Dealing with conflict can be the hardest part of any relationship. When a partner’s actions or decisions have hurt you or betrayed your trust, it can seem impossible to forgive and move on. But, if you plan to stay together, your forgiveness is critical to the relationship. And to you. Living with anger and resentment is unhealthy; forgiveness is as much for you as it is for your partner. You may not forget what your partner did to hurt you, but with patience and love, you can forgive what you can’t forget. Here are some tips for getting you to that point.
Have an Honest Discussion
It’s hard to come to terms with an issue if you don’t fully understand it first. The first step in moving forward is to understand what happened and why. Encourage your partner to explain why they chose the path they took. It can be difficult to have this conversation without striking out in anger, but it’s important to see your partner as someone with flaws who makes mistakes instead of someone with evil intentions.
Handle Emotions with Intention
Relationship conflict can trigger a range of negative emotions and behaviors. Left unchecked, emotions can lead us to act in anger, saying or doing things that worsen the pain in the relationship. Take time to calm down before discussing the issue and plan to take a break if emotions start to run too high. Remember, the goal is to mend the relationship – not add fuel to the fire.
Reframe the situation
When you’ve been hurt or betrayed, it may feel like you’re on different sides of the problem. But if you’re both committed to strengthening your relationship, you need to be a team. If you can reframe the situation as a problem you’re facing together, instead of facing off against each other, you’ll feel more united and more supported. Work towards the same goal – rebuilding your relationship – instead of against each other.
Set New Parameters
Moving forward under the same conditions may not be possible or desirable. You may need to change the conditions that contributed to the problem. You may need to set new or temporary boundaries to rebuild trust. For example, if your partner has a gambling problem, you may need to establish separate bank accounts or take over the finances until trust is reestablished.
Practice True Forgiveness
Moving forward towards forgiveness means letting go of resentment and generalizations about your partner. That’s no easy task, and you’ll have to do this part alone. You may still feel hurt or betrayed, but forgiveness is a decision you make regardless. And that just may also help you process your feelings and remember the good in your relationship. It might help to talk to a counselor.
Conflict is bound to happen in any relationship, but it doesn’t have to define the rest of your lives together. Forgiveness is essential to moving forward into a healthier relationship. It may not be easy, but it may be worth it.