Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

What Forgiveness Is All About

There’s a quote attributed to C.S. Lewis that I’m too lazy to look up. But it goes something like this, “Most people talk fondly about the act of forgiving, but few are any good at it.”

And it’s true, isn’t it?

How can you forgive someone for something that upended you and permanently changed how you look at and experience life?

Like a friend who left you hanging when you most needed them, a parent who never acknowledged your worth, or a partner who threw your wedding ring at you during a fight. 

Nothing stings more deeply than the neglect of the people we count on most.

The crazy thing is that the loved ones who dish out these haymakers don’t always have bad intentions. In fact, they rarely do. 

Often they can’t even recognise that they crossed a line. Either out of ignorance or self-indulgence. And in some situations, because you kept your boundaries or expectations a secret.

Pure intentions or not, the pain remains the same.

And if it isn’t dealt with, the wound will get in the way of any meaningful engagement.

After all, once someone abandons you in an emergency, how could you possibly come to trust and rely on them? You’ll likely never let them close enough to hurt you again.

So you keep them at bay or separate and part ways.

But what if it’s your partner? Someone you dearly love and who you know is willing to put in the work to make things right.

Then you need to do more than forgive. Letting go of your resentment isn’t enough. You need to be willing to trust them again.

And that starts by voicing your pain as plainly as possible without pointing fingers. Show your injury so that your partner can see it. 

Then your partner needs to acknowledge the role they played in hurting you and express regret. If they care about you, your pain will upset them too.

Once your special person takes responsibility and shows they’re on your side, you can start work on rebuilding trust.

Together.

Both of you need to figure out how you’re going to heal the trauma and prevent something similar from happening again in the future.

And it won’t be easy.

If the security of the relationship is in tatters, one conversation won’t do the trick. You’ll likely need many conversations where your partner reassures you that they have your back. 

And that’s completely fair.

Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. The scars are a permanent reminder. Forgiving means that you’ve made the choice to move on and focus on doing the things that matter to you.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach