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Sheri Stritof

Why is Forgiving So Difficult?

By November 15, 2012

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Being able to forgive keeps both your marriage and yourself healthy. Yet for many people, admitting to making mistakes and forgiving others is difficult.

One reason you may have difficulty forgiving is your pride or because you are still too angry. Or you don't want to be seen as weak. Perhaps you want your spouse to suffer. Additionally, forgiveness can be hard if you think that your mate is not having to pay any consequences for the hurtful behavior.

Kathleen Griffin: "Accepting that what happened to you really did happen is the first step. But it is the hardest step of all."
Source: Kathleen Griffin. The Forgiveness Formula: How to Let Go of Your Pain and Move On with Life. 2004. pg. 5.

What Forgiveness Doesn't Mean

  • Forgiveness doesn't mean you have to forget what your spouse did that hurt you.
  • It doesn't mean that you have to trust your spouse or reconcile.
  • Forgiveness doesn't mean that your partner won't have some consequences to pay for the pain caused.
  • Forgiveness doesn't let others off the hook.
  • Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness.
  • Trixie Buckel: "Forgiving is the most difficult thing you ever have to do ... make sure you do it. Forgiving is like putting the cat out at night. Make sure you do it or you will be sorry in the morning. If you can't forgive, it eats away your guts. You can literally get an ulcer. Anger is one of the most useless emotions."
    Source: Anne Naylor. "Trixie's 15 Tips For Living to 92." Huffingtonpost.com. 12/12/2009.
    Tony Robbins: "The more we judge other people and don't forgive them, the more we can't forgive ourselves."
    Source: "Tony Robbins on Love and Self-Awareness (Video)" HuffingtonPost.com. 10/17/2012.

    Nancy Schimelpfening, About.com's Guide to Depression, has a definition of forgiveness that is quite doable and an excellent exercise to help you let go of pain.

    Related Articles:
         Why You Should Apologize
         Improve Your Health by Being Willing to Forgive
         Forgiveness -- Not Revenge

    Comments
    December 1, 2011 at 9:27 am
    (1) Steve says:

    Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.It frees you from anger, resentments and other unhealthy emotions.If you refuse to forgive others then really you are allowing the other person to control you through your own acts of anger, vengeance and hatred.
    Break free, do your best to forgive and move on. Sometimes there is a lesson to be learned.It will make you the better person.

    December 1, 2011 at 9:30 am
    (2) Steve says:

    You will reap what you sow.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:17 am
    (3) Suzy says:

    Very wise words, Steve!!

    December 1, 2011 at 10:56 am
    (4) Pedro says:

    My mate confessed his wrongs and she “alledgedly” forgave him. he changed his ways for the better and promised himself never to cheat again… after around 3-3.5 years later they got married… he relised she wasnt as innocent as she painted her picture for him. he finds letters and numbers that she thought she got rid of… she swore to him she has never cheated or anything similar… turns out she lied. he is hurt and cant believe she lied to him all this time…

    i believe she never forgave him if she had to retaliate….

    He wants their relationship of 7 years to end because its a constant battle everyday since her history came out…

    What advice can you guys give my mate?

    December 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm
    (5) Mitchelle says:

    The Bible speaks of forgiving 70 x 7. Where there is confession there should be forgiveness, just as our father in heaven will forgive us each time we sin and confess to him. We need to be just like Christ – he is merciful and forgiving, we need to walk in his footstep so we too can forgive and he will take away our pain.

    December 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm
    (6) Debbie says:

    Forgiving is giving up the hope that the past could be any different!

    December 8, 2011 at 8:51 am
    (7) lynda says:

    in my mind, forgiveness would leave me vulnerable to more hurt. if i do not forgive, perhaps i can protect myself from being vulerable again. it is not that i like being angry, or that i want to hold something over my spouses head, or that i want to hurt him back. i just don’t want to be seduced into trusting.

    June 6, 2012 at 5:39 am
    (8) Susan Staley says:

    after being married for 24yrs, husband committed fraud, I never knew cause of all the lies. Rec’d 3yr suspended sentence, with house arrest etc. Stuck with him. Just over 3yrs later, committed fraud again with diff. employer. Never knew again because of all the lies. Case went on for long time, then he got a 10yr sentence! Was in prison for 41/2 yrs when magistrate overruled original sentence so he came home the next day. Stuck with him thro’ ALL this, visited him every weekend, was there for the 3 children thro’ a very bad time. In prison he said he would make it all up to me & treat me like a queen etc, etc. Day he came out, he’s been a hard, different husband & father! Tells me he is putting me in my place cause he didn’t take lead he should have before. I was just getting over the first betrayal, then second one happened, then had to go thro’ the trial & prison & now this horrible person he has become! Situation’s getting worse cause he has absolutely no remorse or empathy towards me & has even told me he doesn’t love me!! What have I done wrong? Do I deserve this treatment? Am already on tablets to TRY help me make sense of this!!

    August 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm
    (9) Catherine says:

    Susan I hope you can find peace-you have been through a lot! Don’t let him make you feel like it was all for nothing. You were strong and there for your family and gave it your all. He needs to learn a lesson about YOUR WORTH. Tell him to stop it with the abuse. He will be mad and resentful but will respect you. Little by little he will back down when he sees you mean business. If not, you will have stood up for yourself, good woman!

    November 16, 2012 at 8:26 pm
    (10) Tim says:

    Forgiveness is so important. Without it, resentment builds up, and that is toxic for a relationship.

    December 29, 2012 at 11:08 am
    (11) kimberley says:

    I believe forgiveness is a choice we make of our own will, and only by Gods word and other peoples faith are we ecouraged to do that. God has shown the importance of forgiveness through the Holy Bible. God doesnt say that forgiventess is easy, because it isn’t but that’s the way we are taught to live our lives.

    April 15, 2013 at 1:11 am
    (12) Marie says:

    So how do you forgive your husband of 26 years for lying to the cops had me arrested 24 hours in county 3.000 dollars and dismissed in court would you forgive

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