All Things In-Law...

Dr. Deanna Brann's Blog

Sorry & ForgivingLast blog post I talked about “three little words” that can make a huge difference in your MIL/DIL relationship. Those three words – I am sorry. As I said in the post, these words take a lot of courage to say. You are vulnerable and it is scary to say them. If you are on the receiving end of those words, you are in an interesting position.

What do you do when you hear those words? Some of you melt and easily say, “I forgive you,” even though your pain is still there. You easily forgive because hearing those words rarely happens and you want the stress and tension between you to go away. Are you really forgiving them for the hurt and pain they have caused you, or like some people who say, “I’m sorry” are you, trying to move quickly to “the other side” with them; to get back to the status quo?

Others of you may stand your ground and hold on to your hurt as though it is a badge of honor when someone apologizes to you. You may refuse to accept their apology – no matter what! Yes, you are hurt. Yes, she may have said or done something that cut you deep, deeper than you’ve ever been cut before. What will it take for you to let go? If she really heard you when you expressed your pain, if she really owned her mistake, and if she really wanted to find some way to make you feel better, what more could she have done?

Often times when you don’t want to let go of the hurt and pain it is because you feel the other person hasn’t suffered enough. You don’t believe (or want to believe) she knows how much she has hurt you. But what if she does? What would it take for you to forgive?

Forgiving isn’t easy. As with saying “I’m sorry,” forgiving takes courage. Forgiving requires the ability to balance that the other person genuinely means they are sorry and trusting that they will make a true effort to not hurt you in this way again.

Here are some things that may help:

  • Listen – Listen to her tone of voice, and watch her body language as she is apologizes to you. This will help you know if she is genuine.
  • Share – Be willing to really share with her how you feel and why. What is her reaction to you while you are doing this? Again, this will help you know if you can trust her.
  • Respond thoughtfully – When she asks you how she can make it better for you, think about this before you respond. This is a huge opening to positively shift and change this relationship forever.

As difficult as it is to forgive someone, this is your opportunity take your relationship to a place it probably has never been before. You have a chance to elevate it in a way that will deepen and strengthen not only this relationship, but will profoundly change both of you.

What do you have to lose?

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