Episode 45: The Real Point of Forgiveness, Honoring Yourself, and Other Questions Answered

by | Last updated: Nov 12, 2023 | Podcast

Infidelity involving a husband and his wife’s sisters, a hesitation to leave Mr. (Fake) Nice Guy behind, and a curious question about vibrators, oh my! These are the circumstances involved in the relationship questions I answer on today’s show.

You’ll hear from Sylvia, Sarah, and Kim in this episode of The Loving Truth podcast. You’ll learn about moving forward after a triple betrayal involving siblings, the fear behind the hesitation to leave even after things seem to have changed for the better, and the need to listen to your inner voice over others when making decisions about your marriage. In the process, I’ll also teach you what forgiving others is really all about.

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

0:55 – How to end trauma when your sisters had an affair with your husband

7:37 – Rebuilding trust and friendship after a triple betrayal: is it possible for Sylvia?

13:34 – What’s really causing Sarah to question whether or not she should leave her husband

18:55 – An opportunity to teach your kids even deeper lessons

25:03 – My hunch about the real reason why Kim chose to ask a relationship expert about vibrators

Have a Question? Leave Me a Voicemail Message at 727-537-0359.

Featured On Understanding the Reasons Why You Cheated (or Got Cheated On)

Struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage? Book a Truth & Clarity Session.

Want even more tools to navigate a disconnected marriage? Join me on social media: Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube

If you have a suggestion for a future episode or a question you’d like me to answer on the show, email us.

Struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage and you’re serious about finding that answer?

Book a Truth & Clarity Session with a member of my team. We’ll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there’s a fit for you and I to work together so you can make - and execute - the RIGHT decision for YOU and your marriage.

Welcome to The Loving Truth Podcast where it's all about finding clarity, confidence, and peace in the face of marriage challenges. And now your host, relationship expert, and certified master life coach, Sharon Pope.

Sharon Pope: Hello, love. This is Sharon Pope. This is The Loving Truth. Today is the one day of the month where I take your questions, and I give you my very best answers to those relationship questions. We did get quite a few questions, people who called in and gave us their specific question that they wanted some answers around.

I'm going to do three of those questions today. But if you don't hear your particular question that you asked, tune in next month when we do this, because we do this once a month. Tune in next month because I bet your question will be answered in next month's version of The Loving Truth Q&A call. Alright, let's get started with Sylvia.

Sylvia: Hello, my name is Sylvia. I'm calling from Canada. My question is how to move forward after a triple betrayal in infidelity. My husband cheated with my older sister, and then the last seven years, he’s been affairing with my younger sister. I'm losing the husband and two sisters and just a decimated family. I'm just curious, where do you start to rebuild trust and friendship without avoiding conflict and staying true to who you are and being sure and caring and role modeling to avoid intergenerational trauma? That would be wonderful. Thank you.

Sharon Pope: So Sylvia, first I just want to say I'm really sorry. Talk about some trauma that you've been through and that your family has been through. Of course, these relationships are broken beyond real repair, and it sounds like you know that and so then the question becomes, number one, first question, first order of business, “How do I save myself? How do I heal myself through this process?” The second is, “How do I end the generational trauma that is clearly taking place?”

I want to answer both of those questions. I want to start though with the generational trauma because I really want you to give this some consideration. The fact that this has happened where you married a man and then he has had relationships with both your older sister and your younger sister, there are several common threads here, one is the man, your husband, but the other is three sisters who have all been with the same man.

That tells me there's something there. Now I have a hunch as to what it is but only you will know if this rings true for you. It seems like there's probably some wound there amongst the women in your family about a desperation to be loved. When a man points their love or affection at us, almost sometimes in those situations, it doesn't matter who the man is, what they've done, what their character is, or who they're capable of being in the relationship, we're just so desperate to be loved that we will do things that we might not be terribly proud of.

I include you in that only because I know that there's some freedom there for you, there is some healing there for you. Because at one point, you found out about your husband being with your older sister, and well, I'm not suggesting you made that okay, I am suggesting that there was a path through that for you somehow, you were able to see past that, forgive him, trust him again only to then be hurt again.

I think that there's an opportunity for you to go, “What is it within me first?” because know thyself is the first order of business always, then secondly, you might be able to see the wound in your sisters as well as to why they would do something like that, why they would betray their sister again and again, not just lying, but also cheating, all of the hurt and the trauma that was caused through these actions and these choices that these people made.

I want you to give that some consideration. My hunch may not be right. It may not be the wound of “I just want to be loved, and maybe I didn't receive that love from my parents many times, that's a daddy wound. I didn't receive the love from the primary man in my life so now when other men come along and point there love it me, I will do almost anything to just receive that love.” There's something there.

I may not be right in that but the point is not for me to be right. The point is for me to offer up a suggestion and maybe that will ring true for you but maybe it will trigger, “No, it's not that but it is this.” When you can see it, then you can do something about it.

We cannot change anything that we are not aware of. You becoming conscious to what is the wound here that just keeps playing out in our family, when you can identify that, you can heal it for yourself. That alone is the greatest thing that you can do to interrupt the generational trauma.

Like your kids, I don't know how old your kids are. For some reason, I suspect that they're probably late teens or early adults. For the most part, they have learned whatever they've learned, it's learned. But the most important thing that we can do is show them how we can honor ourselves. Give them permission to honor themselves, not by your words, but by your actions because we learn through life experience.

Life experience is what teaches us, it's not actually words, so you can't not honor yourself, but tell your kids, “Hey, you need to honor yourself.” That's not how it works. They need to see you doing it. Then you can be open in talking about it and that helps cement that lesson or deepen that lesson.

I want you to not overlook the opportunity that's here for you to do some healing around either what you overlooked, what questions you didn't ask because you were afraid of the answers, or what it was that kept you hanging in there even after the first time or the second time that your husband cheated. Those are some important questions for you and I want that freedom for you.

How do you start to rebuild trust and friendship in a mature way? Personally, I'm not convinced that you should or that you could. I think the only opportunity is that let's say your sister, one of your sisters wants to do some of their own healing work about “Why would I do this and what was the wound that caused the choices that I made?” they do a bunch of personal growth work to help them heal and move beyond that and, of course, give you a genuine apology.

Maybe then you have something to work with. But otherwise, until there is some serious self growth being done, I don't think that you can create healthy relationship with these people. I know they're your blood, they're your sisters. But I have a lot of people in my family that I'm blood related to that I don't have relationship with or that I have very boundaried relationship with.

When you can't trust someone, then it's hard to have close personal relationship with them. That doesn't mean you can't sit down and have a meal with them. Maybe you can, but you don't have to. Because here's the thing, here's what I want you to realize. One day, you'll probably be able to forgive these people for the choices that they made and the hurt that they caused.

I believe that one day you'll be able to do that and I want that for you because I don't want you to carry the weight of this. But forgiveness does not mean that you pretend it never happened and you go back to the way that it was. No, no, no. You now know something about these people, you know something that they're capable of that you didn't know previously, and you can't pretend to unknow that. You can't pretend that didn't happen.

I think it's wise to be guarded and not you go looking for how to rebuild the trust. Look, whoever it is that broke the trust is the one that has to rebuild it. They're the ones that has to do the work to rebuild it. I'm not suggesting that there's no work for you there. There can be, but I want to know that you have something real to work with. Just an apology or “I didn't mean to hurt you,” I don't know if that's enough for you to rebuild a trusting relationship with any of these people, your two sisters or your husband.

There's that. Let me also just say that you know how I said one day you'll be able to forgive. That day is probably not today. It depends on the proximity of when you found this out. It sounds like this was fairly recent. But what do I know? It could have been a year ago, two years ago, or three years ago that you found all of this out. But when you are ready to forgive, the easiest way that I have found to find forgiveness is to see the wound that caused the hurtful action.

If I just write it off and say, “Oh, they're a horrible human being,” then I'm going to carry some angst about that for a long, long time. I don't want to carry angst. I don't want you to carry the angst. That's like a 10-pound weight that you're carrying with you everywhere you go. But if you can see the wound, let's say the wound of dad never loved us and so we're so desperate for a man's love, that we will betray our sister again and again and again and again over the course of years just to receive a man's love.

Let's say that that's it. If you can see that wound, first of all, if you can see in yourself, you'll be more likely to be able to see it in your sisters because it's very likely the same wound that's playing out here. But when you're ready to forgive, reach for seeing the wound, reach for seeing what happened that would cause someone to do something that is so hurtful and can't feel good in your heart and in your spirit.

When you can find compassion for the wound, then you can find compassion for the person, and then the forgiveness part gets a little bit easier. It actually sounds like you are handling this in a really mature fashion. I don't get the sense from the voicemail that you left that you're spinning out of control, that you're seeking revenge, or any of that kind of stuff. But I also don't want you to put yourself in harm's way because they're “family.”

Look, you are allowed to be boundaried with family. It's a must. You have to be able to take care of yourself. You have to be able to honor yourself. Some days you're going to be able to reach for a little bit more interaction than others. But it's also okay if you're not able to be in a relationship with them at all. That might have to be the outcome.

I want to see them doing the heavy lifting. If trust is going to be rebuilt to any degree and it will never get back to where it was, it won't, nor should it to be honest, but if trust is going to be rebuilt, I want them to do more of the heavy lifting, not you. So now we're going to go to Sarah.

Sarah: Hi, Sharon. This is Sarah. I guess one of my theories, I'm in divorce differently session right now, but for the last few years, even my children have made comments that they're not happy and if we just lived somewhere else, like my daughter has said that before, my son just at Christmas just said, “Mom, I've heard the way he talks to you. It's okay if you want to go” kind of thing.

Then recently in the last few months, he's made a valiant effort to make a change and now the kids see that he's trying and that he is trying to spend more time with them, being Mr. Nice Guy. In my opinion, it's a little bit forced. But my fear is just what will they think because we're supposed to teach them that people deserve second chances, and that people are contained and we should forgive and things like that.

My biggest concern is that now that finally they're seeing some changes in their father, and now I'm ready to finally leave, I'm worried what they're going to think of me and be upset with me seeing that maybe this is the time when things might finally be getting better.

I guess I'm looking for strategies to see the route I go which is most likely to leave because even with the changes, I cannot seem to muster up any feelings for him to how do I explain to my children that even though that has made positive changes and he is being kinder, that I no longer can live with him and have feelings and how do I tell that to a 13 and a 15-year-old? That is where my question lies because that's been holding me back for all this long is not wanting to leave because of my children. I appreciate your time. Thank you. Bye.

Sharon Pope: Okay, Sarah. I want to start in a bit of an unexpected place. That is if we look at the situation of where your kids were essentially giving you permission to end the relationship with your husband, and you didn't leave then. Now, your husband's trying and now you're worried about what the kids are going to think because we're supposed to teach them all these things and I want to get to that.

But what I want to point out is that the voice of your kids is so loud in your decision-making that I would guess that you would have a very difficult time hearing your own inner voice. If you think about why the kids would have so much of a voice, at one point you said, “That's why I've been staying for as long as I have because I didn't want to leave because of the kids,” but I want to challenge that.

I think what you're searching for is not to be judged. Certainly not by your kids. I think that's really what you're seeking because now, they've given you permission and you didn't leave then when they gave you permission, then we said, “Okay, it's because I don't want to hurt the kids.” That sounds like a good story. But I think that there's something deeper going on within you, which is “I don't want my kids to judge me. I don't want my kids to hate me.”

No mother wants that. It's logical and it's reasonable but your kids should not have this big of a role in your most intimate relationship. Their voices are so loud. When we have anyone's voices, I don't care if it's your mother, your mother in law, your sister, your kids, you can't hear your own inner wisdom so you keep looking to outside sources to say it's okay.

Believe me, I am here. I will write the permission slip for you. It's fine. You're allowed to leave this marriage if that is what feels like the best next step for you. You are allowed to honor yourself. You are allowed to hear your inner wisdom and follow it. But you got to quiet the noise outside of you in order to hear that inner wisdom. That's the first piece.

The second thing is that when you end a marriage, someone is going to judge you. Someone's going to have an opinion about it. That isn't all rah-rah and cheerleading, “No problem. You did a good job.” Someone's going to have some feelings and they're going to express it. It might be your kids. It might be your next-door neighbor. It might be another mother at your kid’s school. I don't know who it's going to be but someone's going to judge you. Just get comfortable with that like, “Someone is going to judge me.”

What I can tell you is that you will live through being judged. It might sting for a minute but you will live through it. So stop seeking permission from everybody else. I want you to write your own permission slip to live this one precious life and create this one precious life the way that you want it to be.

Now, I hear you. You're saying, “We teach our kids that we people deserve second chances, people can change, and we should forgive.” Yes. However, I think that this gives you an opportunity to teach them even deeper lessons. The lessons that I would love for you to start embracing yourself, because you can't teach anything that you don't practice so you have to practice these things, not just give lip service to your kids because they won't receive it if it's not being practiced, let's talk about forgiveness.

We just got done talking with Sylvia about forgiveness. Forgiveness here is you can absolutely forgive your husband for the years of poor treatment. But forgiveness is about you. It has nothing to do with, “Oh, if I forgive you, then that means I have to stay with you.” No, no, no, no, no. You can absolutely forgive him for the ways in which he chose to treat you and still choose to not be in your most intimate relationship with him.

These are two separate things. They're not tied together. The only reason we think they are tied together is because there's this mental idea that if I hate you, then I'm allowed to leave the relationship. If I can label you as a jerk, you cheated, you beat me, or something like that, like if I have a solid reason, then I can leave. But if I don't hate you or you're not a jerk, then I have to stay.

No, these things are not related. We need to stop tying them together. The person can be a good person, and you can choose to not be in your most intimate relationship with them. You can choose to forgive them for bad behavior, hurtful behavior, and choose to not be in your most intimate relationship with them. You get to choose.

Forgive, absolutely. Forget, no. No, because now you know something that you didn't know before. You know something about who your husband is capable of being in this relationship and who is not capable of being in the relationship that you probably didn't know before you got married. Fair? You now know something you didn't know before. This is helpful information so don't pretend that you don't know it.

Forgive because forgiveness is about you putting down the weight that you're carrying, you putting down the resentment so you're not carrying it through your life. Forgive them, yes. But make a decision separate from the forgiveness, make a decision to forgive, then make a decision about your marriage that ideally, is your voice, not everybody else's voice.

Everyone else gets to choose for their lives, including your children, your children get to choose for their lives but we don't get to choose for each other's lives. When we pretend that we do, we abandon and betray ourselves, so don't do that. This is also another opportunity for you to teach your kids healthy boundaries. Teach them about how you're able to set boundaries for yourself that honor you.

Sometimes when we do hurtful things, or when we get hurt, we now have to set new boundaries, which means we have to place maybe just some distance between ourselves and the person who hurt us. All the time, when it's necessary for you to take care of yourself, that's okay. You need to teach them that, that they're allowed to set healthy boundaries for themselves.

Then the last thing I want to say that is an amazing thing to teach everyone that I wish everyone on the planet knew frankly but we don’t, is every adult gets to do whatever they want to do, it's the only benefit to being an adult. You said your kids are 13 and 15, I bet you they really want to do whatever they want to do. But alas, they’re kids, so they have to do what mom and dad want them to do for the most part.

One day, they'll be able to do whatever they want to do but they will get to live with the outcome of their choices. This is a powerful lesson. Because we don't all get second chances. We don't all get third, fourth, fifth, sixth chances to do right. By the way, it probably isn't just one chance because no marriage ends after one incident. One hurtful incident never causes a good marriage to end. It doesn't. It's hurtful behavior after hurtful behavior after hurtful behavior over the course of years or a decade.

I don't know how many chances that is to choose something different than hurtful behavior but he didn't choose it. One of the things that you can teach your children is, “Look, everyone as an adult gets to do whatever they want to do, but they have to live with the outcome of those choices. Your dad made a lot of choices for a lot of years and that created distance between us that now from my perspective cannot be bridged. That's trust that can't be rebuilt between us.

“But I will always love him. I will always care about him. I will always wish for him to be well and I will always wish for you all to have a really good relationship because I love and care about you, kids, so I want you to have a great relationship with your dad. I want your dad to be healthy. I want him showing up for you. But that doesn’t mean that I need to remain in my most intimate relationship with him forever.” I hope that’s helpful for you.

Now for a little bit of levity, we’re going to go to Kim.

Kim: Hi, this is Kim. My question is how many adult women, and maybe even married women, rely on a vibrator to come? I’d love to hear the answer to that.

Sharon Pope: Okay, so, Kim, I’m not going to answer directly a question that you could probably ask Google. I don’t know the answer to this question but it makes me curious as to why you’re asking the question. You have one shot to ask a relationship expert anything about relationships and this is the question that you choose to ask so it’s interesting to me.

My hunch is that it’s wanting to feel validated because it's easier for you to orgasm with a vibrator than with your husband. That's my hunch. Consider yourself validated. But think about why that is. Let's just talk about anatomy for a second, which is, look, it is easier for women to orgasm through their clitoris than through the G-spot. Those are the two places where we can orgasm. It's much easier to orgasm from a clitoris. Now, a vibrator can stimulate that or it can stimulate a G-spot. There's a whole bunch of different vibrators on the market.

Of course, it's easier. Now think about what a vibrator does. Oh, it vibrates. It goes at intermittent variables, it does all these fancy things that stimulate blood flow and activity. Also, we don't have any, I'll call it dirty pain related to a vibrator. They haven't hurt us. They haven't rejected us. They haven't said crappy things to us. We're able to be out of our head with a vibrator when we're having sex with a man or with our husband, or someone who has hurt us, or we've lived life alongside, we've got a whole bunch of other stuff going on.

If you think about female anatomy, the vagina is not the clitoris, so all the penetration that's happening isn't the same as a vibrator, then the penis is not vibrating at intermittent variables and different intensities. Of course, it's easier. That's why a lot of women use it. They use it solo for solo play, and they use it with their spouse during intercourse, because it makes things a little bit more accessible.

I am no sex expert. I am no sex therapist. But I love Emily Morse's stuff. If you don't know Emily Morse, she's got a podcast. She's got a great class on the MasterClass platform. Check her out, she can probably answer all sorts of other random questions that you have.

But I think it makes sense that it's easier to orgasm with a vibrator than it is with another human being, with a man. I hope that that was helpful for you. I hope that when other people ask questions, that you're able to find yourself in those questions and in those answers. We talked a lot today about forgiveness. We talked a lot about hearing our own inner wisdom, honoring ourselves, and setting healthy boundaries. Everyone, especially every woman on the planet can use that to their advantage.

I know that even if these weren't your specific questions, you were able to get something really constructive out of it to help you create the kind of relationships that I know you desire and I know you deserve. Until next time, take really good care.

If you're listening to this podcast because you're struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage, and you're serious about finding that answer, it's time to book a Truth & Clarity Session with a member of my team. On the call, we'll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there's a fit for you and I to work together so you can make and execute the right decision for you and your marriage. Go to clarityformymarriage.com to fill out an application now.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy