Forgiveness in couples is a thorny issue to deal with, especially in relation to timing. Keep in mind that, for example, forgiveness will not happen magically, but only when the negative patterns cease, along with grudges and resentment. It is a long process and one in which both parties need to compromise.
I would also like to remind you that there is a way out of negativity and bitterness. That mistakes or failures can be forgiven and you can continue with a strong relationship in the face of adversity. How? Here are some valuable exercises and advice.
Forgiveness exercises for couples
If your spouse has made a mistake, or several, getting to the point of forgiveness will be a team effort. The process of forgiveness in couples is not simple, but it is possible, so I will give you these exercises:
Exercise #1: Talk sessions
Couples need to agree to communicate and to commit to the forgiveness process. To do this, I recommend that they choose a time and place where they feel comfortable. They need to turn off their cell phones or any electronic equipment that may distract them. Distractions also include children and pets. They need to be taken care of before this moment. The couple needs privacy.
When you open these talk sessions, I suggest that you keep in mind that venting all your frustrations at once is counterproductive. Divide the talks into different sessions with a common theme.
You both have to agree on that topic and each one should express himself/herself in the way he/she wants. There are no time limits for this kind of meeting, and you should maintain eye contact.
Exercise #2: Listen, do not interrupt
When a couple talks, it is necessary to not interrupt the person who has the right to speak at that moment. Maybe the couple’s problem is that one partner always assumes they are right, so it is essential to let him or her defend his or her points of view.
You have to listen to your husband or wife with an open mind and adopt an attitude of support and companionship, where they are there to listen to each other’s feelings.
However, if those feelings get the best of you, you need to stay calm and keep your thoughts calm. One of the most important pieces of advice I have for you is to look at everything objectively.
Exercise #3: Practice clarity
One factor that many couples lack is the ability to speak up. They do not practice clear enough communication, so when something is uncomfortable or you don’t feel you are getting what is fair, you need to talk about it, no matter how obvious it may sound or seem.
Men and women are children of God, but at the same time, our minds work very differently. As a man, you must understand this. As a woman, you must also understand this.
Sincerity cannot be lacking in a successful marriage.
Exercise #4: Forgiving small mistakes
Forgiveness in couples should be practiced daily because even if you don’t notice it at the moment, you may have done something small that hurt your partner. Today it seems insignificant, but when the negative actions accumulate, it could seriously deteriorate this bond.
Every time you feel that your partner committed an offense, point it out to him or her. The same applies to you. When we commit offenses, we should express our regret out loud. Saying something like, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand how important this situation was to you. Please forgive me,” can work wonders.
It depends on the seriousness of the offense, of course, and forgiveness may not be given instantly, but it is a demonstration of goodwill. Be patient if your partner is not yet ready to forgive you.
Exercise #5: Forgive when ready
There is no point in rushing forgiveness in couples if it is not sincere. It will backfire, so when you are ready to forgive, do it. State your intentions out loud, and with your heart in your hand. The word has power, so use it.
Once you feel able to grant forgiveness, it’s time to move on. Analyze where you both failed as a couple, and change the offending behaviors. Gratitude and affection should remain more present than ever.
How to maintain forgiveness in marriage
When you have been able to grant forgiveness in your marriage, the work is not over. This is because forgiveness is not the end of the process. You need to keep forgiving and demonstrate that forgiveness was a step towards a better relationship.
It is an arduous task, and there may be relapses, but you will find gains in the small details. Here are some tips:
Your dates are sacred
Despite work, children, and other responsibilities, married couples need time for themselves.
I advise having at least one weekend date, just for yourselves, where you can talk and connect more deeply about your life as a married couple. Both wife and husband need to feel important in a marriage.
If work separates the two of you, use calls as a method of communication.
Many couples come to my office drained after long work days. Those that do not share enough in the day. In that case, a call during a break does not take much time, but it will make a big change.
Talk more in bed
Going to bed early as a couple might be more beneficial than you think. If you do this, you will most likely have plenty of time to spare before you can fall asleep. In those minutes, the sweetest and most intimate chats take place.
Forgiveness in couples is constant work and a daily learning process. But I sincerely believe that the first step for good results is to entrust ourselves with God. With His guidance and blessing, we will be on the right path.
If you want to learn more about how forgiveness influences our lives, I invite you to read my other articles as well. Do you have doubts or questions? Let me know them, too.