Wifey’s & Gentlemen,
If there is one piece of advice I would give to any couple who is doing the work to build a long term committment, it’s to please understand the limitations of forgiveness.
That’s it. Plain and simple.
I hate to tell ya, but the way many of us think about the concept of forgiveness is messed up and sets us up for failure.
The truth is, forgiveness is tough.
It requires a commitment to being vulnerable and open. It’s the conscious act of telling someone that you’re choosing to overcome a previous hurt or wrongdoing in the interest of setting new boundaries and staying connected.
…and that’s great!
Fundamentally, forgiveness (in theory and in action) is beautiful and restorative.
But the funny thing about forgives is that for as much as it can heal us and fill us with hope, there are several things it simply cannot and will not ever be able to do.
Forgiveness cannot make you forget.
“Forgive and forget” is a popular phrase we’ve all heard and probably used. I find it funny because most of us have a tough time with the “forget” part of the deal, even if we really want to. It’s important to remember that forgetting isn’t literal. Forgetting means you’re going to do your best not to hold this incident against your partner or bring it up at another time when you’ve agreed to move on. Don’t expect that to always be easy and DO NOT beat yourself up if things trigger your bad memories from time to time. Baby steps will get you to a place where you think about the hurt less and less.
Forgiveness does not guarantee a return to “normalcy” or “stability”.
I have been guilty of this multiple times. When I hurt someone and they decide to forgive me, I instantly want everything to go back to normal. I overcompensate and “try to hard” to get rid of the lingering awkwardness between us. Remember that just because someone has forgiven you does not mean they must go back to “normal” in your relationship. Sometimes, the things we’ve done to hurt each other leave scars that never fully heal. Give your partner (or yourself) space and time to reflect and react. Don’t expect everything to be sunshine and daisies because you’ve said you’re sorry. People need a minute to get out of their feelings, ok?
Forgiveness does not always precede reconciliation.
This is a tough pill to swallow for some because we’re taught that when we are forgiven, happy times are ahead. While I do believe, on the whole, that that is true, please remember that forgiveness does not always mean that the person we’ve hurt (or who hurt us) can stay in our lives. If you, for example, cheat on your partner; they might be able to forgive you. However, this does not mean that they’ll be able to continue a relationship with you. They might try. Hell, I’m sure you both would try everything you could to get back to a place of openness and trust; but this doesn’t always work.
Remember: It’s okay to walk away from someone you’ve forgiven. You are not a bad person if you can’t stay in a situation where a boundary was hurtfully broken.
Forgiveness is the start of healing, not the finish line.
Forgiveness is the beginning of something new. It’s trying to move forward after failure. Don’t rush the process or your partner by thinking that being forgiven is enough. There is action to be taken in order to sustain the healing that has begun. Keep at it. Do the work.
Forgiveness is a collaborative effort.
Forgiveness only works if all parties have agreed to change. If you’re the person who needs to be forgiven, it’s now on you to make sure you’re doing everything you can to continue to be worthy of the forgiveness.
We are not perfect and we all make mistakes, but if your partner has forgiven you for cheating or lying, don’t make them feel dumb by doing the same shit all over again! Do the work to make sure you never hurt them in the same way again (even if the work means breaking up or walking away).
If you’re doing the forgiving, do your part to be open to your partner’s efforts. Set boundaries and limits while giving your partner a chance to show & tell. You cannot spend the rest of your relationship torturing your partner for their mistake; if you find this is happening, do the work and let them go.
Do you struggle with forgiveness? Leave me a comment below and tell me your story! Also, feel free to ask me any questions you might have if you’re having a hard time coping with forgiveness; I’d love to help!
Until Next Time,
Carry on Wifeys & Gents!
Be a lamb and tell your friends…