Today we are going to talk about pain and forgiveness.
Not for me. Well maybe? We will see. For now, I mean ‘in general’ in both romantic and platonic relationships.
Infidelity. Physical abuse. Sexual abuse. Financial abuse…Those are some of the reasons that relationships are irrevocably damaged. There are many other ‘irreconcilable differences’. However, these are just some we generally agree do not require much debate. Typically, when they occur once or twice, maybe the relationship can still be salvaged. Generally we have decided that once it becomes a pattern of behavior the offended party can opt out.
It is hard to imagine. Yet it happens around you all the time. The (hopefully) former cheater. The (hopefully) former violent man, or woman – we are not excused. They are our mothers, uncles, coworkers and shopkeepers, and part of us wants to believe we are mistaken about their actions. However, these offending parties are sometimes brazenly and persistently offending, or full of denial, while some are truly remorseful.
So reconciliation…what if you do not want to opt out? How do you fix it? Should you fix it? Where do you even begin? Philosophically I cannot really answer if this is how society should be, I am just here to offer my layman’s (why are these words so gendered) advice.
For the offended party:
My piece/peace of advice is that once you (as the offended party) decides you are going to “Try Again”, you have to let the offense go. Completely and totally. You have to behave as though it never happened. If that seems impossible for you to do, then your relationship is over and any attempt at reconciliation is just going to poison your heart, and punish your partner (whether or not they deserve it is not up to me), any children and the rest of your family.
I am not suggesting you forget. That would be folly. If they stole your emergency fund and the first sign was that they bought a Rolex, it would behoove you to be wary if they begin wearing a Patek Phillipe on their other wrist.
If any of the above is not an option for you. Then neither is the marriage/relationship between the two of you.
For the offending party:
If you thought the above was difficult. I have bad news for you; you are NOT allowed to let it go. IF you want the relationship to work, that is your penance. Not only that, your partner cannot know you are still carrying that load on your head. When they lash out for what seems to be an insignificant thing, they are lashing out because seven years ago they saw a picture of you holding your coworkers thigh at that restaurant, you know the one. They remembered and were upset because they saw your temporary paramore on instagram that morning. That is your burden. If you cannot deal with it. Let her go.
You are going to spend however long it takes to win their good graces back. It might take weeks (it will not). It might take months, if you are lucky. It might take years. Wear your hairshirt and do not complain. Buy her gifts. Rub her feet when she is pregnant. Buy her a new car if you can afford it. If you cannot afford it, get a better job. You want her back after throwing out her prized book collection. You do what it takes to get it back and more, or leave her alone.
If either party does not consider these points fair then you do not have to…reconcile.
For domestic violence though…once is more than enough. If he didn’t kill you the first time, leave and don’t look back.