I forgave my partner and still we have too much conflict. I now hate myself for forgiving and feel weak. What do you think?
I think you might have confused forgiving (a merciful response of being good to those who are not good to you) and reconciliation (two or more people coming together again in mutual trust). If you have no trust, you still can forgive by trying to reduce resentment against the partner and to offer goodness, even from a distance, if you have to leave the relationship. This distinction between forgiving and reconciling may help you to have mercy on yourself now. You have inherent worth no matter what your circumstances. I wish you the best in your decisions.
In your book, “Forgiveness Is a Choice,” you start with a case study of Mary Ann. Would it have been easier for her just to divorce her husband, given that he was toxic, rather than forgiving and reconciling?
Because forgiveness is a choice, we have to be careful not to judge others for their particular decision. In Mary Ann’s case, there was a genuine reconciliation. Since reconciliation involves mutual trust, we can surmise that he made important changes. Mary Ann is happy now and so her decision to forgive and reconcile was wise.
If I forgive, then this just gives the other person an opportunity to do it again. Power, not forgiveness, is my motto.
I think you are confusing forgiving and reconciling. You can forgive from the heart and then not reconcile, if the person insists on continuing to be unfair to you. How will power help you to overcome the anger within?
If I forgive and then do not want to interact any longer with the person, is this false forgiveness or what you call pseudo-forgiveness?
No, this is not necessarily false or pseudo-forgiveness. This is the case because to forgive and to reconcile are not the same. Forgiveness is a moral virtue; reconciliation is not a moral virtue, but instead is a negotiation strategy of two or more people coming together again in mutual trust. If the other’s behavior continues to be hurtful, with no change in sight, then your not wanting to reconcile seems reasonable, at least for now until the other truly changes. If, in contrast, the other is now trustworthy and you do not want to interact, perhaps you still are harboring resentment. In this case, continuing to forgive might open the door to a genuine reconciliation.
This depends on your goal. Is your goal to reconcile? If so, and if the other refuses to accept your gift out of denial of any wrongdoing, then you need to have a heart-to-heart conversation of the wrong done and the person’s denial of this. Such a conversation may lead, or at least eventually lead, to a genuine reconciliation based on mutual trust. If, on the other hand, your goal for now is to reduce the resentment inside of you, then your giving a gift that is not directly given (such as the kind word about the person to others or donating to charity in the person’s name) is sufficient for a good forgiveness response. Under this circumstance, you need not “try something other than forgiveness.”