Many relationships hit a low point, a really low point, where sincere apology and forgiveness are required if the relationship is to go on. Not just saying the words – but meaning them. This is extremely painful and difficult because I am talking about major ruptures between the couple like affairs, addictions, lies, abuse or even the less obvious but non-the-less lethal long term estrangement which has finally hit an icy rock bottom….
The process of reconciliation can take time before each person is willing to let the protective guard down. And very often professional help is needed to facilitate this painful and challenging process if the couple wishes to stay together, for the sake of the children or what they once had. With the help of Imago Therapy, successful couples are surprised to learn that they can grow through this process and fall in love again.
The hardest part is for each person to own their part in the relationship rupture. For example, the person who is using or cheating or lying is the obvious “villain”. But why are they doing this? What happened along the way to cause the spouse to turn away from, rather than toward, their partner? Usually he or she felt emotionally unsafe expressing their needs. The answers to these questions do not excuse the behavior, but they do explain it.
So apology and forgiveness don’t take place chronologically as you might expect, but back and forth as each partner feels ready. They need to “learn” each other all over again. Which childhood hurts are being triggered within the relationship? How does the unconscious acting out now resemble the acting out in childhood? In what way do we mimic the caretakers who hurt us as children and unconsciously inflict those hurts on our partners?
Once we learn to see the hurts and feel the empathy for the child within our partner, the reconciliation becomes a whole lot easier.