We’ve all been there before: committed some sort of mistake that rendered a romantic relationship for the worse. Whether it was something as blatant as a full-fledged affair, skeletons revealed or not staunching hurtful accusations, our partners are given a window view to a side of us they have never seen before…and they don’t like it. The “event” might not end the relationship but it sure does throw some uncertainty and tension into what was once considered pure and manageable. What do you do when someone will not forgive you but isn’t willing to let go?
Uncomfortable, you say. I’m in total agreement. I hate that feeling. For the culprit, it’s as if your partner holds an invisible knife at your throat waiting for slip-up #2 so that they can swing that blade through and say “I told ya so,” watching from above as you flop on the ground. With each move you make to gain forgiveness, you become more uncertain whether you are doing it because you truly want forgiveness or because you’re so desperate for normalcy, you’d do anything. Know this much: the normal of yesteryear is history. Do not try to reclaim it because how do you erase the feelings of pain and betrayal that have already dramatically altered your partner? You can’t. You have to create a new “normal” that can sustain your relationship and I truly believe it begins with an honest conversation. Not yelling. Not fighting. Not a duel to see who can outsmart, out-scream, out-whatever the other but a disclosure of your deepest feelings.
The two of you have to face that,” Hey, this happened, okay? If we still want to be together, what are we going to do about it?” Express your feelings for each other and gauge whether there is still enough perseverance and love to continue the relationship. It might sound like “What I want is to be with you without you constantly punishing me. I know what I did was wrong but I am willing to work at this relationship. If you just keep waiting for me to make another mistake, I’m not sure this is worth fighting for.” Your partner might respond with,”What you did hurt me and I’m not sure I can trust you like I used to. I’m going to be mad for awhile but I want to work this out too.”
That script is just the ideal. I have to say that in many cases, the relationship is on the road of doom due to a condition known as “I don’t want you but I don’t want anyone else to have you. I’ll stick around to ensure this.” This is a hideous monster unleashed when a relationship becomes poisoned with resentment. When you are living, revealing and taunting this type of relationship-monster, forgiveness no longer becomes a goal. It’s a war. There’s little to say about this: please behead that monster unless you are prepared for drama of the worst kind.
The speed of forgiveness in situations of betrayal saunters at a grueling pace. One day, you might sense a return of normalcy and the next day, the relationship once again hangs on a thin thread. When you constantly work and remind your partner that the relationship is a priority then it bolsters recovery. Anything less, I’d suggest that you throw in the white towel.