Topic: How do I know someone is truly sorry?

Good morning friends:

Thank you for all your responses last week to my question “what keeps you stuck and unchanged”. I’ll talk some more about that next week but today I thought I’d try something different. I’m going to respond by video to the question asked by The Good Wife in last week's blog responses. If you want to read her question in it’s entirely, just scroll down to last week's blog and responses, but in essence she asked:

Question: My husband has had numerous affairs. He says he’s sorry. He says he wants our marriage to work. But his actions don’t really demonstrate a commitment to healing the hurts he’s caused or working on the root problem of why this happened in the first place. How can I know if he’s truly sorry and whether our marriage has a hope for genuine restoration?



  1. Anonymous on April 26, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Thank you, Leslie. This is so helpful. I have found that most pastors/Christian friends will counsel an abused wife to accept any apology and reconcile. Sometimes reconciliation is not the first or most loving thing to do. Please keep up the good work. I thank God for your work.

  2. The Good Wife on April 26, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    God Bless you Leslie and thank you so much for that message. I waited all week to hear from you, often refreshing the page several times a day hoping and waiting for your advice and it was all i could hope it would be. I have to be strong and very courageous! I know that now, but often i just want things to go back to "normal" so bad that I give in too early and too soon. Now i realize that the race is not to the swift!
    Please pray for me; for courage, for strength, for Godly wisdom, for compassion and most of all for LOVE.

    Thank you.

  3. Anonymous on April 26, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    I think your video-short starts a good dialog, however it misses some key points.

    Forgiveness and trust are not mutually inclusive terms.

    I can forgive someone for cutting my arm off with a chain saw; But I doesn't mean I should hand then another chain saw to fool around with. They may in due course be trustable with a chain saw but that may well take time to be established. The consequences for the sinner of the misdeed may take weeks or years to be overcome, but forgiveness is supposed to be a lot quicker. (Jesus pointed out we must forgive 70 times 7. But he didn't indicate we should place ourselves in danger to that person again.)I should forgive immediately but there is no requirement to trust again immediately is there?
    The two (forgiveness and trust) are not the same issue at all!

    Also, it is worth remembering that forgiveness itself contains at least two points that must be understood for it to be of useful value in your life:

    First forgiveness IS a declaration. It is declaring "I will seek no retribution or vengeance" It is a singular act of forgoing justice.

    Second forgiveness is NOT an emotion. Years after my arm has been cut off by a chainsaw Wielding idiot I will suffer phantom pain and regret and frustration at my circumstances. I will feel emotional about many aspects of the original event. (everytime I try to pick up my grand daughter or catch a ball with my grandson I will miss my arm and feel emotions about it.) Sometimes I may be filled with hatred or resentment or anger or thing evil thoughts of vengeance. That those emotions occur is not yet a sin. Thoughts come and go based on brain chemicals & daily events to name a couple, but whether I allow them to remain or not is where the sin can take hold. We must remember that we have granted forgiveness in order to release the evil thought from our heads.
    For the rest of my life I may live with the consequences of someone else's actions; but I cannot truly recover until I have understood forgiveness as both a declaration AND as a non emotion. That when emotions spring up I must deal with them or many will be defiled.

  4. Leslie Vernick on April 26, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Thank you for all your responses so far.

    I think forgiveness IS separate from reconciliation and/or giving someone your trust. It's difficult to cover every nuance of this issue in a short 4 minute video but my books, both The Emotionally Destructive Relationship and How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong cover these issues in much more detail. But you make excellent points.

  5. Heather on April 28, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    I can not thank you enough for your blog, books, and your videos!!! This video has helped me so much!!

  6. Anonymous on May 26, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    A few things that I hope will help from my experience with an unfaithful wife:

    1) When we have been cheated on, we want assurance that it won't happen again. But this can put us in a destructive position toward the marriage, as well. The cheated on spouse may feel like they are being watched -not necessarily to see if they are cheating again, but to see how sincere their return is -and often that is exactly what the non-offending spouse is doing. But while the non-offending spouse is watching and analyzing, they are acting passively toward the marriage. It can be almost like saying, "I want it to work, too… but I'm not going to really commit to making it work until *I* see that you are really committed to the degree I believe is absolute." At some point you need to make a decision. There is no sure thing. It doesn't mean it doesn't matter how the spouse acts, but it means you need to ultimately commit to a direction and move.

    2) When we have been cheated on, we want assurance that their "repentance" means they are a different person who won't do it again. The reality, however, is that not all sin is "repented" of and done away with. Some sin is a lifelong battle, called "besetting sin." We have to realize that our spouse may be battlins some besetting sins that may again ensnare them in the future.

    3) This point sort of summarizes things: you can analyze it all to death and ask for everyone to tell you what you should do, but ultimately you need to take action. Non-action doesn't help and can hurt.

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