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Positive Conflict Resolution for Couples

(Part 4) Love as a Way of Life “Forgiveness”

by Peter on October 20, 2008

FORGIVENESS: using honesty, compassion, and self-awareness to reconcile with someone who has hurt you.

In any relationship there are going to be times when those that we trust and love dearly will hurt us either unintentional or even intentionally. It is not so much that we feel that we have been wronged but that that person abused our trust. Trust in any relationship can not be earned so much as that it is given. Just like Love, Trust is giving the other person your confidence, your faith, your heart, your insecurities, your joys, your desires, your emotions, and your wants (just to name a few). In short, you are giving them a glass box that is filled with “who” you are and asking them to be the protector and steward of that box.

Trust is betrayed when this glass box is used against you. It is used against you when you “trust” that your loved one is telling you the truth about what they were doing when you are not around or when you trust that you do not have to verify every detail of your loved ones unaccounted time. When we are betrayed we typically react with thoughts of judgment and anger. We want those that have deeply wounded us to suffer in like manner. This is normal because we all have a sense of justice. If someone wronged another then restitution should be made or rather, restitution is expected to be made. Restitution is expected because justice says you have to make right or give back an equivalent to make the person who was “wounded” made whole again.

When someone has wronged another in a relationship then the restitution is the reconciliation of that relationship. This is because of Love. The nature of the heart is to bind itself. When trust has been broken then one of those binds or “strings” has been broken. Justice says that that person should “pay” for their injustice and be punished for that injustice. Love, on the other hand, says to seek reconciliation of the relationship, so that, the relationship can become again whole.

TRUE FORGIVENESS can come only when justice and love work together.

FORGIVENESS is the CHOICE TO LOVE rather than demand justice

– Gary Chapman “Love as a Way of Life”

The goal of any relationship that has been hurt is to make it whole. The choice of Love makes the relationship whole again. The choice to demand justice is to want the goal of punishment for the other person. Punishment alienates and separates. Although forgiveness desires reconciliation the other person may not want to make the relationship whole. Here are some Limits of Forgiveness:

  • Forgiveness does not come easily.
  • Forgiveness does not remove all the consequences of wrong doing.
  • Forgiveness does not immediately restore trust.
  • Forgiveness does not remove the offense from one’s memory

Although forgiveness does not come easily for us, remove consequences, restore trust, or remove memories, one thing is for sure, WITHOUT FORGIVENESS YOU CANNOT have reconciliation in the relationship.


Forgiveness always focuses on the future and the offending party must too want reconciliation. If there is no desire for the offending party for reconciliation then you are going to have to read the book to get more additional information. If that person wants reconciliation it is your obligation to focus on the goal of reconciliation and the both of you work on and progress towards that goal.

These are just a few things I gleaned from Chapman’s book. What do you think about Forgiveness. Forgiveness, just like the topic of love, can vary in definition from person to person. What’s your definition?

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