When you have become emotionally close to another person, you have become more vulnerable. This vulnerability opens the doors for that person to do things that really hurt, which often comes out when conflicts arise. At the same time, you can develop higher expectations about what the other person does and how they should act towards you. This also can lead to unfulfilled expectations which could result in resentment or even anger, even without the other person knowing that they have done something to hurt you.
A recent study has shown that people with increased spirituality have improved mental health, in part because of the role of forgiveness. This helps to point to the fact that the person forgiving gets as much benefit, if not more, out of the act of forgiveness as the person being forgiven. In forgiving the person that you love, you are setting aside your anger and your resentment. These are elements that can eat away at you and detract from wholeness within your relationship. In looking at this understanding of forgiveness, it is important to recognize that it does not preclude being angry or resentful, in fact recognizing and feeling your reaction to what happened is important before you are able to forgive. Similarly, there is a difference between forgiving and forgetting – forgiving is not about approving of what the other person has done but is all about how you relate with the other person, especially inside of yourself.
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So, how are you able to forgive someone that you love?
1. Explore how your own spirituality allows you to be forgiven for things you have done. If you come from one of the Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) this may be rooted in history based on the way God has forgiven humans over time. If you come from traditions out of the Indic family of religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism) this may be rooted in an understanding of compassion and that forgiveness is cultivated from a philosophy of peace. If you come from aboriginal or indigenous religions this may rooted in the work of the spirits. Regardless of where these roots are, pay attention to the fact that at your essence you have needed forgiveness as well as the reasons why you have been able to be forgiven.
2. Explore how you, within this relationship, have needed to be forgiven for things that you have done. If you honestly reflect on the history of your relationship, you have done things (intentionally or unintentionally) that you needed forgiveness from the one you loved. What allowed you to receive that forgiveness? What allowed the one you love to forgive you? Pay attention to the fact that you have needed forgiveness, what allowed this to occur and what effect this had on both of you and your relationship.