To Forgive Or Not To Forgive

John walks into the kitchen one morning, the kids are screaming and dog is barking and the Cheerios are crunching underfoot, he turns to his wife Jane, and says, “Glad we have you to keep things under control around here!”

Once a year Jane and John go for a very boring dinner with John’s boss, this year Jane had a bit too much red wine to drink and let her hair down, on the way down to the floor when she stumbled out of the restaurant.

To forgive or not to forgive? How do you know what to do?

The true benefit of forgiveness lies with the forgiver, it reduces your stress, anxiety and apparently even your cholesterol level. You are happier when you forgive because you are not burdened by someone else’s mistakes.

However, I just read an article in the newspaper that wasn’t so sure. A Professor in Florida State University studied people that forgive, and he found that the day after forgiving a partner, people were 6.5 times more likely to report that the partner has done something negative, compared with when there was no forgiveness. (There are lots of other things I would like to know to properly understand this study, but let’s run with it for now.) His explanation is, that when we forgive quickly “it doesn’t hold the partner accountable for the behavior.”

So how can we forgive and still protect ourselves from being hurt again the next day? My suggestion is that if you forgive but do not tell them how it is they hurt you, they just won’t get it, and they will hurt you again. What is needed is to forgive with a request for a specific change, and then they know they are forgiven and they know how to stop it happening again.

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