Love After the Storm Series Part 2:
Sometimes the best thing you can do is the hardest thing you will ever do. Have you ever felt you needed to stand up for yourself in your relationship and used the same tactics that hurt you to do so? Have you opted not to forgive as you felt that it would let your loved one off the hook? Do they make the changes you want when you constantly remind them of their faults? Do you give what you want to receive in your relationship? In Part 1 on Love After the Storm, I shared these 4 principles of forgiveness: forgiveness is what you do for yourself first, forgiveness is humbling, forgiveness is not a quick fix, forgiveness recognizes the sum of events above the one event. Part two will help you carefully consider the healing elements of forgiveness.
1. Forgiveness breaks the cycle of retaliation.
A relationship without forgiveness is a steady diet of revenge. To create an appetite for moving past the betrayal, we must end our affair with one-up mentalities. A one up mentality has winners and losers, and it is a fight to be right. Have you ever said “he won’t get away with this?” The best way to take a stand against the pain in your relationship is to break the cycle. Stand for resolution not retaliation. We feed the cycle of retaliation and encourage more of the behavior we dislike in our partner, when we engage in the fight for power or the battle for control. If you want the power to move forward in your relationship, forgive. The most important form of control is self-control, not partner control. In fact, forgiveness is not an outer fight with someone we are unable to control; it is an inner fight for freedom and peace for the self. It's self-care. Check out Part 1, as the 1st principles is forgiveness is what you do for yourself first.
"Forgiveness is not an outer fight with someone we are unable to control; it is an inner fight for freedom and peace for the self."
2. Forgiveness is paradoxical.
When your partner hurts you, it hits you hard. Here, the person that you love the most has showed they have the capacity to hurt you the most. This marks a crisis in perspective, as you never imagined your significant other would ever do anything like that. You may think, if she can do this, what else can she do. The divine perspective that states, your partner can do no wrong dies, while the awakening of a new perspective of healing is born. Forgiveness is paradoxical in that we go to the person that has hurt us in order to help heal us. If your husband can mend the relationship or take responsibility for his part, he can show you that he has the amazing capacity even in his imperfectness to comfort you. When you share the pain, a crisis turns into an opportunity for deeper love.
"Forgiveness is paradoxical in that we go to the person that hurt us to help heal us."
3. Forgiveness is a part of love.
This is a hard pill to swallow. If you don’t forgive, you may never fully love. Whereas you question a person’s love for you if she hurts you, there is also question if you love if you don’t forgive. This does not mean that you become the family door mat for love’s sake. It means you accept that SOME hurt comes with love. Notice, I said SOME. The best thing you can do for your relationship is see good in your partner even when they do bad things, or as some of my clients say "give me the benefit of the doubt." Otherwise, you will tally the negatives and remind a person of their flaws. Holding on to it does not remind the person of their wrongdoing, as much as it hurts you for containing it. You may think constant reminders will ensure you never hurt again, but reminders of fault is like pouring salt on your open wound. Although I fall into the trap of giving reminders too, one important part of therapy is telling couples to replace reminders of faults with conversations about needs. Sharing your needs points out what your partner can possibly do, while focusing on flaws tells him how he has failed. Let me be clear. You still have to talk about it. It's how you do so that matters.
"Whereas you question a person’s love for you if she hurts you, there is also question if you love if you don’t forgive."
4. Forgiveness is spiritual.
Every faith tradition talks about the importance of forgiveness. Spirituality is how we make meaning of the world, and forgiveness is a tool we use to do so. Think about it. Who is the person that really has your back? What did they do to become so meaningful to you? Most people say, “even in my lowest moments they loved me.” If you want to connect spiritually with your partner, forgiveness must be big part of your relationship. Love him or her in the low. What makes it spiritual is that we experience something often lacking: true acceptance.
Forum question: How did you grow in your forgiveness in your relationships and where do you draw the line?
After the storm, the sun comes out again. Forgiveness is sun that comes out after the storm.