Forgiving others who hurt us as we would like and expect them to forgive us if we had hurt them is the foundational basis of Christian faith. However most people in marriages are quite bad at doing that. Unforgiven issues tend to keep going and get worse. Over time, people spend an awful lot of energy and emotion defending and protecting the position they keep, instead of truly forgiving in letting it go. Of course, forgiving does NOT mean “forgetting it”; forgetting it is not a requirement. But letting go of the emotional charge about it, and the emotional connection to it that keeps you stuck in the past, or stuck in hurt feelings and resentment is. It’s a requirement. There is no high-quality successful relationship that can survive without letting go of past hurts and mistakes.

Everyone makes the best decision that they can make at the time they make it, given their emotional stability, maturity, stress level, and understandings. Of course, given more time, different sectors, more information, etc., we all might come to a different decision. But at the time the hurtful decision was made, you really need to see it is the best decision that could have been made with all the factors that were present in that moment.

So that leaves you with two options. Option one is you can hang on to how mad you are and how much resentment you have, and that will tend to make your relationship more strained and stressful. The other option, the one that’s rooted in faith, is to forgive the person who harmed you and move forward. It should go without saying that as you move forward your moving forward with agreements and understandings and compromises that help to put you in a situation where the thing that hurt you would not happen again. Remember all experiences and situations we go through our supposed to be a learning. Something that teaches us what we needed to know. And you’re supposed to take those positive learnings forward to make your life better in the future.

The second option clearly make some people feel uncomfortable or even vulnerable. Holding on to hurt and anger is a great way to keep emotional walls high. This is not how you build a strong relationship, but it is how you protect yourself from all kinds of experiences, sadly, including experiences of love and connection. A wall keeps everything out. It doesn’t discriminate and only protect you from hurt. So being strong and courageous in how you handle a situation where you are harmed in some way by your partner would be extremely useful. You can choose to be strong and courageous even when you’re feeling very weak or wounded. Clearly, the weaker you feel the more effort it takes to choose to be strong. but like everything else, it all depends on where you look. If you gaze at your emotional pain and your problems, your courage will melt away.

The choice to be bold and take action toward resolution of the hurt rests on several things. One might be your faith. Certainly being in a state of grace and accepting that everything that happens to us as part of God’s perfect plan (whether we understand that plan or not) and that God puts us in situations where we will learn to do things or to know things that will help us in the future. Sometimes those situations are easy and sometimes they’re not. But they all are there for a reason. You could ask yourself, ” when I supposed to learn by going through this?”.

The other way to make a choice is to focus on a very well formed outcome of how you want the fight, or the disagreement or the problem to go. If your only goal is to vent how frustrated you are, or “get even”, or do more damage by pulling away and feeling sorry for yourself, then you’ll find it’s very easy to accomplish those things. If your outcome is to resolve the conflict, reestablish a strong emotional bond, and move toward understanding and committing to changing whatever you need to change together so the problem doesn’t come up again (like adults are supposed to do!) and you take action based on that success oriented outcome, it’s pretty easy to accomplish that too.

Forgiveness depends entirely on the choices you make. And forgiveness is actually the decision to cut the emotional cord YOU have with the event or hurt. It has nothing to do with the person who hurt you. You have to be willing to create a feeling of neutrality about the hurt, regardless of the event, so that you no longer have any negative emotional attachment to it. You have to let anger and resentment go in order that peace and happiness can take their place.