Q&A: Getting my wife to forgive over past hurts

Q: How can I get my wife to forgive me for the ways I’ve hurt her over the past couple of years? She’s withdrawn from me emotionally, and I’m not sure how to convince her I’ve changed.

A: Pride can often be the biggest hurdle in these situations – so humbling yourself and acknowledging your failure is a huge step in the right direction. If you’ve confessed your faults to your wife and she is still having a hard time forgiving you, here are some things to bear in mind.

First, recognise that forgiveness is a process that is an emotion as well as a choice. It’s possible your wife has made a rational decision to forgive you, but it may take some time for her heart to catch up with her head. This is especially true in cases of deep and serious hurt. You can’t force this to happen, and if you’re impatient it will only cause more pain.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t take some proactive measures to help things along. Begin by demonstrating your trustworthiness, an understanding of how your actions have hurt her, and a willingness to accept the consequences. Show how you’re taking steps to prevent the mistake from occurring again.

Throughout this process, make a special effort to be honest with yourself. It’s easy to blame your spouse for failing to forgive when you’re confident that your heart is genuinely remorseful. But there’s a need for constant self-examination and correction.

If necessary, ask a marital counsellor to help you and your wife through the process. Please don’t hesitate to call our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to support@family.org.my.

This article was written by Focus on the Family Malaysia and the Questions and Answers are extracted from “Complete Family and Marriage Home Reference Guide” by Dr. James Dobson with permission.


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