Relationships Spouses & Partners How to Practice Forgiveness in a Relationship Learning to Let Go After Betrayal or Hurt By Sheri Stritof Sheri Stritof Sheri Stritof has written about marriage and relationships for 20+ years. She's the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book. Learn about our editorial process Updated on September 12, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief Print Verywell / JR Bee Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Health Benefits How to Forgive Ask for Forgiveness Forgiveness in Your Relationship When Forgiveness Is Not Enough Being able to forgive and let go of past hurts is a critical tool in any relationship. Forgiveness is also healthy for you, both emotionally and physically. In fact, forgiving and letting go may be one of the most important ways to keep your relationship going strong. Although some transgressions are so harmful that a relationship can't survive, forgiveness can still play a role. Health Benefits Holding onto old hurts, disappointments, petty annoyances, betrayals, insensitivity, and anger wastes both your time and your energy. Nursing your hurt (whether real or perceived) for too long can eventually turn it into hate and bitterness. Being unforgiving takes a physical and mental toll. Resentment gains momentum and chips away at the foundation of your well-being and relationship. Instead, share your feelings. Health experts at Johns Hopkins report that the act of forgiveness can reduce the risk of heart attack, lower cholesterol levels, improve sleep, reduce pain, lower your blood pressure, decrease levels of anxiety, depression, and stress, and provide other benefits. The Many Benefits of Forgiveness How to Forgive Your Partner Various techniques can help you foster forgiveness when you have experienced betrayal. The kind of hurt you have suffered can make a difference in which works for you. Certainly, it is more difficult to forgive someone for years of infidelity than for a minor mistake, such as forgetting to pay a bill. Be patient with yourself as you experiment with different strategies. Be open and receptive to forgiveness. Make a conscious decision to forgive. Think of a calming place or do something else to distract yourself when flashbacks of the betrayal trigger negative thoughts. Refrain from throwing a mistake back in a remorseful partner's face or using it as ammunition in an argument. Accept that you might never know the reason for the hurtful behavior. Refrain from seeking revenge or retribution. Trying to get even will only extend the pain and probably won't make you feel better anyway. Remember that forgiveness does not mean that you condone the hurtful behavior. Be patient with yourself. Forgiveness takes time. Don't hurry the process. Seek professional counseling if you are still unable to forgive or stop dwelling on the hurt. How to Forgive Someone How to Ask for Forgiveness If you are the partner who has caused hurt, begin your efforts to rebuild trust by asking for forgiveness. Give yourself and your partner time when working through the process. Show true contrition and remorse for the pain you've caused.Make a commitment to not hurt your partner again by repeating the hurtful behavior.Accept the consequences of the action that created the hurt.Be open to making amends.Make a heartfelt and verbal apology. This should include a plan of action to make things right.Be patient with your partner. Don't dismiss your partner's feelings of betrayal by telling them to "get over it." Forgiveness in Your Relationship Close relationships need forgiveness to thrive. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone needs to forgive and be forgiven. This is especially true if the person who hurt you is attempting to make amends and gain forgiveness. It's more difficult if your partner is not remorseful, but you might still find value in offering forgiveness. No healthy relationship, especially a marriage, can be sustained over a long period of time without forgiveness. But remember: Forgiveness isn't absolution. Forgiveness is a conscious decision to release feelings of resentment. It's a crucial tool in processing hurt and moving on. Even though you may find forgiveness difficult, it's essential for the long haul. Get Advice From the Verywell Mind Podcast Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares why it's OK to give second chances, featuring Purple Heart recipient Craig Rossi and Fred. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts When Forgiveness Is Not Enough If your partner abuses you, continues to betray or lie to you, or makes no real effort to change their behavior, it may be time to split. This kind of behavior calls for serious evaluation. When your major concerns are not going away despite your efforts to forgive, it may be time to think about separation or divorce. According to psychiatrist Karen Swartz, MD, forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation. "Having a relationship with someone in the future is about whether they are reliable and dependable and trustworthy," she says. Sometimes, trust is broken in such a way that it's not in your best interest. In situations involving an extended period of abuse or betrayal that's no longer occurring, forgiveness may take longer, and that's OK. You both must be open to talking about and continuing to process it. This might include seeking guidance from a licensed professional counselor or other mental health professional. The 6 Best Online Marriage Counseling Programs 3 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Toussaint LL, Shields GS, Slavich GM. Forgiveness, Stress, and Health: a 5-Week Dynamic Parallel Process Study. Ann Behav Med. 2016;50(5):727–735. doi:10.1007/s12160-016-9796-6 He Q, Zhong M, Tong W, et al. Forgiveness, Marital Quality, and Marital Stability in the Early Years of Chinese Marriage: An Actor-Partner Interdependence Mediation Model. Front Psychol. 2018;9:1520. Published 2018 Sep 4. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01520 Sandler L. The Healing Power of Forgiveness. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Additional Reading Forgiveness: Your Health Depends on It. Johns Hopkins Medicine. By Sheri Stritof Sheri Stritof has written about marriage and relationships for 20+ years. She's the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Relationships Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.