Hurt by the One You Love: The Power of Forgiveness in Intimate Relationships
By Rich Nicastro, Ph.D.
Psychologist & Couples Counselor
Why all couples can benefit from a book on forgiveness in intimate relationships:
Misunderstandings, hurt feelings and frustration are natural and unavoidable in long-term relationships.
But when unaddressed or handled improperly, misunderstandings grow, accumulate, and form a residue that can become toxic to your marriage or relationship.
To prevent the daily missteps from pulling your relationship apart…
…you and your partner need to create an atmosphere that fosters mutual forgiveness—an atmosphere that allows room for the inevitable mistakes that occur between people sharing their lives. When your goal is to nurture intimacy in your marriage or relationship, you will need to build an emotional bridge that connects you and your partner and protects your relationship from the cumulative effects of misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
A not-so-secret secret that successful couples know is that they must learn how to forgive one another for things small and large.
- Forgiveness is a bridge that deepens intimacy;
- Forgiveness is a balm that heals the emotional wounds that threaten to divide you and your partner.
As a psychologist and couples counselor, I work with many couples that initially assume forgiveness is only relevant to them when they are faced with the devastating fallout of an affair.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Because of this mistaken assumption, many couples fail to experience the gifts that accompany ongoing acts of forgiveness:
- Greater marriage/relationship trust;
- Feeling emotionally safe with each other;
- Increased confidence to take emotional risks with one another;
- Deeper emotional intimacy;
- Deeper physical intimacy;
- A more harmonious union overall.
Of course, effective communication skills are needed for a healthy marriage/relationship, but communication is only one piece of the relationship puzzle.
There are couples who divorce or separate who were actually effective communicators—they openly shared their feelings and gave one another feedback when needed. Yet despite good communication, the powerful forces of wounded feelings, intolerance and resentment pulled them apart…Why did this occur?
Because of a lack of forgiveness–love and forgiveness need to exist together for a relationship to thrive.
The power of forgiveness: 3 crucial reasons to practice forgiveness in your relationship:
1. Without the ability to forgive, you will remain stuck in the past, weighed down by events that are no longer relevant to your relationship, but that still drain your emotional resources and therefore negatively impact your union.
2. When you make forgiveness a regular part of your marriage or relationship, you deepen trust and intimacy, and create an energy that encourages open communication. You strengthen your relationship so that if a major wounding does occur, you are on firmer footing when working through it. In this sense, forgiveness is a proactive force in your relationship.
3. The inability to forgive prevents you from building on the strengths that already exist in your marriage or relationship. Letting go of anger and hurt opens up new possibilities for you and your spouse/partner.
Excerpt from Hurt by the One You Love…
“We all learn about how to forgive based on the important relationships throughout our lives, especially our childhoods. Because you are human, from time to time you will make mistakes and your foibles are going to hurt and anger the people closest to you. And likewise, others in your life will hurt you. This makes forgiveness a central component to your marriage or relationship. Couples who deny this reality (or simply do not realize this fact) are more likely to face relationship challenges with mounting resentments and other unresolved emotional issues that can wear down the fabric of their relationship.
If you enter into a relationship with the mindset that things will quietly hum along on auto-pilot, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and a jarring wake-up call. Relationships follow the pattern of messing up and forgiveness…often (daily or nearly daily). Cycles of connection-disconnection-connection are the norm. Why are these disconnections so commonplace?”
See Chapter 6 to discover why disconnections are a natural part of your relationship and learn the essential skills you need to create a pro-forgiveness atmosphere that will heal these disconnections.
Ready to take the steps to forgiveness?
Here’s some information about my forgiveness workbook to help you decide if it’s right for you:
1. Hurt by the One You Love focuses on building a stronger marriage or relationship through adopting a forgiveness mindset. Whether you are hurting from a series of relatively minor slights by your partner, or reeling from the fallout of a major betrayal, like an affair, this book can give you the tools you need to start to heal. Not only will you learn how to use the power of forgiveness to come through fresh woundings, you will also learn how to build a more harmonious union by creating an ongoing atmosphere of forgiveness.
2. It features a practical, step-by-step approach on how to assess your current forgiveness-mindset and to build on this foundation. Did you realize that forgiveness is a learned mindset that can be made even stronger? No matter how entrenched old resentments feel, you do have the power to release hurt and anger.
3. The workbook format gives you powerful exercises that will help you and your spouse/partner create a climate of forgiveness that can lead to greater understanding and deeper intimacy. Because no two people and therefore no two relationships are exactly alike, these exercises help you shape the how-to-forgive process to the particulars of your life.
4. You’ll be asked the same self-reflective questions and will be presented with the same exercises as my clients and workshop participants. The information in my forgiveness workbook comes from witnessing first-hand what forgiveness can do for intimate relationships.
5. You’ll learn how the practice of empathy can transform your relationship by enhancing mutual understanding and laying the groundwork for collaborative forgiveness.
6. You’ll discover five essential tips to help you rebuild trust and get your relationship back on track after there’s been a major violation of trust.
7. You and your spouse/partner will work toward forgiving one another for the daily blunders that are a natural part life—the daily stresses and missteps that can erode the foundation of your relationship.
8. You’ll discover core reasons why couples often fall into patterns of misunderstanding and conflict and how awareness of your own vulnerabilities can lead to a more harmonious marriage or relationship.
9. The ability to create and nurture an atmosphere of collaborative forgiveness begins with self-acceptance. You will learn about the transformative power of self-forgiveness (the freedom and wholeness that comes when you learn to forgive yourself).
10. You will assess your forgiveness roadblocks in order to build a more intimate, emotionally accessible marriage or relationship. It’s not always easy to forgive, and often there are powerful, unconscious roadblocks that stand in the way of you and your partner building a pro-forgiveness union.
11. Case examples based on the struggles and triumphs of real couples will put the power of forgiveness in a real-life context to help you understand how forgiveness can be applied in your own relationship.
12. Important research on the benefits of forgiveness, as well as tips for practical application, further expand the discussion so that you can be informed on what experts are saying about how forgiveness can work for you.
Those are just some of the highlights of my book devoted to love and forgiveness and making forgiveness a reliable presence in your marriage or relationship.
Are you ready to start your forgiveness journey?
Own your copy of Hurt by the One You Love: The Power of Forgiveness in Intimate Relationships
(Please note that my 186-page Hurt by the One You Love e-book is in PDF format and will be immediately emailed to you when purchased).
Wishing you and your spouse/partner a relationship where forgiveness takes center stage!
Rich Nicastro, Ph.D.
Psychologist & Couples Therapist