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Forgiveness has been shown to be not only essential in maintaining healthy relationships but also has significant positive impacts on our mental health. 1 2 That’s why it’s so important to learn how to forgive in relationships.
In this article, we’ll discuss what it means to forgive in relationships, how to forgive both yourself and your partner, and answer frequently asked questions about forgiveness.
Did you know that forgiveness in relationships is also associated with constructive communication and better conflict resolution? 3 Here you can learn more about how to effectively deal with conflicts and challenges in your relationship.
What does it mean to forgive in a relationship?
Forgiveness involves a deliberate decision to let go of resentment, anger, and hurt feelings toward someone who has wronged you. 4 When you forgive someone in a relationship, you are acknowledging their wrongdoing and choosing to release the negative emotions that have been holding you back.
Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or condoning the behavior, but it does mean choosing to move forward without holding a grudge.
Forgiveness requires humility, empathy, and a willingness to let go of the desire for revenge or punishment. If you choose to forgive in a romantic relationship, it shows that you are determined to make the relationship work. 5
It is crucial to understand that forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. The key difference is that forgiveness is something you can do on your own, while reconciliation requires the active participation of both parties. Often forgiveness is necessary for reconciliation to happen. 6
5 steps on how to forgive your partner
When your partner has hurt you, it’s natural to feel angry, sad, and resentful. 5 However, holding onto these negative emotions can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being, as well as your relationship. That’s why learning how to forgive your partner is so important.
Here are five steps to help you let go of anger and resentment toward your partner and move toward forgiveness. By following these steps, you can begin to heal your relationship and find peace within yourself.
1. Let yourself feel your emotions
It’s important to let yourself experience and acknowledge your emotions before forgiving your partner. Acknowledging your emotions means giving yourself permission to feel them fully, without judgment or shame.
It’s important to recognize that your emotions are valid and that they deserve to be heard. Don’t try to push them away or deny them, as this will only lead to more negative emotions in the long run.
Instead, give yourself time and space to process your emotions. This might involve journaling, talking to a friend or therapist, or engaging in mindfulness exercises. By acknowledging your emotions and giving yourself time to process them, you can begin to understand why you feel the way you do and what you need to move forward.
2. Be open to forgiveness
An important step toward forgiveness is being open and receptive to it. It can be challenging to let go of negative emotions and move toward forgiveness, especially if you’ve been hurt deeply by your partner. However, being open and receptive to forgiveness is essential if you want to work towards healing your relationship.
Being open to forgiveness means that you’re willing to consider it as a possibility and work toward it if it feels right for you. This way, you can start to create space for healing and growth.
One way to be open to forgiveness is to practice self-reflection and examine your own emotions and thoughts. Ask yourself why forgiveness might be important to you and what might be holding you back from forgiving your partner. Consider talking to a trusted friend or therapist who can offer you support and guidance as you navigate the forgiveness process.
3. Be patient
Forgiveness is not a quick fix, nor is it a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a process that takes time, effort, and patience. When you’re working toward forgiving your partner, it’s important to acknowledge that the journey toward forgiveness is not a linear one. There may be setbacks, ups and downs, and moments of doubt and uncertainty.
One essential aspect of working toward forgiveness is being patient with yourself. Don’t rush the process or put pressure on yourself to forgive quickly. It’s important to give yourself time to work through your emotions, heal, and rebuild trust in your partner.
This patience also means accepting that forgiveness may not happen all at once. It can be challenging to let go of negative emotions, especially if you’ve been hurt deeply. But with time, patience, and effort, forgiveness can become a reality.
4. Deliberately choose to let go of resentment
Forgiveness is a deliberate choice that you make for yourself. When someone hurts us, our first instinct is often to seek revenge. Some scientists believe that this desire for retaliation is a natural part of our biology, psychology, and culture. 5
However, you can make an intentional decision to let go of anger and resentment toward your partner. This involves acknowledging what happened, facing the painful feelings, and working toward healing and moving forward. 4
It’s also important to note that forgiveness is not about forgetting what happened or condoning your partner’s actions. It’s about releasing the negative emotions that are holding you back and making an intentional choice to work toward healing and rebuilding trust.
Need some guidance to help you on your journey toward forgiveness? Explore these practical tips on how to practice forgiveness in a relationship.
5. Communicate your forgiveness to your partner
For some, communicating their forgiveness to their partner can be the final step in the process. However, this is not a requirement, and it’s important to communicate your forgiveness in a way that feels comfortable and authentic for you. You may choose to express your forgiveness verbally or through an action or gesture.
Ultimately forgiveness is an internal process, and it’s important to remember that only you can decide when you are ready to forgive. No one else can (or should) make this decision for you.If you're struggling to forgive your partner, check out this article to find out why.
6 tips on how to get someone to forgive you
Forgiveness can’t be forced, but there are steps you can take to encourage someone to forgive you and create a path toward healing and reconciliation. Seeking forgiveness can be a challenging and emotional process, but the effort can be worth it if you’re committed to making things right.
Here are six tips on how to encourage someone to forgive you:
1. Acknowledge your wrongdoing
Before seeking forgiveness from someone else, it’s essential to acknowledge your wrongdoing and feel genuine remorse for your actions within yourself. This internal step is crucial, as it allows you to take responsibility for your actions and understand the impact they have had on others.
Feeling genuine remorse involves acknowledging that what you did was wrong and recognizing how you’ve hurt or offended the person without searching for excuses or pointing fingers. 7 This requires introspection and an honest assessment of your words and actions.
It’s important to take the time to reflect on your hurtful behavior and understand how it has impacted the other person and their feelings. Without acknowledging what you’ve done wrong, there is no way to move forward and start the process of forgiveness.
One of the most effective ways to foster forgiveness is through an apology. By apologizing, you are acknowledging and validating the other person’s feelings, intuition, and perception.6 This can help them to let go of any negative feelings they may have toward you. 8
When apologizing, make sure that you are specific about your wrongdoing, sincere in expressing remorse, and honest in expressing regret for the offense caused.
Although it may take time for your partner to fully forgive you, offering a sincere apology can be the initial step toward this healing process. 7
3. Take responsibility for your actions
Taking responsibility for your actions is essential when seeking forgiveness from someone. 7 When you take responsibility for your actions, you are showing that you recognize the impact your words or behavior have had on the other person.
This involves owning up to your mistakes and being willing to take the necessary steps to make things right. By doing so, you are demonstrating that you are committed to repairing the relationship and creating a positive path forward.
4. Show genuine remorse
Showing genuine remorse involves being sincere and authentic in your apologies and actually feeling remorse for your actions. To show genuine remorse, you have to acknowledge the hurt and pain you caused, listen to what your partner has to say without getting defensive, and express a sincere commitment to making things right.
Demonstrating genuine remorse through sincere apologies and consistent efforts to rebuild trust can help to foster forgiveness from the other person. 6 9
5. Be willing to make amends
Making amends is an important part of the process when seeking forgiveness. 6 When you make amends, you are taking concrete steps to repair the damage caused by your actions and demonstrating your commitment to making things right.
Making amends can take many forms, depending on the situation and the needs of the other person. It can be any action that takes into account the feelings and perspective of the person you’ve hurt. This can involve anything from an emotional conversation to a physical gift or gesture to show your regret.
Another way to make amends is through changes in your behavior. If you hurt someone through a pattern of behavior, such as being consistently late or forgetting important dates, you might commit to making changes in these areas to show that you are taking their feelings and needs into account.
Making amends is essential because it allows you to demonstrate your commitment to repairing the relationship without expecting anything in return.
6. Don’t pressure them for forgiveness
Forgiveness is a personal choice and should not be forced. Pressuring your partner to forgive you can be counterproductive and may even push them further away. It’s important to remember that your partner may not be ready to forgive you right away, and that’s ok.
Let them take the time they need to work through their feelings while allowing them space to come to a decision on their own terms.
4 ways how to forgive yourself after hurting your partner
Self-forgiveness entails making peace with yourself. When we forgive ourselves, we work towards decreasing feelings of anger, frustration, and resentment towards ourselves. 2 It is an ongoing process that involves restoring a positive image of ourselves after we have hurt someone else.
Here are 4 ways in which you can begin the process of self-forgiveness:
1. Acknowledge responsibility for your actions
The first step toward self-forgiveness is acknowledging responsibility for your actions. Take ownership of your mistakes and accept that you have caused hurt and pain to your partner.
It’s important to remember that acknowledging responsibility does not mean wallowing in guilt or self-pity. Rather, it’s an opportunity to take an honest look at your actions, learn from them, and make changes that can help prevent similar mistakes in the future. When you take ownership of your mistakes, you show your partner and yourself that you are committed to making things right and rebuilding trust.
2. Break the cycle of negative thinking
Breaking the cycle of negative thinking can be challenging, but it’s essential for self-forgiveness. Negative thoughts can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to a cycle of shame, guilt, and self-blame that can be hard to escape. It’s crucial to be aware of these patterns and take steps to interrupt them.
One way to break the cycle of negative thinking is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment. When you become aware of negative thoughts, you can take a step back and view them more objectively. This can help you see the situation from a different perspective and reduce the intensity of your negative emotions.
3. Practice self-compassion
Self-compassion involves treating yourself with kindness and understanding. It involves acknowledging that you’re human and that everyone makes mistakes and being kind to yourself even when you fall short of your own expectations.
One way to practice self-compassion is to cultivate a sense of empathy towards yourself. When you’re feeling overwhelmed with negative emotions, take a moment to think about how you would respond if a friend were in the same situation. Chances are, you’d be gentle and understanding with them. Apply that same kindness and understanding to yourself.
Another way to practice self-compassion is to treat yourself to activities that make you feel good. This could include spending time in nature, listening to music, practicing yoga, or engaging in creative activities. When you treat yourself kindly, you’re sending a message to yourself that you’re worthy of care and respect.
4. Reframe the situation
Reframing is a technique used to help us view situations from different perspectives. One way to reframe the situation is to look for the lessons that can be learned from the experience. What did you learn about yourself and your relationship from this experience? Did you discover any patterns or behaviors that you want to change or improve upon? Reflecting on these questions can help you see the situation in a new light and identify ways to move forward.
It’s also important to remember that reframing the situation doesn’t mean downplaying the impact of your actions or minimizing your partner’s feelings. It’s about recognizing the situation for what it is, learning from it, and using that knowledge to make positive changes in your life and relationships.To learn more about how to practice self-forgiveness, check out this helpful article about how to forgive yourself after hurting your partner.
Forgiveness is not just a crucial aspect of a healthy relationship but also an important element of our personal growth and well-being. It is a choice that can empower both you and your relationship to thrive. We hope that these tips have been helpful in guiding you toward forgiveness.
Forgiveness and communication go hand in hand. Learn everything you need to know about communication in a relationship with our comprehensive guide!
FAQ about forgiveness
1. Why is forgiveness important in relationships?
Forgiveness is crucial in relationships because it allows couples to move past hurtful experiences and rebuild trust. Holding onto grudges and resentment can erode the emotional connection between partners and lead to a breakdown in communication and intimacy.
Forgiveness also benefits individuals on a personal level. Letting go of negative emotions such as anger and bitterness can lead to greater psychological well-being, reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, and improved physical health. It can also improve self-esteem and promote positive relationships with others.
In short, forgiveness is an essential part of maintaining healthy relationships and individual well-being. It allows us to let go of past hurts, heal emotional wounds, and move forward with greater resilience and compassion.
2. How do you build forgiveness in a relationship?
Building forgiveness in a relationship takes time, patience, and effort. Depending on the severity of the offense and the level of trust between partners, it can take weeks or even months to move past hurtful experiences.
The most important step to forgiveness is by taking responsibility for your actions. If you’ve hurt your partner, it’s important to acknowledge your mistakes and take steps to make amends. This involves apologizing and making a sincere effort to change your behavior.
Ultimately it’s up to the hurt partner to decide when and how to forgive. They may need time to process their emotions, or they may want you to make some type of reparation. It’s important to respect their wishes and not pressure them into forgiving before they’re ready.
3. How do you forgive your partner for hurting you?
There really is no one-size-fits-all approach to forgiving your partner for hurting you. It’s a highly individualized and personal process, and it can take time. Before you can forgive your partner, it’s important to take time to understand and process your emotions.
The next step is to have an honest conversation with your partner and express how their actions made you feel. This can help you get a deeper understanding of the situation, and it can help facilitate a dialogue around how you can both move forward.
Once you feel ready, you can start to work towards forgiveness. This involves making a conscious decision to let go of resentment and negative feelings towards your partner. It’s ok if this process doesn’t happen overnight. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time you need to fully forgive your partner.
Secrets to a healthy relationship: Books every couple should read
It's no secret that a healthy relationship is key in a long-lasting and fulfilling relationship. This list of books about healthy relationships will help you learn how to communicate better, resolve conflict, and deepen your connection. From classic self-help books to more modern reads, these titles will give you the tools you need to build a strong and healthy relationship.
- Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships
- Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of Every Healthy Relationship
- Love More, Fight Less: Communication Skills Every Couple Needs: A Relationship Workbook for Couples
- Infidelity Recovery Workbook for Couples: Tools and Exercises to Rebuild Your Relationship
- Healthy Me, Healthy Us: Your Relationships Are Only as Strong as You Are
- ↑ Fincham, F. D. (2009). Prosocial Motives, Emotions, and Behavior: The Better Angels of our Nature.
- ↑ Pelucchi, S., Paleari, F. G., Regalia, C., & Fincham, F. D. (2013). Self-forgiveness in romantic relationships: It matters to both of us. Journal of Family Psychology, 27(4), 541–549. doi.org
- ↑ Allemand, M., Amberg, I., Zimprich, D., & Fincham, F. D. (2007). The Role of Trait Forgiveness and Relationship Satisfaction in Episodic Forgiveness. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26(2), 199–217. doi.org
- ↑ Denton, R. T., & Martin, M. W. (1998). Defining forgiveness: An empirical exploration of process and role. American Journal of Family Therapy, 26(4), 281–292. doi.org
- ↑ Braithwaite, S. R., Selby, E. A., & Fincham, F. D. (2011). Forgiveness and relationship satisfaction: Mediating mechanisms. Journal of Family Psychology, 25(4), 551–559. doi.org
- ↑ Freedman, S. (1998). Forgiveness and Reconciliation: The Importance of Understanding How They Differ. Counseling and Values, 42(3), 200–216. doi.org
- ↑ Jeffries, V. (2010). Handbook of public sociology. Choice Reviews Online, 47(09), 47–5351. doi.org
- ↑ Lewis, J. T., Parra, G. R., & Cohen, R. M. (2015). Apologies in Close Relationships: A Review of Theory and Research. Journal of Family Theory and Review, 7(1), 47–61. doi.org
- ↑ Schumann, K. (2012). Does love mean never having to say you’re sorry? Associations between relationship satisfaction, perceived apology sincerity, and forgiveness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 29(7), 997–1010. doi.org