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Forgive and Forget: How Letting Go Can Strengthen Your Relationship

kalantri on Articles - Based on the comments below my last column (Train Your Man, September 9, 2013), I seem to have caused quite a stir with my ideas about how to get your partner to “behave better.” It seems the people who commented in protest focused an awful lot on the attention-grabbing headline and had trouble seeing the big picture of what I was trying to point out.

My column originated from a clinical situation I observe all the time: People ask me what they can do to change their partners. My husband mostly ignores me at night after work. What can I do? My wife is a slob and doesn’t take my requests to clean up seriously. What can I do? These are important questions and may reflect serious relationship problems. My main goal in the prior column, then, was to arm people with tools and ideas for figuring out how to have things go better. In essence, how to get the love you want.

Some of the negative comments got me down a bit. But, mostly the points got me thinking. I ended up spending a lot of time thinking about the topic of forgiveness, a topic I’ve written about a bit before on this site. I don’t feel I need to be forgiven for the column, nor do I need to forgive the people who posted testy things. But, my thoughts about the last column reminded me that forgiveness is an essential topic in the study of close relationships. We can improve our relationships by studying the science of forgiveness.

What Is Forgiveness?

One of the defining elements of close relationships is that we make ourselves vulnerable to our partners. We open up. We get out of our comfort zones. We trust.

When our trust is violated and we’re hurt, we often go on the offensive. Sometimes the hurts are little insults—your partner was looking at his iPhone while you were talking. Other times, the hurts run pretty deep—your partner kissed a co-worker at a Halloween party.


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