A friend’s betrayal, a parent’s abandonment, a lover’s deceit—these injustices are hard to forgive, especially if you believe forgiving means condoning bad behavior and giving up the right to seek redress.
And yet forgiveness has many benefits for our health and well-being. In this persuasive book, forgiveness researcher Fred Luskin lays out a seven-step program designed to help long-term partners learn to forgive each other for simply being human.
Luskin’s forgiveness regimen, which includes guided meditations and instructions for creating statements of positive intention, draws on the research and trainings he led as the director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project in Palo Alto. He emphasizes that forgiving your partner doesn’t deny your right to feel hurt, but it does require you to acknowledge that the slights you’ve suffered are inevitable in our world.
Luskin asks his readers to begin by trying to forgive small everyday offenses, such as when your partner ignores the dirty dishes. Just as athletes gain strength and prepare for competitions by running regularly, Luskin argues that “forgiveness training” with life’s minor miseries can help you calm down and be more forgiving. It can also prepare you for bigger traumas.
Although Luskin does cite studies to support his case, those interested in a rigorous treatment of the science of forgiveness should look elsewhere. Forgive for Love is a practical, hands-on guide for couples wishing to infuse their relationships with more serenity and compassion.