How Do I Forgive My Spouse? Why Can’t I Get Over This? (Part 1)

Author: Cheri Timko

Posted On December 15, 2021

The first time your partner let you down, it came as a surprise. You had been together for a while and things were going so well. You kept telling yourself that things wouldn’t always be this good. Yet, it still came as a surprise when it happened. They let you down, or were harsh about a topic, or shut down. It wasn’t a big deal, and you took it in stride. Of course, only after pointing it out and encouraging them to do a better job next time.

How Do I Forgive My Spouse? Why Can’t I Get Over This? (1) blog

It is natural that you and your partner are on your best behavior at the beginning of a relationship. Even when you strive to be genuine, it takes many real-life situations before you reveal the nuances of your personality. Over time, you also learned about your partner’s faults. As you settled into the relationship, you accepted that they are not perfect, and you made peace with it.

One of the problems with true love is that you can’t love deeply without risking getting hurt. Some people will choose not to love at all. But most people will take the risk.

How Do I Forgive My Spouse? Why Can’t I Get Over This? (Part 1)

There are different types of relationship injuries. Each have their own impact on the relationship.

1. Everyday hurts

Everyday hurts are often thoughtless or careless. They include:

  • Forgetting to do something. 
  • Getting irritated over an unimportant detail. 
  • Bringing home stress from another part of life. 
  • Being critical instead of asking for a change. 
  • Letting an argument get too heated. 
  • Ignoring you because of other distractions. 
  • Not giving attention when you need it. 
  • Not including you in decisions.

Now that I have started this list, I realize that it could fill up an entire page. You know the ways your partner has let you down. Some are understandable. Others hit a sensitive spot deep inside you that makes it feel like a big deal. You accept that some of these kinds of hurts are an unavoidable part of living together.

Do you know the ways that YOU let your partner down? These are equally important to identify.

2. Injuries that form a habit

If something happens once, you are likely able to see it as an exception in your relationship and move on. When it becomes a persistent habit, it is harder to live with. Is it a personality quirk or a character flaw? Only you know when socks on the floor will switch from being an occasional nuisance to a chronic problem that threatens your relationship. 

Bad habits are often the hardest to change. They can wear on an otherwise good relationship. They often become the focus of day-to-day irritability and bickering.

3. Catastrophic, life-changing relationship injuries.

  • Affairs 
  • Financial infidelity 
  • Missing important events 
  • Repeatedly not standing up for you 
  • Lying

These are things that couples do to one another that threaten the relationship. They rock the foundation of each of you and the relationship itself. They call every memory and agreement into question. These are the hardest to recover from.

Every couple needs some good tools to heal their relationship. You will hurt your partner. They will hurt you. Making repairs even around the small stuff keeps things from building up. Without good repair tools, your relationship will eventually take too many hits. You will either end the relationship, or you will live together but feel distant. Long-term negative feelings such as resentment, bitterness, and anger will block and poison your love.

How Do I Forgive My Spouse? Why Can’t I Get Over This? (Part 1)

The most straightforward and understandable repair tool is a good apology. A bad apology can be almost as bad as the injury it tries to repair.

Bad apologies:

  • Are not specific. 
  • Include the reasons why you feel justified in doing the thing you are apologizing for. 
  • Blame the other person for their bad behavior. 
  • Shut down conversation about the issue.

So, what is a good apology?

  • It describes or names the thing that was a problem. 
  • It takes accountability for the part you played in the problem. 
  • It shows a genuine intention to fix the problem so it won’t happen again.

Another powerful repair tool is to move on and never hurt the other person the same way. This can completely heal the relationship injury, but is often harder to do. Neither you nor your partner can change most behaviors the way you flip a light switch. Most change happens by taking small steps.

Identifying the repair tools that work best for you and your partner can change the everyday feeling in the relationship. It will change the overall trajectory of the relationship.

To identify which repair tools work best for you, think about other times you have been able to move past a problem. Think about the steps you took so that you were able to release the negative feelings. These will give you clues about how to improve your tools.

Need help? Couples Coaching can help. Schedule a free consultation to learn more.

Cheri Timko - Couples Relationship Coach

Cheri Timko is a Couples Relationship Expert who helps individuals strengthen their relationship with their current partner. Learn more about working with her here.