“’Til Lack of Forgiveness Doth Us Part”: Forgiveness and Marriage

Authored by: Frank D. Fincham , Julie H. Hall , Steven R. H. Beach

Handbook of Forgiveness

Print publication date:  June  2005
Online publication date:  December  2007

Print ISBN: 9780415949491
eBook ISBN: 9780203955673
Adobe ISBN: 9781135410889


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Because those we love are paradoxically the ones we are most likely to hurt, it is critical to understand forgiveness in close relationships. Indeed, spouses report that the capacity to seek and grant forgiveness is one of the most important factors contributing to marital longevity and marital satisfaction (Fenell, 1993), and marital therapists note that forgiveness is a challenging but necessary part of the healing process for major relationship transgressions such as infidelity (Gordon & Baucom, 1999). Likewise, forgiveness of everyday hurts may contribute to relationship strength in numerous ways (Fincham, Beach, & Davila, 2004). This chapter explores forgiveness as it operates within the context of marriage, considering the existing research that has been done in this area as well as identifying promising directions for future research. We also address how forgiveness can be applied in interventions with individual couples and groups of couples within the community. Finally, we discuss our theoretical perspectives on the forgiveness field as a whole. Before embarking on this exploration, we first make explicit our theoretical assumptions about the construct of forgiveness.

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