Forgive in a Relationship but Don’t Forget

Forgive in a Relationship but Don’t Forget

There can be no healthy relationship without forgiveness. Besides communication, forgiveness is perhaps the most important quality to be engaged by both partners. Use it unsparingly unless your partner has crossed an un-crossable line. For most, our transgressions can be forgiven, and amends made. We all push boundaries and go too far once in a while. It is after all human nature. Perhaps some do it without even realizing it. Forgiveness is a quality we usually learn as a child when our siblings or peers have gone too far, but when their misbehaviors are forgivable. It is a quality parents and teachers instill and reinforce within us. Everyone has a different capacity for forgiveness, and some need more time to do so than others. But everyone can learn to forgive. Though some say they do, in their heart they secretly carry anger and resentment. But this can be toxic both to the person themselves and the relationship. Psychologists say those who can actually forgive experience better mental health. It is not about justice but healing. Remember what Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Forgiveness is actually about ourselves, not the other person.

For those who have gone through a bitter divorce, or some other trauma, therapists say that when we are ready, we should forgive, whether the perpetrator deserves it or not, and whether they accept it or not. That is not for their benefit, but our own, so we can let go of the bitterness that is poisoning our heart, and be able to heal and move on. The reason you should not forget is that we learn from examining past experiences. We find out more about ourselves, our partner, and how best to handle the same or a similar situation in the future. We learn what we are sensitive about, what are buttons are and how they can be pushed, and if we delve deeper we can learn about the origins of these things too. What exactly are you set off by and why? Does it lead to past, undealt with trauma? And what was it about your partner that made them go there? Was it an accident or did they do it on purpose? By examining these, you can get to know yourself better, your partner, and your relationship too.

After the honeymoon phase, couples are met with a series of inconsistencies or incongruities that they must negotiate in order to stay together. It is from here that many transgressions arise. Another area can be the emotional baggage one or both partners carry. Forgiveness is important to bring things back to center. But using the knowledge of what occurred can help you to create some ways of operating or develop some basic rules, to keep the same problem from happening again. Out of this you grow stronger, and closer, and your relationship develops. This improves the overall health of the relationship, strengthens commitment, and allows the couple to avoid such problems in the future. It can be very difficult to forgive, especially for the proud and hot heated, and those who tend to hold a grudge. But whether you are planning to stay in this relationship, or your lovers wrongdoings have been too great, forgiveness is the most important step toward healing. Remember that forgiveness is not allowing mistreatment to go on. Instead, it is understanding what happened to you, and coming to terms with it.

For more pick up a copy of Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything by Iyanla Vanzant.

Can you Repair a Relationship where the Trust is Gone?

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Can you Repair a Relationship where the Trust is Gone?

There are a lot of different reasons someone can blow the trust in a relationship. It could be infidelity, emotional cheating, cleaning out the bank account and blowing it in Vegas, a shopping spree and hiding the credit card bills, or instead a string of little things so long it makes one wonder if they ever told the truth at all. Whatever the reason, trust is the glue that keeps a relationship together. Without trust there is no intimacy and without intimacy, no relationship. You can’t be intimate with someone you have to constantly be on guard around. So can you repair a relationship where the trust is gone? Certainly no one is perfect. Depending upon what you believe and what they have done, there are ways to build bridges back to trust. It isn’t easy. It takes a lot of patience, forgiveness, owning up to what both parties have done and superb communication. It’s important to look at what led up to the violation. Oftentimes there are certain goings-on in a relationship, underlying problems that must be addressed so such a slipup don’t happen again.

Those who are the victims shouldn’t rub their partner’s face in transgressions. Nor should they ignore what contribution they themselves may have made to the situation. Only when each person is open and honest with each other can they make plans of action or rules of engagement that work for them, can they overcome these obstacles and rebuild trust. If both parties are still very much in love, engaged and committed to renewing the relationship then it has the highest likelihood of happening. But half measures will cause few returns. The person who has perpetuated the betrayal has to be sorry. But they should also be open and forthcoming in all aspects and ready and willing to change. The more open they are the faster the healing process will be. A betrayal can be implicit or explicit, meaning it may be something that was a spoken rule or just an obvious one. But it can’t be obvious to one person and not the other. When a transgression has occurred and the person lies or covers up their betrayal, these actions only make things worse. They also contribute to a longer and more difficult road ahead.

Of course every relationship and situation is different. That said there are a few things anyone going on this harrowing journey should keep in mind. If you are the betrayer, fess up before they find out. The longer you wait the more damage you will cause and the more time it will take for the relationship to recover. Plus, unburdening yourself from the guilt will also be a great relief. Decide then and there to have absolutely no dishonesty in your relationship ever again. If you can’t be honest with your partner, why are you with them? At the time of confession and even after, allow your partner to ask questions. Be honest in answering. You want to communicate and restore goodwill. If you are the victim, you shouldn’t keep asking questions just to shock or hurt yourself. At a certain point, you have decided to stay in the relationship or go. If you are staying, it’s important to find the path toward healing, not dwell on the past. Patience is the best characteristic in this situation. Practice it unendingly. Keep in touch with yourself and your feelings. You don’t have to see eye to eye on everything to be fully present and listen to your partner as you work through things. Stay focused and if you are both meant to be together, you can get past this terrible time and find each other once again. For advice on keeping your marriage on the right track before transgressions start read, Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love by Linda Bloom and Charlie Bloom.

Can we save our Marriage?

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Can we save our Marriage?

This is the number one question couples in marriage counseling ask the therapist. People never know when a relationship is salvageable and when to go their separate ways. There are many people who focus more on getting out of a bad relationship, than on making the one they have worthwhile. Focusing so much on getting out can make you ignore the positive qualities the marriage has. When the focus for one person is a breakup, their preoccupation may inadvertently be the thing driving the couple toward divorce. On the other hand, one should be cognizant that every marriage has its ups and downs. Every relationship has the potential to end. There are of course certain steps you can take to bring a relationship down from the ledge. But a better strategy is to form a deep emotional connection to one another. This will motivate you to work your problems out and build a stronger, happier marriage.  Practicing generosity, kindness, compassion, respect and honesty, mutually, will make the marriage far more fulfilling. When each person is fulfilled, divorce becomes the furthest thing from their minds. Sometimes though, there are significant forces working on a couple, making happy reunification unlikely.

Certainly not all marriages can be saved, or should be. There are lots of unhealthy behaviors that can inhabit a marriage; addiction with no willingness to seek treatment, chronic lying, serial infidelity, neglect, abusive behavior, whether physical or psychological, and much more. These are violations to the commitment you both share within the bond of matrimony. Doing these things violates the sanctimonious vow you gave to one another on your wedding day. The most important thing is whether or not both parties have a willingness to admit what has gone wrong, and work toward solving the issues that they have. Mere acknowledgment of the problem is not enough. If there is no willingness on the part of both parties to change behavior, there may be no reason to move forward with the relationship at all. Destructive patterns played out over and over again, without any hope of relief, is a recipe for divorce. Recognizing these patterns and the role each party plays in them is the first step. But trying different strategies when the problems arise, and varying those strategies depending upon the situation are also key. It’s important to remember not to get discouraged if things don’t work out just the way you planned. It may need some tweaking. If you love your spouse and are committed to the marriage, and they feel the same way, then everything you need is there to make it happen, and make things work.

There is no easy answer for knowing when to stay together and when to move apart. Each situation is dependent upon the individuals, what has happened between them, what they value and how they look at things. Perception is invariably important. Circumstances for one couple that would be deal breakers to another merely have to be negotiated. There are a few simple guidelines you can follow to have the best possible outcome. One of the things to keep in mind is that working through the problems of a shaky marriage can be painful, sometimes even excruciating. For those who don’t have the ability to tolerate this sort of pain, the impulse to end the relationship, or manipulate their spouse into filing for divorce, can be strong. Marriages that are in trouble are often helped through counseling. There are lots of situations in marriage that are difficult to maneuver. It is good to know when you and your spouse are in over your heads.  Each person should develop the inner qualities on their own that will help make this marriage work. You can be your own psychologist and develop your own inner workings in order to be more honest, compassionate, engaged and loving. When you give something your best, there is always the risk that it might not work. Evaluate the emotional level you are both at. Have a long, calm discussion. Give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, at least you tried. But you two may just come out stronger, and more loving in the end due to this time when you struggled together. For more help finding marital bliss pick up a copy of, Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truths from Real Couples About Lasting Love by Linda Bloom, L.C.S.W. and Charlie Bloom, M.S.W.

How the Different Genders’ outlook on Sex Affect a Marriage

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How the Different Genders’ outlook on Sex Affect a Marriage

One of the things long-term couples fight about is sex. Men generally want sex no matter what stage the relationship is in. Meanwhile, women see it as the end result of a healthy relationship. Therefore men still expect to have sex when the relationship is rocky, while women prefer to abstain because emotionally, they don’t feel like it is the right thing to do. Men sometimes see this as not fighting fairly. To a man, the two things, emotional well-being and sex, can be compartmentalized. To a woman, however, they cannot. As physical intimacy declines so does emotional intimacy. A vicious cycle occurs. The husband may confront the wife about “withholding” sex, saying it is unfair. At this point the wife, who thinks he only cares about sex, may regress even further. At this point the husband too may pull away, resentful of the wife. Here the two sides interpret sex differently. But instead of reaching out and discussing or discovering how the other interprets it, the miscommunication creates resentment which further widens the rift between the two. The emotional problems in the relationship may be glaringly obvious to the woman but not to the man. These rolls can be reversed too. Certainly there is a husband out there right now withholding sex due to a wife’s negligence or transgression.

Famed marriage researcher Pepper Schwartz however says this is the most common type of sexless marriage, where the woman feels hurt or emotionally detached and the man disgruntled about the lack of sex in the relationship. In this situation she says “there’s a lot of anger and two people who simply don’t know how to change their behavior.” The husband feels victimized. He may disappear into his “man-cave,” local sports bar, golf club or other such hangout. He may believe that all marriages are meant to end up like this, two mild adversaries living side by side. Due to his alienation from his wife, he feels no responsibility to what has transpired. The wife however believes that he should own up, open up, and apologize for what he’s done wrong so they can move on. But he feels he hasn’t done anything wrong so the cycle continues. In this scenario both parties are aggrieved while each blaming the other. Both feel disillusioned about their partner and perhaps even the institution of marriage itself. Each feels resentful and angry. Yet to bridge the gap it often takes patience and openness to see why the other party is aggrieved. It also takes the ability of one to analyze the past and see where things went wrong, and to see their own contribution to the conflagration. Once we can recognize where we ourselves went wrong we can address our partner in a new way. It takes two. No one person had hurt this marriage in and of themselves.

When a couple hits rock bottom, it’s often time to work through their problems with the aid of outside help. Generally either they seek out marriage counseling, live two separate lives side-by-side or one party files for divorce. This type of marriage is also ripe for infidelity, which could be a wake-up call. But more often than not it causes the end of the relationship or at the very least a worsening of relations. Luckily there are 12-step programs for codependency, psychological services, marriage counseling, faith-based services and so much more. To preserve intimacy and joy in your marriage, look to the positive contributions your mate brings. Come to understand and accept who they are, faults and all. Do the same for yourself. Think about what is important to you in a marriage and stick to and preserve it. Learn to let the other, lesser things go. Spend time relaxing together, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes a day. Take part in adventures together. Do things for the two of you, just as a couple. Forgive. Don’t hold a grudge. Write little notes to one another. Tell jokes. Make each other a nice hot cup of something. Always remember to fight fairly. Talk things out no matter how long it takes. Always try to see where your partner is coming from. Choose to work at it and you can keep your marriage abundant and bountiful with love. For more on this topic, pick up a copy of the book, The Busy Couple’s Guide to Everyday Romance: Fun and Easy Ways to Keep the Spark Alive by Editha Rodriguez.

Should you Forgive Infidelity or Get a Divorce?

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Should you Forgive Infidelity or Get a Divorce?

Your mouth runs dry and your heart skips a beat when you find out. Maybe you had a hunch. You searched all over and finally your suspicions were confirmed. Or you could have heard it from a friend. Some just stumble into the wrong thing and the secret is out. Then there are those who are confronted by their spouse and told straight out about the affair, often to relieve guilt and ask for forgiveness. It’s difficult to evaluate whether or not you should forgive infidelity or get a divorce. It’s a question that changes depending upon every couple, and their situation. Most couples don’t survive an infidelity. One study found that 20% of married couples were stronger afterward. It was a wakeup call that shook one or both parties out of their sleep and showed them what needed to be changed in order to reconnect with their relationship. Some people will say “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” Others believe it’s not that clear cut.

The first thing to do is allow yourself to feel your emotions. Grieve for the pain, the sense of a loss of innocence, the deceit and the treachery. One poll showed that men are more bothered by physical infidelity, while women are more disturbed by emotional infidelity. Sometimes you will feel confused and lonely. Your bond of trust has been severed. If the relationship is to survive it must be re-established. There will be a lot of work to do. But no relationship lasts long without resting on a firm foundation of trust.

Don’t make any decisions early on. But do understand that you must make one. You should see if your partner feels bad for what they’ve done. Do they empathize with your situation? If they do then see if you can empathize with them and the reason that they strayed. There are lots of reasons. A fear of commitment or a need for validation are some reasons. Others are not feeling sexy, attractive or desirable anymore to one’s mate. Sometimes couples lose their connection. They drift apart. At other times it’s revenge for some terrible transgression, or even as revenge for a spouse’s cheating. If you decide that there is enough to salvage, consider marriage counseling. Learning how to communicate is so important. Sometimes people just get so wrapped up in their jobs and other priorities that they forget what’s really important in their life. Some couples don’t even talk about sex, or what they want in the bedroom. Those who are saved by infidelity usually say that it helped them wake up to the crisis that has occurred in their relationship. Some don’t want to forgive their spouse for cheating. But they want to come to understand what forces led them down that path. They don’t have to forgive but must come to accept the paradigm that caused this phenomenon to occur.

Whether or not you stay with your spouse after an affair is a very personal decision. No one can make it for you. But if you make the wrong one you will have to live with the consequences. Don’t rush it. Take your time. Do some soul searching. Once the pain clears, find out what you really have in this relationship. If this is a wakeup call that the relationship is unfulfilling, than perhaps it’s best to get a divorce. But if there were extenuating circumstances that have to be worked out, if you truly love each other and trust in one another but for this one tangent, and if your problems can be worked out and you do see a far more successful marriage down the road, than perhaps it’s best to try and work things out. Don’t stay together for the children’s sake. You’ll only make yourself and, in consequence, them dreadfully unhappy. Plus, what kind of love lives will they lead, modeled after yours? Financial reasons have a lot of people staying separated long-term today. It’s important to know the financial and legal outcome of that decision. Take your time. Reach deep down inside yourself and your answer, and the way forward, will come. If you know that you want to stay together be sure to pick up a copy of the book, Intimacy After Infidelity: How to Rebuild and Affair-Proof Your Marriage by Steven Solomon, Ph.D. and Lorie Teagno, Ph.D.