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Marriage/forgive & forget


QUESTION: Hi Dr. John,

I wanted to know what exactly forgive and forget means. I won't go into detail, but my partner did something over a year ago that really hurt me. We talked about it several times, and I truly believe he is truly sorry and will never do it again. So I felt like I forgave him. But sometimes I'm reminded of what he did and I still feel hurt. When that happens, I push it away and don't dwell on it. I never throw what he did in his face and I don't feel like he should still be punished for it. Is it possible to forgive, but still feel hurt? And that leads me to ask what does it mean to then forget?

Thank you for your time.


It's hard to forgive and harder, if not impossible depending upon the hurt, to forget.  You are not supposed to forget.

Our brain is programmed to remember hurt so that we do not (or should not) repeat the same behavior or allow others to do it to us.  If you put your hand in a fire, it is supposed to hurt and might even leave a scar to remind you of the pain so that you run from fire in the future and from people who want to burn you.

You are doing the right things in dealing with the hurt (talking about it if need be and forgiving the person) and it should hurt less and less as time goes by.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your quick response. But to clarify, in your professional opinion, would you say it sounds as though I have forgiven my partner?

Also, and maybe I'm overthinking this, but when you say we are not supposed to forget, and then "it should hurt less and less as time goes by", do you mean that at some point it won't hurt at all? In other words, a time may come when what he did no longer hurts, but I still remember it?


I just ate dinner.  Can you tell me when I'll be hungry again?  Of course not.

Forgiveness and pain are both subjective feelings.  No one can tell how you'll feel in the future.  How do I know if you'll have similar pain in the future?  How do I know how much pain you've felt in the past?

Anyone who proclaims that they can tell you how you feel today, much less in the future is trying to sell you snake oil.

Even the statement that 'time heals all wounds' is not correct for every one.

Life is full of mysteries.  This is one of them.

The best of everything in your life,

John Silver


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Dr. John Silver


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