Forgiveness in Marriage: from Cure to Healing

The act of forgiveness is pivotal in the dynamics of family life. Today’s unprecedented rise in divorce case numbers indicate that marital relationships are being shaken by the spirit of independence and individualism in the postmodern society. Resorting to psychotherapists to deal with these marital conflicts does not yield to a complete solution of the relational crisis or to healing the deep human wounds, thus restoring freedom. In this research, select psychological models of John Bowlby, Carl Jung, and John Gottman to deal with conflicts and forgiveness in family relationships are presented. To dialog with and examine these models, corresponding Christocentric approaches of St. Porphyrios of Kafsokalyvitis, St. Paisios the Athonite, and St. John Chrysostom are also presented. The latter pastoral approaches show how Christ gives not just a cure to human resentment and guilt, which is a matter supported by psychotherapy, but also bestows the mystery of forgiveness upon humankind, bringing about inner peace, reconciliation, joy, marital unity, and ultimately ontological healing. The paper explains how these Patristic approaches are actualized through the essential role and work of the spiritual guide in directing the husband and wife and helping them to live a healthy family life.