Forgiveness in Relationships

Forgiveness in Relationships by Dr. Randy Gilchrist, LDS Psychologist (FREE LDS online dating site)

In any casual, dating, or married relationship, offenses will come. Whether intentional or unintentional, eventually our partner will hurt us and offend us. At other times, we will offend them. Some of these offenses come from gender differences, different values, principles, or priorities, selfishness, insensitivity, and so on. At other times, neither side is necessarily right or wrong, but certain situations will simply be viewed and understood differently. How you both choose to respond to these moments will largely determine if your relationship will last--or if it even should.

President Gordon B Hinckley famously stated: “Every marriage is subject to occasional stormy weather. But with patience, mutual respect, and a spirit of forbearance, we can weather these storms. Where mistakes have been made, there can be apology, repentance, and forgiveness. But there must be willingness to do so on the part of both parties." Furthermore, it states in Colossians 3:13 that we should be…"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." In short, the standard is for both sides to forgive.

When the other is offended…

If the other is a grudge holder in a dating relationship and refuses to forgive you for small to moderate offenses, you might want to rethink this choice of partner. That could be a sign of bad things to come. Within a marriage, the other may need the outside direction of your bishop and/or a licensed marriage & family therapist to help become willing and able to forgive. Sometimes an outside respected second person apart from the conflict can effectively encourage forgiveness and make the difference.

Beyond seeking outside support, you can also work from your side to acknowledge your offenses, give a genuine apology, and commit to work on and improve on whatever offensive thing you have done. In other words, you can acknowledge, apologize, and commit to working on things, which can help soften their resentment. Showing some understanding of and sensitivity to their hurt can help as well. Have some patience. And remember, if you are not good at forgiving the other yourself, this will make it more difficult for them to forgive you. So, when it comes to forgiveness, I encourage you to remember "the golden rule": "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…" (Matthew 7:12).

When you are offended…

When offenses are small to moderate, forgiveness and reconciliation is ideal. With more extreme offenses (such as abuse), forgiveness is still required, but you may need the direction of your bishop, a licensed psychotherapist, and perhaps a domestic violence support group. You ultimately have to decide whether you will stay in such a relationship. Abusive situations are beyond the scope of this article. With such situations, get the outside support and direction to empower you to decide what to do.

For other light to moderate offenses, forgiveness is a benefit and blessing to both you and the person receiving the forgiveness. You get to enjoy peace and relief, and perhaps the relationship can survive, grow, and thrive from there. Before I give you a formula to forgive, remember that the emotional feeling of forgiveness is not instantaneous. In fact, President James E Faust related the following important traits of forgiveness that can offer some clarity:

• Forgiveness is not always instantaneous.
• Most of us need time to work through pain and loss.
• Forgiveness comes more readily when … we have faith in God and trust in His word.
• If we will get on our knees and ask Heavenly Father for a feeling of forgiveness, He will help us.

(Source: James E. Faust, “The Healing Power of Forgiveness,” Ensign, May 2007, 67–69).

A formula to forgive…

To forgive, I recommend using the following outside privately, and as appropriate, to the other person.

1) I forgive you for __________ (the offense).
2) Because __________ (the positive outcomes you are hoping to achieve through forgiveness, such as wanting to have peace or relief).
3) I understand (the circumstances or conditions under which the other did what they did, such as the other being tired, sick or misunderstood).
4) So therefore, I forgive you.
5) And I commit from now on to __________ (do what in a good way from here, such as to not being up the offense again)

Remember, forgiveness starts as an action and a commitment, and then the feelings of forgiveness follow from there. You can forgive, and your relationships will benefit and be blessed accordingly. Because "…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11).

Dr. G
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2017-02-20 Randy Gilchrist Healthy relationships, Communication, Conflict resolution

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About the author

Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (, practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at; email me questions to