There may come a time in your life when your spouse has done something dreadful that has hurt you and/or your children very much. How in the world can you forgive the unforgivable?
First, acknowledge that the act is not ok. If it was, there would be nothing to forgive. The need to forgive means it was wrong. Your forgiveness does not mean that it was not wrong.
Acknowledge that part of your struggle with forgiveness will be the need for justice. We all want to somehow make things fair. We need for things to be fair, or at least to be avenged. We want the person who hurt us to be hurt as well. This does not mean you cannot forgive. Forgiveness does not mean that you are saying everything is ok. It does not mean that you will not have intense negative emotions surrounding what happened. It means you give up your right to exact justice, or payback. The reason you will do this is so that you can be free, not because you are being kind to the other person. Forgiveness is done so that we can heal from the effects of what happened. It is not done for the benefit of the person who hurt us. Sometimes it helps to have a device to acknowledge our need for justice, while allowing ourselves to let something go. One close friend has something called “the library room with Jesus.” She has decided that when we die, we will have to meet with Jesus in the little back room of our school library—the one that is dark, and dusty and makes you feel claustrophobic– and we will not leave that room until we understand what we did, and how it hurt. No one will ever “get away with” anything. This relieves her of the burden of exacting justice herself. She knows there is no getting out of the “library room with Jesus”. The primary purpose of this device is to let something go. Different approaches work for different people. Some people blow things out with their breath. You could write down the wrong, and then burn it. Find something that will work for you.
Understand that when you forgive someone, it doesn’t mean you have to trust them.
Use the resulting anger you have as the energy to make positive changes in your own life.
When your hurt feelings come back, be kind to yourself. It takes a certain amount of time to heal, even when you have forgiven the person who hurt you. Try not to be angry or impatient with yourself.