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Begging for Mercy

Begging for Mercy

When you’re the one who needs to be forgiven…


Whether you lied, made a false accusation, snooped in your partner’s email account, or cheated on the one you love, you may feel insurmountable remorse, guilt, and shame because of your actions. Perhaps you’ve confessed your deeds to your partner but they have yet to forgive you. So now you’re left wondering if there’s any chance for you to redeem yourself. You may be feeling conflicted about how best to behave while you’re waiting and hoping to be forgiven.

Finding a Balance

When you’ve made an error – of either small or large magnitude – that affects your relationship, there can sometimes be a tendency to overcompensate to try to get back in your loved one’s good graces. Whether this means you’re apologizing at every turn, bringing up the subject as often as possible in order to work through it and move on, or doing more than you’ve ever done in your partnership to prove your love, none of these methods is the fastest way to forgiveness.

Your efforts may be genuine, but you’ll never be able to keep it up. That’s not to say you aren’t truly remorseful and willing to go to great lengths to prove your love. But you are who you are. Attempting to change your personality and natural inclinations just to prove your deep desire for mercy is setting the bar entirely too high for yourself. Your altered behavior will stand out to your partner as well – and not necessarily in a good way.

As we discuss in The Path to Forgiveness, the act of forgiveness is an individual process that can take time. The betrayed party has to work through their willingness and ability to forgive in order to find themselves capable of moving on and starting over with you. The waiting can be torture, indeed, but none of your actions can truly expedite their healing process. They have to find the forgiveness inside themselves, without putting any expectations on you to apologize or change your behavior.

Understanding Their Pain

Whenever a person feels betrayed or angered, they sometimes have a tendency to project blame onto themselves, to take full responsibility for why they’re feeling pain. This self-pity and hopelessness gets them bogged down in emotions instead of logic and can prevent them from determining whether they are capable or incapable of offering forgiveness. Even if they’re not blaming themselves, they could be holding on to blame and directing it toward you – without letting go of that blame, they cannot offer the forgiveness you so desperately want.

The person who has been betrayed may fear that, if they forgive your indiscretion, they could fall victim to it again in the future. They are wrestling with their love for you, while at the same time feeling stunned that you could betray them. It’s not an easy position to be in, though neither is being in the position of having hurt the person you love most and now having to live with the results.

The difficulty for you at this point will be in trying to understand their pain and dealing with your own shameful feelings. When someone is hurt, it’s a natural instinct to withdraw or even to try to retaliate by inflicting his or her own kind of pain. Passive aggressive behavior (aka giving someone a taste of his or her own medicine) offers no solution except perhaps a temporary reprieve for the person who has been betrayed.

Own Up to It

It’s human to make mistakes – that’s something we all need to remember. Even though your partner has likely needed to be forgiven in their own past for one reason or another – and ideally, they will recall their own occasional need for mercy – it can be hard for them to see past the present indiscretions that you’ve forced them to try and forgive.

So what can you do? What are your best choices? Be sincere in your apology. Don’t apologize just because you got caught and you think it will make things all better. Don’t just say what you think your partner wants to hear. There are no magic words that will make the one you love come to terms with whatever you may need forgiveness from, but you can let them know that you are truly sorry.

Take responsibility for your actions. Try to understand, as much as you possibly can, how your actions have affected or hurt the one you love. Your partner may want to just forget the situation and move on, but forgiveness is essential for moving on in a healthy way, together. Discuss ways that you can help your partner feel better about the situation – ways that you can earn their trust back. If you can offer truthful reassurance that the same betrayal will not reoccur, do so.

But as cautioned above, don’t go overboard trying to ingratiate yourself to the wronged party. You don’t want your partner to be the “elephant” in the relationship who never forgets what you did. But don’t be an elephant yourself and continually remind your partner why you need to be forgiven. You have no control over your partner’s actions or thoughts. You can’t make them forgive you faster, or forgive you at all. But you can let your feelings be known and express your regret. Ideally, your partner will really listen to you and hear your remorse.

Reaching Out

If you find that you just can’t stay silent about the subject and that you don’t have the patience to wait for your loved one to work through their emotions, turn instead to an Ask Mars Venus coach. Our top coaches will give you the guidance you need in learning how to make amends for your mistakes, how to avoid the same problem in the future, and how to communicate with your significant other during their healing process. If you feel you’ve become a victim of a partner who is retaliating with his or her own form of betrayal, a coach will be your supporter as well. There is no judgment when it comes to coaching – tell a coach what’s happened and they’ll help you determine how to move forward.

Do you have questions about this article? Do you need help understanding how this information can change your life? Talk to one of our expertly trained telephone coaches today and get the answers you are looking for. You can call from the privacy of any phone, and our operators are available to assist you with processing your call.

Call 1-888-627-7836 for details and a personal message from Dr. John Gray.


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