Forgiving your partner if they’ve done something to upset you can be one of the hardest things to do in a relationship.
When you’re feeling disappointed, angry or betrayed, the idea of forgiving someone can feel a little bit like giving in – as if, by letting go of your resentment, you’re allowing them to ‘get away with it’.
It can be more tempting to hang on to negative emotions – acting distant and frosty as a way of punishing the person who has upset you.
It’s not unusual to feel this way. Working through these kinds of difficult feelings can take some time. But forgiveness is a bold step. You make a deliberate decision to put your partner’s transgressions – or perceived transgressions – behind you, so you can both move forward together.
Forgiveness involves you allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Forgiving someone means letting go of your anger and letting go of the ‘moral high ground’. It can also be difficult as it may involve having to consider how you yourself contributed to the problem. Although it’s tempting to imagine ourselves as completely in the right, there are usually two sides to any argument.
Forgiveness isn’t just about retaining harmony in your relationship; it’s also about being kind to yourself. If you’re not careful, anger can eat away at you and affect your attitude towards relationships in the future, making you feel defensive or untrusting.
The first step towards forgiveness is understanding. If your partner has done something to upset you, try to talk about it. Try to communicate to them in a clear, non-confrontational way about how you’re feeling. Explain what it is that upset you and why it upset you in the way that it did.
During the conversation, use ‘I’ phrases (‘I feel’, ‘I would like’) rather than ‘you’ phrases (‘you always’, ‘you don’t’). This way, you’re taking responsibility for your own feelings and your partner won’t feel you’re attacking them. And when it’s your partner’s turn to talk, listen to what they have to say and try to understand their perspective too.
Mending lost trust takes time and forgiveness is a skill. It needs to be built into your relationship day-to-day. By letting go of the little things, you’ll be able to avoid the petty conflicts that, over time, can begin to erode a relationship.
That doesn’t mean simply letting your partner walk all over you. It can, in many cases, mean letting them know that they’ve upset you, but not dwelling on the issue for long. And it does mean, when appropriate, deciding to not make mountains out of molehills.
Every relationship requires a bit of give and take. Learning to forgive can make that whole process a lot easier.
If you’d like to talk with one of our counsellors about something your partner has done that upsets you, give our friendly appointments team a call on 01604 634400.