Every marriage at one point or another is going to face turmoil. A situation, turn of events, spoken words or actions that will completely and entirely knock one spouse off of their feet; leading to despair, anger, frustration and pain. The event can be as monumental as infidelity or as minute as a little white lie revealed. In order to get through it, to move on and move beyond – forgiveness is necessary. The beauty of forgiveness is that it is a selfish act of eliminating ugliness from our own heart. The freedom is not felt by the person we are upset with; but by ourselves.
Letting go of hurts or wrongs is never easy. In fact it is probably one of the most difficult feats to human nature. In a marriage after so many years the little hurts add up to a big black ball of resentment that left untended can explode, wrecking a marriage and destroying the inner worth of a person. With so much at stake it leaves you wondering what it is we are holding onto by not allowing ourselves to forgive.
Holding a wrong above someone’s head endlessly does not place us in a position of power or justification as it may seem or feel. It is not vindication to always have the ability to throw up a touchy or old subject and quickly and efficiently quiet our spouse. Sure, it may feel good at first especially when the pain is new- but in the end it hurts us the most. It weakens us and succinctly cuts off our relationship from growth. To the man or woman who can’t let go of their spouse cheating; yet decided to remain married; they are simply locking themselves and their relationship in a prison of doubt, fear and anger. No spouse can move beyond it and as they try, the situation rears its ugly face time and time again. If you cant forgive at some point than the best thing to do for yourself is to divorce. Not in spite of but despite…. No marriage can work well on an unlevel playing field.
Forgiveness is not excusing someone for hurting you. Forgiveness is not choosing to ignore a mistake that someone made or deciding to reconcile an offense that pained us. Forgiveness is not giving up or accepting ones behavior toward us when it was clearly wrong or immoral. Forgiveness is not a gift or pardon that we give a spouse alleviating the need for apology. Forgiveness in love is also not about finding a suitable penance that will cause guilt on behalf of the wrong doer. Forgiveness is about the ability to see ourselves as more than a victim and realize that pain caused to or toward us has little to do with our inner being; but rather that of the person causing the harm. Forgiveness is taking control of our emotions and deciding that we are the only ones who can heal ourselves. Nothing that person can do to make us feel better really will…
We forgive in a marriage because we can, and because as two separate people the fate of our own well being is our own responsibility. We forgive our spouses because we love in a sort of way that doesn’t excuse negative behavior but dismisses it as their problem to work on. Rarely if ever can one person change another or make them realize something that they don’t want to see. Attempting to live a married life that holds one spouse up over the other affords us a marriage that is unhealthy, rooted in fear, inconsistent, unable to grow, and completely stagnant. Trusting our feelings again with someone who has hurt us, can be hard -but it is the only way to live a fulfilled life. This has absolutely nothing to do with our partner and everything to do with ourselves.
There is also a hypocrisy that exists when we refuse to forgive. We stake a claim in life as a victim and spend much time and energy psychologically preparing our revenge. When we are married this can be executed daily and although we probably feel very good about ourselves at the exact moment, what we are really doing is turning into a systematic victimizer ourselves. The old expression – ‘when you lie down with dogs, your apt to get fleas’ applies fully. This type of vengeance locks a marriage in one spot and enables it to be defined by one moment rather than the lifetime of moments that caused us to fall and be in love to begin with.
So the question then moves onto how in the world we forgive someone for hurting us, especially someone who took a vow to love us and respect us? The first thing we do is go through the emotions of our pain, allow anger to turn to tears and wait a while for the tears to dry. When the tears are dry we communicate our needs, desires, wants and feelings to the person who hurt us. We can scream, stomp, yell – whatever it is that we need to do to convey our position. Then we digest their response and make the decision on whether or not it is true. Once that is complete we seek whatever help we need from friends, counselors, families, religion or the likes to repair the part of us that was hurt. This way we do more than place a band-aid and leave a scar. When the wounds are dry, the pain will heal from the inside out and eventually, if we allow it to, the wounds will fade into one of the memories that make us who we are. We then take baby steps forward and realize that by letting it (whatever it is) go we are truly and only releasing ourselves from our own chains. The marriage will grow and the person who forgives will be stronger than they ever imagined. Forgiveness is never about the other person, it is always about ourselves.
Marriage is intended to bring two people together; however there is no way to make two people into one. As we each bring so much to the table, some which is obvious from the beginning and some which seems to appear over time; forgiveness can become a daily event. By forgiving someone else we are accepting our own right to be happy! By forgiving our partner in life we are standing true to the commitment of marriage and allowing us to be the creator of our own well being. There is an old saying that reads ‘the best revenge is a life well lived…’ and it holds vibrantly true when it comes to forgiveness. When we learn to forgive our mate and can continue our lives completely immersed in happiness regardless of what they do, say or did – we are formidably making a statement about our self worth, self respect and the level of commitment we have towards our marriage. Choosing, wanting and deciding to forgive is freedom.