5 Things You Need To Know About Forgiveness And Why Your Marriage Needs It

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5 Things You Need To Know About Forgiveness And Why Your Marriage Needs It
Love, Self

It is inevitable that there will be some difficult times and relationship problems in any marriage. Partners will inevitably hurt each other.

But, forgiveness and knowing how to repair the damage and restore intimacy is of utmost importance in any long-term relationship.

RELATED: 7 Devastating Lies About Forgiveness That Keep You From Healing

Research tells us that many good relationships are destroyed by the bitterness and resentment that builds up when partners hurt each other and don't make effort to learn how to forgive and move forward.

Successfully married couples report that being able to forgive is key to maintaining their bond together and one of the greatest expressions of their love and commitment.

For this reason, having some simple repair strategies at the ready can be helpful, in the long run.

Often, a gesture, a kind word, a cup of coffee or a joke is all that’s needed to reset and restart the loving feelings in a good marriage. And being receptive to our partner's efforts to repair the relationship is equally important.

Working to defuse and repair the smaller tensions keeps a couple connected and resilient, but there will still be times where deeper forgiveness is needed.

Since many of us tend to have some confusion and misunderstanding around the idea of forgiveness, what does it mean to forgive and why is it so important to strive for in your married life?

Here are 5 things you need to know about forgiveness in a marriage.

1. Forgiveness is a decision

Forgiveness is a decision we make to cancel a debt, to pardon our partner for hurting us, and to give up the urge to get even or to make them pay.

Forgiveness also means that we stop keeping score or reminding our partner that they hurt us.

2. Forgiveness opens the gates to reconciliation

Forgiving someone is not like a magic wand — it doesn't make everything go away as if the offense never happened. It does not mean forgetting the offense or that we’ll immediately stop feeling the pain and anger.

It doesn’t mean that the person who forgives is denying the offender’s responsibility, or that they are releasing the offender from needing to correct the problem. It just means the gates are opened for reconciliation and healing to begin.

3. Trust needs to be earned

Forgiving someone doesn't mean that things will automatically go back to the way they were before, especially when it comes to the level of trust between partners.

Trusting someone means that we have confidence we can depend on another person to do what they say they will do.

Trust develops based on our experiences with one another, so when it is interrupted or severed for any reason, it needs to be rebuilt and that takes time. Trust needs to be earned.

4. Forgiveness restores equality

It brings benefit to both sides. The person who is doing the forgiving feels better about themselves and can begin to heal. The person who receives forgiveness is released from their emotional prison and their one-down position.

When one person is in the position of forgiving, it puts them in a one-up position, which means that the relationship becomes unequal.

It is very hard to have an honest, healthy relationship when one person feels that they are better than the other. The decision to forgive allows for equality and intimacy to resume between you.

RELATED: Why Forgiveness Is Important For Your Own Self-Care (And 4 Steps To Help You Forgive Someone)

5. Forgiveness is a process

Forgiveness is not always a simple, one-time thing, but often a process that needs to be repeated several times on deeper levels.

Again, it's not magic, so it makes sense that it may need to be repeated and processed over time.

With these points in mind, it can be helpful to practice forgiveness in a structured way to get the ball rolling.

So, if you're trying to figure out how to forgive someone you love, here's an example of a structure you can use:

  • Make a specific time to work on the issue in question.
  • Explore fully and respectfully the pain and concerns that are related to this issue for both of you.
  • The offender asks for forgiveness.
  • The offended agrees to forgive.
  • Make a positive commitment to change if there any recurring patterns involved.
  • Agree to move forward.

Remember that forgiveness is not just a feeling but a choice we make, so it won't automatically remove the pain or the consequences. Even when we forgive our partners, we can expect to experience some pain because of what they did.

Forgiveness simply removes the barrier between us so that we can reconnect and move on.

And that is ultimately what both partners want.

Let's face it, we are always going to make mistakes and a healthy relationship requires that both people take responsibility for their actions.

When our hearts are filled with pain and we continue to resent our partner, there’s no room for love. For this simple reason, we need to be willing to ask for forgiveness when necessary and to forgive our partners when needed.

As Bill Moyers so poignantly says, "In marriage, every day you love, and every day you forgive. It is an ongoing sacrament, love and forgiveness."

RELATED: How To Know When It's Okay To Forgive Someone And Move On

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Debby Gullery is a relationship coach who teaches people simple strategies they can use immediately to improve their most important relationships. She is also passionate about helping single adults prepare for lasting love and commitment. She is the author of ‘Small Steps to Bigger Love’, a practical, easy-to-use book for couples who are seeking to be more intentional and loving. She can be reached through her website or her e-mail.