Building the next generation of leaders for marriage, family, and sexual integrity

Is the Path to a Healthy Relationship Common Sense or Counterintuitive?: Lessons Learned from Research on Forgiveness

Frank Fincham, Ph.D., Florida State University

In close relationships we voluntarily make ourselves vulnerable to another human being by linking the realization of our needs, aspirations, and hopes to the goodwill of a relationship partner. Doing so makes possible the profound sense of well-being that can be experienced in close relationships. At the same time, the imperfection of any partner means that hurt or injury is inevitable, and when it occurs, the hurt is particularly poignant precisely because we have made ourselves vulnerable. How we respond to such hurt can determine the future health of the relationship.

This session analyzes the role of one’s response to such hurt, forgiveness. Dr. Fincham discusses what forgiveness is and is not, conveying what is known about it from research, and outlining practical steps that can be implemented in forgiving a relationship partner. The boundary conditions under which forgiveness is appropriate are also outlined. This leads naturally into research on the impact of spiritual behavior, prayer, on relationship functioning. The presentation concludes by answering the question posed in the title.

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