So, to answer our opening question, “Who’s the real winner when you forgive? It’s you. Forgiving is really something we do for ourselves, not just for someone else. When we forgive, the thing that has gotten us in a tizzy will exert less and less effect on our own thought processes, not on the other person’s. We’re much better off if we fight the temptation to dwell on the negatives and leave past events in the past. We may have been justified in our anger, but how do we justify feeling badly twice? That’s what happens when we decide not to forgive — you feel badly because of what had happened and you feel badly still when you hold onto the anger. We should point out that negative emotions such as anger are maladaptive — they cloud up our brains and that prevents us from fixing a problem.
Of course, forgiving a perceived harmful act does not mean that we need to continue our relationship in the same way — we might still want to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again. Furthermore, some acts are catastrophic, like cheating, and may signal the end of a relationship. But barring ruinous events, forgiving only offers advantages to your psychological health — and to your relationship.
We should mention that if we’re continually disappointed because of what we perceive as the things our partner does wrong, we might have to admit that our expectations are too high, or we hold the point of view that there is something terribly wrong with our partner. These are things that can require some dramatic adjustments to our belief systems and thought processes if the relationship is going to continue and prosper.
With all the reasons we’ve given, if you still can’t get behind the personal benefits of forgiving or need something a little more vengeful in tone, you can follow the lead of Oscar Wilde:
“Always forgive your enemies. Nothing
annoys them so much.”