How The Art Of Forgiveness Can Save Your Marriage

It’s been said that kindness is the key to a long and successful marriage. And while its importance is indisputable, the ability to practice daily forgiveness can really be the defining factor in whether you make up or break up. So says a clinical psychologist I spoke to, who wishes to remain anonymous, and who has more than 30 years experience in couples and relationships counselling.

RELATED: Why Random Acts Of Kindness Can Boost Your Well-Being

Of course, there are some things, like domestic violence and unfaithfulness, for example, which often can’t and shouldn’t be forgiven – definite deal breakers.  It’s also important not to accept put-downs and cruel treatment – no one ever deserves that! But we’re talking here about relatively minor relationship disputes such as your husband/partner saying the wrong thing, forgetting something, being late and/or being inconsiderate and unkind at times.

marriage problems, happy marriage, forgiveness

After all, everyone makes mistakes, gets things wrong or says something that they later regret. So it is inevitable that our partners will do something to hurt, annoy or offend us from time-to-time. When this happens it’s totally normal and natural to get angry, but is it good to stay angry?

My psychologist contact says a big, resounding no! For prolonged anger can have significant negative impacts on our physical health and emotional well-being; the longer we feel angry the more damage is done. So, it’s vital we get over our anger as soon as possible and forgive our partner, she says.

Whenever our partner makes a mistake, says the wrong thing or is lacking in tact and consideration, we feel resentful and angry. If we can’t forgive these slip-ups and each time hold onto the resentment and anger, we will eventually have such negative feelings towards our partner that any positive, loving emotions will be overwhelmed,” she says.

“An inability to forgive and let go of negative emotions will lead to resentment and dislike of one’s partner and could spell the end to a marriage. Conversely, being able to forgive and move on is absolutely essential to maintaining a happy marriage.”

marriage problems, happy marriage, forgiveness

So, how on earth do we mere mortals practise the art of forgiveness? Sometimes, the forgiving is really, really hard to do and it might take time to work through our thoughts and feelings. And, if you have a slightly overdeveloped sense of vengeance when someone really wrongs us – certainly one of my failings – it can seem impossible just to let it go and move on. However, move on we must – for the sake of our marriage.

The psychologist says it’s all about perspective, baby. “After the initial feeling of hurt and venting of our anger, it is important to step back and carefully assess how important to you this issue is. Is it something you feel very strongly about, or is it something you can talk through and let go? If it’s the latter, calmly tell your partner how you feel and why, explain why what was said was hurtful and perhaps suggest a better way or saying what he/she said or did,” she says.

“If your partner is open to this and willing to talk the issue through, try and let it go and move on. How? Ask yourself how important the issue is in the great scheme of things. Will it matter tomorrow, next week, in 10 years? If not, there’s no point in holding on to it, let it go now.”

The psychologist’s top forgiveness tips include:

  • Be firm with yourself; engage in some positive self-talk, reminding yourself it’s harmful to hold onto negative emotions.
  • Imagine blowing all the anger and resentment into a balloon then letting it float away.
  • Remind yourself of all the things you like and love about your beloved partner. Think about great times you’ve had together, places you’ve gone and feel-good things you’ve done together.

In addition, the psychologist advises us to carefully decide if the relationship dispute we have with our partner is small and deserving of forgiveness, or actually something seriously damaging to the relationship, which you can’t overlook and need to address.

If it’s the first instance, we should forgive quickly whenever we can; forgive and forget the unimportant things. This is because forgiveness is good for our emotional well-being and the health and viability of our relationship.

So, ladies, hopefully that anger and resentment are gone by now and you can go pash/hug your husband and forgive him for his many failings, just as you’d like to be forgiven for yours. He is but a man, after all…

marriage problems, happy marriage, forgiveness

What do you think? Do you find forgiveness hard?

Images via Brain Body Beauty, Mamas Health, Motivational Interviewing Montreal,

7 Rules For Fighting Fair With Your Partner

Even if you’re not one of those people who love a good fight, the reality is that there are disagreements in every relationship and some can get more heated than others. Disagreements are not the issue, it’s how you settle them that will determine the way both of you feel in your relationship – loved and respected or unimportant and lonely.

RELATED: 3 Common Relationship Problems And How To Fix Them

It’s easier to remember to fight fair when you’ve given it some thought beforehand. What does it mean to you? What does it look and sound like? To get you started, I’m offering these simple rules.

Don’t wait until your feelings escalate

A sure way to have an argument blow out of proportion is to keep collecting grudges until you can’t handle it anymore. Address the issues as they come and it will be much easier to resolve them and move on.

No name calling

If your partner has done something you don’t approve of or has different opinions from your own, it doesn’t make him a bad person. Address the behaviour and explain your point of view, but don’t make it mean anything about your partner.

No yelling

The chances are you will not get heard if you yell. Your partner is more likely to shut you out and not understand what you’re trying to say or respond in a similar way.

No threats

Threats to leave the relationship, withhold financial or emotional support, cause physical harm to yourself or to your partner will not get your point across, but they will create uncertainty and lack of confidence in your partner and will make the problems look a lot deeper than they might be in reality.

Think before you speak

When you’re about to explode, stop yourself and count to ten. Often you’ll realise that what you’re experiencing is not about your partner, but about you. You may be tired, overwhelmed or stressed out about a work deadline, so everything around you annoys you, If that’s the case, is it worth it taking your bad mood out on your partner or are there better ways to diffuse the situation?

Lose your intention to hurt

When you’re fighting with your closest person, you’re well aware of their weakest spots and it can be very tempting to use them to bring your opponent down. It may give you immediate satisfaction, but it can cause damage that will be hard to fix in the long run to the point of losing your relationship.

Intend to resolve your differences, not prove that you’re right

Sometimes this will mean that you’ll have to compromise to save something bigger than the issue you’re fighting about. Or it may simply mean that you need to give each other space to voice each side of the story and truly listen, as hard as it may be.

Image by Ryan McGuire via

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