Tanja M Gerlach, Dmitrij Agroskin, and Jaap J Denissen (2012)

Forgiveness in close interpersonal relationships: A negotiation approach

In: Justice and Conflicts, pp. 377-390, Springer.

The current chapter deals with forgiveness in close interpersonal relationships, i.e., how individuals in close relationships manage to overcome the negative effects of interpersonal hurt and experienced relational injustice. After introducing the concept of forgiveness and discussing its benefits as well as possible downsides, we turn to a genuinely dyadic perspective. Herein, we put forward the idea of forgiveness as a process of negotiated morality during which partners not only mutually influence each other following a transgression, but forgiveness is highly contingent upon partners’ behavior indicating a return to relationship rules. Drawing on the ideas of Waldron and Kelley (2005, 2008) and examining the role of revenge behaviors in close interpersonal relationships, we elaborate on the communicative processes involved in forgiveness seeking and granting. Finally, we take a look at the way justice-related dispositions shape the processes involved in forgiveness negotiation. We conclude by discussing how negotiation approaches to forgiveness can benefit counseling and forgiveness interventions.