As the old song says: “We always hurt, the ones we love.” What’s more, experiences in the past become hurt in the present when we deal with people or situations that cause us to recall the hurt. When the person who hurt you is a partner, the pain can become a constant reminder of past wrongs. Getting past the pain caused by those we love most is an important part of healing. More than that, letting go of the pain means offering true forgiveness and allows you to have truly intimate relationships.
Decide what actions you can and cannot have a relationship around. The reality is there are some things that a partner may do that are completely incompatible with a continued relationship. For example, a wife might be able to get past a drunken weekend’s infidelity but may not be able to remain married to someone who took a mistress.
Letting go of pain doesn’t mean ignoring it. Instead, focus on understanding the pain, letting go and moving on. There is a very basic word for this process. It is called “forgiveness.” Dr. Fred Luskin, Director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project tells people who have been hurt that the goal of forgiveness it to widen your heart and accept both the good and bad parts of your partner. This is the heart of intimacy.
Choose to forgive your partner. This is key whether you are staying in the relationship or not. If you choose to stay, forgiveness allows you to put the pain of the issue in the past and move forward together. If you choose to leave the relationship, forgiveness allows you to look for a new partner without the crippling pain of your broken relationship.
Realize that forgiveness is about you, not the person that hurt you. At its heart, forgiveness is choosing not to carry the pain and anger of a past hurt. This means that you can choose to forgive someone who has never asked for pardon.
Remember that forgiveness is a process not a moment. Like anything else anger, resentment and pain can become a habit. In addition, there are some situations that spawn long-lasting pain. For example, you may deal with the immediate pain of a divorce. However, years later, you may be hit with new pain seeing your ex with a new spouse. Deal with each new experience as it comes. Remind yourself that you have chosen to forgive the person and let go of the pain he caused.