Q: Is there a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation in a case of marital infidelity? A year ago, I discovered that my husband had resumed a previous long-term emotional affair with a friend of mine. Their relationship has ended and I believe I've forgiven him, although I'm still having a hard time trusting or feeling any affection for him.
Jim: I'm sorry to hear of the deep hurt you've experienced. There are, in fact, some very significant distinctions between forgiveness and reconciliation. For one thing, forgiveness is an individual decision, whereas reconciliation is a joint venture. Forgiveness is an element in the larger process of reconciliation. Without true forgiveness there can be no reconciliation, but one can forgive without necessarily being reconciled. A great deal depends on the other person's response.
There's also an important difference between the choice of forgiveness and the emotion of forgiveness. Once you've determined to let go of a past offense, it can sometimes take a while for your feelings to catch up with your cognitive decision. Changes of this nature don't usually happen overnight.
Given the circumstances, your emotions are completely understandable. You husband must give you the time you need to work through those feelings of betrayal and invalidation. He must also realize that before there can be true reconciliation, he needs to respond to your forgiveness by taking the initiative to rebuild trust into the relationship. That means acknowledging his betrayal, entering into your pain, and demonstrating daily his fidelity, reliability and trustworthiness as a person. That's what repentance is all about.
In the meantime, your task is to stay open to trusting him again in spite of the baggage of the past.
If you'd like to discuss your situation further with one of our caring licensed counselors, I'd encourage you to call us at 855-771-HELP (4357). They'll be happy to assist you in any way they can.
Q: We're considering our family's plans for the summer, and a friend suggested that a camp experience could be really good for our kids. What do you think?
Danny Huerta, Executive Director, Parenting: I'd encourage you to give it some serious thought. Summer camp can provide a child with some unforgettable memories along with opportunities to stretch themselves physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually in a fun-filled environment. Today's camps are designed to accommodate and meet a wide range of interests and needs with something for almost everyone, from the intellectually curious child to the sports-minded and physically active, as well as those with special needs or specific health challenges. Other camps are faith-based, with an emphasis on encouraging spiritual growth.
While weighing different options, it's important to consider not only your child's particular interests, but also their personality, temperament and stage of development. For instance, if your child tends to be anxious or is younger than fifth grade, it's generally best to begin with short day camps. Preteens and teens, on the other hand, are usually ready to begin experiencing the healthy independence that overnight camps can offer. In either situation, connecting your child with another attendee beforehand can help reduce apprehension and facilitate deeper bonds between campers.
With summer on the horizon and many camps filling up in the early spring, I'd encourage you to introduce the idea and begin exploring options with your kids. If you're not sure where to start, Focus on the Family would be happy to put you in touch with several excellent camps and camp organizations. Feel free to call us at 800-A-FAMILY.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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