I am feeling hopeless. I know people forgive to restore peace in a relationship, but that is not possible for me. What do you suggest?
Reasons for forgiveness go beyond only a restored relationship. You can forgive because it is good in and of itself. You can forgive to rid yourself of resentment. You can forgive to pass the insights on how to forgive to your children. Thus, even if a restored relationship is not possible, you still may forgive if you choose to do this. Our research shows that as people forgive, their sense of hope increases in a statistically-significant way. You need not remain with a sense of hopelessness.
Learn more at 8 Reasons to Forgive.
My son recently was divorced. He did the best that he could and now he is angry and refuses to forgive his ex-wife. Can I forgive her for what she did to my son? If I do this, am I being disloyal to my son, who refuses to forgive?
You are free to choose forgiveness in this case. Even though your son’s ex-spouse did not hurt you directly, she did hurt you in a secondary sense in that she hurt your loved one. Forgiving in this context is appropriate. You are not being disloyal to your son if you choose to forgive to rid yourself of resentment. You need not, then, go to your son and proclaim your forgiveness and then pressure him now to do the same. You can forgive without discussing this with your son. If and when he is ready to forgive, then you can share your insights about the forgiveness process with him.
Learn more at 8 Reasons to Forgive.
I have been divorced for 10 years. I can honestly say that I no longer have what you call “toxic anger” toward my ex-spouse. I never actually engaged in the forgiveness process. I kind of just let it go and the anger went away, too. Do you think I still need to consider forgiveness?
A researcher, Judith Wallerstein, did a longitudinal study of divorced people and she found that, even 10 years after divorce, many people still were fuming with anger. This does not seem to be the case for you. If you carefully examine your level of anger, including the possibility that you are not denying the depth of your anger, then it is possible that you have, as you say, moved on without excessive anger. If, on the other hand, the anger should again surface for you, then you do have the possibility of beginning the forgiveness process. It never is too late to forgive if you think you need to do this.
When we forgive, we do not forget. We tend to remember in new ways. If you decide to forgive, and when you look back, the memories may not be good in that you see goodness from all involved. You likely still will see unfairness and call it that. The big difference after you forgive is this: When you remember, you will do so with less pain and with more understanding. You still may experience some sadness because of what might have been, but the deep pain of resentment should diminish.
Learn more at Learning to Forgive Others.
I have reconciled with my partner and I think I have forgiven him. Yet, at times, I think about his original unfaithfulness and it makes me angry all over again. Am I only fooling myself in thinking that I truly have forgiven?
The late Lewis Smedes wrote that forgiveness is an imperfect process for imperfect people. Feeling anger again does not necessarily mean that you have not forgiven. People can forgive and still have anger that rises and falls depending on the situation. If you are in control of the anger and are willing to forgive now on a deeper level, then you have forgiven.
Learn more at Forgiveness for Couples.