Ask a Franciscan

Should I Forget My Husband’s Abuse?

Q: I have a bully for a husband. He is always putting me down and yelling. You have to forgive others—I do forgive him over and over. We’ve already celebrated 50 years of marriage. What I really can’t get past is the flashbacks I have of what he did to me years back. How do you forget the past? How do you forget when it keeps coming to your mind? If he found out I wrote this, I would have hell to pay!

A: It would probably be idealistic to suggest marital counseling or therapy after so many years of the status quo. But perhaps talking to a professional counselor could help you deal with your own feelings of anger and resentment. And if you are in a truly abusive situation, perhaps you can find help through an organization like Women Helping Women.

With that said, it seems to me you have forgiven and continue to forgive the wrong your husband has done you. You don’t have to feel good about what he has done to you! And if you’ve stayed with your husband more than 50 years, I presume there is some kind of love for him and that you see some good in him.

To forgive does not mean you have to forget. Sometimes our hurt and pain have been so great we can’t just erase the memories of them. And we will very likely remember how we have been wronged and try to avoid a repetition of it if we can.

Forgiveness means we rise above the hurt we feel and wish the wrongdoer well in the Lord. We renounce hate and the desire for revenge. We love the one who has hurt us. That doesn’t mean we have to get all warm and emotional. It means we wish the other person well despite the injuries and offensive conduct. It means we try to be decent and civil despite the provocations.

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