Forgiveness as a secret ingredient to lasting relationships

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IT is no secret that every relationship has some disagreements here and there or even a little conflict and this is brought on by the differences in personalities and characters of individuals. Sometimes disagreements and conflict contribute to strengthened bonds in relationships if they are handled appropriately, yet at times disagreements and conflict break relationships.

Failure to forgive is usually the number one culprit that contributes to the breakdown of relationships as a result of unresolved disagreements and conflict. Unforgiveness is what we can call a relationship killer, it is a thief that steals the joy in relationships, and it slowly takes the life out of relationships and eventually destroys them.

Forgiveness on the other hand is a secret ingredient to lasting relationships, it is a powerful tool that helps keep relationships together; it helps keep couples, families and relations together.

There are instances where you hear that siblings haven’t spoken to each other for years due to a disagreement they had. Sometimes the disagreements are over small things such as “who said what” and at times the disagreements are over inheritance and property issues.

The question here is, “is there such a thing that is too big for siblings to work out? Isn’t there a way the siblings can work around their issues and re-connect?” Well, the answers to these questions are simple, there is nothing too big for siblings to work out and secondly, there is always a solution to every problem.

I mean even the old adage saying says, “where there is a will, there is a way”. So yes, siblings can resolve their conflicts, it just requires them to talk it out and forgive each other. Forgiveness in some instances is not an easy thing but if effort is put into it, it is something that can be achieved.

Forgiveness is always accompanied by humility and selflessness, so you find that in order to forgive someone, you have to put aside pride and selfishness. Sometimes you hear someone say, “ngeke ngamxolela kunguye owangisukelayo”, loosely translated as “I won’t forgive him or her because he or she is the one who started it”.

This is a manifestation of pride that is a concrete to unforgiveness. In all honesty, it doesn’t matter who started the squabble, quarrel or disagreement, what matters is that you value that person and not being able to talk or relate to them hurts you in as much as it hurts them. The ideal thing is to forgive them.

Yes, what they said or did hurt you, but are you going to hold on to that forever, are you going to risk losing a relationship that is important to you because you are not willing to forgive? Even if they started it, if you value the relationship, approach them to talk it out and resolve things.

There are people who will with their mouths claim to have forgiven someone yet in their hearts, they are still angry and carry a lot of resentment towards that person. What these people do not realise is that the unforgiveness they carry is only eating away from them and not the other person who has been told she or he has been forgiven.

The other person will continue with life with a clear conscience because according to them, they have been forgiven. In the Ndebele language it is said, “Inhliziyo yakhe iyabe ikhululekile”, loosely translated “his or her heart will be free”. The only person in this instance who will be facing the consequences of unforgiveness is the one holding on to the anger, resentment and bitterness.

In short, the person who will be in anguish is the unforgiving one. It is therefore advisable to forgive not just with the mouth but to forgive from the heart.

There is the element of forgiveness in romantic relationships. At times you hear questions like, “how many times am I expected to forgive someone?” Well, the response to this question is over and over again.

Get this right, being a forgiving person does not mean that you have to allow people to walk over you, no. You have the obligation to express yourself where you have been unfairly treated or where you have been wronged, expressing yourself in a productive manner aimed at helping the next person understand how they wronged you and why they should not do the same thing to you again as it hurts you.

Expressing yourself in a productive, conflict-resolving manner as opposed to just shouting out helps avoid the re-occurrence of the same problem.

For married couples, forgiveness is a critical element to the relationship. If you do not forgive each other, that anger builds up over time and leads to resentment. It is at this stage where you hear married couples say statements like, “sesihlalele abantwana”, “takagarira vana”, loosely translated, “we are now just in this marriage for the kids”.

At this point all love would have been lost, that unforgiveness turned into anger, resentment and could even have turned to hatred. You see, there are levels to unforgiveness just as there are levels to education. The elementary stage is unforgiveness and it graduates to bitterness, then to resentment and ultimately to hatred.

However; if you nip unforgiveness in the bud and become a forgiving person, you will save yourself a lot of trouble and heartache and you will also have lasting relationships.

What then is forgiveness? Forgiveness is an intentional decision to let go of hurt, paint, anger and resentment. Forgiveness is an intentional act, it is not subconscious, it is something that you decide on doing and actually do. The act that offended you or hurt you would have happened, it will still be there, that will not change but for the sake of your peace of mind and mental health, forgiveness is critical.

It takes strength and willpower to forgive and you are more than able to.

Source – The Chronicle

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