The stereotypical husband is warned on the wedding day as part of a best man’s speech: “Now, the best advice I can give is don’t forget her birthday or your wedding anniversary!” (Laughter ripples through the room.)
What is said in jest becomes very serious in a flash when the unthinkable becomes a reality.
Forgiving such transgressions can be subject to accepting certain facts:
K They didn’t mean to forget. Life is busy and the conscious human mind has no way of separating unimportant data from crucial information, especially in the presence of overload.
K Some people are better with dates than others are. I’ve known families where one brother has been a world champion at recalling dates and another sibling’s been woeful at it. Neither of them is that way by intention.
K What is important to us is either important or not-so-important to the next person. Just because we hold a date high up on the list of importance—attaching to it meaning that mightn’t be valid (at least for them)—doesn’t mean they will. They might see love transacted in such different ways. “Different” isn’t wrong. Their ways of loving are probably just as sincere and meaningful.
K Staying in hurt territory is not doing the relationship any good—for us or them. This is both relevant in the moment, and as the issue becomes history. Will the event of forgetting that date cause any acrimony in the future? We can’t afford to attach resentment to these issues. It comes back to bite us.
K In apologising for the facts, the forgetting partner can make good of their promise to improve. Systems and tools are effective for ensuring the same mistakes are not repeated. Diaries, reminders and prompts are commonplace these days; few things should be forgotten... but then we’re all human (though sometimes that’s an excuse).
Notwithstanding all the above, when important dates are forgotten it does come across as disrespectful to the relationship—a sort of unfaithfulness. We can empathise with those who’ve suffered this sort of discomfiture; both sides.
Forgetfulness these days is not always an indication of a lack of care, though it can be. Quite often people get trapped into such busyness they have little control over their own thoughts, let alone their schedules. Most of us have known such seasons of frenetic life.
But it all comes back to ‘forgetting’ the hurt of forgetfulness regarding our loved ones’ perceived lack of forethought.
Active forgiveness (i.e. forgiveness without delay) is the best way to move forward.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.