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People and Places

Forgiveness: When It Counts In Your Marriage.

Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
- Mark Twain

Have you ever not seen eye-to-eye with your dearest loved one? During the intense time preparing for your wedding, does your sweetheart ever drive you to distraction? Have you ever gotten bent out of shape because the one you love the most does not do things the way you know is best?

On page 212 of their book Loyalty To Your Soul", Huffington Post bloggers Drs. Ron and Mary Hulnick describe the process of compassionate self-forgiveness. Having used it several times myself, I have found self-forgiveness to be profoundly healing and liberating and never more so than in a close relationship when misunderstanding can become entrenched in resentment.

Forgiveness is one of the building blocks that makes for a successful marriage. Not only does self-forgiveness dampen the fires of fury, but more important, it enables you to deepen your love and appreciation for the other person.

When choosing your vows, consider including one to forgive. When life gets stressful (as life will do with work pressures, family demands or money challenges), a forgiving attitude will help you steer together through rough patches.

How does that work? Do you find when things do not go the way you want, your inclination is to strike out and blame the one closest to you? They happen to be there. Have you also found that in the heights of romantic love, your loved one can do anything and you are not bothered by it? It is just one of the charming funny things they do. What changes?

It seems that the greater our love for this special person, the brighter a mirror they offer us to reveal our own hidden hurt, and opportunity for healing. What is more, they will serve to trigger our awareness of the hurt. Consider that the hurt was there long before they showed up. Painful events from the past tend to get buried and hidden within us.

Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again.
- Dag Hammarskjold

We have not usually been taught to "own" our disturbances as being experiences over which we have accountability and therefore potentially emotional freedom. As a wedding celebrant, when I hear a couple wishing to vow to make each other happy, my heart sinks.

With the best will in the world, you cannot "make" another person happy. You cannot take responsibility for another's happiness. How can you? You can never be in charge of their thoughts and feelings, which go to make up how they feel, happy or otherwise. This false expectation can only lead to disappointment eventually.

The anger you find yourself projecting out onto someone else may well be a reflection of an ancient hurt, buried in you, that is now inviting a healing to take place. The opportunity is to reach into your own resources of love with compassion and empathy for yourself, to forgive yourself for striking out and to expand the loving you have both for yourself and for your dearest.

Forgiving as an attitude reminds us that at all times, we are doing the best we know at that time. When we know better, we do better. The attitude of forgiving can be cultivated. When a major difference of opinion occurs, it does not become a crisis.

Forgive the little things that show up -- for example, when you were less than your best and were in a grumpy mood, felt resentful about something they did, or guilty about something you should have done. Get into the habit of forgiving so that it comes easily and freely. When forgiveness is actively part of your life values, you do not let issues fester and poison your relationship. You let go and move on.

Out beyond the ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there.
- Rumi

Forgiving opens the heart. It takes courage. When you become vulnerable and admit to your faults and weaknesses, it may feel scary. At the same time, this trusting openness is profoundly liberating and enables a greater connection to the love you share.

In the chapter, "The Gift of Forgiveness," in her book "Unbinding The Heart," Agapi Stassinopoulos describes a scene toward the end of his life when her father asks the forgiveness of her mother for the tremendous hurt he had caused her.

Agapi writes: "She simply allowed him the gift of asking for forgiveness, and her silence spoke volumes of her acceptance." She continues: "I think that moment was the great gift of his life. In asking forgiveness of my mother, he was really asking it of himself -- and in that very moment of asking, it was granted."

A Moment of Peace and Forgiveness

Have you had experiences of forgiving that have made a big difference in a loving partnership? How has forgiving touched and healed your marriage? I would love to know. Please leave a comment below or drop me a line at

Tuesday, 27 March 2012    Section: People and Places    Author: Anne Naylor
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