Have you ever said something to your partner and immediately regretted it just by the look on their face?
It’s inevitable that you’re going to hurt and be hurt by your partner at some point in your marriage. Intentionally or unintentionally, it’s going to happen. What happens after the hurt is the most important part though.
We have the tendency to bottle that hurt up, not talk about it, pull away and let the resentment build until one day something minor happens and we blow like Mount Saint Helens.
What if we choose to forgive, instead?
A common misconception is that forgiveness is a feeling. It’s not. Forgiveness is a choice. When you harbor anger and resentment toward your partner, that’s a choice as well.
Other misconceptions are that forgiveness means you pretend the hurt doesn’t matter or that you have to forget about it completely. Another is that you deny the hurt and hope it just goes away. Maybe you think your love will just magically resolve the hurt and everything will go back to normal. Sorry, that’s not forgiveness at all.
Forgiveness is facing the issue in how we were wronged head on and having the hard conversations with our spouse. Those hard conversations are often looked at as a conflict to avoid. Instead, let’s start looking at them for what they could be- incredible connection pieces to help us grow together as a couple. Forgiveness is recognizing and managing our emotions as well as having empathy for the emotions our partner has as well. Above all, forgiveness means choosing to not hold the wrong that was done to us against our partner.
Forgiveness is a process.
Depending on the level of hurt, sometimes you have to forgive yourself or your partner for that hurt over and over again. There may be triggers that come up and remind you of the hurt, causing you to feel pain repeatedly. Choosing to repeatedly forgive again and again is the key. How?
1. Talk about the pain.
When a topic is talked about, it loses the power it has over you. Discuss how you hurt your partner or how they hurt you. When things are left unaddressed, even if they’re small, they lead to a loss of intimacy. Like tiny chips in a concrete wall, eventually the wall will be unstable and broken down if enough is chipped away.
2. Apologize correctly.
First, apologize using your partners apology language. If you aren’t using their apology language, chances are, they don’t feel like your apology was genuine or complete. If you need to know your or your partner’s apology language, take the free quiz here.
Also know that an apology does not include the word BUT.
“I’m sorry I lost my temper and said hurtful things to you BUT I wouldn’t have said them if you hadn’t been so rude to me.” This is not an apology. This is blaming your partner.
“I’m sorry I said those things to you in front of the kids. It was mean and disrespectful and I shouldn’t have treated you that way. It won’t happen again. Will you forgive me?” This is a proper apology. The next step is making sure it doesn’t happen again.
Apologies without changed behavior are nothing more than manipulations.
Forgive even when you don’t feel like it. Forgive out of love and as a stepping stone to connection, healing and unity.
What will you forgive your partner for today?
P.S.- November kind of snuck up on me but the annual gratitude and attitude challenge is OPEN! Every year, I email out a different journal prompt every morning the month of November to help you grow as an individual and become the highest version of yourself. They vary in topics and can be used as a journal prompt, conversation connect with your spouse or simply as a reflection piece for the day. If you’d like to participate, subscribe here! We start on Sunday!