when we were engaged b/c staying in shape is important for me as well. She even expressed to me that she was going to stay in shape after we got married b/c it was important to her. Unfortunately, this didn't happen. After we got married she put on about 25% more body weight and has kept it on. I know part of me feels resentment that when she dated those guys in a non-committed relationship it was so important to her to stay in shape. And now, since I'm committed, it's like she doesn't care as much. I think that is another part of the jealousy. I think it still comes back to the validation from her that she loves me. I really appreciate the comments and helping me explore my feelings and doubts and hopes. I really hope that as I get better at expressing my feelings for my wife, she will open up more to me. I need to continue to strive to have the spirit so that I can tell where I am being selfish or having unrealistic expectations and on the other hand hoping that we can both do better. The important thing for me is getting closer to the Lord AND learning to express my healthy feelings appropriately. I know some of my feelings are selfish and I hope to let those go. I think I just need the extended influence of the spirit to sort through those feelings."
posted at 17:09:16 on January 3, 2011 by jdean88
jdean,    
"What I am going to tell you is one hundred percent true. I broke the law of chastity more times and with more people than I can count. I wasn't a member. When I married my wife and gave my heart to her and repented of those sins, I CAN"T REMEMBER THOSE OTHER WOMEN. I don't remember the experience of breaking the law of chastity at all. I honestly feel that my wife was the only woman I have ever had sex with. I thiink that this is a blessing of real repentence. I can competely understand your insecurity. I think it is the most natural thing to wonder if she ever compares you to past lovers or to feel anger at other men having the "more fit" wife. The kind of love that you will learn transcends the human body. Those things don't matter as time goes by and we get older. My beautiful wife and I are older now and our looks are all but gone. She is just as sexy as she was when we met. To me, she is even more wonderful because she is a part of me. That doesn't happen overnight. Our first decade married included two separations and all the way to filling out the divorce papers. But we got to know eachother eventually. I am so glad we stuck it out. Today, I put her happiness above my own. Way above my own. Being able to do that is a gift that comes with time and experience so hang in there."
posted at 20:35:25 on January 3, 2011 by Anonymous
My Brother-in-law    
"JDEAN,

You sound a lot like my brother-in-law. I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I can't help but wonder if you're being so hard on your wife because you resent her for being clean now while you're struggling with the addiction. I know that I tend to harbor a lot of resentment, especially when I'm not doing well with my addiction.

I also can't help but wonder if you are like my brother-in-law when it comes to criticizing your wife's body. My brother-in-law is always saying one demeaning comment or another about how my sister looks now and how she used to look. The sad part of this story is that my brother-in-law is much fatter, uglier, and more out of shape now than he used to be.

I could be off on this, and if I am, then I apologize, but I can't help but ask if your BMI, body fat percentage, and physical fitness is as good now as when you got married. If it's not, then I suggest you look at yourself in the mirror before you scrutinize your wife.

You sound like you need some help. Maybe you need to talk with a counselor. I know that helps me when I feel frustrated and angry at my situation."
posted at 23:54:12 on January 3, 2011 by ETTE
Thanks for the additional comments. Anon & Ette.    
"It's great to really get some thoughtful responses as I try and work through this. Anon, it means a lot to hear you say that. I know that I need patience. It's good to hear that you understand my insecurities. I feel shallow at times for even caring about her being more fit, but I just know that that is how I feel about it. I hope that as I mature I will be able to find that love that does transcend the human body. Congratulations on having your marriage where it is at. It really is great to hear the struggles and then the blessing of a strong happy marriage. I know that I can get there. But yes, it will take time. I still think our marriage has great potential.

Ette, I recognize that at times I have been critical of my wife. Mostly I just feel disappointed that her promise to stay in shape has not been fulfilled. Even after we were married and I talked to her about how that was important to me, she still didn't lose the weight. I am actually in much better shape today than I was when we got married...so we kind of went in opposite directions. I've lost weight, she has gained it. I do feel that through writing I am really letting my anger go. Our communication has also already improved as I strive to make sure she feels that I am being patient and ready to listen to her feelings when we talk. I've also noticed that her attitude about getting in shape has changed somewhat. I do hope that I can give her the support she needs to accomplish what she wants to. I know that she wants to have better health as well and in addition to my own feelings, I hope that she will be motivated to live a healthier lifestyle so that she feels better about her own body. She is a very good woman and a rare find indeed. I love her and want to make this work, but it's been a rough couple years. I think it has been emotionally draining and hard on her to take a long hard analysis of our marriage and realize the mole crickets that have been eating holes in our foundation. I find it to be liberating and it brings me more hope b/c I feel that we are finally being honest about our feelings. This has perhaps been my biggest frustration - communication. I am like the woman in our marriage, always sharing how I feel and getting little to no response back. We had a great talk last night though. She talked to me about the numbness she felt and how she's hopeful, but also numb as she recognizes the reality of where we are at. I know it's hard for us, but in some ways it feels great to know her feelings, even it is a numb feeling. I rejoice in the fact that she is sharing her feelings and as hard as it is, I know this too shall pass."
posted at 05:36:52 on January 4, 2011 by jdean88
Progress?    
"Well, I was on facebook and saw a picture posted by a friend from my wife's college past while at a Christmas party. I didn't get the sick feeling, but I started feeling really nervous and almost shaking, like I was going to hyperventilate. I started taking some deep breaths, but I'm dying to just ask my wife who this is. He's in my wife's friend list. I hope that he was just a work acquaintance. This has shown just how insecure I am. Is it natural to feel this way as a guy? Married to someone that you love and care about?

UPDATE: I spoke to my wife about my struggles and explained to her that I don't think of her as 'that' college girl anymore but that it does make me feel insecure and threatened by the guys she dated while in college. She affirmed her love for me and how her wonderful life now doesn't even compare to her life in college. I am so thankful to hear that. It just took away the nervousness and I felt good, even happy. I think as I grow closer to the Lord and our relationship improves, I will feel more confident in our relationship and these things won't affect me so much."
posted at 08:03:54 on January 5, 2011 by jdean88
Some thoughts that came to me,    
"I'm glad to hear you're feeling better after talking to your wife about your concerns. Communication goes a long way toward resolving conflicts.

Something that came to mind for me, check out Elder Holland's talk "Remember Lot's Wife"

http://www.byub.org/talks/talk.aspx?id=3403

He has a lot of POWERFUL remarks on forgiving, forgetting, and moving on. In my opinion this talk is a must read for all who are trying or struggling to forgive themselves or anyone else.

Also, a scriptural reference. Matthew 5:29 - "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell."

It seems that a lot of the pictures/stories that are causing you pain are coming from facebook. How about if you and your wife simply agree to stay off of facebook? Elder Holland teaches, "If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don't keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up"

Get email addresses for those you want to keep in contact with, delete your facebook accounts, then leave behind that which continually "digs up" her past. You'll both be a lot happier focusing on each other in the present anyway."
posted at 10:35:44 on January 5, 2011 by paul
jdean    
"I have had all of the same thoughts as you. I met my wife outside of the church and we dated in a small town. Her ex boyfriend went to many of the same AA meetings I went to. Boy, my mind would ask some really awful questions. After we married and the sex slowed down I got resentful on occasion. I would feel like this other abusive idiot got my wife in her prime and I convinced myself that when they were together they had a lot more sex than we were having.

In retropect, I realize that back then I wasn't fully committed to my marriage and in a very subtle and almost subconcious way, I was looking for a way OUT of the marriage. I had caught that nasty bug-"the grass is greener over THERE!" syndrome. I thought that maybe there was something better or more fulfilling with someone with less baggage and...well more sex drive.

Damn it! It was ME. I was the one with the baggage! It was just so hard to see and I regret the grief I put my wife through. What I saw as HER baggage were lessons she had already learned and sins she had already repented of. When she joined the church, (in spite of me) I was humbled. I was so focused on her little problems I couldn't see the big one that was drowning me.

I am happy to say that it is not like that anymore. We are best friends and...dare I say it, soul-mates. (corny but it feels that way.) She was always the better person and I learned from HER. Here is what I had to do. I had to go to A LOT of meetings, I got counseling, I got a sponsor who was experienced enough to show me MY PART in every angry feeling I had, and finally I worked the 12 Steps, and the jealousy was GONE. These are some tools that are helpful to addicts like me. I don't try to tell other people which tools they might need. Only what worked for me. You're not alone, my friend. I think those feelings are quite normal for people who suffer with addiction because it is an ailment that is accompanied with a whole lot of insecurity. The program offers a new kind of security. I don't have to hang my head in shame anymore. Good luck to you jdean! That facebook can be a terrible challenge and I wonder why some couples just don't get rid of it. My wife and I are both on facebook but we don't friend our ex's. That would be disrespectful and I believe it would be arrogant to think that there is no danger in doing so. We've both been tempted with requests and turned them down, no explanation necessary. But that is us."
posted at 17:12:48 on January 5, 2011 by Anonymous
For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged.    
"I have thought about your post often Jdean and I wanted to wait to post because I needed some time...... My husband has been sooooo jealous all of our marriage, several decades in fact. In our early years I tried to do all I could to not incite his jealously. I would avoid friends, family and many opportunities because of his jealousy and arguments that would follow, anger, resentment... I tried to correct all that he critically threw my way. I tried to be the best at everything. The way I looked, the condition of my body and hair, dress….. my actions, the house, the kids…….. Until oops! I was to perfect….. That caused more jealousy?? Somehow in the first decade I was able to get my mind around and understand that it was not my problem. It was his. This helped me deal with his jealousy but it was ever painful and demeaning.
Then the discovery, I discovered that he was the one who was guilty of emotional and physical infidelities with others and lusting after many. All that blaming and jealousy that was thrown my direction, undeservedly, was just a reflection of his thought and his actions. He projecting on to me what he had been doing and thinking all those years.

Jealousy is not love. It falls closer to the envy and hate category.

I can tell you right now, what you think your wife is thinking, is most assuredly not even close to her thought processes. Do not put onto her what is definitely your problem. In fact I believe that my husband’s jealously was just another facet of his addiction. It gave him another justification for his bad choices and behaviors. Another excuse and lie he would let the Father of all Lies tell him.

That sick feeling in the pit of your stomach is a familiar description of pain and confusion that is felt by many spouses who are trying to heal from the effect of their husbands addictions. It is also one of Satan’s tools. When I find myself overcome with those sick feelings, I prayerfully ask my Heavenly Father if there is a reason I should have these feelings. If there is not, please take them away. I discussed openly with him my thoughts and fears and laid them at my Saviors feet. Always giving thanks after words. Those feelings would subside and the peace that only the Savior brings would ensue.

Your wife’s actions that you are finding hard to forget are exactly what the spouses go through. How do we forgive and forget?? The only way is through our Savior. Let it go, give it to HIM, heal and give thanks for the beautiful wife who is yours in every fiber of her being."
posted at 00:37:51 on January 10, 2011 by hero
A Woman's Perspective    
"When I married my second husband I wasn't thinking of any of the men I had been with before. He was the man I loved and wanted to be with."
posted at 01:00:54 on January 10, 2011 by dstanley


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"Man has a dual nature; one, related to the earthly or animal life; the other, akin to the divine. Whether a man remains satisfied within what we designate the animal world, satisfied with what the animal world will give him, yielding without effort to the whim of his appetites and passions and slipping farther and farther into the realm of indulgence, or whether, through self-mastery, he rises toward intellectual, moral, and spiritual enjoyments depends upon the kind of choice he makes every day, nay, every hour of his life"

— David O. McKay