A Specific Forgiveness Exercise for Couples

Those of you who have the absolute perfect spouse, please raise you hand……anyone?

Now, those of you who are the absolute perfect spouse, please raise your hand…..I see no hands up.

OK, so we have established that we are not perfect and neither is our partner. Yet, we can always improve. Note carefully that I am not suggesting that you read this to improve your partner. I write it to improve you, the reader.

Here is a little exercise that I recommend for any couple. Together, talk out the hurts that you received in your family of origin, where you grew up. Let the other know of your emotional wounds. This exercise is not meant to cast blame on anyone in your family of origin. Instead, the exercise is meant for each of you to deepen your insight into who your partner is. Knowing his wounds is one more dimension of knowing him as a person. As you each identify the wounds from your past, try to see what you, personally are bringing into the relationship from that past. Try to see what your partner is bringing in.

Now, together, work on forgiving those from your family of origin who have wounded you. Support one another in the striving to grow in the virtue of forgiveness. The goal is to wipe the resentment-slate clean so that you are not bringing those particular wounds to the breakfast table (and lunch table and dinner table) every day. Then, when you are finished forgiving those family members from the past, work on forgiving your partner for those wounds brought into your relationship, and at the same time, seek forgiveness from him or her for the woundedness you bring to your relationship. Then, see if the relationship improves. All of this is covered in greater depth in my new book, The Forgiving Life.


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Categories: Counseling, Couples, Our Forgiveness Blog


  1. Samantha says:

    I think if a couple wants to get married that they should go through this exercise in pre-marriage classes. Can you imagine the harmony in families if people started off their marriage this way? I think it would strongly affect the divorce rate, which would go down.

  2. James says:

    I am aware of the humanist approach to counseling where the counselor just reflects back the views of the client. It is not nearly as reasonable as what you say here. We need instruction when we are stuck. We need instruction when we are really angry. This is a cause for hope.

  3. Amanda says:

    Now if I can just find that special person to try this with. I am hopeful and the exercises here should help solidify a relationship. Thanks for the tips and encouragement.


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