This post is a response to a few of the comments received from Part 2 of my series The Midlife Journey: Understanding, Accepting & Embracing the Outcome.

The original series referenced the book Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser. In it the author spoke briefly of her affair and the end of her marriage.

Rollercoasterider (in the comments)
…we need to face the tough stuff and forgiveness can be tough. Acceptance can be tough. Loving unconditionally can be tough. And perhaps refraining from judging is toughest of all. We typically think of those things regarding our MLCer, but the alienator sinned against us as well. The alienator may even be another MLCer with her or his own LBS and family.
Why should we refrain from judging – as long as we are equally strict with ourselves? What if through the MLC, the affair we ourselves grow spiritually and maybe our spouse doesn’t – still no judging? Judging does not rule out Forgiveness.
There are different forms of judgment. When I speak of it I am speaking of the duty that is God’s and not mine. I am also speaking of nouns, not verbs. Judge behaviors rather than people.

I have the right to have an opinion about whether something is good or bad, right or wrong and I can apply consequences for actions—much like a judicial court judge, but opinions are not the same as judgments. I do not have the right of condemnation. I do not have the right to choose God’s actions and His are Unconditional: He loves without condition, gives grace without condition and forgives without condition.

Judging a person’s behavior is not the same as judging the person; judge behavior, not character. But…       

We are not an authority on someone else’s spiritual growth. We may certainly have opinions, but we are also biased by our own needs and agenda and situation, and in the case of our spouses, we are not objective.

Love the sinner (person); hate the sin (behavior). Love while disapproving of sinful actions. The challenge is that sometimes we overlap and judge both the sinner and the sin without realizing what we are doing.

If we believe in the Law of Sowing and Reaping, if we believe in the supremacy of Good, if we believe that regardless of our religion we shouldn’t do unto others as we would have them do unto us – how could I then, were I the MLCer instead of the LBS, move on with my newly-won Integrity intact WITHOUT giving my LBS that second chance all of us – including our MLCers – deserve??
We only have a small bit of information about what Elizabeth Lesser did to give her marriage a second chance. Separating from her husband was not an action that was indicative of a decision to divorce, no, that was her Grace Period where she reviewed what to do.

On websites with a wider niche (more than infidelity), I read comments from those who are divorced complaining about the assumptions people make about how they made their choices. They feel that people assume they up and left their marriages with no thought for their children, spouse, finances…with no thought for the consequences on anyone but themselves. Sometimes I roll my eyes when I see these because I do think that many people agonize over their decision—they just don’t publicize it. But I really roll my eyes because they are making an assumption as well, they are assuming that all those other people who chose to divorce went through the same agonization and that is not the case with everyone. MLCers may be in agony, but they are not rationally weighing their choices and comparing them, they are not often including their partner in the decision or giving an opportunity for repair.

My mom chose to divorce my dad and I was only 4. I wish she hadn’t. Or rather, I wish the situation had not been one for which divorce was (according to her and their counselor) the better outcome. I wish I had grown up in an intact family, but maybe it wasn’t what was best. Maybe it was, given that it’s my family, I’m biased. My mom went to counseling—with my dad. She did not just make a decision on a whim and her first thoughts and concerns were always for me.

What is a second chance—what actions make up a second chance? Is it fair that the leaving spouse is weighing those options without giving their partner a say or a chance to make changes directly in the marital relationship—in vivo? Often the MLCer observes the LBS while they are separate and the LBS is in pain and having challenges dealing with the loneliness and betrayal. Of course the LBS doesn’t come off as an attractive force, he or she is in panic and anxiety and their usual source of comfort is the one causing the pain. The MLCer determines the situation is hopeless basing it in the context of the trauma. They create a monster and then complain about it. ARGH

But it’s not ours to give. We have our own second chance to give them, but we do not get to give their second chance to us. We may not agree with their reasons for withholding it. But that doesn’t matter; the reality is that maybe some MLCers will not reconsider. Are they then doomed forever—to never grow spiritually and never become authentic and fully integrated within their Self?


Judgment6 Comments

  1. I fully agree regarding Judging – for me it is as you said, having an opinion of what is right and what is wrong, an opinion which I try to base not just on my own beliefs but on a widely accepted value system. If I do point at the MLCer with my right hand my left hand is at the same time pointing at my own shortcomings…Regarding the second chance – first and foremost it's about the "why?" and once that is out in the open I believe in the good Christian value of forgiving and allowing the other party to make amends. How can I expect someone to respect my boundaries if I don't communicate them one way or another?? How do you handle a situation though were you are not accused and thus not given the option to make amends??

    • <div class="idc-message" id="idc-comment-msg-div-495251624"><a title="Click to Close Message" class="idc-close" href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(495251624)"><span>Close Message</span> Comment posted. <p class="idc-nomargin"><a class="idc-share-facebook" style="text-decoration: none;" href="; target="_new"><span class="idc-share-inner"><span>Share on Facebook</span></span> or <a href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(495251624)">Close Messagehosea_gomer,_Thanks–your response was fast!_I must admit that I get so nervous when responding because I don't know how people will take it–especially if I disagree or seem to disagree. I fret and worry as I write and before submitting! I'm doing quite a bit of that as I work on my responses to the comments from the series!_As for your question: How do you handle a situation though were you are not accused and thus not given the option to make amends?? _I thought I understood at first, but re-reading I realize I am confused. I initially though you were asking how does an LBS handle the situation when the MLCer will not allow their changes–amends and other changes. But maybe I'm wrong and you are instead asking how the MLCer makes amends if they are not made aware of their sins?_And both are good and interesting questions!__Answering how the LBS handles the situation: Acceptance of the process and part of the process is the MLCer's lack of Acceptance. Now that is not an active answer–it doesn't give steps for getting to Acceptance. Maybe that is because the steps vary with each individual. It's Mirror-Work stuff such as detachment, prayer and meditation, GAL (Get a Life)…

  2. Thanks, RCR – I spend so much looking at my Stand from all possible angles that sometimes I even welcome people disagreeing, just to make me aware of my own blinders…What I meant in my previous comment was that when as the LBS you aren't accused of anything, when the MLCer does not, has not communicate(d) her Boundaries – how can you then make amends? Isn't it so then that all that remains is to try and pinpoint your own shortcomings yourself and work at them, make yourself into the best possible person you can be?

  3. I don't think I have ever posted, just read and learned so much from this website. I like to think I am a forgiving person. I hope I can make this make sense. I have forgiven my MLC as a whole, but I find myself getting angry and upset when I think of some of the things that he has done to me. Maybe that is not being able to forget? Should I? On one hand I don't want to remember but on the other hand I feel like it will keep me from making the same mistakes with anyone in the future. It is so complicated, more so than most think-not so much the forgiveness but the forgetting.

    • Yes, forgiving and forgetting are not the same. Though behaviors are to be forgiven as well as people, it is when it comes to judging that there is a greater different–judge behaviors, not the person, but forgive both.
      Sweetheart and I will never forget the MLC.
      As for your anger, well that is normal and there is nothing wrong with it. It's part of the process of recovery AND forgiveness. It takes time to get through the pain. Think of losing a loved one to death. It hurts and you go through grief even if the death was from a long illness and they were suffering. Most people are not just fine in a snap of the fingers.
      So your husband could be doing everything right now, but that doesn't mean you are healed yet. There is a time orient to recovery–it's not just about behavior and being trustworthy–trust itself is an assured reliance that a person will act within certain parameters that are based on experience through time within the context of present conditions rather than intentions.
      So that means that you should withhold trust when a person has only been trustworthy (after not being trustworthy) for a week. Your anger is something normal that he needs to hear and feel from you as part of his learning about how his actions affected you and it is something you will burn through.
      I don't know, but I will give a time range of 6-15 months after the end of betrayal and from the start of becoming trustworthy again for burning through anger. If you are still feeling anger after than–or if during it you are seething in it for the majority of the time–seek professional help. And professional help is something I feel you should be seeking anyway–marriage counseling should be part of the recovery process.

  4. Ditty – forgiving is not forgetting, I do not think one is meant to forget and I don't think one is ever able to forget. As RCR pointed out, you forgive the person, your MLCer, but not his actions – which would amount to condoning. The not forgetting is what creates the scar tissue – but scarred tissue is tougher than unscathed tissue and will – with forgiveness – allow you to grow yourself

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