Forgiveness Increases Meaning in Life

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Close relationships are a source of meaning in life. Interpersonal offenses can disrupt one's sense of meaning within close relationships. To restore a sense of meaning, people may employ relational repair strategies such as forgiveness. We hypothesized that forgiveness is a meaning-making mechanism because it helps repair relationships, thus restoring the positive effects of relationships on meaning. Study 1 (N = 491) revealed that dispositional forgiveness and the degree of forgiveness following an offense were positively related to meaning in life. Study 2 (N = 210), a 6-month longitudinal study of romantic couples, revealed that participants who regularly forgave their partner reported increased meaning in life over time. In addition, forgiveness helped recover lost meaning among those participants reporting more frequent partner offenses. These results provide initial evidence that forgiveness recovers a sense of meaning in life after interpersonal offenses.