Forgiveness – Part 2: Seeking and Granting

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Whether you’ve been together for 5 years or 50, at some point in your relationship you will be faced with a situation that requires you to either seek or grant forgiveness. When we think of conscious forgiveness, we often associate it with a major betrayal such as infidelity or abuse. However, as Laura wrote about in the previous post, there are minor, every day lapses in thoughtfulness or judgement that require us to forgive our partner, albeit perhaps on a more subconscious level.

Whether you are faced with one of these situations or one that falls somewhere in between, here is some information about what forgiveness is, what it is not, and some tips for seeking and granting forgiveness.

Forgiveness is:

  • the decision or choice to give up the right for vengeance, retribution, and negative thoughts toward an offender in order to be free from anger and resentment
  • a process that promotes healing and restoration of inner peace
  • the starting point for reconciliation in a relationship

Forgiveness is not:

  • forgetting, condoning, or perpetuating injustice or wrongdoing
  • granted on demand; it can take time to work through the process of granting forgiveness
  • an automatic precursor to reconciliation, as sometimes it is unsafe or impossible

Steps for Seeking Forgiveness

  1. Admit what you did was wrong or hurtful.
  2. Try to empathize with the pain you have caused.
  3. Take responsibility for your actions.
  4. Assure your partner you will not do it again.
  5. Apologize genuinely and ask for forgiveness.
  6. Forgive yourself. (More to come on this in Part 3!)

Steps for Granting Forgiveness

  1. Acknowledge and give yourself permission to feel pain, anger, or disrespect.
  2. Set clear and specific limits and expectations for the future.
  3. Give up your right to “get even,” but insist on being treated better in the future.
  4. Let go of blame, resentment, and negativity toward your partner.
  5. Communicate your act of forgiveness.
  6. Work toward reconciliation (when/if safe).

Taken from the PREPARE/ENRICH Couple’s Workbook ©2008 with contributions from Richard D. Marks, Ph.D., Marriage for Life, Inc., Jacksonville, FL

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