Learning to Forgive
Forgiveness is one of the toughest things to offer in life. Forgiveness seems even more difficult to offer to the people we love, especially to our spouse.
Forgiveness is easier to offer, however, when we first understand what’s behind our partner’s behavior. I often explain it as an “emotional broken arm.” Check out our article entitled “Why Can Being Married Hurt so Much?” to learn why our partners can sometimes hurt us.
For this article, I want to begin by acknowledging that many of you feel hurt and angry, scared and/or confused and have felt that way for a long time. It is vital, however, to recognize that so has your partner. Though you may feel like you are the wronged party, I can all but guarantee that they feel the same way. Consequently, before we can even begin to work on the relationship, we must first forgive our partners and ourselves for the state of the relationship today.
Many people find it difficult to forgive because it feels as if to forgive is to condone a behavior. It is not. It is simply an understanding that there may have been painful circumstances or suffering that contributed to the person’s actions (again, see article “Why Can Being Married Hurt so Much?) and then choosing to pardon the behavior. Having an understanding of and compassion for what drove the person to their transgression can go a long way toward helping one forgive.
When we refuse to forgive, we keep the past alive in our thoughts. These thoughts can be so vivid that we feel as if the pain is re-occurring in the present moment. But in the end, who does that hurt? By repeatedly focusing on the pain from a past experience, you continue to relive it and often times expand upon it. Not only do you allow the pain from the past to continue to damage the relationship, you choose to let it damage you.
Actress and comedienne, Lily Tomlin, said simply:
“Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past.”
Notice that the decision to forgive is not contingent on an apology, or even a promise to never do it again. It is simply a decision to let go of the past and focus on the future.
The final piece of the puzzle that allows one to forgive can only come from understanding how the marriage got itself to it’s current state and then working through the painful issues to ensure they don’t happen again. To further understand your marriage, check out the Marriage Counseling System.
Check Out Our Video: How To Regain the Love, Rekindle Passion and Save Your Marriage
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com