Archive for April, 2024

I am being accused of indifference toward my partner.  Yet, I see a difference between my actions and my intentions.  I have been under a lot of pressure at work lately and have had to work very long hours.  I do not mean to neglect my partner.  In contrast, my partner is accusing me of ignoring.  What do I do now?

A key issue is to forthrightly examine how long this work pattern has been occurring.  Has it been for a week, a month, or many months?  If this pattern has been for a long time, it is important for both of you to find some balance in the work and life pattern so that your partner does not feel neglected.  If this has been a short time, then you need to engender hope in the partner by showing that this work pressure is temporary and will end soon.  If it will not end soon, then I think you need to work with your partner on how to change the pattern, at least to a degree, so that you have both fairness at work and fairness with your partner.  Even though your intentions are honorable, if your behavior is frustrating your partner for good reasons, then you might ask the partner to forgive you as you strive for more balance in the relationship.

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How can I reconcile with a person who: a) never listens to my side of the story; b) is not trustworthy; and c) he continues to hurt me?

You may have to wait for now to reconcile because the other person still hurts you and is not trustworthy.  It is possible that this person is deeply emotionally wounded from injustices suffered by others and the pain is being displaced onto you.  A hope of reconciliation is this: Can you explore with this person any deep wounds he may have from his past that are getting in his way now?  If he is open to this and forgives these other people, then he might be open to working with you on a better relationship that no longer hurts you.

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I sometimes consider forgiving my father for what happened when I was a child.  Yet, I then conclude that I never would reconcile with him anyway, so why bother to forgive?  What are your thoughts?

It is possible that your conclusion that “I never would reconcile with him anyway” is based on your current resentment and unforgiveness. If you work on forgiving your father, your views of reconciliation might change. Also, even if you do not reconcile, if and when you forgive, you could set yourself free of the resentments you might be carrying from your father’s behavior years ago.

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What if you approach someone and say, “I forgive you.”  Could this lead to even more tension? If she isn’t prepared to hear it, may this lead to an argument?

I think you are right. Proclaiming your forgiveness could lead to the other person getting angry at you if the person is not ready to hear it. Please keep in mind that there are no strict guidelines when it comes to forgiving someone. It is possible to show forgiveness without ever saying, “I forgive you.” Forgiveness can be shown and expressed in a variety of ways, such as by smiling, paying attention to what the other person is saying, returning a call, or speaking nice things about the person to other people. Yet, eventually, the other may be open to these words so you could be patient and not completely dismiss the idea for the future. Please keep in mind that you do not have to use those exact words to be sincere in your forgiveness.

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In your book, The Forgiving Life, you distinguish between forgiving a person for an offense and being a forgiving person. What’s the difference between these two?

Being a forgiving person and forgiving someone for one offense are two different ideas. To forgive someone usually means to engage in a particular process that will lead to forgiving a person for a particular injustice. To be a forgiving person means that you: a) forgive particular people with a particular process for particular injustices; b) learn to practice this process frequently, whenever there is a need to forgive; c) learn to love this process of forgiving others; d) make forgiveness a part of your very identity, so that to not forgive is to seem discordant with who you are as a person; and e) realize that one purpose of your life is to give forgiveness away to others so that they, too, can begin forgiving those who have hurt them.

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