One of the more destructive things that couples do when they get into a fight is to drag up past conflicts and give them new life. Problems and arguments that you thought were dealt with a long time ago resurface to cause new problems.
For a class in couple’s therapy that I am taking right now I came across a paper that begins with the assumption that relationship repair (through forgiveness) will enrich relationships and prevent problems from developing that stem from a lack of forgiveness.
The author suggests that the key is to focus on the intrapersonal (what is going on inside of you) aspect of granting forgiveness and there are five parts to that:
1. recall of hurt
The model they put forward encourages individuals to empathize with their offender to promote forgiveness. Humility is fostered by having individuals recall incidents when they had inflicted harm on their partner and other people and received forgiveness. Thus, the victim might shift his or her perception from unmitigated blame to humble willingness to forgive. During commitment, the hurt or offended person commits aloud to forgiveness of the other. Finally, maintenance is the follow-up portion of forgiveness, which includes a discussion of how the offender may prove him- or herself trustworthy again and how future hurts can be handled (i.e., the interpersonal portion of asking for, granting, and receiving forgiveness).
In my words … It is your choice to forgive, your emotional forgiveness does not need to wait for your partner to apologize. Recognize that everyone (including you) makes mistakes, tell them to their face that you forgive them and make a plan to make it better.
When you fully forgive you let it go, for good. Your partner needs to know that when you accept an apology and tell them they are forgiven, that you mean it