It Is Not Possible To Not Hurt The Ones You Love.
Remorse/forgiveness rituals are some of the most powerful and transcendent forms of ritual one can participate in. The thing about love is that it is not possible to not hurt the ones you love. The fact that we are each separate individuals floating through life in our own one person canoe can be painful. The experience of existential lonliness can feel overwhelming at times.
With the best of intentions, you may try to climb into your loved one's canoe, or they into yours, but that is simply not possible...the canoe topples and both of you end up in the water, frustrated with each other.
The best each individual can hope for in life is sharing those fleeting moments of intimacy where hands can be periodically joined across the water as you each float down the same river.
Everyone Make Mistakes
Everyone make mistakes, sometimes accidentally, sometimes as an unconscious coping mechanism, sometimes while preoccupied managing and soothing one's own pain, and sometimes mistakes are made as a form of lashing out in anger.
There is no way to avoid making mistakes when in relationship with someone. Nobody is perfect, and everyone has wounds from their past that get triggered from time to time. Even those who grew up in the healthiest of families have layers of emotional wounds; from the first wail as an infant that a parent wasn't able to immediately attend to, to being blamed and disciplined for something that your sibling did, to getting yelled at simply because your parent's stress limit had been reached.
Life is a messy game, and the ones you love are going to get hurt...by you. And vice versa.
Healthy couples tend to have lower expectations of one another...they realize that their partner is only human and that mistakes happen and problems occur. They don't catastrophize problems as indication that the relationship is doomed. Somewhere along the way they learned that although hurt happens, there are healing balms that sooth and help prevent deep scars.
When problems, or mistakes occur, they may retreat for while to lick their wounds, but they eventually come back together and find a way to effectively communicate (the best healing balm) and work through the problems.
Authentic apology is a great way to work through problems and move through mistakes that have been made. Authentic apology is much more than just saying the words "I'm sorry." For an apology to to have any power, one must go through what I like to call The Five R's of Real Apology.
If you just say you're sorry without going through each of these steps, you are really just deflecting and placating your partner. Inauthentic apology always makes things worse instead of better. It is better to not say you are sorry at all.
Even couples that truly love one another can end up miles apart on the waters of life. Infidelity is one such example. Apologizing and promising you'll never do it again is not enough to move past this type of wound.
The path of real, authentic apology must be traveled, as well as the path of true forgiveness, where the past is left in the past and not brought up to continuously haunt the relationship.
Finding a way to make meaningful amends can be complicated. Something must be done that is deeply meaningful to the one who has been hurt, and as well as very difficult and sacrificial for the one making amends.
I worked with a couple healing from infidelity who agreed that the shaving of the man's head would be part of their remorse/forgiveness ritual. This man loved his great head of hair...thought it was his best feature and feared going bald when he got older.
The woman did not want him to be attractive to other women, and wanted him to sacrifice something that was important to him to show his love for her.
The process of kneeling in front of the woman he hurt, admit his wrong doing, express his remorse, and allow her to shave his head while promising not cheat on her again was a powerful experience for them both.
Successfully completing this ritual process and experiencing true repentance and forgiveness brought them closer together as a couple then they had ever been before the infidelity occurred. It healed more than just the wound of infidelity.
The sincere vulnerability, the dropping of walls and protective barriers, and the taking of time to connect on a very deep symbolic level healed wounds they each had accumulated before coming together in relationship with one another.
I can help you create and implement rituals that will connect you to the healing balm of humility that is required to experience true remorse and forgiveness.