The healing power of forgiveness in relationships

The basic principle for life is to learn to do for others what you would wish they did for you. PHOTO/internet

What you need to know:

Forgiveness is a primary contributor to healthy relationships. Couples that are in the habit of practising forgiveness have a higher chance of enjoying longer as well as highly satisfying romantic relationships

What happened to the power of love and forgiveness in relationships? The goal of relationships was meant to be encouragement, offering one another support, helping each other discover one’s potential among other positive things.

The way people relate and handle issues is key to achieving these goals. However, times have changed and most relationships no longer serve the intended purpose, thanks to unforgiving partners. As a result, many are left hurting and feeling disappointed because of unfulfilled expectations and unresolved issues.

With time, because of the mounting unresolved issues and unfulfilled expectations, it becomes challenging for many to think about forgiving people who have hurt them.

Most times, we do not want to let go of the painful memories of a wrong, abuse, broken promises and harsh words directed at us. The question lingers; why is it easy to become abusive to others instead of being willing to pay the price of reconciliation?

Living in a selfish world

When we are quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, our fuse has the capacity to handle pressure. Self-control requires us to manage our anger, pain and disappointment arising from the issues we face in life. However, an eruption of uncontrolled negative emotions such as anger may result in one hurting themselves or those they love. Negative emotions will always look for a place to exit the system. Sadly, it is those we love that are normally on the receiving end.

The way we process pressures

The power of relationships is in the price we are willing to pay to maintain peace in spite of differing opinions. The danger is not in the fact that we are different, the challenge is in how we accept such differences and learn to process what emerges as dissimilarity in our points of view.

It is naive to think that we live in a perfect world and that everyone we meet will always go out of their way to think the way we do or treat us right. In this world, hardship and pain is at times unavoidable. It is how we prepare ourselves to handle this that becomes key to our survival and growth.

Knowing that we will face difficulties and disappointments, Phillip Yancey, a US author, writes: “Forgiveness is another way of admitting, ‘I am human, I make mistakes, I want to be granted that privilege so that I can grant you the same privilege”.

We have to realise that forgiveness is a choice to not take revenge but give the offender what they do not deserve.

However, every action has a consequence. Trust will never be at the level it was before. They have to earn that trust through positive engagements in the future. On the other hand, dealing with the scar becomes a reminder of the offence. Your choice to live in freedom lies in how you process the offence and decide to deal with it. You forgive, you become free.

People are not what they seem

It is important to know that what we discover about people may change with time as we get to know more about them. Normally, disclosure is gradual and based on how a couple has cultivated the environment where their interaction takes place. People who find the environment threatening tend to allow minimal disclosure that hampers this ability to trust the other person.

Trust is essential in a relationship, it is one of the core ingredients that keeps a relationship ‘fuelled’. If there is dishonesty, a couple can engage in blind trust. We tend to trust someone based on what we know about them. Sadly, what we know can be false, particularly where one partner decides to lie.

A couple sets their relationship for trouble when they make a choice to trust one another while in reality, one of them chooses to not “keep it real.”

We must start a relationship with an open mind and a desire to learn who your partner really is. Maturity must be seen in our willingness to handle disappointment when it shows up. Each spouse must desire to do what they can to make their space a better place to relate. Most people seem perfect when dating, beyond reproach, but watch out because perfect people do not exist.

Although true love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres, we have to commit to speaking the truth in love. God never called us to give ‘blind love.’ When we make a choice to love, we are also willing to face the consequences of that kind of loving - because we love someone does not mean that they do not owe us a life of honesty. When we are hurt, forgiveness helps to cancel the error and restore the relationship. This is the only solution to a world ridden with hurt resulting from deceit and selfishness.

Dealing with baggage clears the path ahead

When we are offended or disappointed in a relationship and allow the hurt to germinate in our heart, bitterness and resentment will take root, leading to lack of trust. Great relationships are made of individuals who make a choice to be real with each other.

A relationship where one or both spouses live in their past success or failures is likely to hinder the creation of a platform for trying new things. In life, we have to let go of the past to welcome the new. This may involve a need to forgive oneself or others of past pain and disappointment. When this is done, it opens a door for acceptance.

Every individual has a background that may have been characterised by certain values, habits, practices, needs and longings which may be very different from those of their partner. A spouse’ needs cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet if the relationship is to grow. In relationships, we do not marry someone without values, ideas or dreams.

In fact, it may be their perspective on certain issues about life that drew us to them. Pain that has not been dealt with well has a way of killing a couple’s desired future.

Without doubt, forgiveness helps us embrace love instead of just crying over our past faults. Where one gets to know the past of their partner through disclosure of any kind, we should never be tempted to use their unfortunate past or failure against them. Marriage was never meant to be a competition, a place of comparison on who does things better, rather, a place of partnership and complementing one another. This helps marriage provide an environment of safety, thus healing.

All of us are work in progress

The basic principle for life is to learn to do for others what you would wish they did for you.

That means we love the way we want to be loved, care for them the way we would like others to care for us, and treat them in the same way we desire to be treated. We must keep in mind that we reap what we sow.

When we love and truly empathise with our partner, we make it easier for the bond of intimacy to grow. We must learn that holding one another in high esteem and treating each other better than ourselves is the backbone of true companionship.