Deal breakers: Should you forgive your partner for doing these 5 things?

Deal breakers: Should you forgive your partner for doing these 5 things?

Author: Canadian Living


Deal breakers: Should you forgive your partner for doing these 5 things?

Turn on any daytime talk show and you'll likely find a story involving the deceit of another partner. Television embellishes for the sake of ratings, but in real life every relationship comes with its ups and downs. Finding a way to forgive is a necessary part of the healing process and it doesn't mean you have to condone or agree with the behaviour, says Toronto psychotherapist Dorothy Ratusny.

From disappointing to unspeakable, these five scenarios will help you decide how to respond to your partner's unpleasant actions.

1. He or she embarrassed you
A Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws left Tina Remillard, 35, red in the face. Before the meal everyone was asked to share something they were thankful for. When it came to Remillard's turn she got a mental block and couldn't think of anything to say. "My husband kept hounding me, 'You always have something to say. What are you thankful for? Why can't you think of anything?'" Feeling upset and embarrassed, Remillard left the table. Later she told him she didn't appreciate being forced to say something.

Communicating your feelings of hurt and discussing what behaviour you tolerate is important, explains Ratusny. Establishing rules early on helps to create boundaries and avoid misunderstandings.

Bottom line:
Forgivable. Little tiffs like this are common course to any relationship. The best thing to do is express your fe and move on.

2. He or she forgot an important date
Consider the context. "If you know it's not really who they are and they're just going through a stressful time or they've been sick, that's different," says Ratusny. Give your partner a little slack if it was a one-time slip up, especially if it's at the beginning of a relationship. It's too early to assume they don't care or aren't interested. A one-month anniversary may not have even crossed his mind or maybe he is forgetful, but you aren't aware of that personality trait because the relationship is so new.
"A deal breaker is only a deal breaker if it is symptomatic of other destructive relationship dynamics," says Dr. Bethany Marshall, author of Deal Breakers: When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away. "It is not a deal breaker when one bad thing has happened and is not related to other fundamental problems in the relationship."

In other words if it's an isolated event it's probably nothing. On the other hand if you've been left waiting in a restaurant all evening and that's only one of many let downs you've recently had, it may be time to deal with the underlying issue. 

Bottom line:
Forgivable, but examine the whole picture. Does your partner chronically forget dates or was it a one-time mistake? And if you know he or she is absentminded, don't take it personally. Do some pre-damage control. Try throwing out some helpful hints close to the date or send out a reminder email. Nobody's perfect and you'll both be grateful when the time comes. 

Page 1 of 2 -- Should you forgive your partner for lying? Find out on page 2.
3. He or she lied to you
Admit it. You’ve asked your partner something you didn't want the honest answer to – like if he thinks you've gained a few pounds (when you know you can't fit into your 'big' jeans). Clearly there is a difference between white lies told to assure you and malicious lies told to hurt you. "Telling the truth is the foundation of a good relationship, but sometimes it's necessary to hide the truth in order to save the relationship," admits relationship correspondent Curt Smith.

If you sense you're being betrayed or even catch your partner in a lie, speak up. "The more open and honest you are the easier it is on so many levels. If you've got nothing to hide there is no reason to lie," says Ratusny.

Bottom line:
It depends on how big the lie is. A little white lie is forgivable, but a big, mean lie is not and you may need to reconsider the relationship or seek therapy. 

4. Cheated on you (and/or accused you of cheating)
Infidelity is the ultimate betrayal. Emotional cheating can be just as painful as infidelity and both are symptoms of an underlying problem. If a couple is committed, moving on requires dealing with the real issue head on. "Even if the couple stays together it takes a lot of work," says Ratusny. "The problem with sex is that there is no going back. I'm not sure if couples ever fully recover from [infidelity]."

But what if you've been accused of cheating? Jennifer Andrade, 28, now happily engaged, previously had a long-term relationship with a man who made such accusations when he learnt she had been spending time with a male friend. "Being accused of cheating on him was almost as bad as if I had found out he cheated on me," admits Andrade. "I was devastated."

Bottom line: There is no cut-and-dry answer for this type of betrayal. It also depends on what type of cheating was committed - was it an emotional affair or was sex involved? Open up to someone you trust like a clergy member or a therapist who can help guide you through the difficult time. If it’s early on in the relationship it’s probably best to get out, but if you’ve been together for many years working it out may make sense. According to Ratusny, if you do decide to save the relationship, both partners need to be committed in dealing with the underlying problem. 

5. He or she doesn't get along with your family/friends
It can be initially nerve-wracking to bring home your latest beau, but it's even worse if the welcoming is less than pleasant. When parents or friends dislike your partner it's often a warning sign. They can't help but look out for your best interest. "Friends and family are more objective," says Ratusny. "The family isn't going to turn a blind eye as easily and can spot a bad behaviour the person is overlooking."

That doesn't mean you should immediately end a relationship if the people closest to you don't love him right away. There are instances when parents have difficulties accepting the person because of their own personal issues. Ratusny had a client who disliked her daughter's live-in boyfriend, but after doing work in therapy with her realized it was more about her historical view of men and her critique of a certain behaviour, when in fact her daughter was very happy.

Bottom Line: Forgivable, with a caveat. It's not always easy for a new partner to get along with your family members and friends. But, you should listen to what your friends and family have to say because usually they are bang on in their observations. Whether or not you agree with them is up to you. If you and your partner are committed to being together then do so openly. Having a secret relationship – because of religious differences for example, is too straining on both parties. In these situations Ratusny usually finds the couple break up because it's just too hard to act underground. Be honest with yourself and receptive to your family and friends initial opinions, but follow your instincts. It’s your relationship, not theirs.

Read more:
Quiz: Are you a good partner?
10 secrets of a good marriage
How to get good marriage counseling

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Deal breakers: Should you forgive your partner for doing these 5 things?