Wanna keep spouse behaving badly in check? Hold a grudge!

Posted by Ria, 08 Feb 11

spouse holding grudgeTo forgive is divine. That’s what we are always told when we are being offered relationship advice. But a new study on newly weds suggests that if you know what is good for your marriage, don’t go by Hillary Clinton’s approach of forgive and forget. Instead, hold a grudge.

Apparently, the forgiveness approach fuels the wrong doing spouse’s drift in judgment; making them feel that.... its ok to repeat the transgressions (or do worse) as opposed to staying mad which actually helps keep bad behavior in check. The author of this particular study, James McNulty, a psychologist at the University of Tennessee, suggests weighing the advantages of forgiveness against the risks. "You may feel better if you forgive me. But the question is, what happens down the road?"

Having observed participants for a week, the unforgiven spouses tended to behave better in a bid to get out of the dog house, McNulty said. The study shows that partners who kept being forgiven were twice as likely to misbehave in the next few days as opposed to those that weren't forgiven. They have the: "If you don't mind, I'll do that again" attitude. A similar unpublished study, where McNulty followed couples for four years, shows similar results.

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In an email to LiveScience, Eli Finkel, a social psychologist at Northwestern University in Illinois wrote: "Social scientists, theologians and clinicians have touted the virtues of forgiveness, frequently without attending to its downsides." He feels this study "…helps to serve as a corrective to the simple-minded notion that forgiveness is always good."

Does this mean we should NEVER forgive our spouses?

McNulty clears this up by saying the study doesn’t suggest forgiveness is always bad. Neither does it say you will automatically be relegated become to a doormat every time you forgive. There was variance in some of the participants. Plus, the recurrence in bad behavior happened mostly in spouses who abuse their partner’s trust. The way he sees it is: "If I forgive you, I've given you no reason to stop… But if you rarely do it anyway, then that's not much of a problem."

Clearly, there is a fine line between being forgiving and being a doormat. So, what do then?

Psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, the author of "Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage" feels couples need to recognize their differences and flaws as human beings, fix whatever can be fixed............ THEN... forgive.

2 responses to "Wanna keep spouse behaving badly in check? Hold a grudge!"

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  1.   Sugahrush says:
    Posted: 24 Jan 12

    ADDENDUM: THE WORD 'BEDSIDE' SHOULD BE REPLACED WITH 'BECAUSE'.

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  2.   Sugahrush says:
    Posted: 24 Jan 12

    I can't scream OH, PLEASE!!!!!! loudly enough! This advice is so .First, FORGIVENESS doesn't absolve an offender of the consequences of his or her misbehavior. Forgiveness is a way for the offended or wounded person to release the burden and pain in order to experience the wonderful beauty of a worry-free and guilt-free life.By forgiving the offender, one is simply declaring that they are creating space for new or renewed love and hope to be created; for new courage and new opportunities to be presented....and they are choosing to be a part of it. To hold a grudge is to repackage, rewrap the hurt given to you and to reopen the accompanying wounds....as a perverse gift to oneself. Well who does that in good health? Forgiveness does NOT provide the impetus to misbehave. Selfishness, laziness, disrespect, immaturity and a disregard for honor and decency are primary motivators for repeated ill behavior. If a person changes its only bedside he or she had decided to embark on such a journey. And if the change is real they'll do so whether or not they've been forgiven. Forgiveness is extended regardless of it having been accepted and even if the relationship is irreparably derailed. Sugahrush

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