UACES Facebook Forgiveness: Transform Your Marriage with Seven Steps
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Navigating Life's Journey Blog

Navigating Life's Journey Blog

Helping others navigate this journey of Life!

A weekly blog from the Family & Consumer Sciences Department

Forgiveness: Transform Your Marriage with Seven Steps

by Ashley Foster - March 9, 2018

couple hugging and smiling
Who are you helping most when you forgive the person who hurt you? Actually, you're helping yourself more than the other person.Couples who practice forgiveness can rid themselves of the toxic hurt and shame that holds them back from feeling connected to each other. In The Science of Trust, Dr. John Gottman explains that emotional attunement is a skill that allows couples to fully process and move on from negative emotional events, and ultimately create a stronger bond.Here are some ways forgiveness can transform your marriage. 


Write down three ways negative emotions have impacted (or are still impacting) your marriage.
Be aware of negative emotions that you have not yet processed. Talking to a close friend or therapist can help facilitate this.

Find a way to remove yourself from negative emotions. 
Examples include therapy, yoga, improving your physical health, and practicing expressing thoughts, feelings, and wishes in a respectful way. Resentment can build when people sweep things under the rug, so avoid burying negative feelings.

Take small steps to repair and let go of grudges.
According to Dr. Gottman, the number one thing that prevents couples from building trust and emotional attunement is the inability to bounce back from a conflict in a healthy way. The number one solution to this problem is to get really good at repair. He tells Business Insider that you’ve got to get back on track after a disagreement if you don’t want issues to fester.

Accept responsibility for your part in the interaction.
One person’s ability to do this can change the dynamic of the relationship. Drs. Julie and John Gottman explain that, “one person’s response will literally change the brain waves of the other person.” Apologize to your partner when appropriate. This will validate their feelings, promote forgiveness, and allow you both to move on.

Don’t let wounds fester. 
Challenge your beliefs and self-defeating thoughts about holding on to hurt feelings. Processing what happened will allow you to let resentments go so you can move on to a healthier relationship. Keep the big picture in mind.

Accept that people do the best they can.
This does not mean that you condone the hurtful actions of others. You simply come to a more realistic view of your past. As you take stock, you will realize that all people operate out of the same basic drives, including self-interest.

Think like a forgiving person. 
Practice forgiveness by actively thinking like a forgiving person. Avoid holding grudges and declare you are free to stop playing the role of victim. After all, we are all imperfect and deserve compassion.

Practicing forgiveness will allow you to turn the corner from feeling like a victim to becoming a more empowered person. Experts believe that forgiveness can allow you to break the cycle of pain and move on to a healthier life. Keep in mind that forgiveness takes time and has a lot to do with letting go of those things you have no control over.

Reference: Gottman Institute