The Power of Forgiveness

By Greg Baer M.D.

March 14, 2011

Not long ago—on separate occasions and within a two-week period—I met two women, Lisa and Janine. Their stories were strikingly similar. Each of their husbands had cheated on them, and they were devastated at the betrayal. Both anticipated that their marriages would end, with all the resultant damage to themselves and their children. They could see no other outcome.

I taught both women the basic principles of Real Love and then said to each of them something like this: "I am making no excuse or justification for your husband's behavior. I do suggest, however, that you might benefit in a major way from trying to understand his behavior before you make a hasty decision about divorce. Your husband wasn't trying to be unfaithful to you. He was just empty and lost—as a result of a lifetime of not feeling unconditionally loved—and he tried to fill his emptiness by getting a fresh source of Imitation Love from another woman."

Janine wept as she expressed her gratitude for finally understanding all the conflict and withdrawal that had characterized her entire marriage. She realized that she wasn't responsible for all the pain in her husband's life, but she fully accepted responsibility for the part she did play in adding to his pain. She told the truth about her own mistakes to her husband and made a commitment to learn how to love him more unconditionally. The healing that took place between them was astonishing and quite touching.

Lisa responded to my counsel quite differently. Despite my explanations of how the affair had occurred, Lisa kept obsessing over the wounds she believed her husband had inflicted upon her. She demonized him to all her friends—who loved participating in the drama—and to her children and other family members.

Although her husband began participating in Real Love groups and made a genuine effort to become more loving himself, Lisa kept pounding him about his mistakes and the pain he had caused her. It became her goal in life to humble him, even to destroy him if possible. Eventually, she divorced him, accompanied by a vicious custody battle that was harmful to the children. Even though Lisa succeeded in exacting a mountain of revenge on her husband, she is still angry, vindictive, and miserable.

Anger and blaming are poisons that destroy our souls and eliminate any possibility of happiness. We must take the steps that eliminate those conditions:

  1. Seek to understand the person we are blaming.
  2. Find all the Real Love for ourselves that we can.
  3. Learn to love the person we're blaming.

If we'll repeatedly take these steps, we'll drive the poison from our hearts and will be filled with peace and happiness.

Don't know where to start?

Start here:

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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