Forgive Your Spouse this Yom Kippur

We talk a lot about forgiveness in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, most often in relation to friends, siblings and parents. But we often forget that forgiveness can transform a relationship between husbands and wives and increase love.

When one spouse makes a mistake, the other spouse may be angry and resentful and allow these feelings to build until they erode trust and push out other positive feelings. Chana told me that she has been upset at her husband, Eli, since the summertime. She’s been carrying on as usual on the outside, but inside she is still seething about how he treated her in August. They had planned a celebration for her birthday, but he allowed work obligations to get in the way and ended up canceling the outing.

I asked Chana why she thinks this happened. She says maybe he didn’t understand how important this celebration was to her. Or that he had not yet become confident enough in his job to tell his boss that he was unavailable on a certain evening. I pointed out that, according to either of these explanations, Eli had made a mistake, but he had not slighted her on purpose. Chana thought about this for a while and eventually conceded that this was true. Reframing Eli’s actions as a mistake paved the way for Chana to forgive him, and to decide to plan a rain check celebration “after the chagim.”

Forgiveness is the only path to healing old wounds and making it possible to resume a loving relationship. Yom Kippur is the perfect time to address these hurts and let them go, so your relationship can enjoy a clean slate. Start by identifying the negative emotions which are impacting your marriage. Accept that these feelings are you holding you back and that your spouse is doing the best he can. Choose not to play the role of victim and instead accept your responsibility in these interactions. Make the decision to let go of grudges and to restart your relationship, from a loving and healthy place.

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