Should I Forgive My Spouse? Is It Safe To Trust Again?
Are you in a committed love relationship? If you are, here’s an unpopular but undeniable truth – you will get hurt! This is not a cynical statement meant to scare you; it’s a logical conclusion based on the fact that you and your partner are imperfect. Of course, some hurts leave much deeper wounds than others and choosing to forgive is often not an easy decision. Choosing to forgive is powerful, because it releases you from the burden of deep resentment and bitterness that comes when you don’t forgive.
Being willing to forgive is healthy
A willingness to forgive is a pre-requisite to a healthy relationship. Forgiving your spouse is much easier when the problem is minor, such as your spouse’s annoying behaviors that get under your skin and leave you feeling irritated. Choosing to forgive is much more complicated when the wrongdoing is significant and causes much pain.
Larry discovered that his wife Sue had not only overdrawn their bank account but she had also failed to pay the mortgage for several months. Larry was shocked because Sue had assured him that she had everything under control. The couple had experienced financial problems early in their marriage but both had agreed to follow a financial plan and to be accountable to each other. Larry found out that Sue had a gambling problem and worst of all she attempted to cover it all up by lying to him. He was hurt, angry and felt betrayed.
After getting past the feeling of shock, Larry wondered if he should forgive Sue. He was so hurt by her deception, he wondered if he could ever trust her again. If he forgave her, would it be giving her further opportunity to hurt him again?
The difference between choosing to forgive and reconciliation
It is helpful to distinguish between choosing to forgive and the process of reconciliation. The act of forgiveness is a matter of choice. Choosing to forgive is healthy, but it does not mean that you should leave yourself open for further abuse. After forgiveness comes the process of restoration or reconciliation.
The process of reconciliation, working through the problems, takes time and requires a willingness to risk. The decision whether to reconcile a relationship or not, is a very personal decision that is up to the individuals. The likelihood of reconciliation being successful is better when the person who caused the hurt is remorseful and makes a consistent and deliberate effort to change the inappropriate behaviors.
Choosing to forgive can cause fear
You may feel reluctant to forgive if your spouse’s actions have opened old wounds. In Larry’s case, his marital difficulties reopened a childhood wound. His parents divorced primarily because of Larry’s father’s mismanagement of the family’s finances. Larry found himself reliving that painful period of his life as he struggled with how to handle the problems in his marriage.
Larry ultimately decided to forgive Sue because he loved her and because he wanted to preserve his marriage and his family. It helped that Sue was ashamed and remorseful. Their plan of reconciliation put Larry in charge of handling all of the family’s financial matters. Sue got professional help for her gambling addiction and they both received marriage counseling.
If you are in a situation where you are trying to decide whether to forgive your spouse, remember that choosing to forgive sets you free to consider taking the next step towards reconciliation and healing. The topic of forgiveness and other related issues are covered in our online course Thirty Days to Better Love. For more information click on the link below:
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