Experiencing Life Together

Three inconvenient truths make this simple and obvious step to forgiveness challenging.  The first truth is that every relationship is a risk.  The second truth is that each and every relationship will end.  And the third truth is that we can neither change nor control our partner’s actions.  All three truths point to the same message:  when we commit to someone, we don’t know what we will get or how long it will last.  Because of these three truths, every relationship will have challenges and be difficult at times.  We can’t choose whether or not to have difficult experiences — all we can do is choose who to have those difficult experiences with….

When you say, “I do,” you are choosing who you will experience these uncertainties and vulnerabilities with, not making a choice as to whether or not they will happen.  When you set up a life with someone, you are in part agreeing to experience the pains and difficulties of life with them.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 89

You Made the Choice

The man or woman walking beside you is there for one simple reason — out of all the people out there, you chose this person as your partner, faults and all.  You chose to join with this person and try to make a life together.  The fact that your partner is with you only because you made a decision to invite him or her to join you is the simplest reason to be more forgiving of this person.  Your decision to choose this partner also implies that you continue to be able to choose how much effort you will make toward sustaining a loving relationship with him or her.  It is your positive exercise of choice that will be at the heart of a successful long-term relationship….

Forgiveness allows you to continue to be kind and to honor your choice even when your partner’s conduct has been poor.  It allows you to love your partner in ways that accept his or her flawed humanness.  Continuing to accept that we made a choice when we picked our lover is an ongoing affirmation that is essential in creating a successful relationship….

When we choose our mate, we select one specific person with whom to try to do our absolute best.  We promise that person that we will try to be as kind and loving as possible, and that we will practice loyalty and offer solace as needed.  We also promise to forgive our partner when we can for his or her flaws, weaknesses, silly habits, or selfishness.

To forgive, you need to understand that everything that has happened in your relationship came about because of your willing decision to join with your partner….  In this forgiveness step, you take responsibility for your decision, and once you do that, there is no one to blame when things go wrong.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 81-87

Replacing Resentment

When we finally stop resenting the person we live with, we almost inevitably find that love blossoms in our lives.  Happiness will grow in your relationship as forgiveness replaces resentment.  The less resentment you hold toward your partner, the more love you will experience.  The cost to your relationship in diminished love and happiness is the same whether you resent your partner for snoring or for leaving the toilet seat up.  You will experience the same problems whether you resent your partner for something he or she did yesterday or for something from five years ago.  The cost is always diminished love in your heart and a greater hurt in your partner’s.  We pay a huge cost when we do not know how to forgive….

People who don’t know how to forgive think that being resentful is a normal state to be in….  With forgiveness we release the constriction we have placed on our hearts and love our partners for exactly who they are.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 79-81

You Always Have the Choice to Forgive.

Remember that when you have a committed love partner, you always have the choice to forgive….

If you approach your relationship with the understanding that things will sometimes go wrong and that you are ready with forgiveness, you will become a more powerful partner.  As you forgive, you begin to reframe the way you discuss your relationship.  You will find yourself telling stories of heroic understanding and unruffled self-acceptance instead of stories of grief and resentment.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 76

A Reservoir of Love

There may be some people in your life for whom you feel such love that you are already at stage four:  openhearted and ready to forgive.  Many of you, for instance, already feel forgiving toward your children.  Forgiving them does not mean that you approve of all that they do, but rather that you can acknowledge they have hurt you without making them your enemy.  You have a reservoir of love to draw upon that allows you to forgive them.  Once you forgive your children, you can let the insults go and work with them to resolve the problems.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 75

Trusting God

Great faith believes in God even when he plays his hand close to his vest, never showing all his cards.  He has his reasons for doing so.  God wants to increase your “measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).  He does this whenever he conceals a matter, and you trust him nevertheless!

— Joni Eareackson Tada, Pearls of Great Price, February 19 entry

Faith in God and from God

When God tells us something or asks us to do something, the faith to believe it or to do it comes with the word from God….

Faith is the product of the spirit; it is a spiritual force.  The enemy doesn’t want you and me to get our mind in agreement with our spirit.  He knows that if God places faith in us to do a thing, and we get positive and start consistently believing that we can actually do it, then we will do considerable damage to his kingdom.

— Joyce Meyer, Battlefield of the Mind, p. 98-99

New Thinking

I want to waste as little of my life as possible in the pain caused by anger and hurt.  I want to react well when things do not go the way I want in my marriage.  This decision will allow me to forgive myself, forgive my partner, and even forgive life itself when necessary….

Dealing with relationships is a challenge.  I want to be a survivor and not a victim.  Each hurtful situation challenges my determination to live as fully and lovingly as possible.  I accept the challenges that life sends my way.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 64

Your Options

You have the choice to forgive or not to forgive, and no one can force you to do either.  If you want to forgive your wife, no one can stop you, no matter how poorly she may have acted.  The choice to forgive or not is similar to the choices you make about how much anger you will express and how long you will hold a grudge.

Let’s take this idea of choice one step further.  If you have the option to forgive, then this suggests that you also have the option to take offense or not in the first place.  One of the ways to hasten forgiveness is to take offenses less personally.  I firmly believe that relationships would improve if people chose to take offense less often.  Being more tolerant of your partner’s bad behavior would do a lot to make him or her feel more accepted and loved.  This in turn would make your partner more likely to treat you with kindness.  You have a choice in how you react to your partner’s bad behavior.  Surely it makes sense to try to be more accepting and less prone to offense if doing so decreases the number of times you actually have to forgive your partner.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 57