Betrayal. Infidelity. Could you forgive? Would you?

Should you? Apparently not, according to psychologist Professor McNulty, who suggests that “forgiveness allows relatively negative partners to continue their negative behaviours.” Long suffering wives might do better to assert themselves: the recipe for a happy marriage is never forgive, never forget.

This picture of Hilary and Bill Clinton, reports that Hilary has forgiven Bill his indiscretions. Has she? Really? Is she able to look at her husband without the mental image of him in the Oval Office being “attended to” by a 17-year-old intern?

Mark Goulston MD comments: When as cared about and safe as you thought you were is as uncared about and unsafe as you turn out to be, you can never completely forgive or forget.

This reminds me of a character in Honor’s Shadow, trying to comes to terms with a betrayal by a man who continues to assert his love. She says “…you say you love me, and maybe you believe it. But I don’t. I don’t feel loved, I feel hated.”

If forgiving encourages further betrayal, there is a high cost to the forgiver, who is now at further risk. And it is quite a risk, judging by a sharp article in World of Psychology which comments on fidelity: the marital cheat has lost all respect for his/her partner and all hope for the relationship, and is personally dishonorable into the bargain.

Just as forgiveness opens a person to further hurt, unforgiveness exacts its own misery, through the damage you can do to yourself by harbouring bitterness. As a divorce lawyer in Honor’s Shadow says: “I see people heading for their graves with old grievances intact: they’ve spent years polishing an old betrayal, till it’s a glittering diamond of crystallised rage and resentment.”

For the loser in love, forgiving or not, there is always an emotional cost.

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