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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
Resolving issues from your past that block your future

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Forgiveness

October 2009

Forgiveness. That can be a very tough concept. When someone has hurt you, should you forgive them? Do you want to forgive them? What happens if you choose not to? What happens to you if you chose to forgive?

I have worked with many couple where there has been infidelity. This is a very difficult area. We do not want to forgive when we have been hurt and betrayed. We often want to lash out back at our partner who has so wounded us. The betrayal of the marriage vows is no small injury. The marriage can recover, but it takes a great deal of work. Trust is extremely difficult to regain.

But should you forgive your partner? That is a very individual answer. Every person has their own reasons why forgiveness is or is not an option. Often if there are still children to raise, forgiveness feels mandatory. For some religious beliefs, it can feel that that is the only and best choice. Sometimes the partner who was cheated on can feel trapped by financial reasons and that he or she must stay. Forgiveness under those conditions may feel forced and not completely honest.

But let’s paint another scenario, infidelity has been discovered or disclosed, your partner is honestly sorry and wants to make amends. You do love your spouse. And often like him or her. After much work and possibly therapy, you understand the dynamics that led to the affair. You have accepted your part in creating those dynamics. Perhaps in that situation, you can forgive. You can understand what led to the affair. You can begin to let go. However, do not forget because otherwise you may slip into those patterns that created the situation in the first place.

If you choose not to forgive, be aware of what does to you to keep all of that anger inside of you. It can eat you up. It can ruin your marriage as well as other relationships. It can turn you into a bitter person.

By the way, forgiving does not necessarily mean that the marriage will survive. You can forgive your partner and still make the decision that this relationship is not right for you.

There are no right answers here. Just the one that is right for you. Take your time to explore your heart and see what is your best path. Take care of yourself along the way!

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