James McNulty, associate professor at the University of Tennessee, found that forgiving may actually build up resentment, as reported.
The “short-term discomfort of an angry but honest conversation” can actually benefit the health of a relationship in the long term, he said.
McNulty found that forgiveness in marriage can have some unintended negative effects.
“We all experience a time in a relationship in which a partner transgresses against us in some way. For example, a partner may be financially irresponsible, unfaithful, or unsupportive,” he said.
“When these events occur, we must decide whether we should be angry and hold onto that anger, or forgive,” McNulty said.
Anger can serve an important role in signalling to a transgressing partner that the offensive behaviour is not acceptable.
However, he said there was no single answer to the problem. There is no “magic bullet”, no single way to think or behave in a relationship, he said.