This concept of chances is one that’s come up lately with couples in my office practice. How many chances should you get? How many chances should you give? How loving and longsuffering should one person be? How many times should we forgive our partners? Does it depend on the severity of the offense, or the magnitude of the mistake? Where does it say that we’re supposed to punish each other for real or imagined wrongdoing?
If you thought about it, you might be surprised at how many chances you need. In a long-term relationship, it’s all about the long haul. Yet so many couples get hung up on these little issues and escalate them into nearly insurmountable situations that stall them where they are. What if instead, we simply gave each other another chance to make it right?
What would you consider as a deal breaker?
If your partner makes a mistake, can you love them enough to allow them to get a do-over; to give them another chance to the right thing? Many clashes that happen in relationships are over perceived wrongs. We get an impression or an idea that our partner is in the wrong about something, so they must be wrong about something else. If your partner told a lie or made an error in judgment, would you consider that a deal breaker? You shouldn’t.
Mistakes help you grow. So learn to forgive
On this journey you’re sharing, you’re both in the process of becoming who you’re meant to be. You don’t always grow and evolve at the same rate at the same time. We’re all only human and we all make mistakes. The trick is not to let those mistakes be your undoing. Instead, find the ways to learn from those mistakes and give each other the room to be human without being punished for it. Recognize that neither of you is perfect, you’re simply people. These mistakes and detours off the path along the way are opportunities for you to grow as people, to grow your relationship and to deepen your connection. How different would things look if you took those opportunities not to blame or judge, but to forgive and learn how to be better partners for each other?
Give yourself and your partner as many chances as you need to get it right
Granted, it’s not always easy, and you sometimes have to deal with hurt feelings and ego. Our decisions and mistakes carry consequences. We have to be prepared for that. The main thing is to decide to go all in for the long haul. Realize this is a journey of a lifetime and you’re in this with the one person with whom you can evolve and grow into a love story for the ages. So give each other, yourselves, and your future, as many chances as you need to get it right. Keep allowing your partner the room they need to grow, get better and get it right. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at who you’ll both become.
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More By Stuart Fensterheim