If I had to think of a situation that was less conducive to forgiving another’s behavior, it would have to be when a marriage is falling apart. How can you possibly be expected to forgive your spouse for cheating, or lying, or being an abuser? It’s too much to ask! Or is it?

Forgiving is an essential element of successful relationships whether it is forgiving your date for being late, forgiving your spouse for not remembering your birthday, forgiving your boss for not giving you the raise you deserve, or forgiving a parent for the name chosen for you at birth.

It’s not always easy to forgive. But without forgiving, you will not be able to move past the anger the other person’s ‘wrong’ has produced in you. Anger may put your entire relationship in jeopardy. With enough anger and rage inside yourself, you cause damage to other relationships in your life.

Can there be any doubt that unforgiveness and the resulting anger motivates someone to stalk and kill their unfaithful spouse? Can there be any doubt that unforgiveness and the resulting anger motivates a spouse to destroy an ex’s reputation with lies and innuendo?

It’s not easy to forgive the pain of betrayal, the pain of abuse, the pain of loss. Yet, without forgiving, you cannot move forward to new, fresh relationships. Without forgiving, you cannot truly mend a broken relationship.

Forgiving does not mean you will allow your spouse to continue to abuse you, or cheat on you, or make your life miserable. It means you look past the act and at the person. It means you forgive the personal weakness he or she is unwilling or unable to control.

Forgiving does not mean you will remain in a bad marriage if your spouse cannot change his or her behavior.

Forgiving does not mean you must be friends with the woman who slept with your husband or the man who slept with your wife.

Forgiving does not mean you will continue a friendship with a person who is continually mean-spirited toward you.

Forgiving does not mean you won’t seek legal recourse against a boss who is discriminatory.

Forgiving the actions of others helps to remove damaging anger and rage from within you.

How many times have you wondered if you did all you could to save your marriage? Forgive yourself for “failing” to stay in a situation without hope.

Can you forgive? Should you forgive? Have you forgiven and regretted doing so? Forgive for your future happiness not for theirs.