Brent and I first started looking for some help working through some marriage things about 3 years ago, We started by seeking out a pastor at a very prominent local church.
When we walked into his office he didn't even ask our names. when we started telling our story, he stopped me and simple asked, "have you forgiven him?" I remember thinking how to answer that...I said "well I forgive him for it and then he does it again and then I forgive him and he does it again." He said well you haven't forgiven Him yet, he then gave me a piece of paper with a prayer about forgiveness and gave Brent a book to read, then said he couldn't help us until we did these things(his words were don't even call me until you have done these things). we gave him our email address and phone numbers and that visit was the last we heard from him....I have always been a little angry and frustrated at the way it was handled. Do I need to forgive my husband? YES! but was that really what you tell a hurting person? as if forgiveness comes so naturally to human nature, if it did nobody would need counselors. In the last 3 years (and with the help of true believers, who desire to see reconciliation among couples) I understand more about forgiveness. I read this blog post the other day from one of my favorite blogs, here. The title to me is so appropriate, "The most expensive gift I ever gave" because well it pretty much was.
Once we come to a realization of how broken and messed up we are it's much easier to give Grace to people. I don't think you can tell someone to just forgive if they don't understand forgiveness. For me in my marriage what should have been explained to me was to Forgive, but when new hurt comes don't bring up the old. Deal with the new hurt and the forgiveness and grace that comes with that situation.
To bring up all the past times he did this particular thing was making him feel as though he couldn't separate from his past mistakes no matter how hard he tried. Forgiveness and trust are two different things though. I think too many times we get them mixed up and think that forgiveness has to be earned and it should be a gift, building back trust does take time and has to be earned....
anyway if you haven't yet, go read that post!