Many marriages become stuck because forgiveness is not a central tenant of the marriage. When problems arise, some couples become absolutely mired in a tit-for-tat cycle that puts brinkmanship and “settling the score” ahead of addressing and mitigating anger. Forgiveness is absolutely necessary in a healthy marriage. So, how do you practice forgiveness? Have you ever stopped and thought about the importance of forgiveness in a marriage?
For starters, the partners must have the ability to bring insight into the conflict. Insight, and its neighbor empathy, allow the partner(s) to step away from their own version of events to see, hear, and experience what their partners may be experiencing because of unhealthy words or actions.
Insight allows us to “stand in someone else’s shoes.” With this fresh perspective, we may be able to better appreciate how a series of events affects the other’s soul and spirit.
The next steps
If you are able to appreciate the pain being carried by the other, than the prospect of healing is very possible. If you are the offender, express a genuine remorse for the acts or words that damaged the partner and the relationship.
If your partner is the offender, be open to his or her expressions of remorse. With these “confessions” on the table, the couple is poised to take some transformative action. What must we do to mitigate the possibility of the injury recurring in the future? Should we atone for the wrongdoing through some sort of literal or metaphorical reparations? Do we need to enlist the help of other caring adults to help us plot a course forward?
With some action items in place, the real “heavy lifting” begins. Healthy individuals learn to “amend their ways” and move in a direction that minimizes the potential for additional pain and brokenness.
This does not imply that there can no longer be mistakes in the marriage – after all this is an impossibility – instead, true atonement after forgiveness implies that the offending partner is now aware of how his or her actions have the potential to hurt the other. If we know it will hurt someone else, we should have the ability to steer clear of the damaging activity in the future.