Some women are truly blown away by the discovery of their husband’s struggle. They may have felt a little disconnected from him or had some conflict in the past, but the idea has never crossed their minds that he is struggling sexually. Usually in these situations, the truth is discovered accidentally (i.e. the wife finds pornography on the computer or discovers receipts or charges from an adult bookstore or strip club) or through some crisis brought on by the addict’s behaviors outside the home (i.e. being arrested for soliciting a prostitute or getting fired for looking at porn on the job). This wife may experience denial in other ways.
She may choose to forgive him immediately (or after a day or so) and let the past be the past—as long as he promises never to do it again. There are several problems with this reaction. The first big problem is that a guy who has been struggling with sexual addiction for months or years and has been deceptive about that struggle is not trustworthy. He won’t keep his promises. He hasn’t been keeping them all along. A wife who chooses to believe a man she knows has been lying to her for an extended period of time is in denial. She wants his promises to be true so much that she is willing to ignore what the facts are telling her and believe her husband’s words instead.
The second problem with this response to a husband’s sexual betrayal is that true forgiveness is not possible without mourning the losses. Why do I say that? Because in order to offer forgiveness with integrity and true commitment, we have to know what we are forgiving and also be able to accept the debt we will bear as a result of our forgiveness. To forgive prematurely is to sabotage not only a true work of repentance in our husbands’ hearts but also God’s healing work of grief in our own.
–Melissa Haas, The Journey: Book One