The following is a short excerpt from my ebook, Hurt by the One You Love: The Power of Forgiveness in Intimate Relationships. As a psychologist and marriage/couples counselor I’ve seen over and over again how central the role of forgiveness is in creating a healthy relationship.
The short passage below briefly examines what happens when forgiveness is lacking in marriage.
From Hurt by the One You Love:
“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” ~Kimberly Johnson
I’d now like you to think of what’s on the opposite end of the forgiveness spectrum:
Holding a grudge.
And how will holding a grudge make you feel? If you’re like most people, the feeling of righteousness that initiates a grudge wears off and you’re left feeling stuck, angry, bitter and resentful. And holding a grudge with someone you live with will obviously only negatively impact your relationship. So learn to let things go, maybe even at times when your partner hasn’t “earned” your forgiveness yet (gasp!).
Forgiveness is for you, to free yourself from the burden of hurt, resentment and emotional bruising that is inevitable when you let down your psychological defenses and remain open and vulnerable to another.
Practicing Forgiveness (It Doesn’t Come Easy)
I’ve worked with many distressed couples, and part of the problem for a significant portion of them was an inability or unwillingness to forgive, to let go of past grievances that they remained stuck to.
Here’s the point to remember: many of these couples were trying to cope with the struggles that all couples face (I’m not talking about the devastating impact of infidelity here)—the common challenges and missteps and letdowns added up over the years until anger and hopelessness stood in the way of forgiveness.
Connection (a re-establishment of emotional intimacy and feelings of closeness) often follows forgiveness!
Grudges and lingering resentments sever the connection and you end up feeling isolated and alone within the walls of your relationship. Think about this for a moment:
You can be in a relationship yet still be alone.
This is often confusing and very distressing for couples. And many try to “fix” their marital problems and relationship issues without first looking at the need to forgive each other. When forgiveness isn’t addressed while a problem area is being addressed, the couple’s efforts to “communicate better” and reconnect often grinds to a halt (because the underlying grievances and hurt continue to pull at them)—when this occurs they end up feeling more hopeless and may ultimately move closer to deciding to end the marriage or relationship.
A forgiveness mindset clears away the emotional baggage and challenges that can pull a marriage or relationship apart. It’s as if the runway of your heart needs to be cleared of emotional debris before effective communication and intimacy can take off and land.
Forgiveness Resource For Couples
To learn how to make forgiveness a regular part of your marriage/relationship, check out my comprehensive forgiveness ebook, Hurt by the One You Love: The Power of Forgiveness in Intimate Relationships.
Until next time,
Dr. Rich Nicastro