Why is forgiveness so important in a relationship?
Forgiveness is a key component in a relationship as it:
- Reestablishes trust between individuals.
- Eases the process of conflict resolution in relationships.
- Serves own best interests.
- And alleviates undesirable emotions in a person.
Forgiveness is necessary for any healthy relationship.
Did you know that forgiveness is a key component of a healthy relationship? Most romantic relationships collapse after one individual offends the other. Although romantic partners want to establish a life full of happiness, as humans, they will have to cross paths.
For instance, someone can say something that offends their partner without their knowledge. Making mistakes in a relationship is not bad, but letting such actions define how people interact is wrong.
Getting hurt after an argument with a partner should not end the relationship. Forgiveness must be the most sought-after process of resolving differences when people offend each other.
Through relationship forgiveness, one can avoid harmful feelings and enjoy the happy life they desire.
Researchers suggest that couples who practice forgiveness have adequate relationship satisfaction. Although forgiveness does not equal forgetting the other person’s mistakes, it brings numerous advantages. Continue reading this article to understand why forgiveness is essential for any relationship.
Benefits Of Forgiveness in Relationship
Forgiveness Helps Alleviate Negative Emotions
The person offended in a romantic relationship can have feelings such as anger, emptiness, inadequacy, and frustration. For example, someone may think their partner cheated on them because of their inadequacy to satisfy them. Such negative emotions can lead to or worsen mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and stress.
Forgiveness allows one to accept their partner’s shortcomings and let go of damaging feelings. Through forgiveness, one realizes their partner’s actions were not associated with their inadequacy or failures. Therefore, forgiveness is essential for guaranteeing a person’s mental health in relationships.
Forgiveness Frees One from The Mental Prison
Staying mad at someone for an extended period may be exhausting mentally. Every time you meet with the person, you will feel angry or want to revenge against them. Surprisingly, some offenders do not realize the mental torture a victim is undergoing. The other person can proceed with their life uninterrupted while you suffer in your mental prison.
Forgiveness is the freedom from mental captivity that you need after getting hurt. Releasing the hatred that one has toward another person makes them feel free. When you meet with your partner, you will not have to look the other way if you forgive them after an offense.
Forgiveness Leads to Relationship Satisfaction
Most people are unhappy in marriage because they cannot forgive their partners. According to the Daily Mail, 60% of couples are unhappy in their relationships. Couples may fail to solve some of the mistakes they make toward each other timely. A pile of the bitterness associated with the offenses can lead to divorce or other unwanted outcomes in a relationship.
Forgiveness brings back trust in a relationship. Trust enables both parties to experience a warm and loving feeling towards each other. Avoid being critical of your partner if you wish to forgive them after committing a mistake. Doing so will help your partner reduce guilt, leading to relationship satisfaction.
Forgiveness Makes Resolving Conflict Easier
Disappointments in any relationship can begin a conflict between people who were once so close. Humans will want to take revenge against the person who offended them. Nevertheless, revenge may lead to unpleasant outcomes such as everlasting enmity or physical injuries.
If one practice forgiveness, they can resolve conflicts with their partners while avoiding unwanted outcomes. Forgiveness in marriage lets someone accept sincere apologies coming from their partners. People who forgive do see the need to hurt their partners in the quest for revenge.
Self-Forgiveness Is for Own Best Interest
Individuals can feel they could stop the offender from doing the action that hurt them. Someone with such a feeling may spend sleepless nights beating themselves up for the ruined relationship. Forgiveness is the solution for such people since it helps them forgive themselves for their part in the outcome. self-forgiveness allows one to avoid self-hate and negative emotions that can damage their life.
Types of Relationship Forgiveness
It occurs when one forgives their partner but is cautious not to get hurt by the person again. Individuals practicing conditional forgiveness worry their partner will repeat the mistakes in the future. Usually, conditional forgiveness is in romantic relationships when someone catches their partner cheating.
The best kind of forgiveness involves moving on without looking at other people based on their previous actions. Although one does not forget their partner’s actions, absolute forgiveness allows one not to view such things as a future threat. Someone with unconditional forgiveness avoids referencing the offense during interactions with their partners.
The worst type of forgiveness is when the victim forgives the offender but never wants to associate with them. One decides they will not hold grudges by moving on with their lives while ignoring the offender.
If such forgiveness happens in a romantic relationship, it can lead to divorce or separation since both parties never want to stay together despite forgiving each other. When faced with dismissive forgiveness in marriage, a couple should seek professional relationship advice.
In this type of forgiveness, people do not think they can forgive their offenders and forge a way forward in the relationship. Individuals embracing this kind of forgiveness believe a power such as God is responsible for forgiving on their behalf. If one considers grace forgiveness, they try as much as possible not to make the offender feel guilty for their actions.
The important role forgiveness play makes it a necessary ingredient for any relationship to withstand challenges. Developing a compassionate or forgiving attitude can guarantee the success of any relationship. Forgiveness enables individuals to avoid harmful feelings, which improves their mental health. Also, it opens the conflict resolution process while bringing satisfaction to a relationship. Furthermore, self-forgiveness is invaluable for own best interest.
Of all the subcategories of forgiveness, unreserved forgiveness is the best since it allows partners to forge a sturdy way forward. People who practice unconditional forgiveness do not let the shortcoming of their partners determine their feelings toward them.
Therefore, it is time for people in relationships to consider practicing unreserved forgiveness to enhance their happiness and well-being to protect their love.
Now, the big question is how to forgive. It is a study of forgiveness. It is not so easy after being hurt, but we must go forward.
Forgiveness is a virtue, but it doesn’t always come easily. It can be devastating when you experience hurt or betrayal in your life, relationship work, family psychology, or marriage.
Whether you find out you’ve been lied to or your spouse has cheated on you, your world feels crumbling down around you. You can’t even imagine learning to forgive your spouse at times like these.
The anger you feel is unmatched, and all you want to do is seek revenge. You may wish to inflict the same hurt on your spouse they’ve done to you to make things even. It’s normal to feel this way when you are hurt, but you may not realize that the person you’re hurting the most is yourself.
When you hold a grudge, you’re causing more harm to yourself than anyone else. You feel the emotions weighing heavily on your mind and spirit, and the hurt you feel manifests in physical ways.
You may even feel aches and pains because of the negativity you’re harboring within yourself.
Forgiveness can feel daunting or impossible, but it hurts more not to forgive.
Although the pain of betrayal might be immense, there are ways to learn to be more forgiving. Studies show that marriages are healthier when both people forgive each other. These tips will help you overcome hurt and betrayal to live a healthier, happier, and fuller life with your spouse!
Common Forgiveness Misconceptions
Many people struggle with learning to forgive. If you don’t know what forgiveness means, it will be very hard to move forward in the forgiveness process. Many people have misconceptions about what forgiveness is. Forgiveness does not mean invalidating your feelings. When you’re upset about something, you may think that working through it means your feelings are no longer valid.
This could not be farther from the truth.
If your spouse does something to upset or wrong you, you may want to downplay the situation as a defense mechanism. This does not lead to forgiveness. If you try to move on as if nothing happened, you will not get far in the healing process.
Another way you might try to practice forgiveness is to keep all of your feelings inside and never share your hurt with your friends or with your spouse.
For example, if your spouse betrays you by cheating, you might respond by harboring resentment and trying to make peace with the situation internally. But when you keep all of your emotions inside or block out the pain, you’re making it harder to forgive your spouse and heal from the hurt.
What is Learning to Forgive?
Forgiveness means to let go of your hurt and anger.
When you feel hurt or betrayed, it’s normal to seek revenge on the person that hurt you, but part of forgiveness is also to let go of your desire for vengeance. When you forgive, you accept the situation for what it is.
For example, if you’re upset with your spouse for spending a lot of money behind your back, you must accept that the money is gone to move forward. You will also need to have compassion and empathy for your spouse. You may ask, why did they spend so much money without telling me? Your spouse may have been going through something they were too ashamed to discuss, so they used spending money as a coping mechanism. Realizing that everyone makes mistakes and deserves forgiveness is also an important part of learning how to forgive.
The Importance of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is an important part of your healing journey.
Learning to forgive will greatly impact your life, health, relationships, and marriage.
It’s very important to learn to forgive, considering how positive your outlook can become when you practice forgiveness. Forgiveness improves friendships, relationships, and your marriage because you become less bitter as a person. When you can give grace and practice empathy in forgiveness, you won’t hold grudges like you did.
This allows for healthier and happier friendships and relationships. You will also be more trusting towards others because you know that even if they betray your trust at some point, you will still be able to forgive them. In turn, you form stronger bonds with the people around you.
Being more forgiving also improves your temperament and makes you less prone to anger. When you replace anger and bitterness with kindness and empathy, people will want to be around you more often, and you’ll feel more at peace within yourself.
Forgiveness also has proven health benefits. When you’re less focused on the hurt your spouse’s wrongdoings caused you, you’ll have lower blood pressure, less anxiety and depression, better sleep, better self-esteem, and less muscle tension.
It’s no mystery that the mind and body are connected. You’ll notice the healing in your body and mind during your forgiveness process if you pay attention.
Another reason forgiveness is important is that you’ll have a better and stronger relationship with yourself. You can trust that no matter what happens in your marriage and life, you’ll be ready to heal from betrayal or hurt.
You’ll be calmer and have the increased ability to self-regulate your emotions. You’ll also be more acutely aware of your inner strength and will have increased self-esteem. When you’re able to forgive others, you’re also able to forgive yourself.
Having more empathy, a more compassionate attitude, and a positive relationship side, makes life easier to go through, and learning to forgive will increase your capacity for empathy.
Preparing Yourself for Forgiveness
Let’s say you’re in a situation where your spouse has hugely betrayed your trust. You want to move forward and forgive your spouse but don’t know where to start. You might feel overwhelmed and want to give up before starting.
If you’re feeling stuck, it’s important that you first prepare yourself for forgiveness.
Forgiveness takes :
- emotional energy
Giving yourself some time is the first step in preparing yourself for forgiveness. Take time to yourself away from your spouse to gather your thoughts.
Give yourself as much time as you need to process the situation. Cry as much as you need to. There’s no rush to forgive your spouse. You are on your journey.
The next step is not to expect immediate change. Evaluate your expectations and ensure you are not expecting too much of yourself or your spouse. Change does not happen overnight, and the situation will not immediately improve after a hurt or betrayal.
Again, it will take time. Adjust your expectations accordingly and try not to be too hard on yourself because you can’t “just get over it.”
Another important step in preparing for forgiveness is authenticity and staying true to yourself.
Don’t try to convince yourself to feel the feelings you aren’t ready for. Don’t force yourself if you aren’t ready for forgiveness or empathy. Stay true to yourself by checking in frequently to see how you’re feeling in the moment. Don’t invalidate your emotions or punish yourself for still being upset.
Forgiveness is for yourself
Remember that forgiveness is mainly for yourself. Focus on what your end goal is. If your end goal is to forgive your spouse, consider why you want to forgive your spouse. Your answer should always circle back to you.
For example, you can say, “I want to forgive my spouse for the hurt they’ve caused so that I don’t have to carry so much emotional weight.” It becomes easier to move through the hurt if you frame forgiveness from a self-love perspective. When you practice forgiveness for your own sake, you forgive because you want to feel better and not because you should forgive the other person. Forgiveness is about you!
That said, make sure you’re the one deciding to learn to forgive. Don’t let your family, friends, or spouse tell you when is the right time to forgive. That’s up to you to decide. As long as you’re living authentically and not allowing anyone else to dictate how you should feel, you will be ready to begin the process of forgiveness.
Tips for Learning How to Forgive
Learn to sit with your emotions
Learning to sit with your emotions is an important tool for all aspects of life. If your spouse has betrayed you, you inevitably feel some intense emotions.
- You may want to try and block the feelings out or numb them somehow.
- You may reach for alcohol or recreational drugs to help you cope, but substances are a temporary fix that will make you feel worse.
- Avoid engaging in activities that will prevent you from truly sitting in your feelings and will only make you feel worse
- You have to be ready to face your emotions to sit with them.
- You will need to be able to feel awful for a while without engaging in unhealthy distractions.
- It will be uncomfortable, but meditation or mindfulness practices can help immensely.
Are you still full of rage? That’s okay!
- Try to breathe through the feeling and observe the emotion in your body.
- Sitting with your warm and loving feelings and emotions instead of trying to make them go away is the first step in your forgiveness journey.
Write it all down
Writing is an effective tool for processing emotions and promoting healing. Writing down your thoughts means you’re slowing down and honoring your feelings.
- Journaling is great for forgiveness because you can work through your emotions and privately process your feelings.
- Journaling allows you to express your innermost thoughts and feelings, and once you get that all out on paper, it’s easier to move toward forgiving your spouse.
- You can also write letters to your spouse that are as mean or angry as you need them to be, and then you can rip the letters up into shreds or burn them.
Expressing yourself through writing or her voice lets you get as mean, heartbroken, sad, upset, or angry as you need to be without hurting anyone else. This is a healthy way to express your emotions so that you can start forgiving.
Express your emotions openly
When you have experienced something hurtful, you might be the person to keep everything inside. Bottling your emotions up will only make them fester and become more unmanageable.
It’s important to express your emotions openly when you’ve been hurt.
If your spouse betrayed you, telling them how much you’re hurting is okay. Make sure you have people in your life that you can talk to about the pain you’re experiencing.
Talking about your negative experiences out loud allows you to process your emotions. You’ll be able to speak about difficult subjects more easily the more often you do it. For example, you’re upset because your spouse cheated on you. If you keep it inside and don’t tell anyone about it, you’ll develop feelings of shame. If you’re open about how you feel with people you trust, you won’t feel so plagued by the things bothering you and can forgive more easily.
Also, don’t be afraid to express your emotions openly to yourself. If you need to cry while in line at the supermarket or on a crowded public bus, go ahead and cry! Let your emotions be. Part of learning how to forgive is knowing how to move through the pain to be free from it eventually. If crying your eyes out in public will help you overcome the pain and learn to forgive, go ahead and do that.
Find the Silver Lining
When you find the silver lining, you refuse to let a bad situation completely bring you down. For example, it can be hard to find the silver lining if you’re struggling to forgive your spouse because they yelled at you in an argument. You can think you remained calm in the argument and didn’t yell back. That’s a silver lining! You can also think about what you learned from the situation. What did you learn about yourself from this?
Maybe you realized how strong you are considering how you handled the situation. Focusing on your inner strength makes it easier to find the silver lining.
As another example, maybe you were hurt because you found out that your spouse was unfaithful. Instead of lashing out or engaging in harmful behaviors, you treat yourself to a fresh new haircut. The silver lining is that you didn’t fall completely, crumble or seek revenge. Instead, you did something that made you feel good about yourself.
If you feel hurt or betrayed, you can focus on how you exhibited emotional strength. You can also focus on what you learned or how the situation strengthened you. When you think about the positive, it’ll be easier to forgive your spouse for their wrongdoing because, in a sort of twisted way, they did you a favor by teaching you an important lesson about yourself.
This tip may seem like a given, but it can be difficult for some. If you’re prone to self-blame, moving forward in your healing journey will be incredibly difficult.
When you experience hurt or betrayal, it’s easy to get wrapped up in wondering what you could’ve done differently to prevent this. For example, your spouse threw away some sentimental belongings while cleaning the garage.
The emotional pain was overwhelming, and you became very angry. You blamed yourself and wished that you had stored those items elsewhere. You also blamed yourself for not being there to help because you could’ve prevented those items from getting thrown out.
In this scenario, it was not your spouse’s place to touch your things (much less throw them out), so don’t blame yourself for their mistake. When you reject self-blame and forgive yourself for your wrongdoings, you can do the same for others more easily. This allows you to forgive others while avoiding feelings of shame and self-blame.
Avoiding self-blame and showing self-forgiveness promotes healing and is a quick way to experience true forgiveness towards your spouse.
Develop Empathy and Understanding
A necessary aspect of forgiveness is developing empathy and understanding for the person that hurt you.
You know the immense pain if you’ve experienced infidelity in your marriage. Though betrayals can feel incredibly personal, they’re not personal at all. Your spouse may have cheated on you, but it has nothing to do with you.
Instead, it has everything to do with the fact that your spouse is insecure about themselves and likes the attention they got from the extramarital affair. You can have empathy for your spouse even though they’ve hurt you. This is a powerful way to combat negative inner feelings and move toward forgiveness.
You become transcendent when you develop understanding and empathy for your spouse and other people. No longer will you take anything personally when you realize that other people’s actions do not reflect the basic reality of who you are. You will realize that having empathy and understanding is the ultimate path toward forgiveness.
Seek extra support
If you struggle to forgive and need more support, therapy is a great resource. You can also consider joining support groups for other people dealing with betrayals in their marriages. Support groups are an excellent outlet to vent your frustrations and connect with others with similar issues.
Therapy and support groups will teach forgiveness in a guided, structured environment. You might also feel inspired by hearing other people’s stories about overcoming betrayal. You may even be surprised by how easily forgiveness comes to you when you have that extra support!
Additional Tips for Forgiveness
Make forgiveness a daily habit
When you make forgiveness a daily habit, it’ll be easier to practice forgiveness in general. If someone cuts you off in traffic, forgive them! It might’ve been a mistake, or maybe they were rushing to the hospital. You never know. When you develop this capacity for empathy and insight, you’re better equipped to practice forgiveness. Plus, you’ll be better prepared to practice forgiveness when big betrayals happen in your life or marriage.
Focus on your goals
Focusing on yourself is a great way to be more compassionate relationship forgiving. You’ll be so wrapped up in your personal growth and future goals that you won’t feel the need to focus all of your energy on the pain of betrayal.
You’ll also increase your self-esteem and be less likely to self-blame! Focusing on your goals will prevent you from self-destruction because it serves as a positive and healthy distraction to fewer negative thoughts.
If you’ve been hurt and want to work towards forgiveness, the last thing you might think about is going outside and smelling the roses. Noticing the small joys in life will help immensely. Practicing mindfulness will make you enjoy all of life’s good things. You will appreciate the small moments and will be better able to enjoy the present. Mindfulness will help you move towards forgiveness by giving you a sense of serenity and putting life back into perspective.
Final Words for Healing
Remember that learning to forgive is part of the healing process.
The end goal doesn’t have to be forgiveness but rather healing and self-love. You will find that practicing forgiveness can sometimes prove to be difficult. It’s easier when you take it step-by-step.
No matter what kind of hurt you’ve experienced, you’ve made it this far and are growing stronger by the day. Anything you may be going through leads you toward a better and more forgiving version of yourself. Although learning to forgive comes with practice, it can also happen naturally when you focus on loving your spouse and yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does Forgiveness Require a Relationship?
No, forgiveness does not need a relationship to occur. Strangers can offend each other in different capacities, and holding grudges may have negative consequences.
For instance, by touching wet paint, someone can offend a painter even if they do not have any relationship. If two strangers offend each other, forgiveness can help them to avoid doing things that can worsen the situation.
How Does Forgiveness Heal a Relationship?
Forgiveness enables both parties to walk past the challenges that brought the harmful feeling.
A relationship on the verge of collapse can heal if both parties forgive each other. However, the offender must accept their mistake and show a willingness to change for relationship forgiveness to work.
Can You Love Without Forgiveness?
You cannot love without forgiveness.
At times, people you love the most hurt you the most when they do not meet your expectations. If you are not ready to forgive your partner, you better avoid love since the relationship will fail quickly. Hence, forgiveness’s important role makes it a necessary component of love.