I Can Forgive But How Am I Supposed to Forget?

“To err is human, to forgive is Divine.”

Are you meant to forget? Forgive…and forget?

The short answer – yes. Every marriage, and relationship, that is built on love, is also built on trust. It is the foundation of personal relationships, and of the close bond, we share, especially in a marriage. Relationships require compromise, and give and take, and the ability to move forward, especially if there are serious problems that arise.

The challenge, for any spouse, is to completely forgive, their partner – if they wish to continue in their marriage and to rebuild their relationship. The nature of forgiveness, by definition, includes forgetting – a blank slate, a do-over, a second chance.

Can you forgive and forget?

The short answer – no. It’s not humanly possible. Our psyche is wired to protect us, even on an unconscious level, from harm, from anyone – including, and especially, harm from a spouse. It’s not remotely possible to forget. No matter how hard you may try to block out the painful act, or acts, of betrayal, harm or otherwise, you just can’t.

You’re only human, and that means, experiencing acute memories, and feeling strong emotions – rational or otherwise – when it comes to our significant other, and their behaviors, or actions, that have caused distress in any way.

Are You Reliving the Events? What behavior is being forgiven?

An affair? Financial dishonesty? Nasty words? Words said in the heat of the moment? A partner that has lied to you?

Are some acts, behaviors or situations, – unforgivable?

This is a question you need to ask yourself, and you need to be very sure of your feelings, and your answers. It is a personal choice, and relative to your own belief system, and the feelings you have to your spouse. You may love them very much, but, you may not be able to forgive them. It is your choice, and yours alone, to make.

 What is the nature of the betrayal?

There are various degrees of behaviors that are acceptable, within a marriage, according to each person, and each individual person’s marriage, and moral code. What you may find totally unforgivable, the next person may not view, as harshly, or within the same light.

This is not moral relativism, but, it is a factor to consider. In some cultures, having a mistress is not considered as immoral, or, as a betrayal of the sanctity of marriage. In others, yet, it is crime, punished by death.


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Have you reached a limit?

The question you need to ask yourself is this – are you able to forgive the behavior or actions, and rebuild your relationship, or, have you reached a limit, a no-go zone, something that, according to your personal moral code, is unforgivable.

Does Love Have Limits?

Once again, this is a question only you, and your spouse can answer. The reality is that marriages end in divorce all the time. “Irreconcilable differences” is the phrase commonly used as an umbrella term for a range of issues which preclude the dissolution of a marriage.

People reach their limit and choose to end their marriages, for many reasons. Some people would have reached their limit, on forgiveness –  and forgetting – and their capacity to start-over, their limit on “second chances,”; and their desire to stay in a marriage with their spouse.

Working on Forgiveness- What Can You Do?

If you’ve chosen to forgive your spouse, but, you’re unable to stop reliving the pain, hurt, or betrayal, then you need to get professional help. A qualified relationship therapist, or, counseling psychologist, or your priest – a person, qualified, to advise and support you, and, or, your spouse, is essential.

Working on forgiveness, and working on your relationship, may require extra support (more than your family, or friends), and assistance, from trained professionals. This may be something you need to do, as a couple, to work on your relationship, or, it may be something you need to do, for yourself. Alternatively, you may need to do both, at the same time – you may need marriage counseling, as well as, individual counseling, to move forward, in your relationship.