Forgiving Your Partner
No matter how much you care, and how hard you try, when you get close to each other, you will occasionally get hurt. Even people who are responsible and care about each other make mistakes, because no one can be 100% aware, and because it’s not always easy to understand what's important to another person. This emotional clumsiness can hurt, even when it's unintentional, so you need to know how to clear up the hurts when they happen. The power to resolve and let go of old hurts, while learning to protect yourself from being hurt again, is one of the most useful skills when it comes to intimate relationships.
Forgiving for Real
Forgiveness is not easy. When you have truly forgiven, there is no lingering resentment, because the problem is solved. You have learned how to heal the hurt and prevent its reoccurrence, so you can forgive and wipe the slate clean. Knowing how to express feelings and figuring out a way to prevent a similar hurt from happening again makes it possible to forgive each other.
The dictionary defines to forgive as “to give up resentment of” but my definition of forgiving is a bit different. Giving up resentment is nearly impossible when there are too many real injuries to forgive. It can also be unwise, because resentment is a reminder to be careful around this person or in this situation. Letting go of resentment without fixing the problem makes you vulnerable to being hurt or mistreated over and over again.
However, hanging on to resentment will not protect you or allow you to let go of the past and move on. As long as you hold onto resentment, you will feel like a helpless, hopeless, dependent victim of your past history. You do need to learn to forgive, but just "giving up resentment" is not sufficient. You need a new model of forgiving.
Steps to Forgiving
Forgiving needs to follow these main steps.
1. Understand why you’re hurt. It’s common to have hurt feelings and be disappointed but not know exactly what it’s all about. What are you feeling? Are you angry at someone? What did he or she do? Are you sad? Why? Taking the time to get clear about your disappointment and hurt feelings will make it easier for you to be clear with your partner, and easier for your partner to figure out what to do.