In order to manage long-term committed relationships, you must be able to forgive. The accumulation of hurts over time need to be dealt with in a way that allows your relationship to continue to flourish freely. Couples often do not know the skills that are necessary to deal with this issue in their relationship and often have beliefs about forgiveness that stand in their way of carrying out forgiveness. Some believe that forgiveness somehow makes a wrong into a right. Or they believe they ‘should’ forgive and will respond to another’s apology by saying, “yes I forgive you” without actually going through their personal process of forgiveness. Still others believe they cannot forgive unless the other gives an apology and is remorseful.
Forgiveness is really something that in one sense, is just for you. The other person does not need to be involved at all. It is not about making a wrong, a right. A wrong will remain a wrong. It is about a head decision where you have understood the depth of your woundedness and you make a choice to no longer hold that wound against your partner. Forgiveness is not a one-time thing. When a trigger occurs to the past wound, the decision to forgive is recalled and the hurt must no longer interfere with the relationship in the present. Over time, real forgiveness is achieved.
Of course I am not talking about the little things in our lives that are unintentional hurts, such as you stepping on my toe. I am talking about the more difficult wounds that accumulate over time in intimate relationships. Notice that it is our intimate relationships that have the potential to cause us the most wounds. For those larger wounds, there really is not anything that can make up for that. The other can stand on their head for you, so to speak, and it would not take the wound away. In those circumstances, forgiveness is the only solution so that you can continue to live in a loving relationship freely and so that the other person does not own your emotions. What do I mean by that?
I mean that every time you see the person or interact with the person who wounded you, your hurt and / or anger is renewed. It is their presence or their actions that control your emotions by the triggers that you are responding to. You continue to carry that wound in your backpack along with many others, if you have not learned how to forgive in your life. The backpack becomes heavy and affects your overall mood. The wounds that remain between you interfere with your intimacy in your relationship, It is time to empty that backpack.
So what are the steps to do that?
1. Journal your understanding of the wound and its impact on you. This part is important because it means that you are not just forgiving because you think you should, but that you are understanding what the wound means for you and you know the cost of not forgiving. Do not spend time on the why the other did what they did. This turns into a loop that engenders mind reading and often leads to erroneous conclusions.
2. When you have understood the wound and what you are forgiving, make a decision to forgive. Give yourself some time to do this. Forgiveness is a head decision, not a feeling decision. It is also based on the knowledge that in the past you have hurt others and have needed their forgiveness. This decision means that you are removing that hurt that stands between you and your partner in your relationship. When you see your partner, you are looking through the lens of forgiveness.
3. When and if you are triggered to remember the hurt, you must remind yourself of your decision to not allow that hurt to come between you and your partner. Remember that forgiveness is not a one-time thing but it is a repeated decision that over time heals you.
You can do this. Go forth and Be Wonderful in this Area of Your Life and expect a sense of freedom that you do not currently feel now!