One reason we resist forgiving is that we don’t really understand what forgiveness is or how it works. Most of us assume that if we forgive our partners then they are let off the hook – scot free – while we unfairly suffer from their actions.
When we forgive in marriage, we are giving up our “right” to hold something against our partner, and opening up the door for reconciliation.
You’ve heard it before, but forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling!!! We may not feel like forgiving. We may want to harbor the anger and hurt and make them pay for what they’ve done. But, once you decide to forgive, you can begin to work through those feelings.
After there has been reconciliation through an apology you need to share your hurt by talking about the matter before you move on. It might be uncomfortable, but you need to share how you feel. That doesn’t mean pointing the finger, what it does mean is that you both feel heard.
Then plan for change! The goal here is to set up guidelines that you both agree to. That way, there will be fewer grey areas that can lead to disappointment.
Finally, turn off the replay button. When your mind starts to wander and you begin to dwell on the incident and the hurt it caused you, tell yourself to stop. Deciding to truly forgive your partner is re-committing to your relationship. Don’t sabotage that recommitment by focusing on the negative.
All of this takes time and honestly you may find yourself back at the place where you have to ‘choose to forgive’ again over the same incident. It’s natural to feel raw and disappointed and often it takes your heart a while to catch up with your decision.
But be encouraged, forgiveness is often more about setting yourself free than the other person. It’s the gift of mercy, generosity and love which once given, heals us also.
Fiona is a Counsellor & Family Therapist (MCouns, GradDip Psycho, AdvDipFamTherapy and her husband Rick is a businessman, speaker and mentor. Together they share a passion to help couples build strong & healthy relationships in the midst of a busy life.