Forgiveness is something you do for yourself.
Clinging to the memory of how someone wronged you, harms you more than it ever harms the person who hurt you. Resentment, anger and bitterness contaminate your thoughts and attitudes, affecting every aspect of your life.
Relationship expert Sylvia Smith shares her thoughts on the importance of forgiveness.
There is a story of a husband and wife embarking on the first leg of the trip of a lifetime. They had saved and planned for this trip for years and were excited to get going. The first leg was a long distance drive to the neared major airport so they could make their flight. They were nervous but happy to finally get started.
Partway into the drive, the wife remembered an important item she was supposed to pack. The important item was still back at home. It was a major inconvenience to go back—extra time, extra gas—but the wife insisted on the importance of the item.
She apologizes profusely, saying how she can’t believe she could have made such a mistake. “It was on my packing list! How could I have forgotten it? You must hate me now.”
Without a word, the husband turned the car around, and the wife was able to retrieve the item quickly from their house. Soon the husband and wife were back on the road, thankfully with enough time left to make their flight.
As they drove, the wife asked an important question.
“How are you not mad at me? How can you forgive so easily?”
The husband replied, “I do a lot of dumb things. How can I not forgive?”
The wife smiled and realized how lucky she was to have a husband who loved her that much, that he wouldn’t belittle her for her forgetfulness. That he focused on what was important. They had a wonderful trip because quick forgiveness allowed each of them a chance to focus on the trip and not the minor irritations that often come with traveling.
The husband truly had a deep and accurate view of what forgiveness is all about. It’s true, we are all imperfect. We will make mistakes, intentional or not. Some of our failings will be big, and many will be small. What’s important is understanding what forgiveness is, before we regret the alternative.
Forgiveness, in its simplest form, is to relieve anger or ill will toward someone who has wronged you or made a mistake. When it comes to forgiveness in relationship, that is perhaps one of the most important times for forgiveness.
In relationship, two people come together and share everything. Their entire lives. Their highs, their lows, and everything in between. Daily there are interactions, decisions, and events that take place. Not all are pleasant, and sometimes one or other of the relationship partners reacts poorly. The other partner typically bears the brunt of it.
There can be arguments, disrespect, and insensitivities. We have our reasons for doing so, which doesn’t excuse them. We all want to be better, and we are trying, though not always successful. What if we never forgave each other? What if we never let go of the other’s mistakes or wrongdoings? Our relationships would be in deadlock. We couldn’t progress on our own or together. We couldn’t properly show love if we continually held on to whatever small or big thing our partner has done.
Forgiveness can be very difficult.
When our partner says something rude to us, it’s hard to not take it personally. When our partner does something they know will bother us, it hurts. They can push our buttons in ways that no one else can, because they know us so well. With them we are the most vulnerable. To be wronged by someone so close can leave a deep, intense hurt.
Infidelity in relationship is the ultimate betrayal that can happen in relationship. For our partner to seek love and intimacy outside the relationship can cause a total upheaval. The trust you placed in your partner is now gone. You wonder what went wrong, why they would hurt you like this. How can you forgive?
Forgiveness isn’t always immediate.
It’s not typically a natural thing us humans feel. Sometimes we need time. But we know it’s important to do for the greater good. We know that we need to afford it to others, for we need forgiveness ourselves.
Not only is forgiveness for the other person to be able to change, but for you also. When you hold onto the pain, the anger, the resentment, it plagues all other aspects of your life. You carry with you a weight that feels like it can never go away. Eventually it becomes a part of who you are.
No matter what anyone has done, you don’t have to feel that way. You can let go. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Forgiveness is, truly, the ultimate act of love.
Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.