Dr. Suzanne B. Phillips

Licensed Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, Diplomate in Group Psychology, Certified Group Therapist, Author, Radio Host and Media Consultant Covering a Wide Range of Psychological Topics

Post: Is There Room For Forgiveness in Your Relationship?

birds forgivenessWhat is Forgiveness in a Relationship?

With couples, forgiveness implies the recognition that although one has been hurt by the other, there is willingness to release the negative thoughts and feelings toward the other partner. Forgiveness is not about denial, condoning abusive behavior or remaining in a dangerous situation – it is about finding a way to go on. It is about dealing constructively with anger in a way that leaves room for love and trust.

Are There Some Things You Just Can’t Forgive?

Certain behaviors like verbal and aggressive abuse, dishonesty, unaddressed addictions, and infidelity erode and assault the bond between partners. While partners with such behavior may apologize, their partners may find it difficult to forgive behavior that does not change and remains purposely hurtful or dangerous to self or others. Seeking help, going on and finding a way to change and reset safety may be necessary. Forgiveness is far more of a process than a simple statement. It may be a goal that builds across time and behavior.

Does Love Mean Never Having To Say You’re Sorry?

Actually, No. Love means having the courage to say you are sorry. Forgiveness, in most cases, is made possible by an apology or recognition on the part of the offending partner that they have done something to hurt the other. It is an expression of sorrow and a wish to make amends. The power of apologies is that they restore trust in the your partner’s belief in you care and concern. Apologies are gifts. For couples the exchange of apology and forgiveness can be a positive turning point, a growth step, a renewed sense in the ability to overcome anything!

Day-to-Day Forgiving and Forgetting

The forgiving and forgetting that couples do on a day by day basis for the lapses, differences, mistakes, and oversights that everyone is capable of are part of the fabric of a good relationship. To forgive and forget, to even overlook, is to recognize that there is no perfect partner and no perfect relationship. It allows some flexibility in judging self and other. It contributes to the feeling of being in a safe place.

  • Don’t be afraid to say you are sorry – it doesn’t tarnish your self-esteem, it builds upon it.
  • Apologies and forgiveness reduce anxiety. An apology reduces a partner’s fear of being hurt again.  Forgiveness reduces a partner’s fear that they are no longer accepted and loved.
  • Don’t overlook the non-verbal apology- sometimes consistent positive actions are louder than words.
  • Remember all that there is about your partner. She is much more than the woman who lost your car keys. He is more than the man who ignores you when stressed at work.
  • Prioritize the relationship – it is worth more than keeping a scorecard of grievances.

Forgiveness as a Couple’s Resiliency Trait

Apology and forgiveness are not static concepts. They involve mutuality and movement – one owning the cause of the pain and the other feeling the authenticity and forgiving as a way of staying connected and moving on. The back and forth process may mean making changes, getting professional help, finding new ways to spend time together, new ways to talk together. If both are both willing, there will be a way to recover and reconnect.

To Forgive is to remember that we have room in our hearts to begin again.
(Author Unknown)