This Father's Day: I Forgive You

By E. E. Andrews © 2011

On this Father's Day, I forgive you.

It is my gift to you after having spent much time pouring over Father's Day card after Father's Day card - helping the kids pick one out for you - and realizing that none of them express anything remotely close to those events that have transpired between us.

We racked our brains to think of the perfect gift for you... but what do you need? What do you want? What would even be meaningful, or enough, to you? Is there anything that would ultimately change you, them, us, for the better? Is there anything that truly fits this Father's Day, for you, at this moment in time?


As I worked through the jaded feelings recollecting all the things that were never said, never done, never offered up on any Mother's Day, birthdays, or holidays in between, I realized that what we both need more than anything is for me to let it go. And forgive.

You are not the perfect Dad. Or husband. I cannot muster up the strength to lie to you, nor am I sure it would do anyone any good. So instead, I will be honest.

I forgive you for the tiny white lies you told when we were dating many years ago - things I never learned the truth about until much, much later - at a time when you told me that it no longer mattered what you said "back then."

I forgive you for never being home long enough to plan a wedding, for raising my hopes up high that maybe in two years... or three years... it would finally work out. That things would coincide with your job and schedules and trips around the globe to plan out one very special day just for us. I forgive you for feeding me the myth that "weddings don't mean anything" and "you're too strong of a woman to need something fairy-talish like that" because in the end, all these years later, for some reason I cannot explain, it does matter.

I forgive you for spending thousands of dollars more on your television than you did on my ring.

I forgive you for being away seven months of the year we were expecting our first baby.

I forgive you for taking a job in a new location, where we knew no one, and then leaving me alone with the children for four months upon our arrival.

I forgive you for all the diapers you didn't change. All the newborn baby nights you slept a good eight hours in another room down the hall. All the prenatal appointments, and lactation consulting, and doctors trips you did not write down, remember, attend, or pay for.

I forgive you for never brushing the kids teeth, or reading them a bedtime story, or getting them a drink of water late at night.

I forgive you for never doing the laundry. For never doing the dishes. For not knowing how to clean a bathroom or scrub a floor or shampoo the carpet or vacuum out the van.

I forgive you for the kids' heartbreak when on the weekend they looked for you in the wee hours of the morning only to breathe out in sighs, "Daddy must be working..."

I forgive you for never being home, or being available, or being awake, when you say I'll have the evening to work out. And then chastising me for never working out...

I forgive you for not knowing how to plan, prep or cook nutritious meals. For being unable to grasp what it means to "eat healthy." Potato chips are not vegetables. The tomatoes in spaghetti sauce do not count. And grabbing fast food on your way home for the kids as a treat is not "every once in a while" when it happens four times a week.

I forgive you for all the times you said you'd do something, and never did. For all the times you said you'd fix something, but never could. For all the times you wouldn't let me hire someone else to do it, or fix it, because it would cost money you said we didn't have...

I forgive you for never really listening. Even when I ask you to. Even when I repeat what is important.

I forgive you for the times your mother has screamed insults at me, and torn apart my spirit bit by bit, while you cower in the corner like a scared puppy dog.

I forgive you for blaming me, and me alone.

I forgive you for your change in admiration. The twinkle in your eye, that with each baby born, each physical sacrifice my own body made, moved to other women on a computer screen. I forgive you for not being able to see that pornography can hurt a marriage.

I forgive you for the loneliness that is so, so much more intense in an unhealthy marriage than it is otherwise being a single mom with the dream that maybe someday... I forgive you for the hope that doesn't often seem to show itself around here.

I forgive you for the days you've promised that today you would take the kids for the whole day... so that I could shower, or relax, or read a book, or talk with a friend, or clean the house, or go on a walk by myself... and then one hour later I'd hear the front door open again, kids piling back in, climbing on top of me, asking what we are going to do because something came up, or you did not plan all that was needed for a full day without Mom... And I forgive you for this happening over, and over, and over again.

I forgive you for the many "family" trips you did not attend. Vacations the kids and I took (and somehow managed to pay for) without your contribution. We missed you on those ventures.

I forgive you for the exhaustion: physically, mentally, emotionally.

I do not know what is to come, and there are those who I am certain say I am a fool for giving you yet another chance. But you are not a violent man. You do not mean to hurt us. In fact, you appear as a pretty typical dad and husband to most looking on. You are an average American father... and maybe for that, I must forgive you too. And let go of those fairy-tale expectations of an equal partner and best friend for life.

So on this Father's Day, as I pick up the toys, do the dishes, scrub that stain, water the plants, and vacuum amidst giddy happy children for what will surely not be the last time, I forgive you. And myself. Please do the best you can at being the greatest parent and partner you can be, and I promise to do the same. Hopefully, we will meet somewhere in the middle, and our kids will know that they are loved just as much every moment, of every day, as they are on this Father's Day with you.

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  1. this speaks VOLUMES right now, as their father is at his own father's house hanging out instead of being here where his own children are going to bed without a kiss from daddy and I"m cleaning up after a whirlwind week all by myself.. as usual.
    Thank you.. I'm glad you can forgive.. but as you say there are some that will think you're crazy to give him another chance.. I don't know how you do. I know that about 75% of the things stated in your post apply to my relationship as well, and unlike you, for us it is a breaking point.. the reason we will not make it through..
    I applaud you for being strong enough to deal with it all without breaking, and wish you the best as you journey on.

  2. Long ago, I was dating someone (and had been for years) and I had a sudden moment of clarity that the above would be my life if I stayed with him. Thank God.


  4. this is my life. im so sorry. i know it must have hurt to write it. i have been telling myself that im going to find our baby a new daddy, because this one is broken. took the baby to the park today so that daddy could play with his fishtanks by himself. it made me cry to read this,why do we do this to ourselves? disappointment. i wish you the best of luck.

  5. I am so sorry that this is your life. My husband is far from perfect but he is a whole hell of a lot better than this! He is an amazing husband and father. And our marriage is very much a partnership, with both sides being fairly equal. Good men, even great men, are out there and you don't have to settle for something like this. I suppose if you have the power to forgive this, you must be a better person than I am.


  7. I wish I was at a point where I could write a post like this. It would start, I forgive your infidelity. But forgiveness is so very hard. Bless you what it took to write this. You are an amazing wife and mom.

  8. I had a husband like that. I got divorced and am now happily remarried to an amazing husband and father. I forgive my ex for what he was and how he made me feel...but I did not stay. I don't think women should keep accepting that this is the "typical" american man and there is not better...because that is just enabling men to act like imbeciles.
    I admire you for writing this, but I encourage you to really evaluate your place in this relationship. You deserve to be treated like the goddess you are.

  9. :( I wish I could write something this honestly about my current situation. I, too, admire you for writing it. It's forced me to examine my own relationship even further...


  10. Forgive him but leave him! He doesn't love you!

  11. This post was very powerful and raw. Healing must start from within... {{hugs}}

  12. is he clinically depressed? If so, he really needs to do something about it. Cognitive behavioral therapy might really help him in ALL areas of his life. Sounds like he's working like a dog - but a mutt abandoned to the streets not a greyhound on the track. Focusing on what's really important in life, devoting himself to living life NOW so he doesn't regret not living it when he's on his death bed, instead of constantly wishing for better/different (from the porn) and whatever he's getting out of that much time at work (because surely no paycheck is worth missing that much of his family's life in the end)... I applaud you as this looks like you are trying to forgive him so that you can find your own contentment, but it really sounds like he needs professional help to keep from pulling the whole family down. If he'd read books instead of going to a therapist, Martin Seligman's books Authentic Happiness and Learned Optimism might be a good starting place for him (I'm reading the Optimistic Child one right now, haven't read the others but friends I respect the opinions of on such matters have raved about the tools in the others, which is why I'm reading the one about parenting - I think my middle child is a natural pessimist like his father/my husband - only about 10% of your complaints are shared by me. I have a policy of forgiving the FIRST mistake, but repeating the same mistake is a sign of laziness and lack of learning that fire=hot IMO so I'll turn up the heat to make the point as necessary).

  13. I read this with tears streaming down my face, perhaps a bit too close to home for me and I do totally understand the need to forgive...but is that really the message we want to send to our children, to just keep giving when we get nothing close to that support in return? I regularly turn over these thoughts in my mind and wonder whether I'd be a happier and stronger mother alone.

  14. Sometimes we grow.

    A little.

    But probably only after we're kicked.

  15. Wow this post resonated with me more than I'd like to admit, which is why I am posting Anonymously. DH travels for a living, he was gone so much after my second child was born that for a while he didn't recognize his own father.

    He has NEVER taken the kids all day, he's never even offered.

    I find myself wondering if this is our future, and it scares me a little.

  16. Thank You so much for this. Forgiving is the hardest part, I hope that I have it in me to be able to forgive him one day.

  17. This woman has children with this man who is her husband. Please, to those of you telling her to leave him, you are not in her home, you are not with her children and please, please remember that those children deserve to have their family in ONE house. This woman chose to have children with this man. I am sure that he was very similar to this prior to the children coming along.

  18. Being married to a broken man is tough. Being a broken man is tough. I easily could have become the "husband" in this blog, but I took a long look the mirror early in my life. As hard as I tried, years of therapy, self-help books and men's groups couldn't fix the damage of my childhood, so I made the most responsible choice I could muster. Today I am in my mid-fifties, single and childless. I may be lonely, but at least, on this father's day, I am not hoping for forgiveness from those who would have counted on me, but to whom I couldn't deliver. At least, I can know that I have not put a family through what my father put mine through. Given the circumstances, I think I have become a pretty good man. I work at it every day. But still, I dream of what I missed.
    I don't know about your husband, but for me, I can't tell you how huge your father's day gift is.

  19. wow, this was so hard to read. My husband is a wonderful man, and when I have misgivings about him, I need only to read a blog like this to fully appreciate him. My husband would say that you should leave him. He would say that he is a man who is choosing to live a single life, without the burdens of a wife and children. You and your children deserve much more than this. Violence alone is nothing. Pertetual breaking of the spirit, yours and your children, is much, much more damaging. To stay for the sake of your that something to teach your children? I wish you all the best, in rebuilding your self esteem, your confidence in yourself, your body, and your mind to know you are sooo much more than he thinks you are.

  20. Wow...I cried as I read this. I saw my mother live this way...and now myself. No wonder I was never the girl that was looking through bridal magazines imagining her wedding day. Yet, here I am.

    As mothers, it is our world that get turned upside down: with careers halted and constant sleep deprivation causing the mirage of "me" time in the distance. Our identities forever changed, self-esteem shaken and having to be rebuilt in a new woman.

    And THEY don't SEE it!!!!

    I often avoided the conflict just to keep the peace but now I fight for my time, for more fairness in the relationship. The fights are painful but at least there has been some progress. I get to run by myself on the weekends...and dinner dishes occasionally get done. And this is 10 years in...:-/

    My heart and thoughts are with you.

  21. Also, pity him for his paucity of spirit & the things that he is missing that he doesn't know about.

  22. As for the person saying that you should stay with a man just because the children belong under one roof with both parents...that is ridiculous. My children thank me all the time for resolving our situation. My ex and I were not happy together and were not living to our full potential. He had zapped me of all my self worth and I was left a shell of the person I should be. My current husband and I share an amazing partnership and the kids and I are in such a better place then I ever imagined we could be in. Even when I was a single parent for the years inbetween, I was so much happier:)
    Yes, no one can tell another person what to do, but it is my firm belief that you would be a happier and better influence in your children's life if you were away from this person who is not loving you the way you deserve.

  23. Anonymous @ 9:30am- how could you possibly know what kind of a man he was like before? I find it more than a little hypocritical to criticize those that are telling her to leave him because they are "..not in her home, you are not with her children.." yet you seem to think it is okay to assume he hasn't changed. I am in a similar position and I have witnessed the change in my husband over the years. Please do not try to say this is my fault or the authors fault to be found in this kind of situation. I for one can say I did not choose to have children with the man he is today.

  24. It's good to forgive. Great to forgive. BUT that does not mean it is okay to stay - that it is in the best interest of you or your kids. Forgive, yes. But you the way he behaves is NOT ok. It's is not okay to treat your family the way he does. It is NOT okay. You and your children deserve love, respect, and honesty.

    "While there are times we can’t do everything we intend to, if someone doesn't do anything or very little of what they claim they intend to, it’s because they weren’t genuinely intending to *anyway*.

    Nobody that genuinely follows through with action on intentions misses the mark *so* badly that very little of their intentions materialize." - Baggage Reclaim

    My heart aches for you.

  25. I could write a similar list of things about my husband. And my husband could write a similar list about me. But we have, in the main, a happy marriage, and love each other dearly. On the basis of my list, I'm sure I'd be advised to leave him too. And he'd be told he was crazy to stay with me, if he listed all the mistakes I've made. We don't know the whole story - we cannot judge the situation on the basis of this post.

  26. I won't pretend to have any true insight into your life, but I will thank you for your willingness to share. I am sure you know what is best for you and your family. Many of us married folk experience similar things, either intentional or unintentionial, to the same, or to a higher/lesser degree and being able to communicate and forgive are key.

  27. Wow. You need to sit down with him and let him know that things need to change. You need him and his children need him to step up. Think of some concrete things that you want and that the children need from him, like him being in charge for 4-5 hours on the weekend, making dinner for the family once a week, going out to dinner alone once a month, or whatever. If things don't change after this discussion, you need to see a lawyer. It's not good for your kids to see their mother being so unhappy and such a doormat.

    My parents are divorced, and it was only traumatic because they put us in the middle afterwards, but I know there are plenty of successful divorced families out there.

  28. Yes, you should forgive me. But you have to love yourself and your children enough to NOT ALLOW HIM TO CONTINUE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU!

  29. So you're married to my first husband?

    Seriously, there were only a few discrepancies between my own story and yours. The biggest one, of course, is the last part: The day finally came for me when there was no way in hell I was going to devote one more minute of my time, energy, and emotion to an emotionless, selfish, jerk. And I left and never looked back.

    Our children are nearly grown now, and have developed their own resentful opinions of their father based on experience, because I never spoke one bad word about him in their presence. My ex is well on his way to becoming a lonely old man.

    And I'm re-married. To my best friend. Who cooks, cleans, and stays at home with our youngest child. I think back, often, to what my life might look like had I stayed in an emotionally empty relationship versus what I have today and I shudder to think what could have happened, had I not mustered up the courage to say "ENOUGH!"

    Don't let too much time pass you by before you decide that there *is* more to life. And to love.

  30. This used to be my guy too... and then he stopped drinking. I can speak from experience that he is a different person now and life is SO GOOD. I hope that your relationship can find that same goodness. Hugs.

  31. This is abusiveness. Violence isn't the only form of domestic abuse, and often isn't even the most damaging form. Please show your children that this isn't what love means, lest they enter unhealthy relationships later on too.

    Try reading Why Does He Do That?.



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