How do you forgive your partner?
We’ve all made relationship mistakes, but not all of us have navigated the aftermath well. Forgiving and moving forward are some of the hardest things to do, especially when walking away is justified. But whether your relationship is on the rocks or things are great right now, knowing how to deal with mistakes and embrace forgiveness will help you stay in it for the long-haul.
When it comes to sticking it out, we learned some valuable lessons from One Tree Hill star, Jana Kramer, and her former-NFL player hubby Mike Caussin, who made headlines in the fall of 2016 when Caussin's cheating scandal went public.
Despite the press, pain, and negative attention, the two stayed together, working through their problems and rebuilding trust. In 2017, they renewed their vows, and in 2018, they welcomed their second child.
So how did they overcome a potentially deal-breaking situation? In an interview with US Weekly, the couple shared how to forgive, and the takeaways apply to all of us.
1. Take ownership of the problem.
If you’ve messed up, admitting wrongdoing and acknowledging that you have hurt the other partner is the first step to reconciliation. Lasting found that only 27.8% of couples with kids feel that they both take responsibility for their part of the conflict. Crazy, right? If it was easy, everyone would do it. But to rebuild trust, it’s absolutely necessary.
Kramer and Caussin, who are now happier than ever, learned this the hard way. “It was so painful to think about and to live with,” Caussin said, “I never thought I would have the strength and the courage to own it as much as I have.” In praise of her husband’s willingness to take the hits, Kramer added, “It takes a strong person to sit there and take shots fired at you. He’s a strong person that believes in himself enough to show change and growth.”
2. In order to start down the road of forgiveness, communication is paramount.
Only 39.6% of couples with kids feel that they can talk comfortably about any issue together, according to Lasting. This means the majority of us are leaving things unsaid. Even Caussin says that his tendency is to “sweep it under the rug and not talk about it,” but that when he and Kramer began to talk through their issues, both with therapists and on their iHeart radio podcast, “Whine Down,” they began to see real change.
When the going gets rough, set aside intentional time to talk with your partner about the issue or conflict. The more you practice, the more healthy communication will become your norm.
3. Vulnerability wins.
Making space for those conversations with each other or a therapist is important, but the hard work of vulnerability is what really pays off. Whether you’re the one who needs to apologize or the one who’s been wronged, being honest about your pain will start the road to repair. “Being the perpetrator,” Caussin said in the interview, “There’s a lot of shame behind the things I’ve done and the topics we talk about.”
Shame can stop us from opening up and can ultimately hinder any chance at healing, but Caussin continues that being vulnerable and talking about their problems head-on has strengthened their bond. “There’s not many elephants in the room for us anymore, because we address them.” Addressing your problems with vulnerability works to prevent the fight from reoccurring—it helps to move on.
To hear more about Kramer and Caussin’s inspiring story and to hear them interview Lasting’s founder Steven Dziedzic about the “gym membership for your marriage” app, check out this episode of their podcast, “Whine Down.”