How to Forgive and Forget in a Relationship

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Let’s be real; nobody is perfect. You may have found someone who you consider to be your perfect mate, the one who you are meant to be with, your true and forever love, the one closest to you who can do no harm. And then s/he goes and does something that shatters your untarnished image of them that you’ve so firmly held on to. It’s a biggie. Can you move on? Can you forgive and forget?

First, look deep for any signs within you that insist that you should strive to be perfect. Then ask if you expect that of your partner. Look at yourself, your mate and the relationship you are carving as realistically as you can. Don’t fall victim to the mindset that your love will transcend any appearance of discord. That’s fantasy land. Typically that attitude happens in new relationships and often fades as the relationship progresses. Get ahead of the game: cut your mate some slack.

Are you justified in feeling hurt? Sure. You own your feelings. They may be overblown or unrealistic in your estimation, but they’re your feelings. Do you expect your partner to apologize, “fess up,” atone for his/her “sins?” Can you have a conversation about what just happened and express your feelings to one another?

Every situation is a little different. Maybe they don’t feel they did anything to apologize for. Do you accept that? If not, what then? Another aspect of forgiveness is, do you set up prerequisites to forgiveness? For example, do you always expect them to say “I’m sorry” before you can forgive them?

 

Breaking the Cycle

I’ve assembled some strategies for breaking the cycle some of us get into when we are resistant to forgive. See if any resonate with you:

Let go of the anger toward your “offending” mate. When you look at it closely, being angry at another person – for whatever reason – is actually an attack. You’re lashing out at this person because you feel offended, hurt, or threatened. And this person you are attacking is your beloved.

Don’t sulk or punish. “I’ll fix him/her. I won’t speak to them for the rest of the day. That’ll show him/her not to try that again.” You’re just pushing your mate further away. You’re doing the opposite of trying to resolve a situation.

Be ego mindful. Is your response to their behavior a reflection of how you really WANT to react? Is this you reacting or is it a mind gremlin? You know that voice in your head that second guesses your thoughts and actions? It’s the one that likes to question the intentions of others … that likes to stir things up … seek revenge. Try not to listen to it – or at least try not to act on it.

Be empathetic. Practicing empathy is the opposite of not forgiving. If you can put yourself in your mate’s place for a minute and accept that you could have made the same or similar mistake, you’ll be hard-pressed to not be forgiving.

Drop the tough act. Are you hanging on, not forgiving, because to not do so makes you come off as weak, a pushover? Is there some power-play going on? Are you afraid you’re not standing up for yourself if you forgive too easily? You’re not in a power struggle here. This is your sweetheart, your partner. In a loving relationship, it’s ok to be vulnerable.

Look at the trigger. Reflect on why you’re upset and unforgiving. Could it be because your mate’s infraction “pushed your button?” For example, if your mate lost his/her cool and started yelling at you, did you, on impulse, get overly offended because your father would break out yelling at you like that growing up?

Don’t keep score. Are you letting your mate slide on a certain number of incidents and then when a certain number of “infractions” are reached, decide you can’t, won’t forgive … or at least not for the moment? How about treating each incident as an opportunity to practice love and forgiveness and forget the past?

Forgive yourself. Sometimes the inability to forgive is anger turned inward. That may seem kind of backward, but think about it; has your sweetie done something you are guilty of yourself or were guilty of in a previous relationship? Is your decision not to forgive a way of transferring the anger or guilt onto them? I bet if the answer is yes, you might feel more forgiving.

 

Keep Practicing

To forgive often takes practice. Forgiveness is something you have to work at, be aware of. Not forgiving creeps up sometimes when you’re looking the other way, when you thought you’ve long forgotten the offense. And not forgiving sometimes rears its ugly head when the next transgression occurs; forgiveness can be sneaky that way.

Isn’t your relationship with your mate – who you trust – worth overcoming the occasional “hiccups?” Then work your forgiveness “muscle.” You’ll both be happier now and in the long-run. It’s really, deep down, what you both want, don’t you think?