We have all felt the sting of omissions and disloyalties from our loved ones. In relationships the absence of forgiveness can create a climate where harbored feelings of anger, bitterness and animosity prevent a couple’s bond from deepening and may eventually lead to relationship demise. To avoid this situation it befits all to explore and consider forgiveness.
What is forgiveness?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as “To grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt.” In other words, it is the end of indignation as a result of a perceived offense or disagreement, and pertains to ceasing to demand punishment. When thinking about forgiveness it is helpful to understand it as an intentional and multifaceted process. This process contains choice, intention, grace, and action. All of which are not passive acts that happen overnight. For the partner receiving forgiveness, it requires them to be patient, understanding, and transparent in order to facilitate reciprocity in the forgiveness process. Both partners have a significant part to play if choosing to incorporate this approach in their relationship.
Forgiveness is the medium for creating resiliency in your relationship. Taking this approach enables us to manage, mitigate, and resolve conflicts. Adopting this approach also enables the couple to move through the aftermath of past transgressions in a more thoughtful manner. This enables couples to slow down, decrease reactivity to the issues and move toward healing and understanding. Forgiveness also strengthens intimacy and connection with your partner. It empowers both parties to be vulnerable, tender, and honest with one another.
Forgiveness is both a mindset and action verb. When considering forgiveness within your relationship it’s helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
- How does holding on to the contemptuous situation help or hurt you?
- How does holding on to the infraction help your relationship?
- Is my partner deserving of forgiveness?
- How often do you exercise forgiveness in other parts of your life?
- How would practicing forgiveness change your relationship?
- What would I gain and lose from choosing forgiveness?
- What is one thing you can do right now to move toward forgiveness?
Mahatma Gandhi advised that, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”. Choosing to forgive takes tremendous strength and courage. The practice of forgiveness is one of the essential building blocks for creating healthy and fulfilling relationships. Choosing to forgive can’t alter the past however, it creates the possibility of transforming the present and the future.