In this post we want to present what we feel is one of the most important things in marriage…forgiveness. We all have been hurt by our spouse, and have also been the one to cause the hurt. Without truly experiencing genuine forgiveness, a marriage cannot grow.
When you’ve said or done something that hurts your spouse, which of the following is an example of how you usually respond?
- Are you quick to recognize you’re wrong and quick to make it right?
- Are you a little slow to recognize you’re wrong, but when you do, you’re quick to make it right?
- Are you quick to recognize you’re wrong, but it takes time to work up the courage to make it right?
- Are you slow to recognize you’re wrong and slow to make it right?
- Do you make things right only when your spouse confronts your and demands a response?
- Do you try to ignore your wrongs and hope your spouse will just quietly forgive you?
How about when your spouse is the one to hurt you? How do you respond then?
- Are you quick to forgive even when your spouse doesn’t acknowledge doing wrong?
- Do you withhold forgiveness until your spouse apologizes?
- Do you tend to hold a grudge, even after your spouse tries to make things right?
- Do you encounter other hindrances when you know you should forgive your spouse?
Forgiveness – the ability to let go of past hurts – is probably the single most important relationship skill you can develop in marriage. Keeping your spouse on the hook for past offenses may give you a gratifying sense of power, but it’s always gained at the expense of the relationship. The only way to restore harmony in the relationship is to permanently remove those negative feelings. No relationship can recover from serious disappointments and grow in intimacy if one or both partners cannot let go of the bitterness. You cannot enjoy trust, acceptance, or connectedness while you are secretly – or openly – resentful of your spouse.
When you exhibit the grace of forgiving love toward your spouse, you change the entire tone of your marriage. No longer are you like referees counting each other’s fouls, ready to toss each other out of the game. Marriage becomes a safe place where you don’t have to hide your foibles and your failings. Instead of feeling scrutinized and condemned for your shortcomings, you feel accepted and forgiven.
Maybe you’re thinking forgiving love sounds great, but you’re worried you’ll have to give up too much to get it. It’s true – forgiveness can be costly. A major step in the process of forgiveness is releasing your offending spouse, giving up control of revenge and allowing God to work in his or her heart. It means letting your spouse off the hook, giving up your right to hold an offense over his or her head. And if you are the one who caused the offense, forgiveness means surrendering your pride, admitting guilt, and seeking restoration. That’s tough stuff.
But the benefits found in a renewed relationship are well worth the cost of forgiveness. In fact, the benefits of forgiveness are so overwhelming that if you cannot forgive for the sake of your spouse, you will want to forgive for how it will benefit you alone. Your choice is to let go of the wrongs done against you or to pay a heavy personal price.
Are you ready to trade the satisfaction found in holding on to past hurts or wrongdoing…for the joy found in letting go? We hope you’ll discover the blessings of forgiveness in your marriage today!