Forgiveness and Letting Go in Your Marriage

Angry couple sitting on a couch with arms crossed
Photo: Peter Cade/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Being able to forgive and to let go of past hurts is a critical tool for a marriage relationship. Additionally, being able to forgive is a way to keep yourself healthy both emotionally and physically. In fact, forgiving and letting go may be one of most important ways to keep your marriage going strong.

Healthy Aspects of Forgiving

If you hold on to old hurts, disappointments, petty annoyances, betrayals, insensitivity, and anger, you are wasting both your time and your energy.

Nursing a perceived hurt can eventually make it in to something more - hate and extreme bitterness. 

Lack of forgiveness can wear you down. Additionally, being unforgiving is not good for either your physical and mental well being. Resentment gains momentum and chips away at the foundation of your relationship.

How to Forgive a Partner Who Hurt You:

  • Be open and receptive to forgiveness.
  • Make a conscious decision to forgive your spouse.
  • When images of the betrayal or hurt flash in your mind, think of a calming place or do something to distract yourself from dwelling on those thoughts.
  • Do not throw an error or mistake back in your spouse's face at a later date. Also, do not use it as ammunition in an argument.
  • Do not seek revenge or retribution. Trying to get even will only extend the pain. Chances are this won't really make you feel better anyway.
  • Accept that you may never know the reason for the transgression, behavior or mistake.
  • Remember that forgiveness does not mean you condone the hurtful behavior.
  • Be patient with yourself. Being able to forgive your spouse takes time. Don't try to hurry the process.
  • If you continue to be unable to forgive, or you find yourself dwelling on the betrayal or hurt, please seek professional counseling to help you let go and forgive.

    How to Ask for Forgiveness When You Have Hurt Your Partner:

    • Show true contrition and remorse for the pain that you've caused.
    • Be willing to make a commitment to not hurt your spouse again by repeating the hurtful behavior.
    • Accept the consequences of the action that created the hurt.
    • Be open to making amends.
    • Be patient with your spouse. Being able to forgive you often takes time. Don't dismiss your spouse's feelings of betrayal by telling your spouse to "get over it."
    • Make a heartfelt and verbal apology. This includes a plan of action to make things right.

    Marriage Need Forgiveness

    Marriage, like other close relationships, needs forgiveness to thrive. Remember that everyone makes mistakes. We all have bad or grumpy days. Many people say things they do not mean now and then. Everyone needs to forgive and to be forgiven. This is especially true if the person who hurt you is attempting to make amends and seek forgiveness.

    No relationship, especially a marriage relationship, can be sustained over a long period of time without forgiveness. Even though you may find it find it difficult to forgive, being able to do so is crucial in marriage.

    Are Some Things Unforgivable?

    If your spouse abuses you, continues to betray you, keeps lying to you or makes no real change in behavior, then it may be time to say enough is enough.

    This calls for you to seriously evaluate your marriage and possibly think about divorce. When there is enough proof that these major concerns are not going away, despite your effort to forgive, your marriage is in trouble.

    In some situations where there was an extended period of abuse or betrayals, but it is no longer occurring, forgiveness for the past hurts may take longer and that is okay. You both must be open to talking about it and continuing to process it. It is encouraged to seek guidance from counselors and clergy to help you through this.

    You May Also Like to Read: Forgiveness: The One Thing You Must Do to Preserve Your Marriage

    *Article updated by Marni Feuerman