A Forgiveness Exercise to Try with Your Spouse

We’re all human. Even your soulmate will make mistakes.

Probably many of them. Repeatedly.

That’s why forgiveness is such a vital part of a successful marriage.

But there are many misconceptions about forgiveness. And they can hold us back from embracing it.

It’s not just about moving on from conflict, forgetting what happened, or excusing what happened. And you don’t need to receive an apology to forgive.

Forgiveness doesn’t make you a chump. It also doesn’t mean you should allow the behavior or slight again.

Instead, forgiveness is a process. One that requires strength. It’s about letting go of your anger.

And it’s more powerful for the person doing the forgiving than for the person being forgiven.

That’s because holding onto anger is unhealthy physically, mentally, and spiritually. Research backs this up.

Forgiveness is connected to healthier immune systems. Lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk for heart problems. Higher self-esteem. Better ability to deal with stress. Greater feelings of control, freedom, and connection to a higher power.

So it’s not surprising that forgiveness also translates into marital health. Higher quality and more committed relationships.

Start Your Forgiveness Journey Together

Even knowing all this, forgiveness remains hard for many of us. I want to encourage you and your spouse to embrace the practice of forgiveness. To work hard at it. To be committed.

And here is a great simple exercise to start you off on your journey: discuss what forgiveness means to each of you.

Just have a conversation about it. You may find you have different definitions. And that’s okay. Be respectful of your partner’s viewpoint.

The goal here is simply to listen. To encourage participation. To ask questions. To be curious.

You should not try to change your partner. Instead, your goal should be to gain as much new insight as possible.

And then to use that information to better your participation in the relationship.

When You Struggle to Forgive

Negative events stick out in our memory more than positive ones. It’s an unfortunate way that our brain is wired. That’s part of why it can be so hard to let go off something negative that happened – even after you feel like you’ve moved beyond it.

But there is something you can do to fight it. Remind yourself that you have forgiven. That you want to move on. Say it out loud.

Then change your focus to a positive goal you have for your relationship. Create the connection you want – together.

Rooting for you!

Sara Freed


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