How Do I Forgive My Spouse? A Step by Step Guide

Forgiveness is a process rather than a single action. If your spouse has seriously hurt you, forgiveness may not be instant. An affair is something that will take some time to forgive, for example. In the instances where your partner has really done some damage to your relationship and to you, forgiveness will come after some healing has taken place and after some trust has been re-established.

Demanding forgiveness right after the big offense is unrealistic and does not speak to the suffering that occurred. Also, it is easier to forgive if your spouse understands how much hurt you have been through due to the offense. He or she needs to show that there is a desire to help make the pain go away.

If you have seen positive behavioral changes in your partner, and you feel that your partner is truly remorseful, you are on your way to granting forgiveness. Here is how:

1) First and foremost, you need to acknowledge your pain and talk about your feelings with your partner without yelling or accusing.

2) Be aware that this is difficult for your partner as well. Because your partner is still held accountable for your pain, it is a vulnerable situation to be in. However, at this point, the anger has subsided because you have more compassion for your partner’s vulnerabilities.

3) Now this is important. Be very specific about what you will and will not put up with. There are some things in your life moving forward that can be negotiated, but you must decide what those things are and tell your partner that you can’t forgive as long as certain needs are met. For instance, there needs to be a clean break from the affair partner, and you may have some stipulations depending on the situation – perhaps your spouse works with the affair partner.

4) Be very specific about what you are forgiving. You want your partner to understand that you are aware of your partner’s regrets, and be specific about those regrets and that you are forgiving them. This creates clarity and understanding between the two of you.

5) Seal the deal with something that shows forgiveness verbally, physically, or in writing. You might want to give your spouse a hug and a kiss after you have granted forgiveness, for example. You might want to give a card with some of your thoughts inside. There are many options so do what comes naturally to you.

6) Lastly, after you have granted your partner forgiveness, let go of blame and accusations. From this point forward, it is time to enjoy the freedom of letting go of past regrets. You won’t forget (as the memories of the hard times are the very memories that teach us lessons to make our relationships better), but you should fully forgive.