Lies, lack of support, infidelity… Forgive yourself within the couple

To forgive or not to her husband? carolina has been in question for a few weeks. “I don’t know if forgiveness is really 100% possible when the spouse’s attitude affects your integrity or the values ​​of the couple, recognizes this 47-year-old Parisian.It’s a bit like when

a sheet of paper is crumpled up. No matter how much we iron it, it will never be the same again. » Caroline feels betrayed, and the wound is still raw. “I confided family secrets to my husband when my mother died and he judged me, she says.Today, I no longer feel confident talking to him about certain things. He shattered that space of emotional and intellectual safety between us that was essential to me. .

I don’t know if I will be able to forgive him. » The notion of forgiveness between spouses also questions Philippe Brenot, psychiatrist, couple therapist and author of Why is love so complicated?(Ed. Pocket, 2020) . “Forgiveness implies the idea of ​​a fault, according to religion, but for non-believers, the question does not necessarily arise in these terms even if there is a wound”, he raises. Talking about forgiveness also supposes a hierarchy between the spouses, according to the specialist, also a sexologist.

“It’s a bit as if one placed himself in a position of superiority to grant his forgiveness, which does not correspond to the image of the modern couple, where each feels the equal of the other. »

A shared responsibility Equality does not mean, however, symmetry of behavior, analyzes the philosopher Jacques Ricot, author of Can we forgive everything? (Éd. Pleins Feux, 1999.).“Infidelity can be provoked by the attitude of the spouse who does everything, even unconsciously, for the other to move away, but I believe that the part of guilt of the one who cheats is not absent”,

he observes.

→ CHRONICLE. Having a life of your own within the couple or how to preserve the part of the angels Even if the notion of fault does not exist from a philosophical point of view, it is very real in the eyes of the injured spouse. Elizabeth Gailly, marriage counselor at Cler Amour et Famille, sees this at each “Love better” session, organized for couples in difficulty. “The question of forgiveness is central to it, she confirms. But before being able to forgive the other, the spouses must succeed in forgiving themselves because they both have a share of the responsibility in the crisis that the couple is going through. These sessions allow them to make a kind of inventory of the relationship to understand what caused the crisis, she continues.

It is often adultery, betrayal, lying, lack of communication or support, or addiction. »

Forgiving is not forgetting This path traveled together should allow each to understand what the other needs to repair the relationship. The process of forgiveness involves the person who has hurt acknowledging their mistakes and regretting them.“It is not necessarily about repentance, the word would be too strongsays Elizabeth Gailly.

But there must be an awareness of the words or actions that have offended. » Those who forgive must also dare to reproach and express their suffering without erasing what has hurt them, because “forgiveness is not forgetting”, recalls Jacques Ricot.

“The past remains the past but we can change the relationship we have with this past by working on memory. Forgiveness is what unties the present from the past and opens up the future. » It is a gift and, even, “from a gracious remission of a ‘debt’, according to the Gospels,again emphasizes the philosopher

. If the notion of forgiveness has seeds in philosophical Antiquity, it is above all an invention of Judaism and its monotheistic relays, in particular Christianity. »

Religious practice would help couples to forgive Therefore, would being a believer predispose to forgiveness? Yes, according to a study by the Institute of Psychology at the University of Brunswick and the Catholic University of Mainz, published in 2014. “Couples who live out their Christian faith in everyday life report mental well-being and strong caring for their partner,”find the researchers . “The results suggest” that they agree ” easier ” forgiveness because it happens

“at the center of their marital lifestyle and their faith”. For Father Jean Courtès, who also hosted the “Love Better” sessions, “all spouses are led to experience forgiveness, whether they are Christians or not, because it is at the heart of any couple that wants to last, but it is true that Christians can find resources in the Gospels, especially in the “ Adulteress” or “The Father and his two sons””,

he details.

→ REPORT. Forgiveness, a remedy for the wounds of the couple Believer or not, forgiveness can nevertheless prove difficult in certain situations such as adultery. Contrary to what La Rochefoucauld said – ” We forgive as long as we love ” –, love is not always enough. “Sometimes forgiveness is totally impossible, even when couples want it, notes Philippe Brenot.

There are symbols that cannot be repaired, insurmountable wounds because they affect the ideal of self, of the couple and of love. »

The importance of the intermediary person Whatever the situation, mediation is often essential, reminds the psychiatrist and anthropologist. “Spouses must realize that there is a time for immediate emotion and a time for reflection and speaking. It is important that they get help from a third person, not necessarily someone from the family, but a friend, a religious representative or even a marriage counsellor, he recommends.

It is the first time since the beginning of humanity that the couple finds themselves alone in the face of their problems without the help of those around them. »

For the therapist, it is not a question of considering forgiveness through the prism of the fault, but as a stage of reconciliation where the spouses are ready to accept the thought and the truth of the other.


To readThe Paradoxes of Forgiveness

, by Nicole Fabre, Ed. Albin Michel, 2007.

In this reference work, the philosopher and psychoanalyst wonders about the meaning of forgiveness, often linked to the idea of ​​sin, and allows us to understand how it retains its relevance today. Can we forgive everything ?

by Jacques Ricot, Ed. Spotlight, 1999.

For the philosopher, the human being cannot forgive everything, but we cannot decree that there is an absolute unforgivable.A thousand pardons

, by Guillemette de Sairigné, Ed. Robert Laffont, 2006.

The author, writer and journalist gave voice to those who had to grant or receive a pardon.

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