Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | RELATIONSH­IPS - WORDS: JOANNE WIL­SON Joanne is a neu­ropsy­chother­a­pist and re­la­tion­ship spe­cial­ist. Follow Jo on Face­book at The con­fi­dante coun­selling and on In­sta­gram @the.con­fi­dante

You’re sick of fight­ing. It’s a never-end­ing merry-go-round of “he said”, “she said’, ‘You did this’ and ‘no, I didn’t.’ Sound fa­mil­iar?

If it does, it might be time to work on your abil­ity to for­give.

Do you ever won­der why some peo­ple who yet hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced in­cred­i­ble ad­ver­sity, come out the other end joy­ful and kind?

It seems one key dif­fer­ence in these in­di­vid­u­als is for­give­ness. Whether they chose to for­give them­selves or their per­pe­tra­tors had a great deal to do with what fol­lowed in their lives.

Those who choose anger and hold their grudges seem bit­ter and tor­tured their whole lives.

The de­ci­sion not to for­give can be toxic – both to your­self and to your re­la­tion­ship.

I re­cently wrote about cop­ing with your part­ner’s family and friends and this is often an area where you’re chal­lenged to for­give freely.

I am fas­ci­nated by the nu­mer­ous stud­ies that have shown that when we don’t for­give and re­visit our mem­o­ries of the sup­posed wrong­do­ing, a fear re­sponse is pro­duced in our amyg­dala (the part of our brain re­spon­si­ble for our emo­tions).

This re­sponse causes a re­lease of stress hor­mones which in­creases our heart rate and blood pres­sure. If we keep hold­ing on to our be­tray­als and anger, this re­sponse re­mains ac­tive, putting us at risk of de­vel­op­ing stress-re­lated ill­ness both men­tally and phys­i­cally.

Un­for­give­ness keeps us awake at night and keeps the perceived wrong-doer liv­ing rent-free in our head for far too long.

For­giv­ing is not easy. Just like any other dif­fi­cult or new task, you need to learn how to do it with rep­e­ti­tion and con­sis­tency.

For the sake of your own emo­tional well­be­ing, as well as that of your part­ner - it’s worth it.

If you strug­gle to for­give, these five tips may help:

Slow it down

1 En­sure you are not in a height­ened emo­tional state. Al­low 20 min­utes to slow your heart rate down then ask your­self these ques­tions to pro­vide a clearer per­spec­tive.

“How is he/she feel­ing right now? Are they jus­ti­fied in their ac­tions? What is my part in this?” Putting your­self in some­one else’s shoes is no easy task - es­pe­cially when it comes to your spouse.

Switch Off the Nasty Voice

2 We all have an inner voice, and some­times it doesn’t play so nicely. When we fight, its crit­i­cal na­ture comes to the fore, spew­ing forth things like “he’s try­ing to ma­nip­u­late you.” Or, “She’s twisting your words again.”

All of this is counter-pro­duc­tive to for­give­ness. In the heat of emo­tion, re­plac­ing these with kind and respectful self-talk is para­mount to mov­ing for­ward and playing fairly.

It’s a choice

3 Rather than hold­ing on to all the little things your part­ner has done, (and I know you know what I mean – that vast cat­a­logue of their wrong­do­ings stored in your brain.) You must learn to choose to leave it be­hind you. You will have con­flict, that is hu­man na­ture. Don’t hold onto the up­sets. Work through the cur­rent is­sue through lis­ten­ing and val­i­dat­ing and grow to­gether from it.

Ditch the Bag­gage

4 Like it or not, your child­hood and par­ent/carer re­la­tion­ship role mod­els play a big part in the re­la­tion­ship you have with your part­ner.

Per­haps you had a par­ent who used si­lence to let you know they were an­gry.

Con­se­quently, each time your part­ner is quiet, you find your­self won­der­ing “What have I done?”

Your part­ner may just be tired and hav­ing a quiet mo­ment. Work out where your fear stems from, put it into con­text and eval­u­ate your behaviour from this log­i­cal, ra­tio­nal stand­point.

Who will win?

5 When you’re in the thick of an ar­gu­ment, it’s very hard to “see the for­est for the trees”. You lose track of the goal of be­ing on the side same (a tenet of any good part­ner­ship) be­cause you’re so con­cerned with win­ning. But for you to win, your part­ner needs to lose.

Is this the outcome you truly want?

Set the ex­am­ple on the goal of co­op­er­a­tion and commitment to flex­ing your for­give­ness mus­cle and watch your re­la­tion­ship pump with syn­ergy.

Tune in to Salt106.5 each Fri­day for my fun chat with Kris­tian on the break­fast show.

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