The Difference Between Forgiveness and Reconciliation

By John Teng

By the time you’ve reached midlife you’ve probably undergone several different types of conflict. This is why seniors are considered wise, as they have experienced nearly everything that life has to offer. But for the middle aged person, they may still be trying to figure things out. It’s what can keep people young—understanding that they don’t know everything—yet. Learning the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation can mean learning whether you’re going to be happy throughout life, or harbor hate and grudges.

Forgiveness and reconciliation may not necessarily go hand in hand. In fact, you can have one without the other. If you’re lucky, and you’re the victim of conflict, it may be possible to eventually have both together.

Conflict between spouses can extremely stressful, particularly if you’ve both reached midlife. It can be for a variety of reasons. There may have been a flirtation with someone who is not their spouse. Perhaps one person has decided they want another child, or even their first one in their 40s. Perhaps one person wants to buy a sports car but there isn’t enough cash in the budget. While these are touchy topics, trust can be broken when one spouse goes ahead and does something, without the permission of the other.

Extramarital sex can be cause for conflict, as well as one spouse splurging on a possession when the budget can’t afford it. A woman getting pregnant may also cause conflict when her partner didn’t want a child.

Forgiveness comes into play when one person can forgive another for their lapse in judgement. Forgiveness is a big part of being human. It may not necessarily imply 100% understanding of the hurtful actions of another, but it’s allowing one’s mind to be free of the conflict.

However, forgiveness may not always involve reconciliation. Reconciliation is when both parties are able to get back together again, after a separation. The separation may be purely within the mind, and not necessarily a legal separation such as a couple may need to do legally.

One spouse may forgive another for an affair, but the two may still go on their separate ways. Reconciliation can bring the couple back together again.

Yet, you can have reconciliation but not forgiveness. A man may return to his wife after she had a fling with a young man, but he may never forgive her for doing so.

You can see that for 100% happiness, that forgiveness and reconciliation need to go hand in hand. Yet for many people, the best they can ever hope to achieve is one, and not the other.

For people who wish to achieve both, they may wish to seek a qualified therapist to work their way through problems. Maintaining a happy and healthy relationship is difficult at the best of times, and when conflict is brought into play, it can be extremely difficult for middle aged people to try and hold their relationship together.

There may come a point when you and your spouse need to apply forgiveness and reconciliation. How you handle it is up to you.

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