Forgiveness and conflict resolution in marriage

J Fam Psychol. 2004 Mar;18(1):72-81. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.18.1.72.


Two studies examined whether forgiveness in married couples is associated with better conflict resolution. Study 1 examined couples in their 3rd year of marriage and identified 2 forgiveness dimensions (retaliation and benevolence). Husbands' retaliatory motivation was a significant predictor of poorer wife-reported conflict resolution, whereas wives' benevolence motivation predicted husbands' reports of better conflict resolution. Examining longer term marriages, Study 2 identified three forgiveness dimensions (retaliation, avoidance and benevolence). Whereas wives' benevolence again predicted better conflict resolution, husbands' avoidance predicted wives' reports of poorer conflict resolution. All findings were independent of both spouses' marital satisfaction. The findings are discussed in terms of the importance of forgiveness for marital conflict and its implications for spouse goals. Future research directions on forgiveness are outlined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Social Adjustment